Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation

Freeborn has a comprehensive Employee Benefits practice that serves the needs of large, mid-size, and small employers and executives.

We regularly assist clients in the development and structuring of equity-based and other incentive programs and in the preparation of employment and severance agreements.  We assist clients in addressing the intricacies of non-qualified deferred compensation plans and golden parachute arrangements, specializing in compliance with the requirements of Code Sections 409A and 280G of the Internal Revenue Code.

We regularly advise sponsors and fiduciaries of tax-qualified retirement plans.  We assist clients in ensuring compliance with the tax qualification rules, and provide counsel during IRS and Department of Labor audits.  We guide clients through the IRS and Department of Labor plan correction programs.  We represent clients in connection with the various ERISA fiduciary duty and prohibited transaction issues that can arise in connection with plan assets.  We participate in administrative and investment committee meetings and the decision making process.  We counsel ESOP plan sponsors and fiduciaries regarding the special rules that apply to those plans. 

We have extensive experience in assisting clients in the design and operation of health, life, disability and other welfare benefit plans.  We assist clients in the development of procedures with respect to third-party/subrogation recovery issues.  We also provide extensive assistance to employee welfare benefit plan sponsors, other covered entities and business associates in matters related to compliance with HIPAA and HITECH.  We have assumed a lead role in counseling employers regarding the Affordable Care Act.

We advise clients regarding the employee benefit and executive compensation issues that arise during and following business transactions, including stock and asset sales and lending transactions.

ERISA Litigation

Employee benefit plan disputes are being litigated more and more often as plaintiffs' attorneys achieve success in the courts.  We counsel clients in matters involving the proper discharge of ERISA fiduciary duties and advise regarding ways to limit liability.

We are sensitive to the enormous personal responsibilities that plan sponsors and ERISA fiduciaries undertake.  We represent them in a broad range of matters before the courts, including benefit claims, fiduciary breach actions, withdrawal liability and plan contribution liability.

We regularly provide counsel and litigation assistance in disputes between plan sponsors and service providers in matters involving malpractice, contract and fiduciary claims, among other things.

In addition to the above, our attorneys are experienced in the representation of plan sponsors and ERISA fiduciaries in regulatory proceedings initiated by the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor.

Withdrawal Liability

When an employer withdraws from an underfunded multiemployer pension plan, it may be liable to contribute an amount needed to cover its share of the plan’s unfunded liabilities.  In some cases, the amount of this withdrawal liability can be substantial.  Freeborn & Peters attorneys regularly practice in the withdrawal liability area, including:

  • Counseling clients how to avoid withdrawal liability in corporate transactions;
  • Counseling clients on potential ways to mitigate potential withdrawal liability;
  • Negotiation with multiemployer plans to reach acceptable agreements regarding the amount of withdrawal liability payable and payment schedules;
  • Consulting with actuaries and other professionals regarding disputed withdrawal liability assessments;
  • Litigation and settlement of withdrawal liability and multi-employer plan contribution disputes related to the statutory notice provisions, controlled group liability, successor liability and alter-ego theories of recovery.