Employers tend to offer employees a wide range of benefits in addition to their salaries. Pension plans, health insurance, life insurance, and long term disability are just a few. These plans are governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which became federal law in 1974.
While employers are not required to offer such benefits, if they do choose to offer them, they must meet certain requirements. That is what ERISA is there to do. ERISA oversees these employer-provided benefit plans and protects employees by ensuring that plan administrators meet minimum standards. If you have questions about your employer-sponsored benefits, an Austin ERISA lawyer may be able to help.
ERISA covers all plans provided by private, for-profit employers. The law provides for accountability and helps prevent corruption and other unethical matters. When there is a conflict between ERISA and state law, ERISA will overrule.
When employees are denied benefits that are supposed to be covered under a plan, employers can face penalties. These penalties may include tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
There are several ways in which an action by a plan or employer can result in violations:
Criminal violations at the executive level may include:
A plan or employer not abiding by the laws and obligations set forth by ERISA can face hefty fines. There are two types of penalties involved – civil and criminal.
The law does not have specific civil penalties in place for offenders, so penalties are given on a case-by-case basis. They generally depend on the motive and do not exceed $1,000 per day. Plan participants, for example, have the ability to receive compensation for benefits that were wrongly denied, any accrued interest, and attorney’s fees.
Criminal punishments depend on the nature of the violation. The maximum criminal penalties were increased in 2002. They increased again in 2016. Individuals can be fined up to $100,000 and face up to 10 years in jail. Companies can face fines up to $500,000. They may be forced to restore assets and losses and reprocess claims in accordance with the plan.
ERISA has the best interests of injured employees in mind. It was put in place to ensure that disability plan administrators meet certain standards. When these standards are not met, the employer can face significant penalties.
Employees have rights when they suffer disabilities, and if you feel like your employer is trying to take away your rights, it is time to seek legal help. An Austin ERISA lawyer from the Law Offices of J. Price McNamara can inform you of your legal rights and protect your interests. Schedule a free consultation by calling his office today.
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