Qwest Employees Fight Insurance Coverage Cutback

May 16, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Seven retired employees of telecommunications company Qwest or their beneficiaries are challenging a Qwest move to cut the benefits available under a company life insurance policy.

Denver attorney Curtis L. Kennedy filed a lawsuit against the Denver company in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado in an attempt to block Qwest from implementing an insurance coverage reduction.

According to the suit, the benefit available to retirees leaving the company before January 1, 1996 and dying after December 31, 1996 would be a minimum of $20,000, while for those who retire after January 1, 1996 it would be at least $30,000.

The suit said the coverage minimum was later cut to $10,000 – a figure that was later applied to all retirees as of January 1, 2007.

The workers’ complaint charges that the company violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) because, among other things, Qwest made decisions about protected benefits that weren’t solely in the interests of its workforce.

In the suit, Kennedy demanded that the company be forced to pay all affected employees an amount of benefits equal to what they would have received before the Qwest cutbacks.

The case is Edward J. Kerber vs. Qwest,07-cv-00644-WDM-CBS, U.S.D.C., DC.