Frequently Asked Questions - ERISA & Employee Benefits

What is ERISA?

"ERISA" stands for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, which is a federal law setting forth minimum standards for retirement and health plans in private industry to provide protection for individuals in such employee benefit plans. ERISA contains numerous requirements regarding plan administration and the standards of conduct required by plan administrators and fiduciaries of employee benefit plans.

ERISA also requires certain employee benefit plan information be provided to participants. ERISA is important because it protects retirement savings and an individual's rights in other health and welfare plans from mismanagement and abuse.

What is a multiemployer benefit plan?

What is a multiemployer benefit plan?

A multiemployer benefit plan is an employee benefit plan maintained under one or more collective bargaining agreements to which more than one employer contributes. The collective bargaining agreements typically involve one or more local unions. Multiemployer plans can also be "Taft-Hartley" plans, which means the plan sponsor is a joint board of trustees consisting of equal representation from labor and management. These trustees are fiduciaries and are responsible for the overall operation and administration of the plan.

How is ERISA enforced?

ERISA is administered and enforced by three governmental bodies: the Department of Labor and its Employee Benefits Security Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. The attorneys at Hessian & McKasy have substantial experience in dealing with these governmental bodies and have a broad understanding of the various rules and regulations that pertain to employee benefit plans. ERISA is a federal statute and its issues are litigated in federal courts.

Why types of ERISA clients does Hessian & McKasy represent?

Hessian & McKasy provides representation and counsel to Taft-Hartley multiemployer benefit plans to clients in the Minneapolis, MN area. Hessian & McKasy works closely with the respective boards of trustees to ensure compliance with ERISA and all applicable rules and regulations in administering these types of plans, and ensuring that the trustees' fiduciary obligations are met.

What legal issues arise in the ERISA context?

ERISA and the administration of multiemployer plans present numerous legal issues in both the transactional and litigation context. Transactional issues can include research and regulatory compliance, contract matters, sophisticated investments, real estate, and fiduciary liability. ERISA litigation can involve issues on fiduciary liability, benefit payments and reimbursement, the collection of employer contributions, and other matters pertaining to plan administration and legal compliance.