Metropolitan Opera Sued for Alleged Violation of Musicians' Pension Plan
A retired Met oboe and English horn player is suing the opera company for allegedly denying her full retirement benefits
Sharon Meekins played oboe and English horn as needed for New York’s Metropolitan Opera from 1987 to 2022. Her lawsuit claims she was wrongly denied full retirement benefits based on an illegal term in the opera’s pension plan.
She performed in roughly 100 performances in 23 seasons across three decades as part of the Met orchestra’s extra musicians pool. She was also part of its associate musicians’ committee.
Being 62 years old by the time she left the Met, Meekins alleged she was entitled to an unreduced early pension because of her age at termination, and that years of service add up to at least 80.
According to Bloomberg Law, Meekins claims she received pension credit for only 19 years of service, which subsequently led to the pension plan short-changing her benefits by almost $700 per month.
She further states that these actions violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by requiring extra musicians to “complete three plan years of service” with its “two out of three year rule.”
“The ‘2 out of 3 year’ rule has the effect of requiring a three-year service requirement…to participate in the plan and obtain a year of credited service," Meekins explained, as reported in MusicalAmerica.
ERISA states that “no pension plan may require that an employee complete more than one year of service as a condition of participation in the plan” and that “all years of service with the employer” must be taken into account when calculating benefits.