F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts files for summary judgment in ERISA case

By Sara McCleary | Jan 11, 2018

SCRANTON – The F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts has filed a motion for summary judgment in a case filed by a former employee who alleged it had violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

Plaintiff Joan Brenton filed her complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on Jan. 17, 2017, claiming that the Center had terminated her employment in retaliation for actions she had taken that are protected under ERISA. On Nov. 28, the Center filed its brief in support of its motion for summary judgment.

In its motion, the Center argues that Brenton had been invited by the Center to participate in the actions she claims to have been retaliated against for performing. 

“The plaintiff now wants the court to believe that after having brought the issue to her attention and then working with her to correct it that the center then terminated her for assisting in that process after being invited to do so. That argument lacks any measure of credibility,” argues the motion.

Instead, the motion lays out that the center terminated Brenton’s employment because of a reorganization of her department. Due to Brenton’s department’s unsatisfactory performance, the Center decided that it should amalgamate Brenton’s role with another employee’s into one role in order to fund another position in a different department, the motion states.

“Both the plaintiff and the other impacted employee were invited to apply for the new position. Ultimately, it was determined that the plaintiff was not the best qualified candidate for the newly created position,” reads the motion.

The Center also argued in its motion that the plaintiff’s allegations that it had breached a fiduciary duty must fail because she had “failed to demonstrate that the Center was acting as a fiduciary or performing a fiduciary duty as defined by ERISA in these instances so as to give rise to a breach of fiduciary claim.”

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