Companies Can Safely Fire Someone Who Alleges Internal ERISA Violations


At least under ERISA and at least in some states.

Last week, the United States Supreme Court declined to review a Third Circuit decision that ERISA § 510 (which makes it illegal to fire an employee “because he has given information or has testified or is about to testify in any inquiry or proceeding relating to [ERISA]”) did not protect an HR director’s unsolicited comments to management. Specifically, the director claimed she was fired after reporting to supervisors perceived ERISA violations (including the fiduciary breach of misrepresentation) regarding the company’s group health plan. Shirley Edwards v. A.H. Cornell and Son, Inc., 610 F.3d 217 (3d Cir. 2010), cert. den. 2011 WL 767661 (S.Ct. 2011).

An employee suspects ERISA violations and tells her boss. The company fires her. Proper under ERISA? Apparently so.

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