NU Online News Service, March 25, 3:05 p.m. EST
A federal judge has rejected a former Aon executive's claim that he was entitled to pension benefits that the firm denied him for violating a non-compete agreement.
U.S. District Court Judge Ronald A. Guzman, in Chicago, in a Friday decision found that Wayne Wignes, a former executive with Aon Corp., was not entitled to pension benefits because he violated the company's non-compete agreement, soliciting at least one client for his new employer, Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group, PLC.
Mr. Wignes brought suit in 2008, claiming he was entitled to the pension and that the non-compete section of the Chicago-based insurance broker's "Excess Benefit Plan" did not apply to him. His reason was that it was not introduced with mutual consent and therefore did not apply to him.
Judge Guzman disagreed with Mr. Wignes, finding that because Aon is an at will employer, Mr. Wignes had the right to leave his employer if he did not agree with the terms.
His continued employment was consent to the terms, the judge found. The judge also said that Mr. Wignes was not an eligible member of the plan when the non-compete section was adopted and consent was not required.
According to the decision Mr. Wignes was not old enough to be a vested member of the plan when he left the company in 2007.
The judge also found that the committee which heard Mr. Wignes appeal after he was denied benefits by Aon was within its right to hear his arguments and deny him benefits.
In an initial court filing, Mr. Wignes did not know how much benefit he was to receive because he did not have access to that information to make that determination.
Judge Guzman ordered the case "terminated."