Employee Benefits Law
The attorneys at HJ&F have extensive experience in every facet of employee benefit plans from initial plan design and implementation to day-to-day administration. We assist businesses of every size and type, from small closely held companies to publicly traded companies, governmental employers, churches and non-profit entities. HJ&F attorneys have experience with a wide variety of retirement and welfare benefit plans, including:
- Defined benefit plans
- Defined contribution plans
- Retirement plans for tax-exempt entities (457 and 403(b) plans), including churches and governmental entities
- Employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs)
- Deferred compensation and executive compensation plans
- Group welfare plans, including medical, dental, vision, life, short-term disability, long-term disability, accident, and cancer benefit plans
- Flexible spending account plans, including health care and dependent care expense reimbursement plans, health reimbursement accounts (HRAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs)
- Section 125 plans (cafeteria plans) and “wrap” documents
Plan design and implementation: We consult with our clients and their third-party service providers to ensure compliance with ERISA and/or other applicable laws. We review, revise and/or draft benefit plan documents, amendments, summary plan descriptions, and employee election forms for our clients.
Plan administration: We provide clients with day-to-day guidance regarding retirement and welfare plan administration, including benefit inquiries and claims and retirement plan distributions. Additionally, we assist with filing of required reporting forms and returns such as Form 5500s for pension and welfare plans and ACA reporting. We also assist clients in the preparation of termination amendments, required notices to participants, consultation regarding distribution of retirement plan assets, and application for IRS determination letters.
Fiduciary Compliance: We assist clients in fulfilling their fiduciary obligations under ERISA in all aspects of employee benefit plans, including review of their fiduciary processes in the selection and monitoring of service providers and their fees.
Health plan compliance: We advise clients regarding the administration of group health plans involving regulations issued under the ACA, HIPAA, GINA, and ADA. We have experience with both fully-insured and self-insured plans and assist clients with the establishment of welfare benefit trusts and multiple employer welfare arrangements.
Regulatory Agency Audits: We are experienced in assisting with and responding to benefit plan audits conducted by the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. We offer varying levels of assistance based on the client’s needs including consultation with benefit department personnel and representation on behalf of the client during each phase of the audit process. Once you receive an inquiry from a governmental agency, we prefer to pre-audit your plans to mitigate your exposure. Our work in this area has included:
- Represented PEO against DOL investigation alleging that PEO engaged in self-dealing by retaining commissions received in connection with the sale of health insurance to PEO worksite employers.
- Represented investment advisor against DOL alleging breach of fiduciary duty for receiving more than reasonable compensation because third party recordkeeper estimated advisor’s fees based upon outstanding loans in the plan.
- Represented CFO against DOL allegations that key employees were paid bonuses in connection with an ESOP transaction in violation of ERISA’s prudence and loyalty provisions.
- Represented union trustee in case where DOL alleged union trustees approved purchase of real property for more than adequate consideration.
- Represented union members of a multi-employer board of trustees against DOL allegations that it was a MEWA and that it had co-fiduciary liability for commissions received by independent brokers in violation of ERISA’s self-dealing provisions.
- Represented a Fortune 500 company, its plan committees and plan fiduciaries, against allegations that they breached fiduciary duties regarding the offering of employer stock in the 401(k) plan.
- Represented sellers and ESOP fiduciaries against DOL allegations that ESOP paid more than fair market value for sellers’ stock in a closely held company.
- Represented corporate manufacturing clients before the DOL in audits regarding issues involving improper administration of 401(k) plans and defined benefit plans.
- Represented fiduciaries in DOL investigation involving allegations of improper valuation in a Rollover Business Start-up transaction.
- Represented plan sponsors and fiduciaries regarding health plan investigations regarding compliance issues with ACA and the Mental Health Parity Act.
- Represented plan sponsors and fiduciaries regarding retirement plan investigations concerning late contributions, allocation of forfeitures and other related issues.
Voluntary Audits: We also offer periodic internal audits of benefit plans and programs to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations. In the event compliance issues are identified, we can prepare and submit applications to the IRS Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System, the Department of Labor Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program, and Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program.