On November 6, an attorney representing employees of IBM told the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. that the employees should be allowed to sue the company's retirement fund managers because they did not disclose that the company's stock was overvalued. IBM's 401(k) plan invests in company stock. The Supreme Court will decide whether the Employee Retirement Income Security Act requires fund managers to disclose to employees drops in stock value that result from wrongdoing. In this case, stocks dropped because the microchip-making division had issues.
Employees in Washington, D.C., and across the country are protected by the provisions of the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act of 1974, or ERISA. The law contains regulations that require companies with employee benefits plans, including retirement funds, disability plans and health insurance programs, to provide explicit documentation and manage those plans in the best interests of the workers. When companies fail to do so, they can be held accountable in court, and significant damages can be assessed. One case involving the Massachusetts Institute of Technology retirement plan is moving toward a settlement.