The purpose of ERISA is to protect employee benefit plan participants and designated beneficiaries in Washington, D.C., and other parts of the country. Even so, there are times when violations occur, some of which can have a serious impact on an employee's company-related benefits. Here's a closer look at common violations and related ERISA provisions.
The Employee Benefits Security Administration conducts regular investigations if there are suspected ERISA violations. Pension and welfare plans could be affected if, for example, a plan is not being operated specifically for the benefit of participants. Action may also be taken if a plan administrator, plan sponsor, or other party uses plan assets for their benefit. Violations could also involve not following the plan's terms, taking adverse actions against an individual simply for exercising their rights under the plan, failing to properly value the assets related to a plan at their current fair market value, and not properly selecting and monitoring service providers.
Failure to comply with the Affordable Care Act and ERISA Part 7 are violations related to welfare plans. ERISA's criminal provisions apply to many different actions that could lead to serious charges if they are proven to have taken place. Some of these actions include embezzlement, kickbacks and false statements regarding employee benefit accounts. Concealment of facts pertaining to required plan documents and accepting solicitations to unfairly influence how plans operate are additional criminal violations. Prosecution of such violations is handled by U.S. Attorneys' offices.
An ERISA benefits claims attorney may get involved with a case concerning possible issues with employee plans if steps to internally resolve such problems fail. A lawyer familiar with benefit plans may also prove to be a valuable asset if an employee is having difficulty filing a valid claim related to an employer-based on self-insured plan, or if they are not properly receiving benefits.