Your Rights Under ERISA
Members of HARIETT are entitled to certain rights and protections under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"). ERISA provides that all members shall be entitled to:
1. Receive Information About the Plan and Benefits
- Examine without charge, at the HARIETT office and at all other specified locations, such as worksites and union halls, all documents governing the Plan, including insurance contracts and collective bargaining agreements, and a copy of the latest annual report (Form 5500 series) filed by the HARIETT with the U.S. Department of Labor, and available at the Public Disclosure Room of the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration.
- Obtain copies of all HARIETT documents and other HARIETT information upon written request to the HARIETT office. The Plan Administrator may make a reasonable charge for the copies.
- Receive a summary of the HARIETT's annual financial report. The Plan Administrator is required by law to furnish each member with a copy of this summary annual report.
2. Prudent Actions by Plan Fiduciaries
In addition to creating rights for Plan members, ERISA imposes duties upon the people who are responsible for the operation of the employee benefit Plan. The people who operate the Plan, called "fiduciaries" of the Plan, have a duty to do so prudently and in the interest of Plan members and beneficiaries. No one, including a member's employer, union, or any other person, may fire a member or otherwise discriminate against a member in any way to prevent members from obtaining a welfare benefit or exercising their rights under ERISA.
3. Enforce Members' Rights
If a member's claim for a welfare benefit is denied in whole or in part, the member has a right to know why this was done, to obtain copies of documents relating to the decision without charge and to appeal any denial, all within certain time schedules, and must receive a written explanation of the reason for the denial.
Under ERISA, there are steps that can be taken to enforce the above rights. For instance, if a member requests a copy of Plan documents or the latest annual report materials from the Plan and does not receive them within 30 days, the member may file suit in a Federal court. In such a case, the court may require the Plan Administrator to provide the materials and pay the member up to $110 a day until the materials are received, unless the materials were not sent because of reasons beyond the control of the Plan Administrator.
If a member has a claim for benefits that is denied or ignored, in whole or in part, the member may file suit in a State or Federal court. If it should happen that Plan fiduciaries misuse the Plan's money, or if the member is discriminated against for asserting his/her rights, the member may seek assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor, or may file suit in a Federal court. The court will decide who should pay court costs and legal fees. If the member is successful, the court may order the person sued to pay these costs and fees. If the member loses, the court may order the member to pay these costs and fees, if, for example, it finds that the member's claim is frivolous.
4. Assistance with Members' Questions
Members should contact the Plan Administrator with any questions regarding the HARIETT. If members have any questions about this statement or about their rights under ERISA, or if they need assistance in obtaining documents from the Plan Administrator, they should contact the nearest office of the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, listed in the telephone directory or the Division of Technical Assistance and Inquiries, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20210. Members may obtain certain publications about their rights and responsibilities under ERISA by calling the publications hotline of the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration.