Protecting public pension funds from divestment-related lawsuits: Exploring the state laws of the United States

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Imagine: You are a public pension fund trustee, employee or investment advisor. The legislature of your state passes a law that requires you to divest some or all of your stock holdings in companies that do business with a specific country. You seek the advice of an outside research firm that specializes in the identification of such companies. You also seek advice from an in-house or contracted counsel to determine the lawful course of action. You then proceed with the state-mandated divestments and sell your holdings. As a result, the fund's performance suffers. Should you, and those who helped you make the divestment decision, be held liable by the pensioners and other beneficiaries claiming that you have breached your fiduciary duty? This article argues not. The article finds that while most states that have divestment laws against companies that do business in Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria do provide some level of lawsuit protection for public fund employees, the degree of protection varies significantly. The study ranks the states protection levels and proposes that the higher-ranked jurisdictions serve as models for the others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-219
Number of pages8
JournalPensions
Volume16
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2011

Fingerprint

Public pensions
Pension funds
Lawsuit
Divestment
Employees
Advisors
Sudan
Fund performance
Iran
Jurisdiction
Cuba
Syria
Legislatures
Fiduciary duty

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

Cite this

@article{ac0199385f8e45d983fe06f7c2c53e09,
title = "Protecting public pension funds from divestment-related lawsuits: Exploring the state laws of the United States",
abstract = "Imagine: You are a public pension fund trustee, employee or investment advisor. The legislature of your state passes a law that requires you to divest some or all of your stock holdings in companies that do business with a specific country. You seek the advice of an outside research firm that specializes in the identification of such companies. You also seek advice from an in-house or contracted counsel to determine the lawful course of action. You then proceed with the state-mandated divestments and sell your holdings. As a result, the fund's performance suffers. Should you, and those who helped you make the divestment decision, be held liable by the pensioners and other beneficiaries claiming that you have breached your fiduciary duty? This article argues not. The article finds that while most states that have divestment laws against companies that do business in Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria do provide some level of lawsuit protection for public fund employees, the degree of protection varies significantly. The study ranks the states protection levels and proposes that the higher-ranked jurisdictions serve as models for the others.",
author = "Salar Ghahramani",
year = "2011",
month = "8",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1057/pm.2011.17",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "16",
pages = "212--219",
journal = "Pensions",
issn = "1478-5315",
publisher = "Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.",
number = "3",

}

Protecting public pension funds from divestment-related lawsuits : Exploring the state laws of the United States. / Ghahramani, Salar.

In: Pensions, Vol. 16, No. 3, 01.08.2011, p. 212-219.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Protecting public pension funds from divestment-related lawsuits

T2 - Exploring the state laws of the United States

AU - Ghahramani, Salar

PY - 2011/8/1

Y1 - 2011/8/1

N2 - Imagine: You are a public pension fund trustee, employee or investment advisor. The legislature of your state passes a law that requires you to divest some or all of your stock holdings in companies that do business with a specific country. You seek the advice of an outside research firm that specializes in the identification of such companies. You also seek advice from an in-house or contracted counsel to determine the lawful course of action. You then proceed with the state-mandated divestments and sell your holdings. As a result, the fund's performance suffers. Should you, and those who helped you make the divestment decision, be held liable by the pensioners and other beneficiaries claiming that you have breached your fiduciary duty? This article argues not. The article finds that while most states that have divestment laws against companies that do business in Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria do provide some level of lawsuit protection for public fund employees, the degree of protection varies significantly. The study ranks the states protection levels and proposes that the higher-ranked jurisdictions serve as models for the others.

AB - Imagine: You are a public pension fund trustee, employee or investment advisor. The legislature of your state passes a law that requires you to divest some or all of your stock holdings in companies that do business with a specific country. You seek the advice of an outside research firm that specializes in the identification of such companies. You also seek advice from an in-house or contracted counsel to determine the lawful course of action. You then proceed with the state-mandated divestments and sell your holdings. As a result, the fund's performance suffers. Should you, and those who helped you make the divestment decision, be held liable by the pensioners and other beneficiaries claiming that you have breached your fiduciary duty? This article argues not. The article finds that while most states that have divestment laws against companies that do business in Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria do provide some level of lawsuit protection for public fund employees, the degree of protection varies significantly. The study ranks the states protection levels and proposes that the higher-ranked jurisdictions serve as models for the others.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=80052355362&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=80052355362&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1057/pm.2011.17

DO - 10.1057/pm.2011.17

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:80052355362

VL - 16

SP - 212

EP - 219

JO - Pensions

JF - Pensions

SN - 1478-5315

IS - 3

ER -