In order to end a proposed class action close to $150 million, Fujitsu agreed to pay a $14 million settlement. The proposed class action alleged that the company paid more in investment fees for retirement funds than necessary affecting close to 23,000 current and former employees.
Workers hope the judge approves the deal that would be worth about $600 for each class member. They argue that it is a favorable comparison to other settlements in ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) suits regarding excessive fees. The settlement amount proposed is about 1% of the plan’s total value according to the class.
The workers’ unopposed motion for preliminary settlement approval urged the judge to approve the settlement stating that the amount was impressive in aggregate, when considered on a per-capita basis, and when viewed as a percentage of the plan’s assets. It compares favorably to other recent 401(k) settlements by all measures.
Workers originally sued Fujitsu in June 2016 alleging that the company mismanaged the employee retirement plan. Claims insisted that Fujitsu bought more expensive classes of funds than was necessary, deprived workers of returns, failed to monitor record keeping/administrative fees paid, and kept investments in plan offerings that were far too expensive.
Fujitsu first attempted to argue for dismissal claiming that the workers’ claims were based on “hindsight” and that the fees were appropriate and in line with those approved by the court in other suits. Their motion to dismiss was denied in April, but the judge did “leave open the possibility” that the arguments could win at summary judgment or trial. He also noted that some of the workers’ claims could be time-barred.
In September, the parties involved agreed on a draft deal after mediation efforts to reach a resolution. The draft deal was recently finalized and the workers now seek approval.
Approval of the settlement would mean that participants in the class (employees participating in the Fujitsu 401(k) plan between June 2010 and September 2017 would receive payment. The class includes 22,705 members. Close to a quarter of the settlement amount will likely go towards attorney fees and costs.
If you have questions about ERISA or your rights in regard to your employer provided 401(k) accounts, please get in touch with an experienced California employment law attorney at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.