Benefits being dropped

I am a ‘statuatory employee’ of Voya Financial. I pay my own taxes 1099, but
am eligible for benefits matching 401K, medical, dental, vision, life
insurance. A few years ago, Voya decided that for Advisors to keep their
‘statuatory employee’ status called Career Agents, they had to have 51 of
their sales in the Education market for 2 of the 3 prior years. Because of
this new rule, some agents lost their career agent status and became completely
independent brokers no benefits. I spoke with my supervisor last year in
2016 regarding my status and she told me I was fine. Just a week ago, she
informed me that Voya had decided to change the rules for keeping career agent
status. They decided that anyone who did less than a certain threshold in 2016
a certain dollar in sales in the education market would lose their career
status and benefits effective this April 1, 2017. This new criteria was just
decided upon in the past few weeks, and is changing my status based on past
production in 2016. In addition, I have been told that this change is not
affecting all agents across the board – rather, Voya is doing this on a ‘case
by case’ basis. I am losing my medical benefits and 401K. In addition, I have
a loan out on my 401K which I will no longer be allowed to pay back – so I will
be in default – have to pay taxes on the outstanding loan and will be penalized
by the IRS 10. This seems discriminatory and illegal. Can you please advise
me as to what I should do. Thank you

Asked on March 6, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, the only real issue is whether you have a still-in-effect written employment contract guarantying your status and/or compensation and benefits. If you do, they cannot make any cahnges which breach or violate the terms of the contract (and if they do, you could sue them for "breach of contract"); but if you don't have such a contract, then your employment (whether as employee or independent contractor) is "employment at will." That in turn means that your employer may alter your employment status, your compensation, your benefits, etc. at any time, for any reason whatsoever, including your past performance or output. Furthermore, the law does not require employees to be fair or evenhanded, or to treat employees consistently, so they can do this on a case-by-case basis to some employees but not all. Without a contract, what you describe appears to be legal.

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