Employee Benefits/ERISA

Our Employee Benefits Practice provides advice and legal services to private sector, government, and tax-exempt or not-for-profit clients on issues relating to their employee pension plans, welfare plans, executive compensation arrangements and fringe benefits.

Generally, legal issues arise in connection with compliance with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA"), various requirements in the Internal Revenue Code for tax qualification of pension plans or for tax preferred treatment of executive benefit programs, welfare plans and fringe benefit arrangements and under state laws and regulations. The lawyers in our Employee Benefits practice have a wide range of experience in all aspects of design and operation of employee benefit plans. We maintain relationships with representatives of governmental agencies charged with oversight and enforcement of the rules governing these plans.

Our services include the following:

  • Plan design
  • Plan document drafting for retirement programs, including 401(k) plans, health and welfare plans, and executive compensation arrangements
  • Review of agreements with third party administrators
  • Assistance with participation in government agency correction programs
  • Establishing trusts for funding benefit plans, including other post employment benefits (“OPEBs”)
  • COBRA compliance
  • Preparation and review of qualified domestic relations orders
  • Analysis of potential prohibited transaction issues involving retirement and welfare benefit plan assets
  • Advice to parties in mergers, acquisitions, and other business combination transactions regarding employee benefit plan issues
  • Representation of retirement plan sponsors in connection with Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor audits
  • Preparation or review of employee communications and educational materials
  • Fiduciary responsibility training for benefit plan fiduciaries

  • Best Law Firms
  • Chambers and Partners Designation

ACT BY YEAR END: Timing of Severance Payments Where Payment is Contingent on Employee Signing a Waiver and Release

The IRS frowns on arrangements that allow someone to "game the system" and shift income back and forth across tax years. If a severance payment isn't due until after the departing employee signs a Waiver and Release, then the employee can theoretically hold off signing long enough to move the income into the following tax year. Employers need to amend their plans by the end of this year to prevent this.

Economic Stimulus Act - Impact on COBRA Health Continuation Coverage

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, referred to in the press as the "Economic Stimulus Act."  One provision in this Act that has received relatively little publicity is a subsidy for former employees and their dependents who elected, or were offered the opportunity to elect, to continue health insurance coverage following termination of employment.

Required Changes to Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation Plans

On October 22, 2004, President Bush signed into law the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004. This legislation adds new Section 409A to the Internal Revenue Code. Section 409A will require most employers to amend their non qualified deferred compensation plans (“NQDCPs”) and to operate the plans under new rules imposed by Section 409A.

2002 Maryland Legislative Update, Part 1

Each year the Maryland Legislature enacts a number of laws which impact in various degrees on the personal and business lives of people living in or doing business in the State of Maryland. The General Assembly adjourned on April 8, 2002, and the Session actively concluded when the Governor enacted legislation into State law during four separate signing ceremonies on April 9, April 25, May 6 and May 16.

Chambers Honors Whiteford in 11 Practice Areas

Whiteford, Taylor & Preston is pleased to announce that Chambers and Partners has once again ranked the firm highly in its 2019 list of leading firms and business lawyers.

U.S. News Awards Top-Tier Rankings to 46 Whiteford Practices, Including 18 Nationally

Whiteford, Taylor & Preston is pleased to announce that U.S. News and World Report - Best Lawyers ® “Best Law Firms” has awarded the firm exemplary rankings for 2019.  Eighteen of the firm’s practices are ranked at the national level, including two practices with national Tier 1 rankings:  Litigation and Bankruptcy.  At the state level, an additional forty-six practices have been ranked in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and VA.

Whiteford, Taylor & Preston and 29 Lawyers Honored by Chambers and Partners

Whiteford, Taylor & Preston is pleased to announce that Chambers and Partners has once again ranked the firm highly in its 2017 list of leading firms and business lawyers. This year’s recognition includes a record 29 attorneys in 4 states, the District of Columbia and Afghanistan. 

Whiteford, Taylor & Preston Recognized as National Tier 1 by U.S. News and World Report

The 2017 edition of U.S. News and World Report - Best Lawyers ® “Best Law Firms” has awarded Whiteford, Taylor & Preston LLP exemplary ratings in its seventh annual rankings of law firms.

Twenty of the firm’s practices were ranked at the national level, as well as thirty-seven in Maryland, ten in Washington, D.C., and two in Roanoke, VA.