Qwest Retirees Win Partial Victory in DoL Suit

December 6, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Qwest Communications retirees won partial victories in their fight to get information about the management of their pension fund.

The Rocky Mountain News reports that Chief US District Judge Lewis Babcock of the US District Court for the District of Colorado ordered Qwest to turn over its investment policy guidelines to the retirees.   In a separate ruling, he ordered the Department of Labor (DoL), which investigated the Denver-based telecommunications company’s pension fund, to turn over certain documents for his review to decide if they should be kept confidential.

An attorney for the Association of US West Retirees said that Babcock in particular used colorful language to criticize the DoL for withholding information requested under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), according to the news report.

The retirees lost on some of their other motions to see certain information.

Retiree Mimi Hull filed the suit last year in US District Court, accusing the DoL of stalling and acting in bad faith after previous attempts to get information about a DoL audit of Qwest’s pension fund were rejected (See  Qwest Retirees Sue DoL For Pension Details).   All but 500 of 6,000 pages in the dispute eventually were released, according to the news report.

Documents obtained by the retirees under an FOIA request showed the DoL considered but decided not to take legal action against Qwest in connection with the company paying more than $400 million of severance benefits out of the employee pension fund between 2000 and 2003.

Earlier this year, Qwest agreed to repay its pension plan $99,918 to cover company expenses the DoL found it improperly charged to the plan, plus interest (See  Qwest Returns $99K to DB Plan for Improper Expense Payments).