How Far Does Withdrawal Liability Extend? Local 705 International Brotherhood of Teamsters Pension Fund v. Pitello

Employers often ask how far withdrawal liability extends? Does it include other business entities owned by the same company? What about property those other entities own? On July 7, 2021, the Seventh Circuit decided in Local 705 International Brotherhood of Teamsters Pension Fund v. Pitello that withdrawal liability can reach affiliated trades or businesses that are under “common control” with the withdrawing employer, including any real estate owned by...

Continue reading…

Zirbel v. Ford Motor Company – Benefit Overpayment Decision Upheld in the Sixth Circuit

Incompetent Board of Trustees is not a defense. Benefit overpayment cases having been trending across the country. One of the latest was heard by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Ohio. In Zirbel v. Ford Motor Company, the appeals court upheld the Ford retirement plan’s decision on a benefit overpayment mistakenly paid to an ex-spouse of a participant. In this case, Donna Zirbel received a $351,000 retirement-benefits payment from...

Continue reading…

The IRS Gives Defined Benefit Plans Two New Options to Address Overpayment

Mistakes are a fact of life and administering a pension plan is no different. In fact, the average pension plan is full of landmines that can create potential problems, most notably the accuracy of plan data, benefit calculations, and accrual computations. That is why the IRS created the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System, or “EPCRS,” to help plan sponsors proactively address and correct any mistakes or errors they encounter. Recently,...

Continue reading…

Department of Labor Dials Back ESG Investing Regulations

The Department of Labor has issued its final rules on the investment duties of fiduciaries under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”). These rules differed from the proposed rules issued over the summer which required additional responsibility for retirement plans who wanted to consider environmental, social, or governance factors in their investing (known as “ESG” investments). This is of particular concern to Taft-Hartley Plans, who often include investment...

Continue reading…

Defined Benefit Plan Participants Must Have “Standing” to Sue Plan Fiduciaries

Can a participant in a defined benefit plan sue the plan’s fiduciaries under ERISA without first showing an individual financial loss or an imminent risk of such harm? The Supreme Court of the United States recently decided the question in the negative, holding a participant must have “standing” to bring suit. That means the participant must show that he or she suffered an actual injury or have...

Continue reading…

Abuse of Discretion – ERISA’s Standard of Review You Do Not Want to Lose

When a court reviews the decision of an ERISA plan (both health and welfare and pension plans), it must first determine the standard of review: abuse of discretion or de novo. Under an abuse of discretion standard, the court gives the plan’s sponsor (or trustees) more deference and looks at whether the decision was reasonable under the plan’s terms and available evidence. The court will also pay...

Continue reading…

How many Non-Bargaining Employees is Too Many?

A Multiemployer Plan under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) is a plan in which one or more employers contribute, is maintained pursuant to one or more collective bargaining agreements between one or more employee organizations and one or employer, and satisfies other requirements set forth by the United States Department of Labor. However, and despite this definition, you will often find non-bargaining employees covered under...

Continue reading…