Employer Did Not Purposefully Interfere with Truck Driver's Health Benefits

July 24, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana ruled that a truck driver employed in an at-will status presented insufficient proof that his employer terminated him to rob him of his health insurance benefits.

Erick Roldan was an at-will truck driver for Berenda, Inc., a Lafayette, Indiana-based trucking company.

Roldan missed one of his deliveries in October 2002 because he had high blood pressure and a few days later he refused to make another delivery because he would exceed the federal guidelines that limited the number of driving hours in a certain period.

David Berenda then said Roldan could take the eight-hour break necessary under federal law before he made the pickup. However, Roldan refused, saying that he would return the truck to Lafayette.

Berenda then fired Roldan. On the day after his termination, Roldan went to the emergency room where he was diagnosed with “extremely high blood pressure.” Roldan then filed a lawsuit, contending that Berenda violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) because it fired him only to deprive him of his health insurance benefits.

Granting summary judgment in favor of Berenda, U.S. District Judge Allen Sharp called Roldan’s belief that Berenda had the intent to interefere with his health benefits “insufficient.”

Sharp wrote that Berenda presented a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for Roldan’s discharge – simply that he refused to complete his job duties. The court further found that Roldan failed to prove that the “motivating factor behind the termination” was the intent to interfere with his ERISA rights.

This case is Roldan v. Berenda Inc., N.D. Ind., No. 4:04-cv-62 AS, 7/18/07.