Hidden in the Shadows: ERISA Discrimination

Discrimination can happen in many areas of the workforce. Age, disabilities, and or race is a few examples on how discrimination can come into play. ERISA Discrimination is often overlooked because the most common discrimination claims stem around the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. ERISA Section 510, 29 U.S.C. § 1140 states that it shall be unlawful for any person to discharge, fine, suspend, expel, or discriminate against a participant or beneficiary for exercising any right to which he is entitled under the provisions of an employee benefit plan or for the purpose of interfering with the attainment of any right to which such participant may become entitled under the plan.


The Breakdown of the ERISA Section


The term participate refers to any employee, former employee, or affiliated person within an employee organization, who may be entitled to gain a benefit from an employee benefit plan. Discrimination under the ERISA section occurs when an employee was discharged because they were prevented from making a claim under the benefit plan or was eligible to receive benefits from the employee benefit plan.


How ERISA Discrimination Can be Successful


In order to successfully claim discrimination under the ERISA section, an employee must show specific evidence where they were fired because they was due benefits from the employee benefit plan. Once this claim has been filed, and the employer must come forward showing a legitimate reason in which they discharged the employee in a non- discriminatory manner. If the employer is successful, then the employee must present evidence stating that the employer discharged the employee because the employee was due a benefit from the employee benefit plan or was becoming eligible for a benefit under the employee benefit plan. 

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