Qwest Retirees Sue DoL For Pension Details

July 15, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Qwest Communications International Inc. retirees have filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Labor (DoL) seeking details about an audit of the firm's pension fund.

Retiree Mimi Hull filed suit in US District Court, accusing the Labor Department of stalling and acting in bad faith after previous attempts to get information about a DoL audit of Qwest’s pension fund were rejected. This after Hull submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to get documents the Labor Department has gathered as part of an audit begun in 2001 in March, according to news sources.

In 1999, the pension fund totaled $14.6 billion, which included a surplus of $5.7 billion.Qwest’s pension fund had as much as a $385 million deficit in 2002, which has since been turned around to a $2 million surplus in 2003 (SeeEquity Gains in 2003 Equal Black Ink for Pension Plans ).

The Denver-based telecommunications company blames the plunge in value on the faltering economy and more benefit payments, and says the pension fund is still fully funded. Some retirees are skeptical of the reported position, pointing to federal investigations into the company’s accounting practices, and need more information.