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Statement of ERISA Rights
Participants in benefit plans are entitled to certain rights and protections under the Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). ERISA provides that all participants shall be entitled to the following.
The participant may examine, without charge, in the Human Resources Department (and at other specified locations, such as work sites and union halls) all benefit plan documents (including collective bargaining agreements and copies of all documents filed by the plan with the U.S. Department of Labor, such as detailed annual reports and plan descriptions).
The participant may obtain copies of all benefit plan documents and other plan information upon written request to the Plan Administrator. The Administrator may make a reasonable charge for the copies.
The participant may receive a summary of the annual ERISA reports to the Department of Labor. The Administrator of the Plan is required by law to furnish each participant with a copy of the summary annual reports.
ERISA sets forth the duties of the people who are responsible for the operation of benefit plans. The people who operate the plans have a duty to do so prudently and in the interest of the participants and beneficiaries. No one, including the employer, may discharge or otherwise discriminate against participants in any way to prevent them from obtaining benefits to which they are entitled under the plans or exercising their rights under ERISA.
If an application for benefits under a plan is denied in whole or in part, the participant or beneficiary must receive a written explanation of the reasons for the denial. Participants have the right to have the Human Resources Department review and reconsider denied applications or requests on eligibility, participation or other aspects of the operation of any plan and to have the insurance company review and reconsider denied claims under a group insurance contract.
Under ERISA, participants may take steps to enforce their rights. For example, if a participant requests materials from a plan and does not receive them within 30 days, the participant may file suit in a federal court. In such a case, the court may require the Plan Administrator to provide the materials and pay the participant up to $100 a day until the participant receives the materials, unless the materials were not sent due to reasons beyond the control of the Administrator.
If a claim for benefits is denied or ignored, in whole or in part, the participant may file suit in court. If the Human Resources Department’s responsibility to remit any plan premiums is not discharged according to the terms of a benefit plan or if a participant is discriminated against for asserting ERISA rights, the participant may seek assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor, or may file suit in a federal court. The court will decide who should pay the court costs and legal fees. If the participant is successful, the court may order the person sued to pay these costs and fees. If the participant loses, the court may order the participant to pay these costs and fees, for example, if it finds the claim frivolous.
Contact the Human Resources Department if you have any questions about the benefits plan. If you have questions about this statement or your rights under ERISA, contact the nearest Area Office of the U.S. Labor Management Services Administration, Department of Labor.