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

UPDATED: May 2, 2011

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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