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An Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) primer

On Behalf of | Jul 16, 2021 | Employment Law For Employees

For those employees that are now researching retirement or insurance employment law issues, they have likely come across an acronym, ERISA. And, for those dear readers, this blog post is a primer on just that acronym.

What is ERISA?

ERISA stands for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration. This law set federal minimum standards for welfare benefit plans, like retirement and insurance. It created an extensive legal framework for the minimum qualifications for these types of employer provided benefits and ensure that assets are not misused.

Which companies are required to follow ERISA?

ERISA applies to all private employer-sponsored welfare programs, like employer-provided/supplemented health insurance and retirement accounts. Private employers include non-profit organizations, partnerships, sole proprietorships and corporations. Though churches and governmental agencies are not covered. However, it should be noted that ERISA does not require employers to provide such benefits. It only sets the minimum standards, if an employer chooses to offer them.

What happens if an employer violates ERISA?

ERISA regulates the conduct of the fiduciaries that maintain these benefits, in addition to reporting and accountability, disclosures, procedural safeguards and financial and best-interest protections. And, the failure to comply with these ERISA requirements have expensive consequences, including enforcement actions by DOL that result in civil money penalties and employee liability through civil lawsuits.

For those Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky, employees with ERISA issues (i.e., issues with employer-provided benefits), they should contact an employment law attorney immediately. While the process can offer restitution and compensation, it can be extremely complicated.