DALLAS, April 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Attorney Rogge Dunn, an attorney board certified in labor and employment law, has a word of caution for J.C. Penney employees who were told this week they will lose their jobs in a major layoff. Companies that are attempting to cut costs can violate laws designed to protect employees' pensions. J.C. Penney Company (jcpenney, JCPenney) announced it will lay off 600 employees or 13 percent of its headquarters staff in an effort to cut expenses.
"The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, or ERISA, protects the assets of millions of Americans so that funds placed in retirement plans during their working lives will be there when they retire," says Dunn. "Employees who are laid off should get expert advice to understand those rights."
"Pension costs have been listed as a major factor in the company's finances," said Dunn. "There can be serious legal repercussions if employees are terminated in order to cut the company's pension obligations."
"It is significant to note that according to published reports J.C. Penney's pension plans are substantially underfunded," said Dunn. "That has the potential to cause issues if employees are let go to help address that underfunded liability."
"Employees may also have other legal claims including age or racial discrimination," notes Dunn. "It is important that people facing this situation be aware of their rights under the law, which also gives pension plan participants the right to bring a lawsuit."
According to published reports the company had previously announced it planned to save $200 million in costs from its corporate headquarters operations. "Undoubtedly, some of those cost savings come from a decrease in pension costs," said Dunn.
ERISA is a federal law that sets minimum standards for retirement plans in private industry. For example, if your employer maintains a retirement plan, ERISA specifies when you must be allowed to become a participant, how long you have to work before you have a non-forfeitable interest in your benefit, how long you can be away from your job before it might affect your benefit, and whether your spouse has a right to part of your benefit in the event of your death. Most of the provisions of ERISA are effective for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 1975. Source: U.S. Department of Labor
About Rogge Dunn
Mr. Dunn is one of very few attorneys in Texas who is Board Certified in both Civil Trial Law and in Labor and Employment Law. Mr. Dunn has won settlements and judgments that have netted more than $1 billion for his plaintiff clients, including million dollar verdicts in Texas, California, Louisiana and Arkansas. Texas Monthly has rated Mr. Dunn as one of the top 100 attorneys in Texas. He has been repeatedly recognized by Texas Monthly as a Texas "Super Lawyer" and by D Magazine as one of the Best Lawyers in Dallas.
SOURCE Clouse Dunn LLP