Benefits offered by employers must meet standards set by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. As noted by the U.S. Department of Labor, ERISA requires administrators to send employees written information about company plans.
If you believe that your employer engaged in discrimination to reduce your eligibility for benefits, you could request to see the plan’s rules. You may receive detailed documentation regarding a retirement plan’s operations and financial position. The documentation may also describe how the plan’s managers use the money you and your employer contribute to fund your retirement.
How may an employer discriminate against older employees?
The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act requires companies to offer all employees the same benefits. The Cornell University Legal Information Institute website notes that employers cannot offer older employees lesser benefits than younger workers. Employers also cannot ask older employees to sign documents waiving their rights to file a lawsuit for age discrimination.
If you reached the age of 40 and saw your hours reduced, your employer may have violated the law. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission may determine that demoting or scheduling older employees for fewer hours reflects age discrimination. If the intent was to reduce paying benefits older employees may soon draw from, it could have violated the standards set by ERISA.
When may I file a legal action?
The OWBPA prohibits employers from discriminating against older workers by reducing their benefits. If your retirement plan, for example, offers benefits that you stopped receiving, your employer may have discriminated against you based on your age.
You may review the retirement, life insurance and health care plans offered by your employer. If your benefits differ from those of younger employees, a legal action may provide relief such as back pay or the benefits you should have earned.