Legal Memorandum: Actions Governed by ERISA

Issue: What law governs when a plaintiff seeks benefits and other relief to which he is entitled under a retirement plan and ERISA, but the plaintiff has been denied access to plan information to which he is legally entitled?

Area of Law: Employee Law
Keywords: Retirement plan; Access to plan information
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq, § 1002(2)(a), § 1002(2)(4); 29 U.S.C. § 1132; 29 U.S.C. §§ 1021—1025; 29 U.S.C. § 501; 29 U.S.C. § 1132(e); 29 U.S.C. § 501(b)
Date: 10/01/2007

               Such an action arises under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. (ERISA).  ERISA applies to “employee pension benefit plans” and “pension plans,” defined to include

any plan, fund, or program . . . established or maintained by an . . . employee organization, . . . to the extent that by its express terms or as a result of surrounding circumstances such plan, fund, or program (i) provides retirement income to employees, or (ii) results in a deferral of income by employees . . . , regardless of the method of calculating the contributions made to the plan, the method of calculating the benefits under the plan or the method of distributing benefits from the plan.


Id. § 1002(2)(a).  The term “employee organization” includes labor unions.  Id. § 1002(4).

Such an action should be brought pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1132, seeking benefits and other relief to which the plaintiff is entitled under his or her plan and ERISA, and under 29 U.S.C. §§ 1021—1025, for the denial of access to plan information to which the plaintiff is legally entitled.

These claims also arise under the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, 29 U.S.C. § 501 et seq. (LMRDA). 

Jurisdiction over the ERISA claims is conferred on the federal district court by reason of 29 U.S.C. § 1132(e).  The federal court has jurisdiction over the LMDRA claims pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 501.  The LMRDA Provides: 


When any officer, agent, shop steward, or representative of any labor […]

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