Four former utility company employees are suing Talen Energy Corp. for not paying them retirement benefits after being forced into early retirement, documents filed in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania show.
According to the class-action suit, filed on Nov. 27 by Annette M. Durnack, Anne W. Fiore, Timothy G. Wales and Jeffrey S. Weik, the four worked for the power supply business of Pennsylvania Power and Light, which was spun off in a 2015 private equity transaction to form Talen Energy.
Under the terms of PPL's retirement plan, plaintiffs were eligible for "unreduced" early retirement pension benefits if PPL underwent a sale or merger, court documents said. After the spinoff, Talen Energy forced the plaintiffs to retire early, court documents said. Under the terms of the early retirement agreement, participants were entitled to unreduced early retirement pension benefits.
According to the complaint, Talen concealed and misrepresented their obligations to pay these benefits "despite an express declaration by Talen Energy's own board of directors that the change-in-control provisions of the Talen plan had in fact been triggered."
The suit argues that each named plaintiff is owed between $325,000 and $427,000 in pension benefits.
“As a matter of practice, we generally do not comment on pending litigation, and we will not comment on any of the specifics of this complaint,” said Taryne Williams, a spokeswoman for Talen Energy, in an email. “However, we believe the claims are without merit and that Talen and the retirement plan committee acted appropriately and in the best interests of our employees and retirees in administering Talen’s pension plan. We intend to defend against these claims and look forward to presenting our case in court.”
A. Richard Feldman, a partner in the law firm Bazelon Less & Feldman PC and counsel for the plaintiffs, could not be immediately reached for comment.
The Talen Energy Retirement Plan, Allentown, Pa., had $1.04 billion in assets as of June 30, 2019, according to its latest Form 5500.