The good news is that for the most part, plan fiduciaries will do what is best for the employees and will follow the rules. But there are some situations in which the fiduciaries breach their duty—in any of a number of ways—and employees and other plan participants lose out.
Employees and plan participants cannot be expected to know all the ins and outs governing their ERISA plans. The laws are just too complex and varied for everyone to understand them. What they need to know, however, is that fiduciaries—the people who run and manage the plans—have certain obligations to plan participants. Some of these involve duties to provide participants to provide plans with reasonable fees.
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Furthermore, when ERISA plans are invested in company stock, it is up to the fiduciary to ensure that decisions regarding the plan are made in the best interests of the plan and not of the company. This means pulling the plan out of company stock if the stock is no longer a feasible investment.
Employees count on plan fiduciaries and managers to prudently oversee the plan's assets, ensuring that when employees need the money in their benefits plans, it will be available for them. For the most part, plan fiduciaries properly manage their ERISA plans. When they fail to do so—when they breach their fiduciary duty—employees can file an ERISA lawsuit to attempt to recover their missing funds.