Can an employer keep the money I contributed to my pension?

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Can an employer keep the money I contributed to my pension?

I left my job about 5 weeks ago. They are now saying I left “under investigation” and are “freezing my pension benefits, instead of paying the lump sum I requested. First, I didn’t know about an investigation. And second, what does it matter at this point if they were going to write me up for something trivial or not? I don’t understand how they can keep money that is mine.

Asked on May 2, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, it does not matter whether you quit or were terminated, or indeed whether you  were laid off or fired for good cause. In any event, the employer should have no right to impound or freeze or etc. your pension. (Certainly, based on the vesting periods, etc., not all the money may be yours--but that's a wholly separate issue.)

However, if the misdeed the company believes you committed has to do with the pension--for example, that you someone caused too many payments or funds to which you were not entitled to be directed to the pension, or without money illegally from the pension, or somehow caused your salary to be mistated so that too much was contributed to the pension, or altered documentation regarding your years of service, etc., then they may be grounds to freeze the benefits during an investigation--though you would be able to bring a legal action to contest this. You should request detail about what you are suspected of and why the company believes that entitles them to freeze your pension; and you should also retain an employment attorney. Good luck.


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