ERISA & Employee Benefits

We counsel clients in all aspects of employee benefit and executive compensation plans and programs under the Internal Revenue Code and ERISA, in addition to the legal issues that affect employee benefits under federal securities laws and state laws. Our clients represent a variety of business types and sizes with a focus on family-owned businesses. Among them are employers (for-profit, governmental, church and nonprofit), academic institutions, banks and trust departments.

Our extensive experience includes such areas as:

  • Design, implement and ongoing maintenance of 401(k) and profit sharing plans
  • Defined benefit/pension plans
  • Employee stock ownership plans
  • Welfare plans
  • Executive and deferred compensation programs
  • Representation of financial institutions in their capacities as trustee, plan administrator or other fiduciaries under ERISA
  • Representation of employers and plan fiduciaries in connection with the compliance programs instituted by the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor
  • Employee benefits matters in the negotiation of corporate transactions such as acquisitions, mergers, and credit arrangements

Executive Compensation

We routinely assist clients in executive and deferred compensation arrangements, including Section 409A, Section 162(m) and golden parachute tax issues. We add value to our clients in such areas as:

  • Incentive compensation
  • Severance arrangements
  • Stock-based compensation
  • Split dollar insurance, bonus plans and contracts
  • Consulting agreements
  • Change in control agreements
  • Covenants not to compete
  • Confidentiality agreements
  • “Eligible” and “ineligible” Section 457 plans
  • Design, drafting and administration of many different types of deferred compensation and supplemental executive retirement programs

Mergers and Acquisitions

Our attorneys work closely with employers in the negotiation of employee benefits, executive compensation and equity and incentive plan issues in corporate transactions, including acquisitions, mergers, credit agreements and the integration of employee benefit structures following corporate acquisitions.

Our experience includes plan establishment issues and corporate disposition transactions, such as spin-offs, stock and asset sales, plan terminations, and other transactions, including employee benefits issues in the bankruptcy setting.

Qualified Plans

We routinely assist clients in the drafting, implementation, administration (including methods of regular and “cross” or “new comparability” testing) and termination of all types of qualified plans, including 401(k), defined benefit/pension and 403(b) plans.

Our experience includes:

  • Department of Labor advisory opinions on behalf of clients and their plans.
  • Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor employee plans’ examinations and employment tax audits
  • Resolution of compliance or administrative defects by participating in the Internal Revenue Service’s Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS), the Department of Labor’s Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program and the Department of Labor’s Delinquent Filer Voluntary Correction Program
  • Advice on employer stock issues related to qualified plans

Welfare and Fringe Benefit Plans

Our attorneys advise clients on compliance with the requirements under the Internal Revenue Code, COBRA, HIPAA (privacy, security and portability) and other applicable federal and state law requirements, including the related reporting requirements. Our practice covers all types of plans:

  • Group life insurance
  • Severance
  • Disability
  • Health (self-insured and insured)
  • Health savings accounts
  • Flexible benefits/cafeteria plans
  • Health reimbursement accounts
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Tuition assistance
  • ICHRA (Individual Coverage Health Reimbursement Agreement)

We also counsel clients on employee shared responsibility penalty avoidance (4980H) under the Affordable Care Act and payment preliminary calculation letters (IRS Letter 226-J).

Fiduciary Matters

Our legal team represents employers and plan fiduciaries in connection with their ERISA fiduciary responsibilities and advises them regarding compliance with such responsibilities under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code.

Additionally, we provide the following services:

  • Counsel plan sponsors and fiduciaries
  • Provide advice regarding fiduciary duties
  • Advise clients regularly on potential prohibited transaction issues
  • Assist in achieving and maintaining compliance
  • Analyze the pros and cons of compliance with and protection offered under ERISA Section 404(c)

Administrative Matters

We help our clients with the employee benefit plan reporting requirements of the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor. A few examples of such work include:

  • Advice about compliance issues and the submission of requests for relief under the various correction programs available from the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor
  • Participation directly with governmental agencies
  • Examination or investigation of plans by the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)

We advise our clients on permissible IRA investments and the avoidance of the prohibited transaction rules. Additionally, we help our individual clients maximize their (and their heirs’) benefits under their IRAs relating to the required minimum distribution rules. We also advise financial institutions on their obligations in administering IRAs.