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ERISA Preemption of Unpaid Wages versus Benefits from a Retirement Plan: E.D. Mo.

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  • ERISA Preemption of Unpaid Wages versus Benefits from a Retirement Plan: E.D. Mo.

    In a case from Missouri, the court distinguishes how ERISA preemption relates to unpaid wages, as opposed to actual benefits from a retirement plan. The Plaintiff sued to recover back-pay allegedly owed to her from the Defendant. The Defendant removed the case asserting that some of the Plaintiff's claims were preempted by ERISA.

    [The Plaintiff] filed a motion to remand. In her motion she asserts that she is not seeking “any direct enforcement, clarification of rights or recovery of benefits under the authority of an ERISA benefit plan.” To the contrary, she argues that her claims are not preempted by ERISA because she merely seeks from her employer unpaid wages and the corresponding payments that would be directed to her “related retirement plan.” She is not seeking benefits due to her under the terms of the retirement plan itself.

    Because Rhoades is asserting claims against her employer for wages, some of which are in the form of contributions that would be paid into her retirement plan, I find that Rhoades is not seeking benefits due to her under the terms of her retirement plan.
    Citing Goldstein v. Media Mgmt., Inc., the court agreed that "because the plaintiff was seeking the recovery of wages that should have been paid into his retirement plan the claim was not seeking benefits from the plan."

    The opinion is attached below.
    Attached Files
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