“Communications don’t have to come from benefits people to raise concerns about company benefit liability,” said Pamela Perdue, a benefits attorney with Summers Compton & Wells in St. Louis. “If a plan is silent or unclear, courts may use oral statements to interpret plan provisions.”
For that reason, Perdue suggested employers give their hiring managers a “cheat sheet” to reference when talking about. And make sure supervisors realize that their statements to applicants or employees about future benefits could become binding—even if they’re inaccurate.
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