Judge Finds Utility Company Deliberately Held Retirement Information Back

April 5, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Northeast Utilities employees have been awarded a healthy increase in their retirement benefits after a federal judge found the company obfuscated information about enhanced retirement packages available had the retirees postponed their retirement by a few months.

U.S. District Judge Dominic Squartritio found Northeast Utilities’ executives deliberately kept employees near retirement in the dark about retirement packages in the works that were substantially bigger than the ones they received.   In all, the judge’s decision impacts 15 retirees of the company who were awarded up to $150,000 in retroactive benefits and as much as $1,000 more a month in benefits in the future, according to a Hartford Courant report.

This alleged policy of secrecy went all the way to the top as the company’s executives did not tell Northeast Utilities’ human resources staff about retirement packages being prepared that would grant additional benefits to retirees if they waited a few more months before leaving the company.   Thus, retires that asked the boosted enhanced retirement packages in 1991, 1993, and 1994 were directed to human resources staff, but the staff were unable to tell them about any enhancement to benefits because they were unaware.

A spokesman for the utility firm said the company was considering an appeal.