ERISA Retaliation

Passed in 1974, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) protects employees insured under private insurance plans. This can include pension plans as well as health and welfare plans—in fact, the majority of benefit plans fall under the umbrella of ERISA. However, people who work for government agencies, churches, and a few other exempt organizations will not be protected by ERISA. Even though ERISA is a federal law as per 29 U.S.C. §§1001-1461, some employers and insurance companies choose to take actions that are not in accordance with this law. One of the ways they may do this is to retaliate against employees who try to access their benefits, appeal claims, or even pursue them in court. If you believe that your employer or their insurance company are retaliating against you, an ERISA retaliation lawyer may be able to help. Speak with a knowledgeable ERISA attorney that could answer your questions.

Types of Retaliatory Acts

Retaliation in the context of ERISA can take many forms, including dismissal from employment, wage reduction, benefit reduction, demotions, threats, and more. It is important to note, however, that some courts define retaliation differently than others do. Fortunately, an ERISA retaliation lawyer may be able to help claimants determine if they are the victim of retaliatory acts.

Federal Protections Against ERISA Retaliation

Knowing that employees may face the threat of being retaliated against for attempting to receive or receiving their ERISA benefits, federal lawmakers placed additional laws and consequences addressing this within the Act itself. In fact, all an employee who suffers from retaliation needs to prove is that improper efforts were made to interfere with employee and beneficiary plans under ERISA. Proving actual interference is not imperative to a retaliation claim. Plaintiffs can still receive ERISA benefits and file a retaliation claim, as per ERISA §510.

ERISA § 510 Claims

There are two plan categories under ERISA: welfare benefit plans and pension benefit plans. ERISA §510 provides retaliation protections for claimants of both plan types. ERISA protections apply to any employee who is exercising their rights under an ERISA plan, as well as any employee who testifies or takes part in ERISA-related inquiries or proceedings. The latter type of protection is often referred to as the whistleblower provision. To have a valid claim for relief, a claimant must prove that the retaliation or discrimination in question was for either of the following purposes:
  • Retaliating against the plaintiff for exercising an ERISA right
  • Interfering with obtaining an entitlement
Additionally, the plaintiff needs to prove that their employer took such retaliatory actions with an intent to violate the statute to not retaliate against a claimant or to hinder their rights under ERISA. An ERISA retaliation lawyer could assist potential clients with every step of this process.

How an ERISA Retaliation Attorney Could Help

Some ERISA insurance companies and employers put their bottom line as their priority instead of their policyholders and employees. When this happens, people dependent on their ERISA-protected plans often suffer and may even be retaliated against for accessing the benefits they are entitled to. If you feel like you were a victim of retaliatory acts, a seasoned ERISA retaliation lawyer may be able to help you exercise your rights under ERISA. Call today to learn more about the reliable representation a dedicated ERISA attorney could offer you.