If you work for a private company and your employer has opted to offer a pension, your employer and the pension plan manager have certain obligations. Pension plan administrators and sponsors have fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and can be held liable for losses employees sustain when the duty is breached and employees experience loss of pension assets.
One of the most important obligations that ERISA fiduciaries have to pension plan participants is to be honest and forthcoming in all dealings. Misrepresentation, material misstatements and nondisclosure of material information can all be considered forms of pension fraud. Employees who suspect pension fraud should take prompt action but must do so in a way that protects their interests. An ERISA lawyer at Zamansky LLC can assist with reporting pension fraud so you can protect your job, stop the dishonest behavior and ensure you are able to recover all losses caused by fraudulent behavior. Zamansky LLC is here to help, so call as soon as you suspect fraud has occurred.
Steps for Reporting Pension Fraud
When you suspect pension fraud, you may wish to officially report the wrongdoing. Unfortunately, many employees do not know how to report pension fraud or what steps they can take to protect themselves. Depending upon the nature of the fraud, you may be able to report the wrongful acts to:
- Your supervisor, human resources department or others in your organization in charge of administering employee benefits programs.
- The local police department, who can investigate allegations of embezzlement or theft when money is being stolen from pension assets.
- Your state attorney general, who can investigate fraud schemes.
- The Securities and Exchange Commission if you believe securities laws are being violated or that a publicly-traded company is engaging in accounting irregularities.
- The Employee Benefits Security Administration
ERISA is a federal law, so the ability of your local officials – including local law enforcement – to investigate and take action is limited. While local resources would not be the right ones to report cases where fiduciaries are mismanaging investments, charging high plan fees or otherwise engaging in technical violations of ERISA, reporting to local law enforcement can make sense when crimes like theft and embezzlement are occurring.
It is also important to be cautious about making internal allegations of wrongdoing. ERISA has a whistleblower statute protecting employees from being retaliated against and losing their jobs when they give information, testify, or plan to testify about ERISA violations. However, courts are split on applying protections when employees make only internal complaints. The second circuit court, third circuit court, and fourth circuit court have all refused to interpret ERISA’s whistleblower protections as applicable when employees made internal complaints only.
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The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) was specifically established to help protect retirement security for workers, and the EBSA aims to handle claims promptly and efficiently, including ensuring you receive a written reply within 30 days after submitting a report of wrongdoing.
Determining the best way to report pension fraud is a decision best made in consultation with a lawyer to ensure your job is not threatened and to help you to maximize the chances of recovering money for losses caused by the fraud. To learn more about how to report pension fraud or to get help with the process of reporting pension fraud, call Zamansky LLC now.