Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits

The executive compensation & employee benefits attorneys at Norris McLaughlin co-chaired by David T. Harmon and Charles A. Bruder, brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to both employers and professionals in a wide range of industries. Our Group addresses the legal ramifications, regulatory compliance and income tax issues associated with the implementation and administration of employment agreements, severance arrangements, qualified and non-qualified employee benefits plans and equity-based incentive compensation arrangements.

Attorneys in this Group regularly counsel professionals in a wide range of industries in all aspects of employment arrangements, including the negotiation and drafting of employment agreements, and advising such individuals on income tax implications of stock option plans, variable compensation plans, phantom stock plans and other forms of incentive compensation, including the tax elections available to such professionals. They are experienced in all aspects of preparing and negotiating severance arrangements following an employment change or personnel downsizing.

In addition, the Executive Compensation & Employee Benefits Practice Group provides legal and tax counsel to both not-for-profit and for-profit companies and organizations which are seeking to recruit and retain top executives and key employees by advising such employers in all aspects of executive compensation and employee benefits, including defined benefit and defined contribution plans, deferred compensation arrangements, life and medical insurance programs, and welfare benefit plans. Our attorneys are experienced in providing counsel to our clients with respect to claims for withdrawal liability from multi-employer pension plans, including representation during arbitration proceedings and litigation, and providing critical guidance concerning important tax matters such as Internal Revenue Code Section 409A compliance for deferred compensation plans and Code Section 280G considerations for “parachute payments.”

The following is an overview of the attorneys representative matters and abilities:

Employment and Severance Agreements

  • Representation of treasurer and senior vice president of publicly-traded advertising agency holding company in the negotiation of employment and related equity agreements.
  • Representation of derivatives broker in connection with a proposed departure to a competitor with other brokers to build a trading desk in a particular derivative.
  • Representation of magazine advertising executive in the negotiation of an employment agreement and subsequent severance agreement, and later formation of a consulting company.
  • Representation of chief financial officer of New Jersey-based bank in connection with an employment agreement and the negotiation of a release required for a change in control payment following acquisition of the bank.
  • Preparation and negotiation of an employment agreement for general counsel and corporate secretary of a Canadian-based publicly traded advertising agency holding company for services to be rendered from the company’s New York office.
  • Representation of president of high-end fashion company in the renewal and amendment of an employment agreement.
  • Representation of marketing consultant in the formation of a limited liability company and preparation of various agreements.
  • Representation of former president of publicly traded company in his separation agreement and representation of that same individual in his next employment opportunity with a brokerage company.
  • Representation of several individual executives in the termination of their respective employments.
  • Separation agreement for municipal finance executive; formation of a municipal finance consulting company, including filing as an investment advisor; and employment agreement for same executive.

Employee Benefits

  • Structure qualified and non-qualified employee benefits arrangements for tax-exempt and for-profit employers, including:
    • Defined contribution plans
    • Defined benefit plans
    • Non-qualified deferred compensation plans
    • Equity-based arrangements (phantom stock plans, restricted stock plans)
    • Qualified and non-qualified stock option plans
    • Employee stock ownership plans (“ESOP”) and employee stock purchase plans (“ESPP”)
  • Provide tax planning concerning such arrangements and benefits distributions
    • Reporting requirements, FICA/FUTA withholding and related issues.
  • Structure benefits arrangements for severance packages and employment agreements
    • Provide counsel concerning the implementation and administration of same.
  • Draft documentation for employee benefits arrangements, including notices and forms
  • Internal Revenue Code Section 409A compliance issues
  • Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), Pension Benefit Government Corporation (“PBGC”), U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”), HIPAA, COBRA compliance
  • IRS and DOL corrective programs and audit matters (EPCRS, VFCP, DFVCP)
  • Draft qualified domestic relations orders and administration of same
  • Provide counsel concerning implementation and administration of cafeteria plans, welfare benefit plans, and VEBAs, among others.

Employee Benefits Informer


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