Employee benefit plans and the laws that govern them are inherently complex and constantly evolving. By combining substantive knowledge in employee benefits laws with the talents of experienced litigators, Arent Fox provides clients with the requisite tools, resources and experience for success.
ERISA Litigation Practice
We have witnessed an explosion in litigation involving employee benefit plans in recent years – including class actions – and there is no sign that this trend is letting up. Plaintiffs’ class action lawyers are constantly “trawling the waters” for new kinds of ERISA actions to file. The cash balance plan age discrimination cases of yesterday are giving way to today’s securities lending and excessive fee cases, and the ever present stock drop cases. The way to mount a successful defense in complicated ERISA litigation is with attorneys who have the substantive knowledge of employee benefits law and the litigation skills and experience to be able to put that knowledge to work.
Our ERISA litigation attorneys possess that critical blend of knowledge and experience. We are a relatively small group of five attorneys with more than 50 combined years of ERISA experience. Two of our ERISA litigation partners spent more than 20 years between them in senior positions at the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. This group of attorneys runs every ERISA litigation matter the firm handles, utilizing additional resources from the firm’s general litigation, employee benefits, and tax practices when necessary. This unique team approach to ERISA litigation ensures that clients get the best of both worlds as we combine the unparalleled skills of lawyers with nationally recognized technical experience with tough litigators who employ creative “outside the box” thinking to develop successful litigation strategies. Even our opposing counsel have described us as “formidable.”
Our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of ERISA, as well as the Internal Revenue Code, the Bankruptcy Code, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and other laws affecting employee benefit plans. We have handled a wide variety of benefit issues arising under these statutes in connection with defined benefit pension plans (including cash balance plans), defined contribution pension plans, ESOPs, and health and welfare plans.
By evaluating our clients’ strategic goals at the outset of a case, and continually throughout it, our litigators always have their “eye on the prize.” As a result, we are able to navigate our clients through complex litigation efficiently and effectively.
We are particularly suited to handle complex benefit issues faced by companies that are confronting bankruptcy or are in financial distress. We regularly help companies navigate this highly specific area of the employee benefits world, both as special pension counsel in bankruptcy cases and outside of bankruptcy.
Our experience and services include:
- Fiduciary breach litigation
- Class actions
- Managed care litigation
- Stock drop litigation
- Cash balance plan litigation
- PGBC counseling and litigation
- Benefits claim litigation
- Commercial payer disputes
- Benefits issues in bankruptcy
- Administrative appeals
- Fiduciary compliance
- Independent fiduciary representation
- Withdrawal liability
- DOL investigations
- IRS audits
- Benefits issues in mergers and acquisitions
- Voluntary compliance submissions
- Determination letter requests
- Executive compensation
ERISA Transactional Practice
Arent Fox's transactional ERISA lawyers regularly advise clients on benefit issues related to ERISA and other statutes that regulate Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP's), 401(k) plans, defined benefit pension plans, health and welfare plans (including COBRA and HIPAA), executive deferred compensation programs (Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code), severance programs and fringe benefit plans. We design and draft all types of employee benefit plans, and advise both for-profit and nonprofit clients on compliance rules.
We also develop practical solutions for fixing broken plans, particularly when a client has been sold an “off-the-shelf” program that does not meet its business objectives, and we have been very successful in negotiating practical solutions with the IRS when employers have discovered operational problems with their benefit plans.
We have extensive knowledge of the Internal Revenue Code, applicable US Department of Labor regulations and all other laws relating to employee benefits. We normally handle pension and welfare benefit plan matters on behalf of employers, plan fiduciaries, and sometimes the plans themselves. Arent Fox serves as outside counsel to sponsors of many large and small multiemployer, multiple employer and single-employer plans. We also serve as plan counsel to a number of pension and health plans, some of them governmental plans.