ERISA is the abbreviated name for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which was first passed in 1974. This legislation is complex enough that attorneys can devote their entire field of study to it. ERISA lawyers can help make sure that employers are compliant with the regulations when creating and administering employee benefit plans. ERISA lawyers have experience in civil litigation and business litigation, and they can help to defend a business against accusations of noncompliance.
What to Know About ERISA
ERISA was chiefly enacted as a way to protect people’s pensions. However, in the decades since the law was passed, the act has become central to the administration of healthcare plans through employers. Rather than just protecting retirement, ERISA protects many different aspects of an average employee benefit plan.
The goal of an ERISA lawyer is to explain to clients what their obligations are with regards to their legal obligations. They can also help employers make sure that pensions and health insurance plans are being administered in a way that’s compliant with the very specific language outlined in the act.
ERISA can be used both in cases where employers provide health insurance to their employees on a self-insured basis, and in cases where employers provide group health insurance products to employees through a health benefit plan.
ERISA is technically relevant in every case involving employee benefits. That includes pensions, retirement plans, health plans, insurance, and any other programs that are created to provide benefits to employees. Also relevant are exempted plans, which are plans offered to government and nonprofit employees, or plans that are funded through government payments.
Staying Compliant with ERISA
ERISA doesn’t have any language that mandates that an employer must provide health insurance or a pension to their employees. However, whenever an employer does decide to provide employee benefits, the benefits are regulated through ERISA. It can be overwhelming to try to stay compliant with regulations if you’re a business owner or plan sponsor without a civil litigation background.
Over the past few years, regulatory government agencies have begun scrutinizing employee benefits packages more heavily. Employers are more likely than ever to have their plans audited, and if they are found to be in violation of the regulations, they may suffer consequences. For this reason, any employer who plans to offer employee benefits should make sure to consult with an experienced ERISA lawyer.
An ERISA lawyer can explain everything about the process. They can also go over the setup of every account and the language of every plan to make sure that such things are compliant with the current standards.
If your business is involved in civil litigation, it’s also important to have a lawyer. It’s especially important to have a lawyer with a background in ERISA if you’re involved in ERISA-related litigation. Within the text of ERISA, there are rules for how civil litigation must be handled.
Potential litigants cannot make very many specific claims in civil litigation. It is important to note that ERISA overrules state laws regarding employee benefit plans, since ERISA is federal legislation that is meant to provide a universal framework for the country.
When civil litigation occurs as relevant to ERISA, it will often be argued in a federal court rather than a state one. It’s also possible that any state employee benefit laws will be dismissed by the court when discussing the case.
In addition, there are limited ways that a complainant can be given restitution through ERISA. It is prohibited for any plaintiff to receive damages for pain and suffering, punitive damages, or similar damages that would normally be available at the state level.
The end result of ERISA litigation is usually that the claimant will receive the employee benefits of their plan. This includes any benefits that they were denied. Some courts might also allow for the plaintiff to recover attorney fees to pay for their court case.
ERISA doesn’t allow for any jury trials. If you bring a lawsuit regarding the denial of employee benefits before the court, it will be decided by the administrative actions of the court. The entire process involves a great deal of paperwork.