ERISA & Employee Benefits

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ERISA & Employee Benefits

Vandeventer Black’s ERISA & Employee Benefits Team partners with our clients for all their employee benefits needs. Our attorneys are experienced in the full range of retirement and welfare benefit issues. If plan administration issues arise, we are always available for consultation. Particular areas of expertise are as follows:

Retirement Plans

Our attorneys have extensive experience with IRS qualified defined benefit pension plans and defined contribution plans. We work with our clients and their vendors, service providers, accountants, actuaries and financial professionals to help them provide safe, attractive retirement benefits for their employees at the lowest administrative cost. Our services include IRS and DOL compliance, plan drafting and amending, Determination Letter submissions, Pension Protection Act issues, administration issues, audits and IRS and DOL remedial procedures. Additionally, we assist with non-qualified plans, including 457 plans, that are offered for the employer’s workforce in general, as well as special plans just for Executives.

Multiemployer & Governmental Plans

Our attorneys have decades of experience representing Taft-Hartley multi-employer and governmental plans. The three attorneys leading our ERISA and Employee Benefits Team have a combined 94+ years’ experience in Taft Hartley Plan matters. We routinely handle complex issues such as withdrawal liability and Pension Protection Act compliance. We routinely guide plans through DOL audits, IRS compliance and Determination Letter filings, and the unique issues facing governmental employers. We work with our labor attorneys when collective bargaining issues intertwine with benefits matters.

Fiduciary Advice

We work with trustees of ERISA plans to guide them in accordance with the fiduciary standards imposed by federal law. Protecting individuals from liability in such a complex and changing area is important in insuring plans are able to attract and retain qualified individuals to successfully administer their plans for the benefit of plan participants.

Health & Welfare Benefits

Our Benefits Team routinely assists employers with health and welfare benefit matters arising under ERISA, COBRA, HIPAA, USERRA, and the ACA. We assist in drafting and amending plans, and IRS and DOL compliance. We review QDROs and QMCSOs, and advise on VEBA and Cafeteria Plan issues. Our attorneys are always available when a client has a quick question related to a particular employee’s question.

Executive Compensation

Vandeventer Black’s active executive compensation practice is focused on structuring non-qualified arrangements. We design and assist our clients in implementing various packages such as phantom stock plans, non-qualified deferred compensation plans, “rabbi” trust arrangements, stock purchase and option agreements and other incentive or bonus plans, in order to supplement or replace traditional vehicles such as 401(k) plans and ESOPs. We also work with lawyers in our Labor & Employment Department to coordinate severance packages that implement special deferred compensation components.

ERISA Litigation

Our employee benefits lawyers work with the firm’s litigation department in any litigation that arises under ERISA or in state court relating to employee benefit plans, including employee claims, fiduciary breaches, document compliance and financial issues.

Representative Matters
  • We serve as co-counsel to the HRSA-ILA Pension and Welfare Funds; seven Taft-Hartley plans providing income, retirement, vacation, short-term disability as well as other benefits to the longshore industry.
  • Successfully guided a plan with multiple operating failures through the VCP process and negotiated a nominal penalty.
  • Settled a matter with the IRS, in which the government threatened disqualification of a non-amended plan. Participants’ assets were safeguarded.
  • Negotiated an exemption from a prohibited transaction with the DOL.
  • Reviewed multiple investment manager contracts, including amendments to investment guidelines.
  • Litigated the collection of mistaken overpayments to participants.
New ERISA Guidance on Retirement Plan Cybersecurity
Vandeventer Black
The Department of Labor (DOL) has just issued first-time retirement plan guidance to address cybersecurity risks for employers, plan fiduciaries, recordkeepers and plan participants.  The guidance is in the form of recommended best practices to protect retirement benefits by providing strong cybersecurity practices for employers and plan service providers and ...
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New Guidance Clarifies COVID-19 Employee Benefit Deadline Extensions
Vandeventer Black
Last year the IRS and Department of Labor (DOL) extended various ERISA and COBRA deadlines for employee benefit plan participants affected by COVID-19.  The extended deadlines included: The timeframe to elect COBRA continued health coverage; The deadline for making COBRA premium payments; Requests for special enrollment in a group health ...
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COVID-19 and Retirement Plans – Partial Plan Termination Issues and New Fiduciary Relief
Vandeventer Black
Potential Partial Termination of Retirement Plan.  A partial retirement plan termination may occur when there is a significant reduction (generally more than 20%) in plan participation due to employer-initiated terminations or layoffs during the plan year.  If a partial termination occurs, affected participants (those who are terminated) become 100% vested ...
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