Employees who participate in retirement plans work hard for years, depending on the knowledge that their benefits will be available for them when they are ready to retire. Unfortunately, sometimes their employers try to get away without giving these employees the full amount of benefits they deserve. When this happens, employees may pursue a legal action known as an ERISA claim.

ERISA is the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, a federal law that protects participants of private retirement and health plans and their beneficiaries. ERISA protects retirement plans and covers approximately 141 million workers and their beneficiaries.

Standards of conduct

The federal law requires employers and plan sponsors to inform participants of their plan information. ERISA establishes standards of conduct for employers, plan managers and other fiduciary duties. It also sets enforcement provisions to ensure that participants receive their benefits, even when the employer files bankruptcy.

ERISA protects individuals who participate in private retirement plans from negligence or intentional mismanagement by employers and fiduciaries. If an employee participant feels their funds have been neglected or mismanaged, ERISA provides that the plan establish an appeals process for the participant to receive benefits from their plan. ERISA also provides participants the right to sue for their benefits and breaches of employer or plan sponsor fiduciary duty.

ERISA does not protect plans conducted by the government, churches, plans established only to comply with workers’ compensation, unemployment or disability laws. It also does not generally protect plans established outside of the United States.

ERISA and Texas law

ERISA is a federal law that involves many complexities and nuances. Federal law often interacts and relates to Texas state law, and often involves meeting specific deadlines. ERISA is a complex federal law, making it important to consult with an experienced attorney who has worked with retirement insurance claims to handle an ERISA claim.