Employers scored big today when the U.S. Supreme Court said companies can offer increased benefits to early retirees in exchange for a waiver for future claims against the company. Today's ruling overturns a September 1995 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision in Spink vs. Lockheed Corp. The high court said employers do not violate their fiduciary duties in creating such deals. The case involved Paul Spink, a Lockheed employee who did not want to waive his claim of credit for service against the company to get the higher retirement benefit.
``The question here is whether (pension law) prevents an employer from conditioning the receipt of early retirement benefits upon the participant's waiver of employment claims,'' Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court. ``... We hold that it does not.''
The high court also said 1986 pension law does not apply retroactively when providing pension coverage to older, new employees.