Court Dismisses Accenture Leave Policy Lawsuit

May 17, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - An Accenture employee can't sue the consulting firm over changes in its leave of absence policies since the company partly retracted the rule to which the employee objected.

>US District Judge Thomas Thrash of the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia dismissed the lawsuit filed by Accenture employee V. Stephen Moore because he lacked the legal standing to pursue his claims, according to a BNA report.

>Moore charged that the consulting firm’s 2002 policy change regarding its leave-of-absence policy violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by cutting benefits available to employees who had worked for the firm for less than 10 years.

>According to Thrash’s ruling, Accenture announced that it was changing its leave policy and the related provisions of its health and welfare benefit plans relating to the length of permitted leaves. Under the new policy, those who had fewer than 10 years of service when they started a leave were limited to being off for three years.

>Thrash said the policy change grandfathered under the old leave-of-absence policy employees who were on leave of absence at the time of the announcement – effectively giving the older workers an extra two years leave.

>Moore filed a class action suit against Accenture and its benefit plans in October 2004, alleging the new leave-of-absence policy violated ERISA. Moore voluntarily withdrew the suit a day before Accenture notified the grandfathered employees it had decided not to apply the new policy to them.

>But, two weeks later, Moore refiled the complaint, re-alleging the ERISA violations and asking for lawyers’ fees.

>Thrash said he threw out Moore’s second suit because of Accenture’s decision to partly withdraw the policy change. “The Plaintiff’s complaint contains only allegations of past injury caused by the imposition of the leave of absence policy, injuries which have since been resolved by Accenture’s decision not to apply the policy to the employees at issue,” Thrash wrote.

>The case is Moore v. Accenture LLP, N.D. Ga., No. 1:04-CV-3717-TWT, 5/6/05.

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