In today’s competitive work environment, it’s imperative to offer an employee benefit program that attracts and retains the best employees. At Phillips Lytle, our attorneys help clients put together a cost-effective package that does just that.
With one of the largest employee benefits practices in Upstate New York, we service employers large and small, publicly traded and closely held, governmental and tax exempt. We have extensive experience in preparing and reviewing plan documentation and governmental filings, representations arising from governmental investigations, and providing counsel on issues affecting employee benefit plans.
Our attorneys focus not only on compliance issues relating to the unique statutory and regulatory environment affecting employee benefit plans, but also on planning and business opportunities that require consideration of issues relating to employee benefit plans.
We work with clients in all aspects of tax-qualified retirement plans, including defined benefit pension plans, cash balance plans, money purchase pension plans, profit-sharing plans, 401(k) plans, thrift plans, 403(b) plans, ESOPs, 412( i ) plans, multiple employer plans and multiemployer plans.
We advise clients on the design, documentation, implementation and administration of various welfare and fringe benefit plans:
- Health plans (both insured and self-insured)
- Flexible benefit plans (including premium conversion plans, flexible spending accounts and full flex arrangements)
- Dependent care assistance plans
- Life insurance plans
- Educational assistance plans
- Disability programs
- Long-term care plans
- Vacation/sick plans
- Severance plans
- Voluntary employee benefit associations
- Multiple employer welfare arrangements
Because of the nondiscrimination limits placed on qualified retirement plans, nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements may be important to attract, motivate and retain executives and other highly paid employees. These arrangements can be structured in a variety of ways depending on the objectives of the employer and the needs of the employee. Our attorneys assist clients in selecting from the many available alternatives and in the design, documentation and implementation of such plans and related funding vehicles. Our advice addresses the related tax, securities and corporate law issues that may arise, including the application of Code Section 409A.
Stock-based compensation provides an incentive for employees to align their interests with those of the employer’s shareholders. Our Employee Benefits attorneys, often working in tandem with the firm’s Corporate, Securities and other Tax attorneys, have designed a variety of stock-based compensation arrangements, including stock options, stock appreciation rights (SARs), phantom stock, stock purchase plans and restricted stock agreements.
The operational responsibilities and financial liabilities associated with retirement plans and welfare plans are an important consideration in the acquisition, divestiture or merger of business entities, whether for-profit or not-for-profit. Our attorneys are experienced in evaluating these responsibilities and liabilities, performing related due diligence examinations, and structuring the employee benefit aspects of transactions, both from the perspective of the acquiring institution, as well as the divesting institution.
We also have experience in benefits litigation involving ERISA and other statutes affecting employee benefit plans. We have represented employers, employee benefit plans and fiduciaries, as well as insurers in litigation arising from benefit claims, governmental investigations, contested plan interpretations, and other claims related to the sponsorship and administration of employee benefit plans. However, our attorneys ideally aim to counsel clients on strategies to avoid such lawsuits. Our experience includes:
- Defense of ESOP fiduciaries in class action litigation challenging the investment in employer securities
- Subrogation and reimbursement claims on behalf of employee benefit plans
- Claims alleging breach of fiduciary duty
- Top hat plan litigation
- Contribution and withdrawal liability disputes with multi-employer pension plans
- ERISA Section 510 claims
- COBRA-related litigation
- Disputes regarding stop loss coverage
- Retiree welfare benefit litigation
- ERISA pre-emption issues
- Claims arising out of alleged reporting and disclosure violations