Health and Welfare Plans
We provide comprehensive health and welfare plan counseling, including the drafting of benefit plans for health, dental, life, disability, severance, and other benefits and ensuring compliance with HIPAA, COBRA, the ACA, and other applicable laws. Our experience with health and welfare plans also encompasses preparation and review of government filings, defense of audits (e.g., DOL and HHS), and a wide range of other administrative counseling.
Employee Benefits Litigation
Disputes over employee benefits are becoming more common, bringing financial risk to employers and plan fiduciaries. Our ERISA Litigation team develops strategies and programs to address benefits disputes before they reach litigation.
We regularly advise clients on developing best practices, proper compliance, benefit claims and appeals procedures, and litigation avoidance approaches and, if necessary, defenses that can eliminate or minimize liability exposure.
When benefits disputes result in litigation, we defend clients in a wide-variety of cases in state and federal courts. We have experience in class actions, multiemployer pension fund withdrawal liability and contribution claims, fiduciary breach and prohibited transaction claims, actions involving 401(k), 403(b), defined benefit pension plans, and employee stock ownership (ESOP) plans, as well as disputes involving non-qualified and top hat deferred compensation plans, disability claims, and medical provider disputes.
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
As a component of our Employee Benefits practice, we have developed a sub-practice concentrated specifically in the ACA. Since the ACA’s adoption, we have been helping employers understand and address the multifaceted challenges posed by this complex and evolving law. Working closely with clients to prioritize their needs, we establish the most cost-effective approach to healthcare benefits in a compliant manner.
Our clients understand that retirement savings and security are important to their workforce. Using this as our guide, we partner with our clients to assist them in adopting, implementing, and administering a wide variety of retirement plans, ranging from defined contribution plans (e.g., 401(k), 403(b), and 457(b)) to hybrid and defined benefit/pension plans. Our team also keeps abreast of regulatory changes and takes the lead in updating retirement plan documents.
When operational, documentary, or other compliance issues arise, we counsel our clients through administrative best practices as well as potential correction efforts and filings.
Given the heightened level of scrutiny on retirement plans and their fiduciaries, our team is also actively engaged in counseling on the investment of plan assets, helping to avoid prohibited transactions, and otherwise fulfilling fiduciary duties. We assist proactively, including by establishing strong fiduciary governance and providing fiduciary training.
Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)
Our team has more than 30 years of experience with the many business and regulatory issues associated with ESOP design, implementation, and operation. We represent clients who are transitioning to full or partial ESOP ownership, as well as clients who have already made the shift.
Executive and Deferred Compensation
We help clients attract and retain key executives through the adoption of mutually advantageous compensation and incentive arrangements, such as:
- Traditional non-qualified, executive deferred compensation arrangements
- Supplemental executive retirement plans
- Equity and equity-based plans (including stock option plans, stock appreciation rights plans, restricted stock agreements, restricted stock units, performance share, and performance unit plans)
- Bonus plans, long-term incentive arrangements, and short-term incentive arrangements
- The benefit aspects of employment and separation agreements
We appreciate that these arrangements are subject to strict regulation under various tax laws and, in many instances, the programs are only as valuable as their compliance with all potentially applicable laws, including Code sections 409A, 162(m), and 457(f). We help clients find creative and cost-effective solutions which consider the tax liability. We routinely counsel clients on drafting and administering these arrangements.
By providing regular program reviews and internal audits, we can spot potential issues and make recommendations that can limit the possibility of future benefit claims and costly administrative corrections and litigation.