PHILADELPHIA — A former store employee and stockowner is suing his former employer, Wawa Inc., for alleged violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, concerning deprivation of promised benefits as a result of the alleged violations.
Greg Pfeifer filed a lawsuit on Feb. 1 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Wawa Inc., Retirement Plans Committee of Wawa Inc., and Richard D. Wood, Jr. and Howard B. Stoeckel, in their capacity as trustees. Pfeifer seeks to represent the Terminated Employee Participants as a part of the class.
According to the complaint, Pfeifer was employed with Wawa, which sponsors the Wawa Employee Stock Ownership Plan. The class is ESOP participants with vested account balances in excess of $5,000 whose employment with Wawa was terminated for any reason outside of retirement, death or total disability, the suit states.
The suit further claims the ESOP allocates shares of Wawa stock to the individual accounts of the plan’s participants with terminated employees still continuing to hold stock and have the same benefits as participants who retired. Pfeifer, along with 3,000 other participants, hold Wawa stock, and the share price has allegedly risen and should continue to rise, the suit says. On August 30, 2015, Wawa allegedly forced Pfeifer and other participants to sell their stock, which would violate the ERISA and breach promises made by Wawa, according to the suit.
Pfeifer is asking the court to declare that he and the class are entitled to have their benefits in conformity with the terms of the plan, to require Wawa to make good any losses suffered from the alleged forced sale of the Wawa stock, and court and attorney fees, along with other prayers for relief. The plaintiff is represented by Gary L. Azorsky and Raymond M. Sarola of Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll PLLC in Philadelphia, R. Joseph Barton of Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll PLLC in Washington, D.C., Daniel Feinberg of Feinberg, Jackson, Worthman and Wasow LLP of Oakland, California, and Richard E. Donahoo of Donahoo and Associates PC in Tustin, California.
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Case number 2:16-cv-00497-PD