In Deschamps v. Bridgestone Americas, Inc. Salaried Employees Retirement Plan, No. 15-6112 (6th Cir.) 2016), Andre Deschamps requested that the court decide whether or not he was entitled to a restoral of his original hire date. He transferred to a Bridgestone facility located in the United States after working ten years at a Canada Bridgestone plant. Before he took the position, however, Deschamps expressed his concern about his pension. He did not want to lose the ten years that he had worked at the plant in Canada.
Bridgestone’s management team assured Deschamps that he would not lose the pension credit of ten years that he had already earned before he transferred to the United States. During the next ten years, Deschamps worked at the Bridgestone plant in the United States. During that time, he received written confirmation on a variety of materials that his hire date regarding his pension was August 8, 1983. Deschamps says that he turned down a more lucrative employment opportunity because he did not want to give up the pension credit he had earned.
In 2010, when he transferred to the U.S. plant, Bridgestone changed Deschamps’ hire date from August 8, 1983 to August 1, 1993. Deschamps attempted to appeal the change through internal procedures at Bridgestone, to no avail. Therefore, he decided to take Bridgestone to court to request his original hire date be restored. His claims included breach of fiduciary duty, equitable estoppel, and an anti-cutback ERISA violation.
The district court granted summary judgment to Deschamps. Of course, Bridgestone appealed the decision. At the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the district court’s decision was affirmed, and remanded for further proceedings. The appeals court concluded that Bridgestone’s retirement plan wording was ambiguous, at best, however it still favored Deschamps’ argument. He was indeed a covered employee that was classified as a “supervisor” back in 1983, when he was hired, and for the first ten years of his employment.
At Michael Bartolic, LLC, we understand the difficulty faced by Deschamps in this case. Sadly, if all of the facts of this case are true, none of this should ever have happened in the first place. Andre Deschamps was told that he would not lose his pension credit when he took the position at the U.S. plant. When Bridgestone changed its position and decreased his benefits drastically, it was wrong.
Unfortunately, things like this happen more than we can count. At Michael Bartolic, LLC, we fight for employees like Andre Deschamps. We take on large insurance and retirement companies on the behalf of employees. If you need assistance with an ERISA related legal issue, contact our office today for a free case evaluation at (312) 635-1600.