Tomlinson v. El Paso Corp., No. 10-1385 (10th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Petitioners Wayne Tomlinson, Alice Ballesteros and Gary Muckelroy appealed the dismissal of their claims against El Paso Corporation and the El Paso Pension Plan (collectively "El Paso") brought under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Plaintiffs' claims concern "wear-away" periods that occurred during El Paso's transition to a new pension plan. They contended that the wear-away periods violated the ADEA's prohibition on age discrimination and the anti-backloading and notice provisions of ERISA. The trial court found that El Paso's transition favored, rather than discriminated against, older employees; and the plan was frontloaded rather than backloaded. Accordingly, the Tenth Circuit's review concluded that ERISA did not require notification of wear-away periods so long as employees were informed and forewarned of plan changes. The Court affirmed the lower court's decision dismissing Petitioners' claims.