The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was designed to help you and employees just like you have protection when considering your retirement and pension plans and benefits. These are plans you have likely worked a long time to pay into, and you’re counting on them to secure your future. You cannot afford to have those rights taken away, and the ERISA protections were set up so that you wouldn’t have to.
Unfortunately, violations still do happen. If they happen to you, don’t assume you have no recourse. There are potential steps you can take and ramifications for employers who commit these violations. Three of the most common ones are:
- Interference in employees’ rights when those employees have these eligible plans and deserve coverage
- Denial of benefits — in an improper manner — to both former employees and current employees
- Breach of the official fiduciary duty, an obligation that is owed to these covered employees
While not all denials of benefits are illegal, those that are done for improper reasons or that breach employees’ rights certainly are. That’s when you must know what options you have.
Ensuring that you’re covered
One of the first steps to take is just to make sure that ERISA actually provides these protections to you. The benefits plan that you use must be offered by a for-profit employer that is privately owned. If you work for a non-profit or a government institution — at the federal, state or local level — you won’t qualify. The same is true if you work for a religious organization.
If you are covered, you work in a qualifying occupation and you have seen some concerning violations, then you need to know what steps to take. It helps to partner with an experienced law firm that can help you understand your rights, identify the violations and learn how you can make things right. Your retirement future is on the line. Don’t let your employer harm that future.