Verizon Workers Lose Jobless Benefits Ruling

March 10, 2005 ( - A Pennsylvania state court has turned aside 17 former Verizon employees who received buyout packages in their efforts to also get unemployment benefits.

A report in the Legal Intelligencer said the Commonwealth Court panel ruled in a 2-1 decision that the workers weren’t eligible for jobless benefits because they had left their jobs voluntarily “without cause of a necessitous and compelling nature” – a precondition for benefits under Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation law.

The workers – many of whom had been employed with Verizon for 30 years or more – testified at their hearings that their job pictures were uncertain immediately before their acceptance of the buyout packages, but none testified that he or she was specifically informed by Verizon that his or her job would be eliminated if the offered package was not accepted.

According to the court ruling, management employee buyouts at issue included a lump-sum payment of two weeks’ pay times years of service, an additional lump sum of between $15,000 and $30,000, medical and life insurance benefits for one year, and financial planning assistance.

Non-management employees were offered packages that included a lump sum of $2,200 times each year of service (up to $66,000), a voluntary termination bonus of $10,000, and six months of continued medical coverage.