The Supreme Court handed down a victory on February 26, 2020, to employees whose pension, healthcare, or other benefit plans were mismanaged. Under ERISA, the federal law that governs such plans, those who manage or administer such plans are considered fiduciaries bound by strict standards that require them to act with great care and in the interest of plan participants and their families.
If they fail to meet these requirements or otherwise violate the statute, ERISA gives employees six years to sue unless they have “actual knowledge” that the plan managers or administrators violated their duties or the statutory requirements, in which case a three-year period for filing suit applies.
In Intel Corp. v. Sulyma, a unanimous Supreme Court held that Congress meant what it said and that the plan participant must actually know about the fiduciary breach or violation to trigger the shorter deadline. In that case, a pension plan participant stated that he never read financial disclosures posted by his employer on a website.
The Supreme Court held that, in those circumstances, the employee did not automatically gain “actual knowledge” of the plan’s risky investments based on these web postings and therefore his suit was timely. This decision will ensure that ERISA works as intended so that employees and their families are not prematurely cut off from their right to file suit simply because an employer or insurance company posts information that could have led them to discover mismanagement.
Kantor & Kantor filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the Pension Rights Center supporting the employee, Mr. Sulyma, and we are very pleased with the result.
For questions about your pension, healthcare, or long-term disability benefits, please call Kantor & Kantor for a free consultation or complete our online contact form.