Many Texans have benefits plans through their jobs that are covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. This is a federal law that protects workers who work for private employers that offer health care coverage, pensions, retirement plans, or profit-sharing plans. When ERISA violations occur, the violators can face penalties.
ERISA imposes several obligations on private employers that offer benefits plans to their employees. They are required to give employees information about how the plans are financed and their features. The plan administrators have fiduciary duties to the participants. Employers must also have grievance policies in place that allow plan participants to file complaints. The law allows workers to file lawsuits against the plan administrators or their employers when ERISA violations have occurred, including breaches of the fiduciary duties or withholding benefits.
Some common ERISA violations that occur include withholding benefits from former or current employees, interfering with the rights of the plan participants, and breaching the fiduciary duty that is owed to the participants. Civil and criminal penalties might be imposed, depending on the facts of what occurred. Civil penalties can include payment of the improperly denied benefits, interest that has accrued, and attorney’s fees. There are also civil fines that might be imposed. The criminal penalties will depend on the type of violation and the federal statute that it violated.
People who believe that their employers or plan administrators have violated ERISA might want to talk to experienced ERISA lawyers. The attorneys might evaluate the claims and offer assessments of their merits. If they agree that the violations appear to have occurred, they might file lawsuits on behalf of their clients to recover damages and compensation for their clients. ERISA lawsuits might help the employees to recover what they are owed and to hold the employers or plan administrators accountable for their actions.