Management Consulting/401K


Hi Mark. Thanks for being an expert. I am too (birds and job  tips)I work for a big box store company that has an excellent matching fund 401K program. However at some of the stores the program has not been promoted or managed well so that many qualified employees have missed matching funds and the appreciation on those invested funds. Is the company liable for their losses? The 401K brochure has never even been given to some stores. Thanks for the help.

Hi Bob,

Thanks for your question and for being an expert as well.

Very interesting. I just spent about an hour on the net, researching and us department of labor guidance and rules relevant to 401K plans.  There are many pages as you can imagine.

I found mucho info on rules for plan participants but nothing yet on mandatory communication of benefit plans to all employees.  I believe it is in there some where and at this point will leave the rest of the research to you. Here is why I am sure that it is in there.  If a company did a "halfway" job of communicating benefit plans to employees, particularly ERISA governed plans, eventually for sure, somewhere, by this time, there would have been many suits based on desparate treatment of some "class" of employee; desparate based on age, sex, race, color, religion and so on, with the result being some type of monetary settlement of some sort.

I also think that all employers, upon hiring, or at some point in time during the hiring process, would have at least included information on all benefit plans.  It is possible that some employees may just not "hear" the information as they are more concerned about putting food on the table as they are saving money for retirement, due to personal financial circumstances. And from what my brief research has provided, it looks like the company is only required to issue ERISA 401K Summary Plan Documents for participating employees, and not to non-participants.

Finally, given the trend to not offer pension plans to employees these days, I am surprised to hear a big box company would not be aggressively encouraging employees to participate in a 401K plan.

I wish I could assist further.  Eventually, your question would probably require official legal advice if you choose to pursue it. Possibly you can find a benefits expert within the AllExperts community.


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Mark Eichinger


Any type of question related to domestic and international Human Resources work. Topic categories would include Employment Practice, Compensation design and systems in competitive markets, Health and Safety in Industrial Environments, Diversity Management, Performance Management, Talent and Career Management (Hiring, Selection, Employee Development), Communications, Coaching, Counseling, Leadership, and Management. Can’t answer: I am sure there are questions within these categories that may surface that I may not be able to answer but my experience below would suggest those would be few.


I own International Human Resources Coaching and Consulting, LLC. I successfully held corporate leadership positions from 1979 to 2007 in two $9B+ multi-national corporations. Positions included: Vice President, Human Resources for the Asia Pacific Region, Eaton Corporation; I was based in Shanghai, China. Prior to that assignment, Vice President, Human Resources Operations, Eaton World Headquarters, Cleveland, Ohio with global responsibility for Eaton’s Human Resources practices, international assignee management, and Regional Human Resources Directors in Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and Africa and Central and South America. Specifically, my experience spans work at domestic and international locations at the operating plant, division, business unit, and corporate levels and most business scenarios to include startups, closedowns, restructurings, integrations, and ongoing operations. I am an Eaton Business Excellence Assessment Examiner (Malcolm Baldrige based system). I introduced processes and process mapping into the Human Resources environment. I have extensive experience with and working in domestic and international organization matrix structures. In the Asia Pacific region I created and led the Asia Pacific level H.R. team, the professional and general manager development programs, China’s university relations program and managed the Asia Pacific key leaders process. I have coached managers and leaders. I am a professional listener, my style open, direct, and focused on leader accountability and employee engagement. In Summary, my career responsibility included more than 60,000 employees, 60 union and union free operations, and 45 countries. I also lived in Korea for two years while in service with the USA’s armed forces.

SCORE – Counselors to Americas Small Business; at various locations I have also belonged to Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis and the Chamber of Commerce. I have served on Boards of medical, community and institutional organizations.

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Youngstown State University MBA work Youngstown State University, and University of Bridgeport University of Tennessee, Lean Manufacturing Certified Thunderbird School of Global Management, Management Certified.

Awards and Honors
Corporate level awards for compensation systems, communications campaigns.

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