The Employment Retirement Income Security Act provides oversight and structure for private health plans, retirement plans and pensions. ERISA is not a plan itself but a set of rules that set minimum standards for the operation of these plans to protect workers from any wrongdoing. ERISA also authorizes a range of penalties for plans that fail to comply with these standards.
An employer has certain obligations under ERISA. These include:
- Providing plan participants with information about the plan including major features and how the plan is financed.
- How an employee can file a grievance and the appeals process
- Fiduciary duties for those who manage the plan
Although most ERISA programs are well-managed, an employee may find that their employer has engaged in violations. Some of the most common ERISA violations include:
- Improperly denying benefits to employees.
- Interference with employees’ rights covered by the plan
- Breach of fiduciary duty. The assets that an employee puts into an employer-provided plan must be honestly managed, truthfully reported on, and carefully reviewed to ensure that the employee’s financial interests are protected.
Violations of ERISA programs can face civil or criminal penalties. Civil penalties can result in an employee receiving compensation while criminal penalties can result in fines and even jail time. A legal professional who is skilled in ERISA claims can explain how ERISA laws apply to their client’s specific situation and help ensure their rights are protected. ERISA is a complex federal law, and an attorney has the experience necessary to understand how the federal law and the Texas laws apply to their client’s claim.