Fort Collins Attorney discusses ERISA
Most of us have heard the term, but few know what it means and even fewer know how it works. ERISA stands for Employee Retirement Income Security Act. ERISA is a federal law that was created in 1974 to protect the assets of millions of Americans so that funds placed in retirement plans will be there when they retire.
ERISA does not require an employer to establish a pension plan, in fact that is entirely up to the employer; however, once the employer decides to establish a pension plan the employer must comply with the very complex provisions of ERISA. One of the provisions the employer must comply with is §510, 29 U.S.C. §1140. Section 510 prohibits the employer from using the pension plan as a discrimination tool against employees and interfering with the employee’s right to continue participation in the plan and to obtain the benefits owed. Typically the situation arises where the employer is required to contribute more to a pension plan on behalf of the employee due to the employee’s higher salary and vesting schedule. If the employer does discriminate against the employee, usually by termination and replacement by a younger unvested employee, then the unjustly terminated employee may have a claim against the employer for violation of ERISA §510.
Assuming a situation where a client has a claim under ERISA §510 and the case goes to trial: In the event the client is successful at trial they may potentially recover not only the value of the pension plan owed on the date of termination, but also the future value of the employee’s portion of the pension plan had it been allowed to grow undisturbed until retirement eligibility of the client. In addition, the prevailing employee may also recover attorney’s fees and costs associated with bringing forward the ERISA claim.
Robert Herrera, managing partner at Black Suit Law, has successfully tried an ERISA case in Colorado Federal District Court. If you have questions or concerns about your pension plan as the employer or the employee, please call Black Suit Law today at (970) 893-4985 to discuss the specific situation you find yourself in.