Belron US to Pay More Than $210,000 to Retirement Savings Plan, Nearly $84,000 to Pension Plan, as Result of Complaint Filed by U.S. Department of Labor
August 18, 2010

Belron US, also known as the Safelite Group, has agreed to pay $210,799.36 into the company's retirement savings plan and $83,973.67 into the company's pension plan, as the result of a complaint filed late last week by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) against the Columbus, Ohio-based company. In the August 13 complaint, the DOL alleged that the firm appointed to handle the company's retirement savings plan and pension plans, Brooks Hamilton & Associates, was paid "for expenses that were unnecessary to the operation of the plans."

The DOL says this occurred from January 1, 2002, through December 31, 2007, and that the Belron US retirement plan administrative committee "failed to adequately monitor the services Brooks performed for the plans and failed to determine whether services were actually being provided to the plans by Brooks for the fees the plans were paying to Brooks."

In response, Belron US waived its "service of process of the complaint and … admitted to the jurisdiction of this Court over [the company] and the subject matter of this action, but neither admit[ted] nor den[ied] the remaining allegations in the Secretary's complaint," according to court documents, and has agreed to make both payments to the plans.

In addition, the DOL had alleged that the company's retirement committee had sent notices to eligible participants or beneficiaries last known addresses between 2002 and 2007 to notify them of their savings plan distributions, and that 1,698 of these were returned as undeliverable, and that no further procedures were implemented to locate the participants, "caus[ing] their distribution checks to be placed in the Savings Plan's forfeiture account." As a result of this charge, the company has agreed to utilize new methods to locate the participants, detailed in the consent judgment.

“We see it as a gray area within the law that has not been interpreted by the Labor Department in our favor,” says Tom Feeney, president and CEO of Safelite Group, in a written statement. “However, rather than dispute this, we asked ourselves, 'What impact does this have on our people?’ And in keeping with our 'People First' philosophy, we decided it was in the best interest of our people to put monies back into the plan that will benefit our associates–both past and present.”

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