their supervisors, especially Plaintiff, and regarding the new work
terms. White described the situation with the workers as "close to
In the summer of 1996, Plaintiff had approached Raquel Swan and raised
questions regarding the accuracy of the accounting of investment monies
in his 401(k) account. Because the C & IM had ceased operations, it had
become necessary to terminate the plan and distribute its assets. The
G & W agreed to assist in administering the closing out of the C & IM
401(k) plans. In Springfield, Swan assisted with the termination of the
plan. Throughout the next several months, Plaintiff approached Swan on
several occasions with questions regarding his 401(k) plan. His
complaint was that his account did not reflect certain gains. Swan was
not able to provide satisfactory answers, and referred the issue to Sue
Callan, a G & W administrator.
Plaintiff brought his concerns regarding his 401(k) plan and the way
it was being handled to the attention of Spencer White at a morning
meeting in the fall of 1996. White told Singley that if he had complaints
with regard to the C & IM 401(k) plan, he should take it through the
appropriate channels with the C & IM, and that it was not an I & M or
G & W issue. On September 26, 1996, Singley filed a claim in the form of
a letter to Swan. She referred the claim to G & W's pension counsel.
Singley's claim and subsequent appeal were both denied.
In order to study the cause of the discord in the Transportation
Department, White sought the help of Carl Belke in December of 1996.
Belke worked for G & Y as a consultant. White wanted Belke to assist
him in determining the cause of the problems in the Transportation
Department and how to solve them. Belke was to head the Transportation
Department on an interim basis and investigate the problems. His role
was to make the necessary changes to correct the problems.
Belke discovered that severe problems did in fact exist in the
department. He concluded that Singley did not work well with James
Rodden, who had been Superintendent of the Transportation Department
at the C & IM since 1975 and had been appointed to a similar position
at the I & M. Singley reported to Rodden at the I & M. In January 1997,
Singley was demoted. His new title was Manager of Rules, Safety, and
Training. The result was that Singley would no longer have day-to-day
line supervision authority.
In the spring of 1997, White and Belke began searching for Belke's
replacement who would hold the title of Chief Transportation Officer.
Singley expressed interest in and was interviewed for the position.
However, he was not seriously considered. On July 1, 1997, Terry
Holderread was hired for the post. White instructed Holderread to
restructure the Transportation Department as he deemed necessary. He
attempted to accomplish this primarily by conducting informal interviews
In July 1997, Singley expressed a desire to pursue MBA studies at the
University of Illinois. He inquired of Holderread whether the I & M
would reimburse him for this expense pursuant to company policy.
Holderread deferred this decision to White. White determined that
because Singley's future with the company was uncertain, the request
should be denied.
Holderread considered the possibility of reducing the number of
managers from three to two. He eventually determined that only two
managers were needed. Holderread concluded that Singley's position
should be eliminated. On September 12, 1997, Holderread advised
White of his decision. White endorsed Holderread's recommendation. On
September 15, White and Holderread met with Singley to inform him of
the decision. Singley was told that his options were to exercise his
seniority rights pursuant to the union agreement and remain with the
a union position*fn2 or to leave the railroad with a separation
agreement. Singley chose the latter option. Pursuant to the agreement,
Singley received $111,000 and letter of recommendation.
III. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Section 510 of ERISA provides in part: It shall be
unlawful for any person to discharge, fine, suspend,
expel, discipline, or discriminate against a
participant or beneficiary for exercising any right to
which he is entitled under the provisions of an
employee benefit plan. . . .
29 U.S.C. § 1140.