July 7, 2022

Volume XII, Number 188

Advertisement
Advertisement

July 06, 2022

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

July 05, 2022

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

Allegedly Misclassified Independent Contractor Cannot Sue Under ERISA

A California district court recently foreclosed a former independent contractor’s claims for benefits from ERISA-governed plans when it found that plaintiff was not a “participant” as defined by ERISA and thus did not have statutory standing to assert his ERISA claims. Alders v. YUM! Brands, Inc., No. 8:21-cv-01191-PSG-DFM (C.D. Cal. Feb. 1, 2022).

After working for 25 years as an independent contractor, plaintiff filed suit claiming that he had been misclassified as an independent contractor and, as a result, was wrongfully excluded from defendants’ various retirement plans. Defendants moved to dismiss the claims, in part on the grounds that plaintiff lacked statutory standing under ERISA because he was not a participant in the plans.

The court agreed with defendants and dismissed the claims. The court explained that only plan participants, beneficiaries, fiduciaries, and the Secretary of Labor are entitled to bring claims under ERISA Section 502(a). “Participant” was the only possible fit for plaintiff but did not apply here because a former employee claiming participant status must have a colorable claim to benefits, not just allege in a conclusory manner, as plaintiff did, that he should have been a participant. Further, plaintiff’s own complaint contradicted the allegation that he was a participant in the plans as it repeatedly stated that he was excluded from participating in defendants’ retirement plans. As such, plaintiff lacked the right to sue and his claims were dismissed.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2022National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 42
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

About this Author

Associate

Lindsey H. Chopin is an Associate in the New Orleans, Louisiana, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. and a member of the firm’s ERISA Complex Class Action, Employee Benefits and Class Action groups.

Ms. Chopin focuses her practice on the defense of complex ERISA class-actions filed against public and private single employer ERISA plan sponsors and fiduciaries, as well as multi-employer plans and fiduciaries and ERISA plan services providers.  She has litigated a wide variety of class action claims, including 401(k) fee claims,...

504-208-1755
Associate

Adam R. Carlisle is an associate in the New Orleans, Louisiana, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. and a member of the firm’s ERISA Complex Litigation group. Adam uses his experiences as a former high school teacher and NCAA Division I track and field coach to communicate effectively and passionately on behalf of his clients.

Adam’s practice focuses on defending employers, fiduciaries, plan sponsors, and other defendants in complex class action and individual plaintiff ERISA matters. Adam has experience representing clients in 401(k) and 403(b) fee claims, benefits...

504-208-1755
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement