Virginia ERISA Retaliation Lawyer

When it becomes necessary, you expect that you will be able to access the benefits to which you are entitled under your employee benefit plans, including disability benefits for when you are injured, ill, or otherwise unable to work. In some cases, however, employers are unhappy with you for intending to or actually seeking these benefits.

If you experience an adverse employment action as a result of your claim for employee benefits, you may want to get the advice of Virginia ERISA retaliation lawyer.

ERISA Retaliation Under Federal Law

Under ERISA § 510, it is illegal for employers to take any adverse employment actions against employees who exercise their rights as participants or beneficiaries of employee benefit plans governed by ERISA. It is also unlawful for employers to interfere with employees seeking to receive benefits under these plans to which they are entitled.

The prohibited adverse employment actions include the following:

  • Firing or termination
  • Demotion to a position with lower pay, benefits, duties, or status
  • Discipline
  • Suspensions from employment
  • Discrimination

This section of ERISA also makes it illegal for employers to take adverse employment actions against employees who give information or testify in proceedings concerning ERISA-related issues. In § 510 actions, it is most often the employer who is the defendant.

Common Types of ERISA Retaliation by Employers

Since ERISA governs both health insurance and pension employee benefit plans, there are a variety of scenarios in which employers may retaliate against employees for seeking benefits. These situations may include the following:

  • Employers terminate employees just before they reach the vesting date for their pension plans.
  • Employers terminate benefits for a group of employees who have chosen to exercise certain rights under their employee benefit plans.
  • Employers who demote, decrease pay rates or salaries, or otherwise treat employees in a discriminatory manner because they are exercising a right to receive benefits under their ERISA-governed plans.

In any of these scenarios, the employees may benefit from the assistance of an ERISA retaliation lawyer in Virginia.

Elements of an ERISA Retaliation Claim in Virginia

Although fact situations in ERISA retaliation claims vary widely, employees seeking to file ERISA retaliation claims must establish that the employer took some type of adverse employment action against them. They also must prove that the employer took the adverse employment action primarily to inappropriately interfere with employees’ ERISA rights or benefits.

Essentially, employees have the burden of proving that the employer intended to interfere with their ERISA rights in taking whatever adverse employment action is at issue.

Penalties for Retaliation Claims Under ERISA

ERISA § 502(a) establishes the civil enforcement scheme for employees who wish to pursue a § 510 claim. Pursuant to these procedures, a retaliation claim could result in employees being awarded certain ERISA benefits to which they would have been entitled had it not been for the employer’s adverse employment action.

Employees also may seek equitable remedies under a § 510 claim, in the form of injunctions, restitution, or specific performance, as needed.

Work with a Virginia ERISA Retaliation Attorney Today

In an ERISA retaliation claim, you bear the burden of proving discriminatory intent on the part of the employer in taking the adverse employment action. This standard of proof requires evidence of the intent of the employer in taking the action, which is not always self-evident or easy to establish.

Consider contacting a Virginia ERISA retaliation lawyer for advice about how to most effectively proceed with your retaliation claim.