Among the many benefits offered to employees by companies in California is the ability to participate in a retirement plan such as a 401K. These are often governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. What many employees may not be aware of is that if they ever disagree with the benefits they are to receive under an ERISA plan, their employer might be able to dictate the court that would have jurisdiction over the matter with no regard whatsoever to the where the employee works or lives.
As explained by Bloomberg Law, a provision called the forum selection clause allows companies to identify the court of their choosing when addressing benefits disputes with employees. This is something that the United States Department of Labor does not believe is fair and that should change. Some people have tried to change this already. However, to date, at least four different federal appeals courts have essentially upheld an employer’s right to choose the court for any benefit dispute. These are the Third, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Circuit appeals courts.
Now, a group of law professors has approached the U.S. Supreme Court asking them to review this matter specific to the case involving one man who was previously employed at a major pharmaceutical company.
It is not known yet if the high court will agree to review or address this issue or how their decision might end up given the current makeup of the court. Watching this case can be important for any person who needs to pursue legal action regarding their retirement benefits.