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University faces ERISA-related lawsuit

Some employees in the District of Columbia may have had their retirement funds mismanaged. A lawsuit filed against Georgetown University and several officials alleges that the university's defined contribution retirement plans were not adequately overseen and that this resulted in fees that were excessive and unreasonable. According to the lawsuit, the university in fact had a significant amount of bargaining power and could have used that for the benefit of plan participants and their beneficiaries.

One of those breaches of duty, the complaint says, was using three different service providers instead of selecting one. This significantly drove up fees for several reasons. One was that it resulted in an enormous number of investment choices that officials could not adequately monitor for performance. The lawsuit said that it was unreasonable to expect plan participants to screen these out and that they should have been excluded by the officials responsible for managing the plans. Furthermore, the lawsuit also states that a TIAA loan program was flawed in several ways. It required too much collateral, involved illegally transferring plan assets and was in violation of Department of Labor rules for these types of loan programs.

The Georgetown lawsuit is similar to a number of lawsuits filed against several large universities in relation to their retirement plans. These lawsuits are all largely in their early stages.

Employees who are concerned about their benefits, whether it is their pension plan, disability benefits or some other issue, may want to consult an attorney. The Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 protects employee pension plans and other benefits, and an attorney may be able to help with ERISA benefits claims litigation if necessary.

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