Employee Benefits

Human Capital

“Admired for its broad [skill] in the labor and employment sector, this firm has
been developing its employee benefits division in the past year with the
recruitment of new attorneys.  Clients appreciate the ‘consistently effective
for its ‘absolute dedication’ and ‘uniformly good work.’

—Chambers USA

Blank Rome’s benefits attorneys routinely advise employers on matters relating to their company-sponsored retirement, Taft-Hartley and welfare/fringe benefit plans and represent employers in litigation involving such plans. We also represent employers in connection with corporate transactions, such as mergers, stock sales, asset sales, as well as bank loans and bankruptcies, in which plan issues arise. In addition to employers, we also represent service providers in the benefit plan industry as well as governmental entities.

What We Do

Retirement Plans

  • Design, draft, implement, and secure Internal Revenue Service determination letters for all types of tax-qualified retirement plans, including 401(k) plans and employee stock ownership plans (“ESOPs”).
  • Represent clients before the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation in audits, private letter ruling requests, prohibited transaction exemption requests, as well as submissions to the IRS and to the Department of Labor under each of their correction programs.
  • Assist clients in merger and acquisition transactions which can impact the treatment of tax-qualified plans as well as the liabilities of a buyer or seller.
  • Advise clients about operational issues that arise from the administration of tax-qualified retirement plans.
  • Educate clients with respect to fiduciary obligations.
  • Assist with the investment of plan assets in real estate and venture capital operating companies, as well as other private equity investments.
  • Help clients regarding withdrawal liability from multiemployer pension plans.

Welfare/Fringe Benefit Plans

  • Prepare and review welfare/fringe benefit plans and related documents, including but not limited to, “cafeteria plans,” self-insured group health plans, flexible spending accounts, medical reimbursement plans (including health reimbursement arrangements and health savings accounts), and severance plans.
  • Provide advice and counseling to ensure compliance with the requirements of COBRA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), and the new federal healthcare rules.

Corporate Transactions

  • Draft and negotiate documents for mergers, acquisitions, bank financings (loans and credit agreements) or bankruptcies that properly address the complex benefits issues that can arise in such transactions, including merger or termination of benefit plans, withdrawal liability, appropriate representations and warranties, identification of liabilities, worker transfer issues, COBRA, and government compliance.

Benefit Litigation

  • Represent employers in litigation involving the defense of complex benefit claims, fiduciary issues and withdrawal liability under the Multi­employer Pension Plan Amendment Act of 1980.

What Makes Our Practice Different

  • Vast experience with all aspects of employee benefits.
  • Constant interaction with the IRS, U.S. ­Department of Labor and PBGC.
  • Ability to call on our corporate, financial services, litigation and estate planning colleagues for their input when needed.

Representative Engagements

  • Represented major maritime company in the acquisition of an international company in the water treatment and maritime support industries. This transaction required coordinating with counsel from every continent to be certain that employees received comparable benefits, without interruption, to those provided by the seller and to verify compliance with laws of the country in which the employees were located.
  • Provided employee benefits advice to a national computer data protection company, including the spin-off of a portion of a defined benefit plan from its former parent.
  • Drafted deferred compensation plan and severance program for top executives at a national energy transmission company.
  • Represented large regional bank in connection with an audit of its Employee Stock Ownership Plan by the Department of Labor.
  • Represented a creditors’ committee in one of the largest industrial bankruptcies in the country in connection with the funding of the company’s pension plans.
  • Represented a major food production company in connection with all of its benefit plans.
  • Represented creditors’ committees for two subprime lenders that were in bankruptcy in which company executives claimed that assets held in rabbi trusts to pay benefits under non-qualified deferred compensation plans belonged to them because the non-qualified plans were not “top hat” plans and should be subject to all of the provisions of ERISA.
  • Represented various employers in cases contesting the amount of withdrawal liability assessed against them.