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Employee Benefits Law

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Title: Employee Benefits Law
Author: Zanglein, Jayne Elizabeth
Abstract: The employee benefits cases decided by the Fifth Circuit during the survey period chronicle the effects of corporate downsizing and cost containment prevalent in the 1980s. Cases during the survey period include Wildbur v. ARCO Chemical Co., in which the Fifth Circuit ruled that the lower court could examine relevant evidence outside of the administrative record when interpreting plan language concerning enhanced benefits for employees whose employment was terminated as a result of corporate consolidation. In Harms v. Caveham Forest Industries, Inc. the court stated that cancellation of a severance plan after a change of control may violate ERISA's prohibition against the termination of accrued benefits. In Whittemore v. Schlumberger Technology Corp., the Fifth Circuit held that an employer was not required to give employees advance notice when the employer modified its severance plan to eliminate benefits for employees who were offered employment by a successor corporation.6 Wise v. EI Paso Natural Gas Company involved the termination of post-retirement medical benefits by a successor corporation. In Unida v. Levi Strauss & Co., the Fifth Circuit held that Levi Strauss did not discriminate against its employees in violation of ERISA § 510 when it closed its San Antonio plant, allegedly to reduce retirement costs. And in Corcoran v. United Health Care, Inc., the Fifth Circuit held that ERISA preempts wrongful death actions arising from a denial of benefits based on allegedly negligent medical review required as part of a medical plan's cost containment program.
Related Resources: Click to follow Hein Online link Click to follow Lexis link Click to follow Westlaw link
Date: 1994

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