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News Release

Labor Department Recovers Benefits And Wages For New York Whistleblower

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

New York, New York - The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a court judgment on September 28 requiring the retirement and health plans of United Industry Workers Local 424 to pay $18,524.13 in pension benefits and back wages to a terminated employee of the plans. The plans, located in Lake Ronkonkoma (Long Island), New York, terminated the employee for whistle blowing.

The employee was a participant covered by the union’s health and retirement plans. The person’s employment was terminated when the employer asked about the employee’s interview with investigators from the department’s Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration (PWBA) and the employee declined to respond. Local 424 ceased operations and was merged into Local 1102. The plans cover as many as 1,873 participants.

“This sends a clear signal that the department will protect participants who are wrongfully denied their rights or benefits due to cooperation with PWBA during an investigation,” said PWBA Regional Director Francis Clisham.

Besides payment of wages and benefits, the court barred the plans from taking any action against plan participants which prevent them from exercising their rights to benefits or cooperating with federal government investigations. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) prohibits coercion or discrimination against participants who exercise their rights under plans governed by the law.

The judgment resolves a suit filed on August 30, 2001 in federal district court in Brooklyn, alleging the plans violated the whistle blowing provisions of ERISA. This case resulted from an investigation conducted by the New York regional office of PWBA.

Employers and workers can reach the office at 212.337.2228 for help with problems relating to private-sector pension and health plans.”

(Chao v. Local 424 Health Benefits Plan
Civil Action No. 01-CV-5917)

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Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Employee Benefits Security Administration
October 1, 2001
Release Number