Shumaker provides a wide variety of clients with a complete package of legal services for their employee benefits and compensation programs. We regularly represent large and small employers, Taft-Hartley pension and welfare plans (and their joint boards), and professional plan service providers such as registered investment advisers, trustees and third party administrators. Our services include defined benefit pension plans, 401(k) savings plans and other retirement plans, health and welfare plans, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), executive compensation, and all related operational and fiduciary concerns. We design and draft qualified retirement plans that conform to all requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), and help ensure that plans conform to constantly changing federal legislation and the requirements of both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). When necessary, we handle all types of DOL and IRS audits of retirement and welfare benefit plans, and defend our clients in ERISA litigation.
What Makes Us Different
We participate in benefit plan design and administration as trusted collaborators with our clients’ benefits and compensation teams. Our lawyers handle both the day-to-day and the long-term concerns about plan construction and operation, drawing on Shumaker’s tax, labor and employment, corporate, health law and litigation capabilities as needed. The result is a full-service capability that helps our clients implement customized employee benefit plans and compensation solutions. Things that set us apart include:
- Years of experience designing and drafting retirement plans that comply with all legal requirements while effectively meeting the special needs of our clients (including specialized plans such as cash balance plans, bargained pension plans and Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)).
- Our long-term representation of Taft-Hartley plans allows us to provide sophisticated and practical advice on the special issues posed by multi-employer pension plans and other bargained benefits.
- Several of our lawyers devote much of their practice to group health and welfare plans, and have years of specialized experience with ERISA, COBRA, GINA and HIPAA privacy and anti-discrimination standards, as well as VEBAs, family leave and age discrimination requirements.
- We frequently represent both employers and executives with respect to executive employment agreements, incentive compensation and separation agreements.
- We work closely with Shumaker’s corporate lawyers on the challenging compensation and benefit plan concerns that arise in business acquisitions, divestitures, mergers and other transactions.
- Our well-developed niche practice designing specialized compensation arrangements for key employees of universities and other tax-exempt employers.
- Our on-going role as regular advisors to appeals committees for large, complex plans (including bargained plans) gives us a practical perspective on the plan appeals process.
- We regularly represent ESOPs and guide our clients through ESOP transactions.
- Obtaining plan compliance relief for operational and documentary problems under the IRS and DOL voluntary correction programs.
- We have dedicated ERISA litigators who regularly defend employers and plans against a wide range of individual and class action ERISA claims.
- Public companies of all sizes, including national and multinational corporations
- Private companies and family businesses
- Professional corporations
- Taft-Hartley collectively-bargained pension and welfare plans (regular representations of plans and their joint boards)
- Tax-exempt organizations (nonprofits, educational institutions and hospitals)
- Executives and key employees negotiating employment agreements, equity compensation, SERPs and separation pay packages
- Registered investment advisors and trustees providing investment services plans
- Other benefit service providers (such as third-party administrators and banks)
Why You Benefit by Choosing Shumaker
Shumaker’s employee benefits services are sought by a wide range of clients, because we work directly with our clients’ executives, human resources and benefits staff, often on a daily basis, to know their business and their goals. Shumaker lawyers also work closely with benefit plan fiduciaries and financial services providers, along with Taft-Hartley funds with their specialized issues under ERISA, to assist these groups navigate the regulatory maze.
Our clients receive a comprehensive approach that encompasses the financial, tax, administrative and fiduciary responsibility issues that are central to effective compensation and benefit programs, and their integration with specific employment policies and practices. Because we work with many types of clients, we often identify potential benefit and pension problems and develop solutions that avoid the risk of litigation or government action.
- Advising on Code section 401(k), 403(b) and 457 savings plan documentation, investment and compliance.
- Participating in the review of 401(k) and other savings plan investment options and service provider contracts.
- Obtaining IRS rulings on plan tax-qualified status and obtaining plan compliance relief under voluntary correction programs.
- Regularly attending Board of Trustees, plan investment committee and appeals committee meetings.
- Assisting with IRS and Department of Labor audits of benefit plans.
- Designing and implementing retirement benefits for government and nonprofit employers.
- Responding to Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) concerns over plan terminations, plan funding, and corporate transactions.
- Assisting with collective bargaining negotiations over pension and other benefits issues, including multiemployer plan issues.
- Advising multiemployer plans and private companies on withdrawal liability issues.
- Designing and implementing stock option and other incentive compensation plans.
- Consulting on the design of group health and welfare plans, including cafeteria plans.
- Ensuring COBRA, HIPAA, FMLA and ADA compliance for benefit plans.
- Advising investment advisors, plan trustees and other plan service providers on ERISA fiduciary duties and other ERISA compliance issues.
- Negotiating and preparing executive employment agreements, SERPs and separation agreements.
- Consulting on ESOP implementation and ESOP transactions.
- Defending employers against retirement and benefit plan lawsuits and regulatory actions.
What you can expect from Shumaker
Experienced professional services on any aspect of your employee benefit plans. Our comprehensive experience enables us to help manage benefit plan exposures and costs, avoid costly plan lawsuits and liabilities, and are structured to save time and money in administration. We work to ensure that all plans comply with ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code, HIPAA, COBRA, the Social Security Act, federal employment discrimination, and other federal and state laws and regulations, with particular emphasis on record retention and privacy concerns. We show our clients how to contain plan costs, manage liabilities, and comply with rapidly changing laws and regulations. From effective plan structure and design to preventive plan reviews to correct problems before they show up in an IRS audit, our guidance helps clients ensure compliance.
Because we know that clients face increasing litigation over the administration of pension and welfare plans, Shumaker focuses on effective ERISA representation in court. That includes defense of class actions by plan participants, defending and prosecuting breach of fiduciary claims under ERISA, and disputes over everything from denial of coverage or making prohibited transactions to contribution collections for multiemployer plans.