Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLP
Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLP
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Fiduciary Responsibilities, Liabilities re Employee Benefit Plans

Employees participating in employer-sponsored benefit plans governed by ERISA have wide-ranging protections against wrongful conduct engaged in by so-called fiduciaries.

Who protects the fiduciaries?

Let's backtrack for a moment to clarify a few things regarding what is a highly specialized, technical and complex area of the law.

First, although the acronym ERISA is undoubtedly widely known among our readers across Connecticut, there is often much misunderstanding of what it means and provides for.

ERISA is shorthand for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which applies to workplace-sponsored pensions, retirement plans and health insurance coverage offered by private, for-profit employers (not government bodies or religious institutions).

As noted in an online overview of ERISA and fiduciary duties/liabilities under its provisions, the legislation "is a set of federal laws designed to protect employees" against misconduct by both employers who manage company programs and the parties who manage employee assets and are tasked to act in the best interests of workers.

Fiduciaries are posited ample acumen and sophistication by government regulators, and are thus tasked with knowing a great many things -- at in intimate detail -- regarding the plans they oversee. Both civil and criminal penalties are provided for under ERISA's provisions, and can attach to myriad acts or omissions, such as the improper denial of benefits to a worker or a failure to act in the best interests of employees.

ERISA's complexity and broad allowance for punitive behavior against fiduciaries renders it an imperative for plan administrators to have ready access to proven legal advocacy when fiduciary compliance-related issues come to the fore.

Many benefit plan fiduciaries and plan trustees have relied for many years upon the attorneys at Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, LLP, for experienced and aggressive legal help when they need it in an ERISA matter.

As we note on a relevant page of our website discussing plan benefits and fiduciary compliance, our lawyers "have represented employee benefit plan fiduciaries, including plan trustees, as plaintiffs and defendants in a wide variety of employee benefits disputes and fiduciary compliance matters."

We have obtained positive results for clients in many high-profile ERISA cases, and we always seek to do the same for trustees and plan administrators bringing us new challenges.

We welcome readers' questions and comments, and look forward always to helping them in ERISA-related matters and with other business concerns.

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