Employee benefits litigation continues to be a growing area of exposure for those involved in the design, administration, and funding of employee benefit plans. Changes in the applicable laws and case authority, the rising cost of employee benefits, and increases in the number of retirees and layoffs all drive growth in this area. Additionally, plaintiffs’ lawyers continue to press new theories of liability and pursue class-based claims, increasing the complexity—and thus the cost—of employee benefits lawsuits.
Littler’s Employee Benefits Litigation practice comprises attorneys who have the knowledge and geographic presence to deliver solutions to any ERISA or other employee benefits litigation problem. Our group of litigators has represented plan sponsors, fiduciaries, and service-providers before courts in all jurisdictions, including the United States Supreme Court. And, with our extensive experience in all types of cases—from the individual claim for disability benefits to the complex class action challenging a conversion to a cash balance plan—we have handled the full gamut of employee benefits disputes in nearly every circuit.
At Littler, we are focused on delivering cost-effective solutions to employee benefit litigation problems that combine the resources of a national labor, employment, and employee benefits firm with the experience of seasoned litigators whose practices are focused on ERISA and other employee benefits litigation. Our collective practice experience is vast and includes the defense of claims in the following areas:
- Fiduciary Duty Claims of All Types
- 401(k) Litigation (Stock Drop and Excessive Fee Claims)
- Notice and Disclosure Claims
- Benefit Claims Litigation
- Retiree Rights Cases
- Subrogation Litigation
- COBRA Claims
- Cash Balance Plan Litigation
- Withdrawal Liability Claims
- Interference/Whistleblowing Claims – ERISA Section 510
- ERISA Preemption Cases
- Multiemployer and Collectively Bargained Plan Claims
- Benefits issues arising in the context of corporate bankruptcies and reorganizations
We take a team approach to employee benefits litigation, staffing each case in a manner unique to the issues presented, assuring appropriate technical experience, familiarity with the relevant venue, class action knowledge (where applicable), and trial experience.
Administrative Proceedings, Counseling, and Litigation Avoidance
In addition to providing clients with effective representation in employee benefits litigation, our team of litigators regularly collaborates with Littler’s employee benefits practitioners to provide clients with counseling and advice on how to minimize potential employee benefits litigation exposure. Our clients benefit from this synergy, particularly in dealings with governmental agencies, including the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the Department of Labor, and the Internal Revenue Service. For example, Littler attorneys have handled Department of Labor claims and audits ranging from alleged COBRA violations to corporate bankruptcies and resulting failures to deposit 401(k) contributions. We are also familiar with the criminal law implications that potentially can arise from improper benefit plan administration and proactively counsel clients to minimize the risk of adversarial administrative proceedings, civil or criminal litigation. Given the substantial overlap between the benefits consulting and litigation practices in dealing with agencies governing benefit plans, Littler can offer seamless and cost-effective advice and representation to clients confronting plan qualification issues, compliance investigations, and similar administrative activities.
To complement the litigators in Littler’s Employee Benefits Litigation practice, Littler also has a group of experienced attorneys who specialize in executive compensation and who can provide valuable guidance on both legal and strategic issues in creating executive employment agreements and developing competitive compensation structures.
Monitoring Employee Benefits Litigation Developments
Littler is at the forefront of understanding any changes or new issues that arise in all aspects of ERISA and employee benefits litigation. We go to great lengths to ensure that our clients are advised of, and provided meaningful discussion on, recent legal developments. In addition to Littler’s blogs, webinars, timely articles and numerous books, litigators in the Employee Benefits Litigation practice frequently contribute to well-known benefits publications and regularly appear as guest speakers at national conferences and seminars on benefits litigation topics. Littler’s Employee Benefits Litigation practice includes one of the senior editors on the first and second editions of BNA’s comprehensive publication, Employee Benefits Law, as well as a number of contributors to the benefits litigation chapters of that publication. Littler’s employee benefits litigators have been active in the American Bar Association’s benefits litigation committees and sub-committees within the Labor and Employment Section, the Business Law Section, and the Section of Taxation.