Pacific Bell Directory: A lawsuit by five...

Pacific Bell Directory: A lawsuit by five former sales agents, who claim the company lied to coerce them into retiring early, has been scheduled for trial Feb. 5 in Orange County Superior Court. It had been scheduled to start this week, but Judge James H. Poole ordered a delay Tuesday, citing scheduling conflicts because of the trial's estimated four-week length.

The sales agents, four of them from Orange County, retired as the 1990 recession was curtailing advertising sales and cutting into their annual incomes. They claim they took early retirement--losing years of future earnings and forfeiting higher pension benefits--because they were told that their pensions would be based on their last three years' compensation. In fact, Pacific Bell Directory's retirement plan uses employees' highest 36 consecutive months of compensation in its pension formula. The agents seek unspecified punitive damages and compensation for lost earnings and pension income.

Pacific Bell has denied the allegations.

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