Albemarle Appeals Employee Benefits Case to VA Supreme Court - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Albemarle Appeals Employee Benefits Case to VA Supreme Court

Posted: Updated: Jan 10, 2013 04:43 PM EST

The case between Albemarle County and a group of disgruntled former employees is now in the hands of Virginia's high court.

Thirteen former employees sued Albemarle County in 2010 for early retirement benefits they say they were promised, but never received. All say they agreed to an early retirement package when the county was looking to reduce staff and expenses.

The county has long maintained it does not owe the employees benefits beyond what is authorized under the Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Program (VERIP). The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in June of 2010 to deny the employees' request (read full meeting minutes here).

Those 13 employees won their case in Albemarle County Circuit Court in late 2011. The county appealed the decision all the way up to the state Supreme Court. Thursday morning, attorneys for the county and employees made their arguments before court justices. Both sides say it is difficult to predict how the court will rule, but attorney Edward Lowry, who represents the employees in the case, says he feels optimistic.

"Nobody knows how the Supreme Court is going to rule until the Supreme Court rules, but we thought the questions were on point," said Lowry. "While we're optimistic, we just have to wait and see." 

Jim Guynn, an attorney representing Albemarle County, says he believes it could go either way.

Attorneys expect the court's decision within the next 6-8 weeks. If the ruling is upheld, it would award a total settlement of around $90,000 to the former employees listed in the suit.

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