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How does the Employment Retirement Income Security Act work?

On Behalf of | Jan 1, 2020 | Employee Rights |

The Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) went into effect in the United States in 1974. It aims to protect workers’ rights to their employer-sponsored benefits including group health care and pension plans.

ERISA makes it so employers are required to provide their employees and any of their beneficiaries with necessary information about the funding and features of pension and group welfare benefit plans.

Anyone who manages or controls these plans at a workplace must adhere to certain fiduciary responsibilities in doing so. They must establish an appeal or grievance process for beneficiaries to follow. If employers and their employees aren’t successful in resolving their differences through such an approach, then workers are entitled to file a breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit against their employer. Beneficiaries may sue for benefits in such cases.

ERISA has been amended several times since it first went into effect in 1974. Two of the more remarkable amendments to it have been the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).

HIPAA aims to keep patients’ protected health information (PHI) from being disclosed to a worker’s employer and other unauthorized individuals. This piece of legislation ensures that an employee’s privacy is protected, and they aren’t discriminated against in the workplace based on a medical condition that they may have.

COBRA was instituted to provide employees with a way to continue receiving health insurance benefits after losing their job and similar events.

The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act, the Affordable Care Act, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the Newborns’ and Mothers’ Health Protection Act are some of the other important amendments that have been made to ERISA in recent years.

While many workers are protected by ERISA, many employees, including those who are employed by churches or government agencies may not be. Anyone who works for an employer that maintains state-minimum workers’ compensation coverage solely for compliance reasons, largely employs nonresidents or someone who receives disability or unemployment may be exempt for coverage under ERISA as well.

If you’re unsure about whether ERISA protects you, then an attorney can help. Your Burlington lawyer can advise you of what protections that you’re afforded under both New Jersey and federal laws.