Employee Benefits

Lathrop Gage provides a full range of legal services to public, private and tax-exempt employers with respect to qualified retirement plans, executive compensation arrangements, non-qualified deferred compensation programs and welfare benefit plans. Our clients tell us we provide practical and creative solutions in a timely, efficient and plain-spoken manner.

Qualified Retirement Plans. We regularly assist clients in selecting the type of qualified retirement plan that is right for them – whether it be a defined benefit plan, including a cash balance plan, a 401(k) plan, a profit sharing plan, an age-weighted or cross-tested plan or an employee stock ownership plan. Our practice also extends to non-profit and governmental clients with regard to 403(b) annuity plans and 457 plans. We are experienced at handling plan design and drafting, the process of obtaining favorable determination letters from the IRS, the preparation of appropriate plan administrative forms, and the drafting of amendments necessitated by periodic changes in the law. We also provide ongoing counseling with respect to the myriad issues associated with the proper operation of a qualified plan.

Executive Compensation and Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation. A very significant part of our practice involves executive compensation and nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements. We have a wealth of experience negotiating and documenting sophisticated executive employment agreements, and are regularly involved with the design, drafting and implementation of various types of equity- and non-equity-based forms of incentive and deferred compensation programs, including annual incentive plans, long-term incentive plans, incentive and nonqualified stock option plans, restricted stock programs, phantom stock plans, stock appreciation rights, and employee stock purchase plans. We are deeply familiar with the complex rules of Internal Revenue Code Section 409A pertaining to nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements, the rules of Section 83 pertaining to the transfer of property in connection with the performance of services, and the tax rules applicable to parachute payments.

Welfare Benefit Plans. In the welfare plan arena, we help clients maintain their group health, life, disability and other insured and noninsured welfare plans in compliance with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the Internal Revenue Code, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) and other applicable laws and regulations. We draft 501(c)(9) trusts to fund self-insured plans and flexible benefit arrangements under Code Section 125 to take advantage of available tax benefits. We also draft and review benefit summaries, summary plan descriptions and employee handbooks and are available to help with all aspects of employee communications.

Other aspects of our employee benefit practice include:

  • Representing clients in administrative proceedings involving the IRS, the Department of Labor and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.;
  • Negotiating voluntary compliance resolution and audit-related settlements with the IRS and DOL;
  • Reviewing Qualified Domestic Relations Orders and Qualified Medical Child Support Orders to ensure compliance with ERISA and Code requirements;
  • Handling pension and non-pension benefit claims, including compliance with internal review procedures, pursuing plans’ subrogation rights and assisting with document interpretation;
  • Representing clients in various types of employee benefit litigation;
  • Handling the employee benefit aspects of mergers, acquisitions and spin-offs, and the design and implementation of voluntary and involuntary reductions in force.

Representative Experience:

  • Responsible on an ongoing basis for at least 400 qualified retirement plans.
  • Provide counsel to multiple corporate group members of a national building products conglomerate regarding retirement and welfare plan design and compliance issues, including tax, ERISA and COBRA requirements.
  • Advised manufacturer of contemporary jewelry products regarding the employee benefit aspects of its sale to a public company.