Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation

The Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Practice assists clients of all sizes in complying with the technical requirements of the Internal Revenue Code (the Code) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). These attorneys specialize in the design, implementation and administration of various types of employee benefit programs, such as defined benefit plans, 401(k) plans, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), executive compensation plans, group health plans and cafeteria plans. Clients serviced by the practice range in size from sole proprietorships, partnerships, and professional corporations to large, publicly-held corporations.

Some of the services offered by the practice include:

  • Drafting benefit plan and trust documents to meet both the client's specific plan-design needs and the requirements of ERISA and the Code;
  • Providing guidance on matters such as the deductibility of contributions to and the taxation of distributions from tax-qualified retirement plans; 
  • Advising on employee communication matters for tax-qualified retirement plans, welfare plans (including group health, life, and disability programs), and fringe benefit plans (such as cafeteria plans, flexible spending accounts, and qualified transportation fringe benefit plans);
  • Analyzing and addressing retirement plan, welfare plan, and executive compensation plan issues that arise in connection with corporate mergers, acquisitions and dispositions;
  • Assisting clients with meeting their fiduciary responsibilities, including designing appropriate plan governance structures; and
  • Litigating disputes over benefits entitlement, plan interpretation and governance, and plan fiduciary obligations.

An integral part of the practice involves representing clients and their plans before the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Labor (DOL), obtaining determinations from those regulatory agencies, and assisting with the many interpretive questions that inevitably arise in the course of employee benefit plan administration. The practice’s attorneys have extensive experience assisting clients with correcting employee benefit plan deficiencies through IRS and DOL voluntary compliance programs. Often, their experience in the area allows them to craft solutions which fit the client’s internal procedures and needs, while still satisfying the requirements of the relevant regulatory authority.

An important aspect of most employers' benefit programs is the provision of group health coverage to employees. Attorneys in the practice advise clients with respect to all aspects of implementing and administering group health plans, with the combined goal of protecting the client from unwanted liability while meeting its employee benefit needs. Currently, we are assisting many clients with the implementation of various provisions of The Affordable Care Act (i.e., Health Reform), as it applies to their insured and self-insured medical plans and their employee classifications under those plans (and generally), and are regularly speaking throughout the country on the impact of Health Reform. Other services include the negotiation of contracts with insurance companies and third-party administration firms (including excess loss contracts and administrative service agreements for self-insured plans), design and drafting of plan documents and employee communications, and compliance with applicable state and federal laws affecting group health plans, including ERISA, COBRA, HIPAA, and the Mental Health Parity Act.

The attorneys in the practice have extensive knowledge in the area of nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements, nonqualified and incentive stock option plans, stock purchase plans, severance arrangements, life and disability insurance programs, split-dollar arrangements, and other types of benefits for both executives and rank-and-file employees.