Many California workers rely on their pension to provide them with financial security after they retire. A decent pension plan is an important factor in deciding whether to accept a job or not.
By now, you have most likely heard stories about people who lost their pensions, leaving them and their families worried about their financial future. Unfortunately, these stories are not rare, and there are various ways that you could lose your pension.
How ERISA protects you
Traditional, defined-benefit pensions are protected under the Employees Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. ERISA is a federal law that protects workers by requiring plan fiduciaries to follow rules that prevent them from misusing pension funds.
ERISA also allows you to sue if you believe your employer or whoever oversees your pension is breaching their fiduciary duty, which is a form of pension fraud.
What is a breach of fiduciary duty?
A breach of fiduciary duty can happen in various ways. Your employer may deny pension benefits to you, or someone rightfully entitled to them, such as your spouse, after you pass away. They may also improperly manage your pension funds or engage in other forms of fraudulent activity, such as falsifying records or embezzling.
Your pension may also be in danger if your employer cannot fund your pension properly because they do not have enough money to meet their financial obligations, or if your employer goes bankrupt.
You have rights under ERISA in any of these situations. You employer can be held liable for damages if you are defrauded out of your pension benefits.
Considering your next steps
Suing your employer for pension fraud can be complex and challenging. It can be difficult to even decide if it is something worth doing, especially if you have an otherwise good relationship with your employer.
Before deciding on next steps, it may help to speak with a qualified legal professional who can evaluate your situation. Guidance through the process can be extremely beneficial.