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Employee Benefits

Employee benefits present unique and complex challenges as organizations try to keep up with the regulatory landscape while simultaneously designing benefits and compensation strategies that allow them to attract, incentivize and retain employees.

Overview

Our Employee Benefits Practice Group handles a full spectrum of benefit law matters for a diverse mix of business clients on a nationwide basis. In keeping with the firm’s overall philosophy, we approach even the most technical and complex benefit law questions with an eye toward preventive strategies—minimizing the likelihood of liabilities associated with benefit claims, litigation and enforcement matters—and practical solutions.

We provide comprehensive legal advice, counseling and representation to plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries and benefit plans relating to:

  • Employee benefits issues arising in the design, administration, and operation of all benefit and compensation arrangements, including compliance with ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code; and
  • The defense of benefit, fiduciary and other claims relating to plan administration, and compliance with the terms of the plan and all applicable laws.

Some of the specific services we offer include:

  • Providing representation for a wide range of private, public and not-for-profit employers in virtually all aspects of tax-qualified defined contribution plans and defined benefit pension plans (including cash balance and other hybrid pension plan formulas);
  • Advising clients regarding all types of executive compensation arrangements;
  • Defending employers, plan sponsors, corporate officers and directors and employee benefit plans in examinations, summons proceedings, and adversary proceedings and appeals initiated under internal agency procedures by federal or state agencies and courts of specialized jurisdiction;
  • Counseling on the employee benefits issues arising in corporate transactions and workforce reorganizations, as well as the range of issues involved in multiemployer pension and welfare plan liabilities;
  • Advising shareholders, public and private/family-held corporations, bank holding corporations, institutional and individual trustees, officers, directors, and other parties and investors (i.e., private equity groups) on designing, implementing and using ESOPs in various types of transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, estate and succession planning, hostile takeover bids, tender offers, shareholder liquidity/Section 1042 of the Internal Revenue Code tax-deferred transactions, stock re-purchases by issuers, redemptions and recapitalizations, management and leveraged buyouts, and the use of ESOPs as an acquisition strategy.

In addition, our experienced benefits litigators represent employers, plans, insurers, plan administrators, institutional and individual trustees, officers and directors, selling shareholders and third-party administrators in ERISA and related benefits litigation in virtually all 50 states. This litigation involves both mainstream ERISA litigation as well as complex benefits litigation and class actions.

The Benefits Group also works closely with the firm's Privacy, e-Communication and Data Security Practice Group on compliance with the HIPAA/HITECH Privacy and Security regulations with regard to group health plans and health care providers, as well as with our Disability, Leave and Health Management Practice Group with respect to benefits-related considerations for Wellness Programs in the workplace.

Health Care Reform Team

Our Employee Benefits Practice Group includes a Health Care Reform team focusing on compliance with federal health care reform. Our team members are Kathleen Barrow, Kelvin Berens, Lisa deFilippis, Joseph Lazzarotti, Randy Limbeck, Joy Napier-JoyceMelissa Ostrower, Eric Simon and Monique Warren.

The Health Care Reform team follows federal health care reform legislative developments and legal decisions and monitors regulatory and other guidance. We present numerous seminars and webinars for employers on the impacts of federal health care reform and practical considerations and strategies for compliance.

The Team

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See All Upcoming Events

Nov 14

Overland Park, KS
Register Now

Kansas City Employment Law Symposium

November 14, 2017 - 12:30 AM to 5:00 PM CST
6100 College Boulevard - Overland Park, KS
Credits: CLE - Pending, HRCI - Pending, SHRM - Pending
Register Now

Nov 14

Honolulu, HI
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2017: How Have Employment & Employee Benefits Laws Changed...And Stayed the Same?

November 14, 2017 - 7:30 AM to 6:30 PM HAST
100 Holomoana St - Honolulu, HI
Credits: CLE - Pending, HRCI - Pending, SHRM - Pending
Register Now

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Archived

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Preparing for 2018: The New ERISA Regulations for Disability Claims and Appeals

April 27, 2017 - 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM EST
Credits: CLE - Pending*, HRCI - Pending, SHRM - Pending
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Archived

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Withdrawal Liability: The Ticking Time Bomb Of Participating In Multiemployer Pension Plans

April 13, 2017 - 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM EST
Credits: CLE - Pending*, HRCI - Pending, SHRM - Pending
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Archived

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Designer Defenses: What You Can Do Today to Prevent Benefits Litigation Tomorrow

February 9, 2017 - 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM EST
Credits: CLE - Pending*, HRCI - Pending, SHRM - Pending
Watch Now

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July 27, 2017

Increase in 2017 Service Contract Act Health & Welfare Rate; Lower Rate for Contracts Covered by Federal Paid Sick Leave EO

July 27, 2017

The U.S. Department of Labor has released its annual memorandum with the rate increase for Service Contract Act (SCA) Health and Welfare (H&W) Fringe Benefits. The new rate of $4.41 per hour (up from the 2015-2016 rate of $4.27 per hour) is required in all government contract bids or other service contracts awarded on or after August... Read More

July 19, 2017

U.S. Supreme Court Round Up – 2016-2017

July 19, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court term that ended June 2017 included a number of decisions important to workplace law, as well as the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch. Although functioning with only eight justices for most of the 2016-2017 term, the Court managed to achieve a strong consensus in each of its employment-related rulings.... Read More

June 7, 2017

Supreme Court Rules Pension Plans of Religiously Affiliated Organizations Exempt from ERISA

June 7, 2017

ERISA’s “church plan” exemption applies to pension plans maintained by church-affiliated organizations such as healthcare facilities, even if the plans were not established by a church, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unanimously, 8-0. Advocate Health Care Network et al. v. Stapleton et al., Nos. 16-74; 16-86; 16-258 (June 5, 2017). (... Read More

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See AllIn the News

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August 11, 2017
Benefits Quarterly

Brian Goldstein, Daniel O'Neil and Kenneth Weafer Author "Everything You Wanted to Know About BICE but Were Afraid Were Afraid to Ask"

August 11, 2017

Brian Goldstein, Daniel O'Neil and Kenneth Weafer author "Everything You Wanted to Know About BICE but Were Afraid Were Afraid to Ask," published by Benefits Quarterly.   Read More

August 9, 2017
SHRM

Brian Johnston Comments on Implications of Health Care Reform and Cost-Sharing Reduction Subsidies

August 9, 2017

Brian Johnston comments on implications of health care reform for businesses and health care subsidy payments in "Businesses May Bear Brunt of Move to Withhold Health Care Subsidy Payments," published by SHRM. Subscription may be required to view article Read More

June 30, 2017
Bloomberg BNA

Charles Seemann Discusses ERISA Lawsuit Trends

June 30, 2017

Charles Seemann discusses new research indicating an increase in plaintiff victory rates in ERISA cases in "Dive in Plaintiff Victories Not Seen in ERISA Cases," published by Bloomberg BNA. Subscription may be required to view article Read More

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FORFEITURE FREEDOM
August 16, 2017

Some of our employer client sponsors of pre-approved 401(k) plans have contacted us regarding plan amendment notices received recently from their prototype or volume submitter plan document sponsors relating to the expanded use of forfeitures in their plans. Read More

The FICA Tax Exemption for Non-Resident Aliens in the U.S. Under F, J, M, or Q Visas
August 2, 2017

A common issue for employers of non-resident aliens authorized to work in the U.S. Read More

Loss of COBRA Subsidies – A Marketplace Conundrum
August 2, 2017

While helping employers craft severance packages, we have often cautioned that a well-meaning offer by an employer to subsidize a former employee’s COBRA coverage for a period of time can result in unintended consequences. Read More

By Kellie Thomas