Met Opera Faces ERISA Suit Stemming from “Extra Musician” Retirement Plan Rule

An oboist who performed as an extra musician for the New York Metropolitan Opera for more than 30 years filed suit against the company, alleging that it allegedly restricted access to its retirement plan for extra musicians in violation of ERISA. The case is Sharon Meekins v. The Metropolitan Opera Association Retirement Plan et al., case number 1:23-cv-09990, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

ERISA states that pension plans can only require employees to complete up to one year of service to participate in the plan. Furthermore, an employer must consider all an employee’s years of service to determine plan eligibility. In her lawsuit, Meekins claims that the Met’s “two out of three years” rule violates ERISA’s minimum standards for plan participation and the governing documents of the retirement plan.

The Met’s retirement plan’s governing documents state that a year of credited service requires 100 performances per season. However, for extra musicians to qualify for a year of credited service, an extra musician must also have completed 100 performances in two out of the last three seasons. As applied to Meekins, the Met refused to credit her with at least four seasons in which she performed in over 100 performances. The lack of credit led to her receiving a pension of $695 less per month than she otherwise would have received.

Meekins is seeking a declaration that the “two out of three years” rule is illegal and unenforceable, thus entitling her to $695 per month more in retirement benefits. She also requests that the plan be ordered to recalculate retirement benefits for any other extra musicians adversely affected by the unlawful rule.

HBL has experience in all areas of benefits and employment law, offering a comprehensive solution to all your business benefits and HR/employment needs. We help ensure you are in compliance with the complex requirements of ERISA and the IRS code, as well as those laws that impact you and your employees. Together, we reduce your exposure to potential legal or financial penalties. Learn more by calling 470-571-1007.

The following two tabs change content below.

Hall Benefits Law, LLC

HBL offers employers comprehensive legal guidance on benefits in mergers and acquisitions, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), executive compensation, health and welfare benefits, healthcare reform, and retirement plans. We counsel a wide spectrum of clients including small, mid-sized, and large companies, 401(k) investment advisors, health insurance brokers, accountants, attorneys, and HR consultants, just to name a few. HBL is passionate about advising clients, and we are dedicated to our mission: to provide comprehensive, personalized, and practical ERISA and benefits legal solutions that exceed client expectations.

Latest posts by Hall Benefits Law, LLC (see all)