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Interference With Long Term Disability Benefits

If your employer provides long term disability insurance coverage for you, you should be able to expect that you will receive the benefits you need should you become disabled and unable to work. Unfortunately, some employers do not want to pay the increased costs that come with long term disability benefits and, therefore, seek out ways to interfere with an employee’s access to benefits they deserve. The good news is that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) has a provision specifically prohibiting intentional interference with rights under private employee benefit plans.

Types Of ERISA Interference

The most common form of interference with ERISA benefits is terminating an employee for making a claim or just before certain benefits vest. However, there are many other ways an employer can try to interfere with benefits of which you may not be aware. Some interference claims may stem from the following:

  • Suspension of duties and benefits after a claim has been made or when a claim is expected;
  • Imposing fines on employees for making a claim for benefits;
  • Disciplining, demoting, or transferring an employee to a less favorable position after making a claim;
  • Making threats connected to claims for benefits;
  • Discriminating against or harassing an employee in connection with long term disability claims.

Pretextual Reasons Given By Your Employer

In order to bring a successful ERISA claim, the court requires that you sufficiently prove that your employer has the specific intent to interfere with your benefits. This can be a challenging standard to meet, however, as many employers give pretextual reasons for the adverse employment action that was, in reality, meant to interfere with disability benefits. In such a situation, the court requires the following:

  • You need to show that your employer took an adverse action that interfered with your rights to support the presumption that the law was violated;
  • Your employer must then produce evidence that rebuts that presumption that they violated the law and supports a nondiscriminatory and lawful reason for the action;
  • If the employer fails to do so, you can receive a judgment in your favor;
  • If your employer presents sufficient evidence, the burden then shifts back to you to provide evidence that your employer’s reason is merely pretextual.

As you can see, interference claims can involve complex legal concepts and questions. To make these cases more challenging, there is often little direct evidence of the intent to interfere, so you must rely on circumstantial evidence to prove your case. An experienced ERISA lawyer with knowledge and experience regarding interference claims can help you obtain the benefits you deserve.

Discuss Your Rights With A Chicago ERISA Lawyer As Soon As Possible

Interference claims under ERISA can be very complex and can vary significantly from other types of employment discrimination or retaliation claims. It is essential to seek assistance from a law firm that has specific experience handling ERISA long term disability cases. Bartolic Law is a skilled ERISA law firm in Chicago who can help you with a wide range of ERISA claims. Please call today at 312-635-1600 to discuss a possible case.

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