Monday, August 11, 2008

1st Cir.: Intent Required in ERISA Retaliatory Discharge Case

Scalesred Ross Runkel brings to our attention the case of Kouvchinov v. Parametric Technology (1st Cir 08/08/2008).

Ross explains:

Kouvchinov sued the employer for violation of ERISA alleging retaliatory discharge, and for tortiously interfering with an advantageous business relationship. The trial court granted the employer's motion for summary judgment. The 1st Circuit affirmed.

Kouvchinov argued that proof of the employer's specific intent to interfere with his ERISA benefits was not required in retaliatory discharge cases as compared to preemptive discrimination cases. The court rejected Kouvchinov's argument because, without the specific intent requirement, every discharged employee who had exercised his right to benefits would have a potential claim against the employer. The court stated this would destroy ERISA's carefully calibrated balance of rights, remedies, and responsibilities in the workplace. The 5th, 7th, and 9th circuits ruled similarly.

It seems to me that Section 510 of ERISA is written in a different manner that discrimination provisions in laws like Title VII and the NLRA that do require intent.   

Also, how can an interpretation of a non-ambiguous provisions destroy the balance of rights and remedies available under ERISA.  Isn't that putting proverbial cart before the horse.

I shouldn't be surprise since circuit courts have becoming to this conclusion in the Section 510 context for over a decade (see the 5th Cir. case of McGann v. H&H Music, but it represents yet another court buying into a narrow interpretation of remedies available for plaintiffs under ERISA.


Pension and Benefits | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference 1st Cir.: Intent Required in ERISA Retaliatory Discharge Case:

» Retaliate for Seeking Benefits? from Boston ERISA Law Blog
Probably the only really note worthy decision out of the First Circuit with regard to ERISA while I was out of the office is this one here, in Kouvchinov v. Parametric Technology Corp., which addressed the standards for proving a... [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 27, 2008 12:20:53 PM


Post a comment