Cargill Accused of ERISA Violation After Alleged Denial of Pension Benefits

Tuesday saw the filing of a suit against Cargill, Inc by plaintiff Steven C. Wilkes in the Northern District of Mississippi Aberdeen Division. The complaint alleges that the defendant violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) when they denied the plaintiff benefits which he argues he is entitled to under the act.

Cargill is a food and agriculture producer and distributor. Wilkes was a full-time employee of Cargill for 9 years, from 1977 to 1986. He worked regularly at the Lowndes County plant. When the plant closed down and ceased operations, Wilkes became “fully vested by Cargill and became entitled to pension benefits.” Wilkes maintains that he received both verbal confirmation and paperwork that affirmed his status of being fully vested by Cargill and receiving the corresponding retirement benefits.

In 2021, Wilkes contacted his former employer to set up his pension and retirement benefits. In an alleged violation of ERISA, Cargill denied these benefits to Wilkes. The plaintiff asserts that he never had any disciplinary problems throughout his employment that would warrant this denial. Wilkes further states that he was not terminated for cause by Cargill. 

This is not the only case against Cargill for employment violations – in early 2021, a case was filed against them by a different former long-time employee for employment discrimination.

The defendant’s express violation of ERISA has resulted in Wilkes seeking “damages for his pension, other benefits under the terms and conditions of the plan, attorney’s fees, and other damages and costs as this Court deems appropriate.” 

The plaintiff is represented in the litigation by the Woodard Law Firm, LLC.