The Employee Retirement Income Security Act provides several protections for those who receive benefits from their employers. For example, Houston companies that are covered by ERISA must tell employees how a retirement plan or pension is funded or what its key features are. They must also create a system that allows employees to submit grievances or appeal any decision that is not in their favor. Finally, employers subject to ERISA must act in a fiduciary capacity toward plan participants.

Parties that are referred to as fiduciaries must act in the best interests of those who they serve or represent. Most violations of ERISA are related to improperly denying benefits to employees or not acting in a fiduciary capacity. A plan administrator or other relevant party who is found guilty of an ERISA violation could be subject to both civil and criminal penalties.

Civil penalties in an ERISA case may include the actual value of benefits that were either denied or delayed. Furthermore, a victim may be entitled to interest on the money that was not obtained or not obtained in a timely manner. Those who violate ERISA for any reason can also be subject to a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Legal complaints may be levied against a specific party in court or made to the Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Those who believe that they were denied benefits available to them through company health or pension plans may wish to file a lawsuit. It may be worthwhile to have an attorney help with the process of taking action against an employer or plan administrator for the compensation that is owed.