LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a former Cement Masons Southern California Administrative Corp. employee who was allegedly fired for cooperating with an ongoing department investigation. The corporation managed assets for five Cement Masons employee benefits trusts in southern California.
"Workers must be free to participate in Department of Labor inquiries without fear of retaliation," said Assistant Secretary of Labor of the Employee Benefits Security Administration Phyllis C. Borzi. "By law, they have a right to report suspected violations to the department and must be allowed to cooperate with investigators."
The lawsuit alleges the individual had been making internal Employee Retirement Income Security Act-related complaints for some time. In 2011, she was contacted by Employee Benefits Security Administration officials during the course of an ongoing investigation into the conduct of Scott Brain, business manager for Cement Masons Local Union 600 and a trustee of the Cement Masons Southern California Administrative Corp. Upon learning of her contact with federal officials, the joint board of trustees voted to place the individual on administrative leave. The corporation was then dissolved, and its successor, Zenith American Solutions failed to rehire the individual, though it rehired everyone else in her department.
The lawsuit seeks to have the individual reinstated as soon as possible to a position with Zenith American Solutions comparable to her former job. It also seeks lost wages, plus interest, covering the time from the individual's termination to her reinstatement, plus other costs that the individual may have incurred as a result of her termination. It also seeks the removal of Mr. Brain and other named defendants as trustees and service providers and a ban on their serving in the future as fiduciaries or service providers to any ERISA-covered plan. Finally, the suit seeks to require mandatory training for all affected employees and trustees on participants' and workers' rights under ERISA.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, stems from an investigation by the Employee Benefits Security Administration's Los Angeles Regional Office. It is being litigated by the department's Regional Office of the Solicitor in San Francisco. Workers and employers seeking information or assistance with employee benefits issues can contact EBSA at 866-444-3272 or http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/contactEBSA/consumerassistance.html.
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In the Matter of: Perez v. Scott Brain, et al. Case No. CV 14-3911