As a Participant in the Plan, you are entitled to certain rights and protections under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). ERISA provides that all Plan Participants be entitled to:
In addition to creating rights for Plan Participants, ERISA imposes duties upon the people who are responsible for the operation of the Plan. The people who operate your Plan, called fiduciaries, have a duty to do so prudently and in the interest of you and other Plan Participants and beneficiaries.
No one, including your Employer, your Union, or any other person, may fire you or otherwise discriminate against you in any way to prevent you from obtaining a pension benefit or exercising your rights under ERISA. If your claim for a pension benefit is denied in whole or in part, you have a right to a written explanation to know why it was denied and to obtain copies of documents relating to the decision, without charge, and to appeal any denial, all within certain time schedules. Under ERISA, there are steps you can take to enforce the above rights. For instance, if you request certain materials from the Plan and do not receive them within 30 days, you may file a suit in Federal court. In such a case, the court may require that the Plan provide the materials and pay you up to $110 a day until you receive the materials, unless the materials were not sent because of reasons beyond the control of the Plan.
If you have a claim for benefits which is denied or ignored, in whole or in part, you may file a suit. In addition, if you disagree with the Plan's decision, or lack thereof, concerning the qualified status of a domestic relations order, you may file suit in Federal court.
If it should happen that Plan fiduciaries misuse the Plan's money or other assets, or if you are discriminated against for asserting your rights, you may seek assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor, or you may file suit in a Federal court. If you file a lawsuit, the court may decide who should pay court costs and legal fees. If you are successful, the court may order the person(s) you have sued to pay your costs and fees. If you lose, the court may order you to pay the Trust's or other defendants' costs and fees, for example, if it finds your claim frivolous.
If you have any questions about your Plan, you should contact the Plan Office. If you have any questions about this statement or about your rights under ERISA, you should contact the nearest Area Office of the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), U.S. Department of Labor, located at EBSA, San Francisco Regional Office, 71 Stevenson Street, Suite 915, San Francisco, CA 94105, (415) 975-4600 or:
Office of Participant Assistant
U.S. Department of Labor
Employee Benefits Security Administration
200 Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20210
You may also obtain certain publications about your rights and responsibilities under ERISA by calling the publication hotline of the EBSA. For single copies of publications, contact the EBSA Brochure Request Line at 1-800-998-7542 or contact the EBSA field office nearest you. You may find answers to your questions and a list of EBSA offices online at: www.dol.gov/ebsa/welcome.html.