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Industries & Practices

Employee Benefits/ERISA & Compliance

Employers continue to offer a variety of benefits to attract talented employees. Implementing and administering benefit plans creates a variety of challenges for employers, compounded by the need to keep up with ongoing changes in the law. Clark Hill’s employee benefits team advises employers on plan design, implementation and administration, and also assists with resolving plan issues, including benefit claims when necessary.

Employers benefit from our team’s decades of ERISA and state employee benefits law experience. We assist for-profit and non-profit employers with the design, implementation, administration, and termination of qualified and non-qualified retirement, welfare, and other fringe benefit plans, and we advise them with respect to the duties and responsibilities of plan fiduciaries. We also assist with Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and compliance. When necessary we enlist the help of our labor and employment, tax, trust, insurance, litigation, and appellate groups. Our team has considerable experience handling employee benefit litigation matters.

We assist employers with Internal Revenue Service (IRS), U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) audits and related compliance matters. Our benefits team has significant experience assisting employers with using available governmental correction programs to correct plan issues. We also advise on retirement plan and welfare plan issues that permeate mergers and acquisitions and all other types of commercial transactions, as well as with respect to retirement plan and welfare plan issues arising in the context of bankruptcy. We also guide employers through multiemployer plan contribution and withdrawal liability issues and assist our firm’s traditional labor law attorneys in negotiations involving those plans. Closely held businesses seek our assistance on succession planning and transitioning ownership to the next generation through the formation and implementation of Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs).

Our team also advises on the benefits aspects of executive compensation, including non-qualified deferred compensation and incentive compensation plans, stock option and restricted stock plans, phantom stock plans, and supplemental executive retirement plans (SERPs). We advise clients on the complicated tax rules relating to these plans, including IRC Section 409A. We also assist clients in addressing the many issues unique to governmental entities, schools, universities, and other tax-exempt organizations, including public pension plans, 403(b) plans, 457(b) plans, 457(f) plans, excess compensation issues, and intermediate sanction rules.

We also assist publicly traded companies with regard to the unique tax and benefit rules that apply to such companies, including IRC Section 162(m).