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Mathie v. Harris Bank N.A.

January 26, 2009

VIRGINIA MATHIE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HARRIS BANK N.A. AND HARRIS EMPLOYMENT TRANSITION POLICY, PLAN # 510, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge George M. Marovich

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Virginia Mathie ("Mathie") filed a claim against defendant Harris Bank N.A. and Harris Employment Transition Policy Plan # 510 (the "Plan") seeking benefits under the Plan pursuant to § 502(a)(1)(B) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act ("ERISA"), 29 U.S.C. § 1132(a)(1)(B). The Plan moves for summary judgment.*fn1 For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants defendant's motion for summary judgment.

I. Background

The following facts are undisputed unless otherwise noted.*fn2

Harris N.A. sponsors the Plan. The Plan states, in relevant part: PURPOSE: * * * Employment transitions are based on management's need to make changes to positions for business purposes. These organizational changes may include but are not limited to physical relocation or elimination of a position.

* * * DEFINITIONS: * * *

Comparable Job: A position that is: * Within one grade level (up or down) of current position * Within the same shift * Within the same employment status based on hours of work without affecting benefit status (i.e., part-time or full-time) * Within 35-mile radius of current work location * * * Eligibility: Any employee with a performance rating of "does not meet requirements" or "below quality" on his/her last review or who is in the Written Warning, Probation or Immediate Probation stage of corrective action is not eligible to participate under the Employment Transition Policy. * * * Official Notification Date: Notification by an employee's manager to the employee at least twelve weeks prior to the actual job transition date. * * * Severance: Payment provided to those eligible employees whose employment ends due to organizational change. Severance is calculated using an employee's rehire date not original hire date and is based on an employee's full or part-time status as of the official notification date. The maximum severance payout is not to exceed a total of 104 weeks.

KEY POINTS: A. An employee who does not meet the eligibility requirements of the Employment Transition Policy will be terminated from the Bank without severance benefits as of the official notification date.

B. Employees eligible for participation under the Employment Transition Policy will be given a minimum of twelve weeks (job search period) to find an internal position. If Employee Relations and the manager agree that no opportunities exist for an internal job search, the employee will receive severance benefits on the next regularly scheduled payday following their completion date. * * *

E. During the Job Search Period

* If an employee accepts another job within the Bank during the job search period, the employee will not be eligible for severance benefits. * * *

F. At the End of the Job Search Period

* If a comparable job within the Bank has been offered but rejected by the employee and the employee still remains without a job at the end of the job search period, he/she will be terminated without severance benefits. * If an employee has not been offered a comparable job within the job search period and has not accepted any other job within the Bank, the employee will be terminated with severance benefits. Additionally, the employee is offered the services of an outplacement firm.

ERISA Policy Administration INFORMATION: Severance benefits under this Policy are administered by the Benefits Administration Committee ("Administrator"); * * * The Administrator shall have the discretionary authority to carry out all actions necessary for the administration of the Policy with respect to Severance benefits. The Administrator shall have power and discretion to construe any disputed or ambiguous terms, determine all questions relating to the administration of the Policy including eligibility for Severance benefits and the amounts payable, and the authority to review and resolve all claims for Severance benefits. All decisions by the Administrator shall be final and binding on all employees and their ...


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