Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Attorneys

Bond’s employee benefits and executive compensation attorneys counsel employers on all aspects of these complex and constantly-changing fields of law, helping employers design and maintain benefit plans and executive compensation arrangements that meet business needs and satisfy legal requirements.

Our clients include public and private for-profit employers; colleges, universities, hospitals and other non-profit organizations; financial institutions; governmental entities (including school districts and municipalities); boards of directors; boards of trustees; individual fiduciaries and fiduciary committees; and individual executives.  

Bond’s employee benefits and executive compensation practice group includes seven experienced attorneys whose practices are focused on benefits and compensation matters. The group also includes attorneys from Bond’s labor, litigation and tax practices, providing additional resources to draw upon when appropriate. We have the depth and experience to provide assistance in a cost-effective and timely manner, no matter what the circumstances.

Areas of Experience

  • Retirement Plans:  We assist employers in designing, implementing, amending and terminating all types of tax-favored retirement plans, including 401(k), 403(b), 457(b), profit sharing, cash balance, traditional defined benefit, and employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs).  We often assist with on-going administrative matters such as Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor audits, voluntary corrections of operational errors, and QDRO determinations.
  • Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation Arrangements:  Our practice group members assist employers and executives in the design and maintenance of non-qualified deferred compensation arrangements that satisfy the strict rules of Internal Revenue Code Sections 83, 409A and 457(f).  Such arrangements include individual and group voluntary deferral plans, supplement executive retirement plans (SERPs), change in control or golden parachute plans, and equity-based compensation arrangements (including stock option, restricted stock, restricted stock unit and phantom stock plans).
  • Health and Other Welfare Plans:  We assist employers in designing, implementing, administering, amending and terminating all types of welfare benefit arrangements, including health, dental, vision, life, disability, cafeteria and severance plans.  Our practice group members have extensive experience helping employers understand and comply with the requirements of COBRA, HIPAA and the Affordable Care Act.
  • Collectively-Bargained and Multiemployer Plans:  For employers that contribute to multiemployer pension and/or health and welfare funds, our assistance can include help with complete and partial withdrawal liability issues, delinquent employer contribution actions, employer trustee representation, trustee deadlocks, and fiduciary and compliance issues.
  • Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestitures:  Our practice group members have extensive experience helping employers with the benefits and compensation issues that can arise when an employer is part of a merger, acquisition or other business transaction.  Our help can include due diligence, transaction document drafting, benefit comparisons, and assessment and mitigation of Internal Revenue Code Section 280G, 409A and 4999 implications.
  • Fiduciary Duties:  We help individual fiduciaries and fiduciary committees understand and fulfill the duties and responsibilities imposed on fiduciaries by ERISA and applicable plan documents. Our help can include guidance in the selection and on-going monitoring of plan investments and plan service providers, the establishment and maintenance of appropriate plan governance structures, and other measures designed to reduce fiduciary risk.
  • ERISA Litigation:  Our group has represented individuals and employers in litigation involving claims for plan benefits, claims alleging breaches of fiduciary duty, claims for withdrawal liability, PBGC and other plan-related claims in bankruptcy, and other claims related to employee benefit plans and individual compensation arrangements.

Due to the restrictions imposed by ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code, it is often difficult to structure tax-qualified deferred compensation arrangements that are sufficient to attract, retain and reward executives and other key employees. To address these problems, many employers have turned to executive compensation and/or "non-qualified" deferred compensation arrangements, including SERPs, equity-based arrangements (e.g., stock options, restricted stock and phantom stock), and change in control/golden parachute arrangements. We assist clients in the design, implementation and administration of arrangements that meet the client's specific needs and objectives. This assistance includes structuring arrangements to comply with the broad deferred compensation requirements in Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code.

Our attorneys have substantial experience in counseling clients regarding the employee benefits issues that often arise in the context of corporate transactions. Our services often include the evaluation of the liabilities and responsibilities of the buyer and seller in connection with employee benefits arrangements, the performance of "due diligence" reviews and drafting or reviewing employee benefit-related provisions of the documents accomplishing the transaction.

Retirement plans are an important tool for attracting, retaining and rewarding employees. However, such plans must comply with numerous statutory and regulatory requirements in order to provide retirement benefits in a manner that is advantageous both to the employer and the employees. There are numerous types of retirement plans that a client, depending on its needs, may maintain to provide retirement benefits to its employees on a tax-favored basis. Such plans include:

  • defined benefit plans
  • cash balance plans
  • money purchase pension plans
  • profit sharing plans
  • 401(k) plans
  • employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs)
  • tax-sheltered annuity plans (403(b) plans)

The employee benefits and executive compensation practice has extensive experience working with clients in the establishment and administration of all types of retirement plans. Depending upon the client's needs, our services could encompass: initial planning and consultation regarding the objectives of the plan; plan design and drafting; employee communications; guiding the plan through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) qualification process; advice on plan administration and fiduciary obligations; assistance in retaining the services of investment managers, third-party administrators and other service providers; representation during IRS, United States Department of Labor (DOL), and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation audits and litigation; and modification, conversion, merger and termination of the plan.

In addition, we assist clients in the identification of administrative errors that could result in the loss of a plan's tax-favored status, and the correction of such errors through the various voluntary compliance programs maintained by the IRS and the DOL. We also have significant experience in legal matters associated with participation in multiemployer pension plans and, in particular, withdrawal liability issues and disputes.

In recent years, welfare benefit plans have become the subject of substantially increased regulation. Our attorneys assist clients in the design, implementation and administration of numerous welfare benefit arrangements, including:

  • group health plans
  • group-term life insurance plans
  • cafeteria plans
  • dependent care assistance plans
  • disability plans
  • voluntary employee benefit associations (VEBAs)
  • tuition reduction plans
  • educational assistance plans
  • adoption assistance plans
  • qualified transportation benefits plans
  • employee assistance plans
  • severance pay and separation incentive plans
  • health savings accounts
  • medical savings account plans

In particular, we counsel clients regarding the health care continuation coverage requirements of COBRA, the requirements imposed on group health plans by legislation such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the administration of benefit claims review and appeals procedures and the implementation of separation incentive and early retirement programs designed to comply with age discrimination laws.