Junior Achievement prevails in lawsuit brought by former executive

A federal judge has ruled in favor of Junior Achievement of Central Indiana in an employment claim brought by Victor George, a former executive vice president.

George claimed Junior Achievement had failed to remit payments to his retirement and health-savings accounts, a violation of the Employment Retirement Security Act. George also alleged he was fired because he complained about the violation to the U.S. Department of Labor.

JA President Jennifer Burk fired George early in 2010, and he filed suit Feb. 23 in the U.S. District Court for southern Indiana.

Part of the controversy in the federal suit surrounded the fact that George had liquidated a $25,000 deferred compensation account. George claimed the account had vested on Dec. 1, but JA executives thought otherwise. A letter from a JA attorney accused him of “unethical and illegal” behavior.

George also claimed that JA defamed him, as the allegation about illegal acts was relayed to the board of directors.

U.S. District Court Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson ruled that George didn’t have an ERISA claim because he’d declined to open a case with the U.S. Labor Department. Other issues, including defamation, were for state court to decide, and she dismissed them without prejudice.

George had worked at JA affiliates in Columbus, Ohio, and Tampa, Fla., before coming to Indianapolis in 2006. His four-year agreement began with a salary of $118,500.

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