ERISA violations may lead to civil or criminal consequences

Often a benefits package is one of the deciding factors taken into consideration when someone in Tennessee applies for a job. This may include such things as a pension, retirement fund, health insurance or profit-sharing. However, it is not unheard of for such private employers to lure workers in with big promises only to disappoint by denying those benefits or changing the scope of the plans without warning. This is where ERISA comes into play.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act is a federal oversight that sets minimum standards for worker benefits offered by certain private industries. While ERISA does not require employers to provide such benefits, it does insist on ethical fiduciary management and transparency between the employer and those receiving the benefits. An employer who denies promised benefits to current or past employees may be in violation of ERISA. Likewise, a fiduciary who mishandles employee investments may face penalties for ERISA violations.

If an employee's complaint of an ERISA violation is not satisfied through administrative procedures within the company, that employee may file a lawsuit. A successful claim may result in fines, restitution and changes in benefit management procedures. If the Employee Benefits Security Administration becomes involved, criminal charges may be filed against an employer or fiduciary who commits fraud in violation of ERISA laws.

Tennessee workers who feel their rights to benefits have been unfairly denied or mismanaged have several options for pursuing justice. To explore those options, many seek the counsel of an attorney whose work is focused on employment law and ERISA violations. Such an attorney will be able to assess the situation and guide the employee in the most advantageous course of action.

Source: FindLaw, "ERISA Violations: Penalties and Punishments", Accessed on July 15, 2017

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