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Benefits — Pennsylvania

When Congress enacted the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in 1974, it wanted to balance two competing concerns:

  1. protecting employees who had been promised certain benefits by their employers
  1. giving employers a set of rules by which they could operate and maintain uniform employee benefit plans for numerous facilities without interference from varying state laws.

Therefore, while providing plan participants with certain causes of action to sue their employers in federal court if they are not provided the benefits they were promised and imposing certain disclosure obligations on employers that maintain “employee benefit plans” (as defined in the law), ERISA, along with the Internal Revenue Code, also provides nearly exclusive regulation of such plans. ERISA preempts state laws that attempt to regulate employee benefit plans, except for generally applicable criminal laws and certain laws that regulate insurance. As such, any claim that an employee may bring that relates to an employee benefit plan (other than the exceptions noted below), such as a claim for benefits or for breach of fiduciary duty, must be brought under ERISA.

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