ERISA and the Supreme Court: 4 cases that could affect you

On Behalf of | May 28, 2019 | Uncategorized |

The longer you work and the more money you invest in your retirement account, the more you want to make sure it’s safe and protected. To that end, the government introduced the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

ERISA protects your benefits plans. It sets strict standards for how your employer manages those plans. Your employer must be transparent in its operation of your benefits and must manage them in your best interests. But it’s sometimes hard to know if an employer is truly working in its employees’ best interests because the investments fueling their benefits can be unpredictable.

Its your future at stake

Through the first four months of 2019, lawyers have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear four different ERISA cases. These cover different elements of the law, and their outcomes could potentially affect your future retirement:

  • White v. Chevron: The plaintiffs in this case want the Supreme Court to clarify the standards that decide when an ERISA case can be brought to court. The case could potentially raise or lower the bar the evidence lawyers need to give to have their cases heard.
  • Sulyma v. Intel: ERISA demands that plan sponsors inform participants about their plans, and this case could lead to more clarification about how much information sponsors need to provide. The plaintiff claims the sponsors didn’t offer enough information about alternative investments.
  • IMB v. Jander: Employees convinced the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals that Retirement Plans Committee of IBM had acted improperly by investing money in IBM stock that it should have known was going to drop sharply. IBM contests the ruling, challenging the Appellate Court’s definition of “prudent fiduciary.”
  • Putnam v. Brotherston: Pensions & Investments suggests the Supreme Court might be more likely to review this case than the others because it would allow the Court to say where the burden of proof lies. Do plaintiffs need to show that an ERISA violation resulted in a loss? Or do sponsors need to show that losses were not due to an ERISA violation?

There’s no guarantee the Supreme Court will hear any of these cases, but the fact that it has already received four petitions goes to show how complicated and hotly contested ERISA litigation can be.

Secure your retirement

You work hard every day and want to know that when it’s time to retire, your benefits will be there—protected by the people who followed the law and looked out for you. If someone betrays that trust, an attorney with strong ERISA experience can help.


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