Three former managers sued the company formerly known as Imation Corp. this week for allegedly failing to pay them severance they say was promised in 2015 during numerous executive presentations.
The lawsuit was filed in Washington County District Court on Wednesday against Oakdale-based GlassBridge Enterprises. GlassBridge is the new name Imation assumed in February after being taken over by new management and restructured into an asset-management firm.
Former Imation workers Kevin Battles, Randi Bildeaux and Brian Melkert contend that Imation's former executives had promised them and others up to 39 weeks of severance payments if they continued to work for Imation while it downsized and ultimately exited its recording tape and data storage businesses.
Some employees contend they did not get severance pay. They include Battles, the senior product engineer let go in December 2015; product manager Bildeaux who was let go in September 2015, and Melkert, the customer operations supervisor who was also laid off Sept. 28, 2015.
The suit accuses GlassBridge of refusing to pay its last group of workers severance, at the same time it paid lavish consulting fees to new Imation executives and board members or their affiliated companies. The complaint accused GlassBridge of breaching its promises and of unjust enrichment. It is asking the court to award the plaintiffs damages of more than $50,000.
"These allegations are entirely without merit, and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves, " a GlassBridge spokeswoman said Friday. She declined to comment further noting that GlassBridge does not comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit comes after years of poor performance at Imation, a former 3M spinoff, that resulted in a board takeover in 2015 when executives from the New York hedge fund, the Clinton Group, won 75 percent of Imation's director seats during a proxy battle. A management shake-up followed and several Imation directors and executives left the company, including the CEO and CFO.
Clinton Group executives and nominees stepped into executive and board roles at Imation, with several receiving consulting contracts that ranged from $300,000 to up to $5.1 million, the lawsuit alleged.
By October 2015, just 124 people remained at Imation, a company that employed 11,000 when it spun off from 3M two decades earlier. During most rounds of layoffs, many workers did receive severance payments after leaving Imation, the complaint said. The last group of workers to leave, however, did not receive severance, the lawsuit said.
The three former employees acknowledged in the lawsuit that they did not have signed contracts promising severance payments. But they said Imation executives made a "clear and definitive promise of a severance package for laid off employees," through PowerPoint presentations and "widely circulated company documentation."
"The promise of a package was more than water cooler talk and a vague statement of Imation policy," the suit said.