Employees may not be Compelled to Arbitrate ERISA Claims Brought on Behalf of Non-Party Plan
The Sixth Circuit’s decision in Hawkins v Cintas Corporation, et al., ___ F4th ___ (6th Cir 2022), handed down on April 27, 2022, addressed whether an employer may compel arbitration of breach of fiduciary claims brought by employees on behalf of a retirement plan. The employees filed suit in federal court alleging their employer breached Section 502(a)(2) of ERISA. The employer moved to compel arbitration pursuant to well-drafted arbitration clauses. The trial court denied the employer’s motion and the Sixth Circuit affirmed. The Sixth Circuit’s conclusion was based on the fundamental principle that a party who has not agreed to arbitration (in this case the retirement plan) cannot be compelled to arbitrate. Counsel for employees and employers should take Hawkins into account in the context of ERISA litigation.