If you’ve read our Insight on the types of plans the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) covers, or the descriptions of the legal services we provide related to ERISA and related laws (here and here), you won’t be at all surprised that these laws safeguard a wide variety of rights. Here we summarize the main rights that ERISA covers, though this is far from a full list.
Fair Work’s attorneys have litigated cases involving many of these rights and can answer questions you have if you feel your rights have been violated.
You Have the Right to Competent and Loyal Plan Fiduciaries
ERISA imposes on fiduciaries (those responsible for the plan) some of the most exacting standards known to the law. ERISA does so because allowing administrators to get away with imprudence or disloyalty puts participants’ retirement and economic security at severe risk. The statute, regulations, and case law go still further and impose specific requirements (for example, fiduciaries have an affirmative duty to ensure the plan’s investments are diversified). Fair Work’s lawyers have years of experience litigating ERISA’s fiduciary requirements.
You Have the Right to Information About Your Plan
ERISA requires that plan administrators provide copies of certain key documents upon request. A participant may request the plan document, the latest Summary Plan Description (“SPD”) or document summarizing the plan’s terms, and certain other materials. ERISA imposes a significant penalty (up to $110 per day) for refusing or delaying in providing such documents.
You Have the Right Not to be Misled About Your Plan
In addition to listing specific documents and information that your plan’s administrator must provide, ERISA requires that you receive accurate information about your benefits. For example, courts have ruled for plan participants where employers and plan fiduciaries provided misleading information about the effects plan changes would have on their future benefits
You Have the Right to Have Your Health Information Protected
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) safeguards certain health information from disclosure. HIPAA requires plans, healthcare providers, and others to take steps to ensure your information is secure.
You Have the Right to be Free of Retaliation or Discrimination
Federal law forbids your employer from firing you or discriminating against you to prevent you from exercising your ERISA rights. For example, your boss cannot fire you simply because you are close to qualifying for retirement. We can help you determine if your rights have been violated.
You Have the Right to Enforce the Rights ERISA and Other Laws Provide
Finally, ERISA safeguards all of the rights above by allowing you to enforce your rights in federal court. We have decades of experience litigating and arbitrating workplace law cases and can help you navigate the litigation process. Our team has litigated cases in multiple federal courts.
We have litigated a range of ERISA matters in courts nationwide and have extensive experience in arbitration tribunals, which is becoming more important as ERISA plans are increasingly requiring claims to be brought through arbitration. Get in touch with us and we may be able to help you determine if you have a case and how to best vindicate your rights.