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Employee Retirement Income Security Act

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) was designed to protect employees from private employers who might mismanage employee benefits plans. Among the items covered in ERISA laws are health benefits, pension plans, and employee stock ownership plans. In cases where ERISA protections are violated, employees can file a lawsuit to hold those responsible accountable for their actions and receive compensation for their losses.


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ERISA laws are federally enacted laws that set out the requirements for private employers who offer benefits to their employees. Such benefits frequently include health plans, pension plans, or employee stock ownership plans. Just because an employer offers these plans, however, does not mean the employer is free to run the plans how he or she sees fit.

Under ERISA laws, the fiduciaries responsible for overseeing benefits plans must act in the best interests of the plan, must provide plan participants with complete information about the plan—including how the plan operates, how benefits are calculated, and how benefits are paid—and must provide a process through which employees can appeal or grieve denials of their applications for benefits.

Among those who may be considered plan fiduciaries are trustees, administrators, employers, and anyone who sits on the investment committee. In addition to running the plan in the best interests of participants and beneficiaries, fiduciaries must avoid conflicts of interest when they run the plan.

Before employees are eligible to file a lawsuit under ERISA, they must exhaust the appeals process and must meet strict ERISA filing deadlines.

Health Benefit Plans

Group health benefits plans are frequently offered by employers as a benefit for employees. The plans ensure participants and their dependents have access to medical care either by providing that care directly, by providing insurance coverage for medical care, by reimbursing participants for expenses, or through other means.

If a group health insurance benefits plan has been mismanaged, employees may be able to file a lawsuit against the plan fiduciary, to ensure they have access to the medical care, insurance, or funding as set out in the plan agreement.

Meanwhile, if access to insurance benefits have been unreasonably denied by an insurance company, plan participants may be eligible to file a lawsuit under ERISA to have their insurance denial reversed. Before they can do so, however, they must first follow the insurance company's appeals process.

Pension Plans

ERISA also sets out guidelines for managing retirement plans—including defined benefits plans, defined contribution plans, simplified employee retirement plans, and 401(k) plans. Employers must manage the plan in the manner agreed upon in the plan agreement or summary plan description and must provide certain advance notice to employees.

If fiduciaries mismanage funds or otherwise acted improperly in carrying out their duties, they may be held personally liable for any losses experienced by the plan as a result of their actions. This might include reimbursing missing contributions, including lost earnings or interest.

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP)

Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP) are employee benefit plans in which assets are mainly invested in the employer's stock, giving employees an ownership interest in their employer. Employers are required to provide a summary plan description that explains the rules for how the ESOP is managed, when they can access benefits, and how they can appeal ESOP operations. Fiduciaries can get into trouble, however, if a plan's assets remain invested in the company when it is no longer prudent to do so, or if the fees associated with the plan's investment are higher than they should reasonably be.

ERISA Lawsuits

There are situations in which employees can file ERISA lawsuits against a plan or its fiduciaries:
  • To appeal a claim for benefits that was denied
  • To recover missing benefits
  • To prevent a plan from being managed in a way that violates ERISA laws
  • To stop fiduciaries from mismanaging plans

In cases where ERISA plans have been mismanaged, legitimate claims for benefits have been denied, or plan administrators have breached their fiduciary duties, plan participants and their beneficiaries may be eligible to file an ERISA lawsuit.

ERISA Violations Legal Help

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DOL Charges TPA Embezzled ERISA Plan Assets
DOL Charges TPA Embezzled ERISA Plan Assets
March 18, 2024
On February 5, the Western District of Pennsylvania issued a Temporary Restraining Order barring RiversEdge Advanced Retirement Systems, LLC and Paul Palguta, the company’s sole owner and president, from accessing the assets of various ERISA retirement plans. The Department of Labor has accused the third-party administrator of misappropriating and misallocating retirement plan assets from seventeen retirement plans, fourteen of which were covered by ERISA. The defendants also are alleged to have transferred assets among the trust accounts for these plans and generated false records to conceal these transfers. The fraudulent information provided to the plans duped them into filing false reports with the DOL, which further frustrated discovery of the embezzlement. READ MORE

Another Option for Workers Who Cannot Save through an ERISA Retirement Plan
Another Option for Workers Who Cannot Save through an ERISA Retirement Plan
February 8, 2024
In February 2022, the United States Supreme Court denied the petition for certiorari filed by the petitioner in Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association v. The California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program (CalSavers). The denial kept in place a decision of the Ninth Circuit that permitted a California-sponsored and administered retirement plan for employees of small businesses. READ MORE

More Long-Term Part Timers May Now Save Through 401k ERISA Plans
More Long-Term Part Timers May Now Save Through 401k ERISA Plans
January 22, 2024
Beginning on January 1, 2024, an expanded group of long-term part-time employees may be able to participate in their employer’s 401k ERISA retirement plan. It’s a small tweak in the 2019 Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE Act) that could have major implications for young and underemployed workers who struggle to save for retirement. Many employers are still processing the changes, so it may ultimately fall to workers to ensure that they are afforded the opportunities provided by law. In most cases, a well-crafted inquiry (with the advice of competent counsel) may eliminate the need for an ERISA lawsuit. READ MORE


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i was part of a pension plan and had my benefits cut short because of the IRS415 rule... then the plan stopped my cola increase.. then they cut my pension 2200.00 a month... i`m oonly getting 1/3 of what i should be getting for spending 25 years in a pension fund.... can anyone help?

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Can you tell me if Lockheed Electronics is part of the class action lawsuit?


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