Administration > Your ERISA Rights
Your ERISA Rights
As a participant in the Diageo North America, Inc., benefit plans, you are entitled to certain rights and protections under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), as amended. ERISA provides that all plan participants are entitled to:
Receive Information about Your Plans and Benefits
You may examine, without charge, at the Plan Administrator's office and at other specified locations, such as worksites, all documents governing the plans, including insurance contracts and a copy of the latest annual report (Form 5500 Series) filed by the plans with the U.S. Department of Labor and available at the Employee Benefits Security Administration.
You may obtain, upon written request to the Plan Administrator, copies of documents governing the operation of the plans, including insurance contracts, copies of the latest annual report (Form 5500 Series), and updated summary plan descriptions. The administrator may make a reasonable charge for the copies.
You will receive a summary of the plans' annual financial reports. The Plan Administrator is required by law to furnish each participant with a copy of this summary annual report.
In addition, if you are a participant in the Cash Balance Plan, the Plan Administrator is required by law to furnish you a copy of that plan's annual funding notice. You may also obtain a statement telling you whether you have a right to receive a pension under that plan at normal retirement age and, if so, what your benefits would be at that age if you stop working under the plan now. If you do not have a right to a pension, the statement will tell you how many years you have to work to be eligible for a pension. This statement must be requested in writing and is not required to be given more than once every 12 months. The plan must provide the statement free of charge.
Continue Group Health Plan Coverage
You are entitled to continue health care coverage for yourself, spouse, or dependents if there is a loss of coverage under the plans as a result of a qualifying event (life status change). You or your dependents may have to pay for such coverage. Review this summary plan description and the documents governing the plans for the rules regarding your COBRA continuation coverage rights.
You are also entitled to the reduction or elimination of exclusionary periods of coverage for pre-existing conditions under your group health plan, if you have creditable coverage from another plan. You should be provided a certificate of creditable coverage, free of charge, from your group health plan or health insurance issuer when you lose coverage under the plan, when you become entitled to elect COBRA continuation coverage, when your COBRA continuation coverage ceases, if you request it before losing coverage, or if you request it up to 24 months after losing coverage. Without evidence of creditable coverage, you may be subject to a pre-existing condition exclusion for 12 months (18 months for late enrollees) following your enrollment date in your coverage.
Prudent Actions by Plan Fiduciaries
In addition to creating rights for plan participants, ERISA imposes duties upon the people who are responsible for the operation of employee benefit plans. The people who operate your plans, called "fiduciaries" of the plans, have a duty to do so prudently and in the interest of you and other plan participants and beneficiaries. No one, including your employer or any other person, may fire you or otherwise discriminate against you in any way to prevent you from obtaining a welfare or pension benefit, or exercising your rights under ERISA.
Enforce Your Rights
If your claim for a benefit under one of the plans is denied or ignored, in whole or in part, you have a right to know why this was done, to obtain copies of documents relating to the decision without charge, and to appeal any denial, all within certain time schedules.
Under ERISA, there are steps you can take to enforce the above rights. For instance, if you request a copy of plan documents or the latest annual report from the Plan Administrator and do not receive them within 30 days, you may file suit in a Federal court. In such a case, the court may require the Plan Administrator to provide the materials and pay you up to $110 a day until you receive the materials, unless the materials were not sent because of reasons beyond the control of the administrator. If you have a claim for benefits which is denied or ignored, you must use the plans' appeal process. If your claim for benefits is ultimately denied in whole or in part after completing the plans' appeal process, you may file suit in a Federal court. In addition, if you disagree with the Plan Administrator's decision or lack thereof concerning the qualified status of a domestic relations order or a medical child support order, you may file suit in a Federal court. If it should happen that plan fiduciaries misuse the plans' money, or if you are discriminated against for asserting your rights, you may seek assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor, or you may file suit in a Federal court. The court will decide who should pay court costs and legal fees. If you are successful the court may order the person you have sued to pay these costs and fees. If you lose, the court may order you to pay these costs and fees, for example, if it finds your claim is frivolous.
Assistance with Your Questions
If you have any questions about your plans, you should contact the Plan Administrator.
If you have any questions about this statement or about your rights under ERISA, or if you need assistance in obtaining documents from the Plan Administrator, you should contact the nearest office of the Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, listed in your telephone directory or the Division of Technical Assistance and Inquiries.
Employee Benefits Security Administration
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20210
You may also obtain certain publications about your rights and responsibilities under ERISA by calling the publications hotline of the Employee Benefits Security Administration.