Littler Mendelson is nationally recognized for taking a practical solutions-oriented approach to assisting its employee benefits clients. We regularly help clients design, document, review, and operate all types of ERISA and non-ERISA plans and arrangements, including health and welfare, retirement, supplemental retirement, employment, incentive bonus and severance programs. We look at the strategic importance of an employer’s benefits program and seek to ensure that the appropriate components are in place in order that the client meet its goals.
Our experienced legal bench-strength enables us to offer clients the broadest range of services. We have built a team of lawyers and other sophisticated benefits professionals with knowledge in every facet of employee benefits, from retirement plan design, administration and governance to multiple and multiemployer plan issues, ERISA compliance, fiduciary issues, and litigation. We regularly assist employers with the benefits aspects of corporate transactions and restructurings. We help employers comply with state and federal requirements governing benefits, including health and welfare plan rules, HIPAA privacy rules, and tax issues.
In the significant area of healthcare, we have the experience and perspective that comes from advising clients about these benefits. Littler has some of the most prominent lawyers in the field who are currently advising thousands of employers throughout the country as they prepare for the major changes in employee health coverage.
We come from diverse backgrounds – corporate, government, and consulting – but we share a practical approach in finding solutions that meet our clients’ business goals. We understand the intricacies of these highly regulated areas and know how to help employers identify potential problems and weigh the alternatives and accompanying risks before arriving at solutions that are best suited for their businesses.
Littler has a core of benefits attorneys and employee benefit professionals who work with employers throughout the country and have experience with virtually every type of retirement vehicle available to employers. We regularly design, amend, merge and terminate retirement plans, analyze fiduciary obligations, review funding obligations – directly affecting the bottom line – and create appropriate governance structures to best ensure prudent fiduciary compliance and protection from lawsuits or adverse government action. Littler understands that retirement plans are strategic tools clients utilize to further their business objectives and is focused on helping clients find solutions to best meet their strategic goals.
Benefits Aspects of Employment-Related Documents
Littler attorneys are well positioned to provide counsel to clients on various benefits aspects of employment-related documents, such as employment agreements, severance plans and agreements and incentive plans. Often clients are unaware that laws as diverse as The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code can create enormous compliance hurdles to establishing legally-compliant documents. Our attorneys are sensitive to these issues and regularly guide our clients through troublesome situations.
In recent years, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) and the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) have accelerated their audits of employee benefits programs and deferred compensation arrangements under Section 409A, as well as welfare and retirement plans. Not only do we regularly assist employers with DOL or IRS audits, we also counsel employers to proactively identify potential problems with their plans before an auditor arrives through a series of preventive measures that we have refined over the years.
Because of our depth of knowledge in this area, we know what areas officials are likely to focus on in a plan review. Therefore, we are able to provide clients with self-audit procedures and guidelines to assist them in making potential corrections to their plans before a governmental agency audits the plans. When the DOL or IRS is auditing an employer, however, our professional relationships with government agencies afford us important insights in helping our clients identify and remedy problem areas. We know the process and what a client might expect because we have assisted clients with hundreds of similar audits.
Our Clients’ Needs
Because of the breadth of our experience, we represent a vast array of clients, including publicly-traded and privately-owned companies, state and local governmental entities, tax-exempt organizations, multi-employer pension funds, professional employment organizations and other contingent workforce organizations. We also assist wellness professionals, benefits advisors, consultants and others involved in the benefits arena.
We offer services in all areas of employee benefits, including audits and corrective procedures, governmental and tax-exempt employer plans, health and welfare plans, HIPAA and other privacy issues, litigation, multi-employer plans and Taft Hartley Trusts and qualified retirement plans.
We tailor our services to meet our clients’ specific needs in every area of employee benefits, including the following:
- assisting clients with the development, administration, and governance of qualified retirement plans, including complying with ERISA’s fiduciary duty provisions and its reporting and disclosure requirements;
- working with clients to correct documentary, administrative and fiduciary errors in retirement plans and executive compensation arrangements by employing self-corrective measures;
- assisting clients with the benefits and compensation aspects of corporate transactions and restructurings, reductions-in-force and change in control situations;
- helping clients design, document and administer all types of ERISA health and welfare plans, including group health and disability plans, cafeteria plans and flexible spending arrangements, and insurance and severance plans;
- advising clients on the intricacies of HIPAA privacy and security obligations, COBRA, and other ancillary rules that apply to employers;
- advising employers on contract and other trust law issues in connection with multi-employer plans and Taft-Hartley trusts. Representing employers in trust fund audits and delinquent contribution claims. Also dealing with all aspects of pension withdrawal liability, including serving as counsel to trustees; and
- guiding clients through the intricacies of devising corporate wellness plans, which include assessing the impact of employment and discrimination laws on design features, such as health risk assessments and other medical information issues.
To complement our employee benefits lawyers and other employee benefits professionals, we have numerous, sophisticated benefits litigators, who represent employers in defending claims over benefits, fiduciary duty violations and other related issues and experienced attorneys who specialize in executive compensation who can provide valuable guidance on both legal and strategic issues in creating executive employment agreements and developing competitive compensation structures.