Tiffany & Co. Accused of Shorting Workers’ Pensions

Employee Benefits News examines legal developments that impact the employee benefits and executive compensation employers provide, including federal and state legislation, rules from federal...

By Jacklyn Wille

Dec. 13 — Jewelry giant Tiffany & Co. shortchanged workers on their pension benefits by using an unfavorable interest rate when making benefit calculations, a new lawsuit alleges ( Prado v. Tiffany & Co. Pension Plan , S.D.N.Y., No. 1:16-cv-09570, complaint filed 12/12/16 ).

Former Tiffany employee Irineu Prado on Dec. 12 filed a proposed class action claiming that the company didn’t use the legally required interest rate when calculating his early retirement benefits. This caused his monthly payment to be about $400 less than what he was legally entitled to, according to the complaint.

At least 40—and possibly more than 5,000—current and former Tiffany employees may be affected by these practices, the lawsuit claims.

Tiffany miscalculated the benefits of workers who selected pension payments that were integrated with their Social Security benefits, according to the complaint. The lawsuit claims that Tiffany was required by law to use an interest rate no higher than the one set by Treasury regulations and that by using an impermissible rate, the company has been underpaying workers’ benefits for decades.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by Law Office of Robert L. Liebross.

Nathan Strauss, director of corporate communications for Tiffany, told Bloomberg BNA that the company intends to “defend vigorously against these claims, which we believe are without merit.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jacklyn Wille in Washington at jwille@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bna.com

Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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