In a general way, employee benefits include all the compensations (non-wage) availed to employees over and above their usual salaries as well as wages. Employee benefits serve a number of purposes including but not in any way limited to the enhancement of he employee’s economic security. In this text, I describe two court decisions as regards employee benefits and discuss the relation of each case to my background reading. I also discuss the implications I see for my SLP organization as well as come up with a conclusion of my learning from the case and the relations I have made.
Two of the most interesting case laws in regard to employee benefits include the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company v. Glenn and the Kentucky Retirement Systems v. E.E.O.C.
This case was motivated by Long-term disability benefits application by a Sears employee who had not long ago had a heart disorder diagnosis. The issuance of the plan as well as administration of the same was done by Metropolitan Life which went ahead to deny the claim on the grounds that the heard disorder the Sears employee had could not in any way interfere with his discharge of sedentary work.
In the end, the supreme court was of the opinion that in an instance where the employee benefits plan funding as well as the decision on claims were being executed by the insurer or the employer, there was a significant conflict of interest arising and it was only fair to weigh the same as a determinant in the determination of discretion abuse under ERISA.
This case was informed or motivated by one of Kentucky’s special retirement plan which was tailored for the county as well as state employee’s benefit. However, it was available for only that class of employees that held some positions considered to be significantly hazardous. This included but was not in any way limited to paramedics, fire fighters, correctional facility workers as well as police officers. The normal retirement benefits accessible to these individuals were only possible if the employees had worked for no less hat two decades and had or half a decade after the age of 55.
However, as per the provisions of the plan, a disabled employee whose disability came prior to him or her being eligible for the benefits (normal), such an employee was credited with the amount of time (in years) he or she had left to attain retirement benefits (normal). In this case, the plaintiff who after completing eighteen years of service became disabled a 61 years of age argued that the provisions contained in the plan went contrary to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and hence the provisions of the plan favored younger workers at the expense of those who had served longer. However, in its ruling, the United States Supreme court cane to the conclusion that utilizing age as a disability pension determinant did not in any way go against the spirit and letter of ADEA.
When it comes to Metropolitan Life Insurance Company v. Glenn, Wal-Mart has some lessons to take note of. To begin with, it is important to note that the retailer exercises employee benefit funding as well as decisions revolving around claims determination. It hence follows that it operates under a significant conflict of interest and hence to avert discretion abuse, proper weighing of the same must be undertaken. However, it is important to note that the court decision does not come up with a criterion that might be utilized when it comes to the analysis of a decision undertaken by the employer.
In the second case I concern myself with, that is, Kentucky Retirement Systems v. E.E.O.C.; it is important to note that the court based much of its decisions on an earlier case which served as a precedent in this scenario. This was Hazen Paper Co. v. Biggins 507 U.S. 604 (1993). It therefore follows that in some scenarios where Wal-Mart may terminate the employment of an employee, the same may be invoked against and court suit which may be filed by an employee arguing that the retailer is seeking to duck the payment of pension benefits accurate over time.
Indeed, for a plaintiff to demonstrate ADEA violation, he or she must come up with a direct link between their age and the alleged employer’s differential treatment. Hence it follows that pension status cannot be seen or taken to be an ADEA’s violation by itself if it is not used as an age proxy (Martocchio 2010).
In conclusion, it is important to note that the pension status and age are essentially two concepts which are distinct from an analytical point of view. It also may be noted that when it comes to disability benefits, employers as well as administrators face a uphill task especially in sme instances where there is an attachment of an appeal right.
Martocchio, J.J. (2010). Employee Benefits. McGraw-Hill, 2010