Lawsuit filed against Northwestern’s employee retirement, voluntary savings plans

Peter Kotecki, Campus Editor

A lawsuit filed against Northwestern on behalf of two participants of NU’s retirement plan, alleged the University’s employee retirement and voluntary savings plans charge participants “unreasonable expenses” for the plans’ administration.

The complaint, filed by law firm Schlichter, Bogard & Denton on Wednesday, also alleged the University “failed to prudently consider or offer dramatically lower-cost investments that were available to the Plans.”

In a statement, University spokesman Al Cubbage said NU believes the claims are “baseless” and will defend its retirement plans.

“Northwestern has carefully managed its retirement plans for the benefit of its faculty and staff members, as evidenced by the financial stability and success of those plans, and the University will continue to do so,” the statement said.

The complaint alleged NU charged “unreasonable” recordkeeping fees, using two recordkeepers for its retirement plan and two for the voluntary savings plan until the latter’s consolidation to one recordkeeper in 2012. The University’s decision to use multiple recordkeepers was “costly and inefficient,” the complaint said.

The plaintiffs asked the University to “make good to the Plans all losses resulting from each breach of fiduciary duty and to restore to the Plans any profits made through Defendants’ use of the Plans’ assets.”

In the past two weeks, several other universities have been named in lawsuits targeting employee retirement plans, including Duke University, Yale University and the University of Southern California.

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