American Airlines pilot sues over ESG in 401(k) plan

As I always say, if you’re a retirement plan sponsor, you can be sued over anything, regardless of whether you are at fault or not.

An American Airlines pilot is suing his employer in Texas Northern Federal District Court, claiming that the company’s 401(k) planpicks investments that pursue “leftist political agendas.”

The class action lawsuit was filed by Bryan P. Spence individually and as a representative of a class action. The lawsuit alleges that over the past 6 years, the plan has underperformed from the airline choosing to invest in and recommend funds that meet ESG goals, causing him pecuniary harm.

American Airlines’ 401(k) includes approximately 100,000 participants, with around $26 billion assets.

Spence claims American Airlines violated its fiduciary responsibility under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). The lawsuit states examples of ESG policy, including sustainability efforts, LGBTQ+ interests and racial and gender diversity, as well as executive pay and diversity in leadership.

It should be interesting how the case pans out, but I lean towards a dismissal.

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