A collection of resources to help employer/plan sponsors, litigators, employee benefit attorneys, plan service providers, and other advisors understand ERISA litigation issues and develop strategies for handling litigated benefits disputes.
Employee benefit plans are governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA)—the comprehensive (yet frequently amended) federal law enacted in 1974 and known ever since for its complexity. ERISA is a heavily litigated statute and, not surprisingly, ERISA litigation issues have a significant impact on day-to-day benefit plan compliance. One well-known example of this relationship is the Supreme Court's Firestone ruling, which addressed the standard of judicial review in benefits disputes (Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. v. Bruch, 489 U.S. 101 (1989)). However, ERISA litigation issues also arise in contexts less commonly associated with benefits, including labor negotiations, corporate transactions, domestic relations law, and privacy (to name but a few).
The need for attorneys (both litigators and compliance practitioners) and other employee benefits professionals with ERISA litigation expertise is great. To that end, this Toolkit includes continuously updated resources intended to familiarize employer/plan sponsors, service providers, attorneys, and other advisors with some of the most common issues in litigated disputes under ERISA. Among other topics, these resources address the kinds of actions that may be brought under ERISA, the deadlines for filing benefits disputes, ERISA's broad preemption rule, and the court-imposed exhaustion requirement.