A class-action suit filed against Duke University on Wednesday, alleges that Duke failed to protect its employees’ retirement savings from excessive fees related to the retirement plan’s management.
The suit, in the U.S. District Court’s Middle District of North Carolina, names six plaintiffs who are participants or beneficiaries of the Duke Faculty and Staff Retirement Plan. The lawsuit, against Duke and its Investment Advisory Committee, was filed on behalf of Duke’s 20,000 employees in the plan.
Employees claim they had to pay millions of dollars in excessive and unreasonable fees for recordkeeping, administrative and investment services of the plans, ultimately diminishing their savings. They say Duke breached its fiduciary duty under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, failing to offer lower-cost investments. The suit alleges that Duke was offering more than 400 investment options as of Dec. 31, 2014, failing to take advantage of the large group’s bargaining power to demand low administrative fees.
Michael Schoenfeld, Duke’s vice president for public affairs and government relations, issued a statement defending the university.
“Duke provides a range of options that give employees flexibility in designing retirement plans to meet their individual needs,” the statement said. “These investments are reviewed and carefully managed in accord with federal law to provide low costs and good outcomes for our employees. We will continue to commit to these guiding principles.”
Similar lawsuits were filed this week against a number of universities, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Pennsylvania and New York, Yale and Vanderbilt universities.