February 18, 2016
A former Wawa employee who spent seventeen years with the company has proposed a class-action lawsuit contending that the popular convenience store chain reneged on an agreement to allow departed workers to maintain their company stock as its value continues to grow.
The suit was filed this week by former employee Greg Pfiefer, who worked for the company from 1992-2009, first as a retail associate and later in the point-of-sale division at Wawa's Pennsylvania headquarters, according to PhillyMag.
Pfiefer and his attorney, Daniel Feinberg, claim that Wawa backed out of an agreement to allow former employees to keep their growing Wawa stock until they retire or turn 68 years old, the point at which beneficiaries are required to cash out. The suit alleges that Wawa altered its policy in August 2015, forcing former employees to sell and prohibiting those who leave the company in the future from keeping company stock.
Feinberg contends that the company's most recent valuation of $7,652 per share has denied Pfiefer, now in his forties, at least $30,000 in retirement income since the forced sale of his stock last August. The class-action suit, proposed to cover 3,000 former employees, alleges that Wawa acted in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
Although Pfiefer's 17-year tenure with the company places his losses on the higher end of the class, Feinberg believes Wawa's policy has affected the whole class to the tune of more than $20 million.
A Wawa spokeswoman told PhillyMag that its employee stock ownership plan has grown to about a 41 percent of the company, but added that she couldn't comment on the litigation or address whether the Wawa changed its policy in August.
Plaintiffs in the case are seeking compensation from Wawa for any losses suffered as a result of the alleged policy change and a reversal of the alleged rule barring former employees from keeping company stock. They are also calling for the replacement of Wawa's retirement plans committee with an independent fiduciary.