Block & Leviton is proud to represent employees exercising their rights under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and other similar statutes.
Block & Leviton’s Employee Benefits Practice Group represents employees and retirees who are participants in employee benefits plans (and their beneficiaries) nationwide. The Practice Group focuses on litigation involving violations of the federal law Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”) in connection with employee benefit plans sponsored by private employers, but has also represented employees who participant in non-ERISA plans (such as government plans).
ERISA imposes various duties and requirements to protect the rights of employees and their beneficiaries in retirement plans and welfare plans to protect participants and beneficiaries’ rights and interests. Persons responsible for managing an ERISA plan – who are called “fiduciaries” – are required to act solely in the interests of the participants and beneficiaries, not of the employer, to act prudently, to diversify assets held by the plan and to follow the terms of the plan and the other requirements of ERISA. Fiduciaries and high-level company executives are prohibited from self-dealing in plan assets.
ERISA also contains a variety of statutory protections, and Block & Leviton attorneys have litigated a wide variety of these claims including the following:
- Prohibiting employers from adopting plan “amendments” to change the plan’s vesting schedule, benefit formula, or other conditions to eliminate or reduce already-accrued retirement benefits or restrict their receipt.
- Disclosure of plan terms and material changes to participants and disclosure of other information upon request.
- Discrimination or Retaliation as based on benefits or exercising rights under ERISA or retaliation for exposing violations of ERISA.
In addition to representing employees, Block & Leviton attorneys have also represented fiduciaries who have claims against other fiduciaries and fiduciaries who were improperly removed as fiduciaries.
There area wide variety of retirement plans and Block & Leviton’s Employee BenefitsGroup has experience litigating a wide variety of retirement plans.
- Defined Benefit Pension Plans: these traditional plans usually pay benefits pursuant to a formula. Block & Leviton attorneys have litigated claims involving these types of plans about improper investments, amendments, prohibited transactions and whether employees were improperly denied benefits.
- Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs): ESOPs are retirement plans that primarily invest in the stock of employer company (whether the stock is privately held or publicly traded). Block & Leviton attorneys have litigated a wide variety of claims involving these plans have included claims about improper valuation of stock, plan amendments and prohibited transactions.
- 401(k) Plans: Most 401(k) plans offer an investment menu for participants to choose from but fiduciaries have a duty to establish and follow procedures to prudently and loyally select the investment options and determine the reasonableness of their fees and expenses. Block & Leviton attorneys have litigated claims challenging whether the investments and fees in these plans were proper and prudent.
- Profit Sharing Plans: Profit-sharing plans are individual account plans where the investment of assets is managed solely by the fiduciaries. Block & Leviton attorneys have litigated claims challenging whether the investments prudent.
- Executive Deferred Compensation Plans (“Top Hat Plans”): Deferred Compensation Plans for high-level executives are also known as top hat plans. Block & Leviton attorneys have litigated claims challenging whether executives have received the proper benefits.
- Severance Plans: Severance Plans provide benefits to employees in the event that an employee is laid off or terminated. Block & Leviton attorneys have litigated claims involving these types of plans about whether employees have been improperly denied benefits.
- Disability Plans: Disability Plans provide benefits to employees in the event that an employee is disabled. Block & Leviton attorneys have litigated claims involving these plans that involve issues on a class-wide basis.
- Health Plans: Health Plans, of course, provide health benefits to employee and ERISA though COBRA ensure employees are entitled to continuation health coverage when a “qualifying event” (such as end of employment) occurs. Block & Leviton attorneys have litigated claims involving COBRA and also termination of health insurance.
Block & Leviton has represented employees and plan participants in a wide range of litigation areas involving rights and violations under ERISA.
If you have concerns about your rights and benefits as an employee, retiree, participant, or beneficiary under an employee benefit plan or ERISA, please contact one of the following persons for more information:
R. Joseph Barton
Block & Leviton LLP
1735 20th Street NW
Washington DC 20009