WolfBlock Attorneys Win Employment CaseFor Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association

Friday, October 1, 2004 - 01:00

Recently, WolfBlock attorneys James Redeker, Caroline Austin and David Gollin were successful in obtaining an award of counsel fees and nontaxable costs for a client, the Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association (PREA). The total amount requested - $411,020.60 - was awarded.

Mr. Redeker had been hired by PREA to design a reduction in force in connection with a corporate restructuring. Prior to the engagement, the plaintiff, PREA's "acting" general counsel, signed an employment agreement committing to work for a private law firm. Subsequently, the plaintiff resigned from his employment with PREA. A voluntary severance plan was published three weeks later when the plaintiff was no longer actively employed but still technically on the payroll to receive earned but unused vacation pay. The plan was written to exclude persons who had resigned from employment but remained on the payroll solely to receive unpaid vacation pay. Had he been entitled to benefits from the plan, he would have received approximately $72,000 in separation pay.

The plaintiff sued, claiming, inter alia , that he was defrauded because the defendants had concealed their intent to have such a plan at the time of his resignation, that he was still an "employee" at the time the plan was published and that he was wrongfully excluded by specific description in the plan.

Judge James F. McClure of the Middle District of Pennsylvania granted summary judgment to the defendant, PREA. The plaintiff then appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. After a successful argument by Ms. Austin, the court held in favor of PREA on all issues and the fee and costs petition followed.

WolfBlock partner William I. Greenbaum has been elected to serve as a member of the board of directors of Jersey Battered Women's Services, Inc. Established in 1976 and located in Morris County, NJ, Jersey Battered Women's Services, Inc. has provided life-saving services to victims of domestic violence and their families. Mr. Greenbaum, a partner in WolfBlock's Employment Services, Employee Benefits and Health Law Practice groups, has more than 25 years of experience in all aspects of labor and employment law.