In terms of employment law, where an employer denies your benefits in whole or in part, you will almost always use federal ERISA laws to seek remedies. “ERISA” is short for the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 and was enacted in 1974 by the United States Congress as a means to hold employers accountable in the administration of their employee benefit plans.
ERISA is monitored and enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). Just with that knowledge, it is already apparent that there are many regulatory agencies to consider when determining exactly how your employer may be accountable in an action to receive benefits they promised to you. Not only do you have to consider federal law, but state laws are sometimes applicable as well.
When a plaintiff brings a lawsuit in court, it is vitally important that they (1) bring the lawsuit in the appropriate court and (2) use the appropriate legal arguments in the lawsuit. If a judge concludes that the claim is not being heard in the right court of law or that the legal arguments are moot because they do not use the appropriate law in the complaint, then the judge will dismiss the case altogether. This amounts to an immense waste of time and money and an experienced ERISA attorney can help avoid this situation.
Preemption means that federal law supersedes the state law and the language provided in ERISA legislation preempts state law to a large degree. Under ERISA, federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over all issues contemplated relating to the civil enforcement of the law. Essentially, this means that if you are seeking recovery under ERISA, then you must use federal law.
Unsurprisingly, however, there are exceptions to the ERISA preemption rule. Laws regulating insurance, securities, banking laws and criminal laws are often exempt from the federal statute. In such cases, Illinois law will likely apply. Because the ERISA is subject to interpretation regarding its preemption language, much of the law we have today is a result of litigation working to determine exactly what the exemptions apply to.
Although many lawyers are extremely good at what they do, the attorney who handles your family law issues will not be the right attorney to handle your ERISA complaint. You wouldn’t hire a plumber to install a ceiling fan even though they may own many of the same tools.
ERISA laws, particularly those involving preemption, are complex and still subject to change. The Glencoe ERISA attorneys at Michael Bartolic, LLC are dedicated not only to understanding the current nuances between state and federal law, but also staying abreast of impending changes.
If you or a loved one has been denied benefits by an employer, or if you feel your employer has mismanaged your benefits, you must contact a qualified ERISA lawyer. We offer free initial consultations; please do not hesitate to contact us today.