Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation

Our Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group assists a variety of clients with a wide range of needs, enabling us to develop a broad practice with strength across the many areas of benefits-related legal compliance.

Ballard Spahr has a world-class employee benefits and executive compensation practice focused on the continually changing legal landscape for employers and their compensation and benefit plans. A sizable number of our clients still sponsor defined benefit pension plans, and we are advising those clients on issues, including the merger and spin-off of pension plans, the correction of significant minimum funding failures, and the termination of billion-dollar pension plans. 


Executive Compensation

  • We assisted a large, nationwide transportation company in amending all of its annual and long-term bonus plans, stock incentive compensation arrangement, employment agreements, change in control agreements, 401(k) excess plans, and supplemental executive retirement plans (SERPs) to comply with, or be exempt from, the section 409A deferred compensation restrictions.
  • In connection with a $1.6 billion dollar acquisition, we advised a publicly traded client on a variety of transition benefits and compensation issues, including the application of the section 280G golden parachute rules to executive change in control payments. We prepared individual worksheets for each affected executive to value the estimated payments for 280G purposes and to calculate the estimated gross-up payments due.

Qualified Retirement Plans

  • We advised a large manufacturing and service employer with employees in all 50 states on the termination of its defined benefit pension plan. We assisted in all aspects of the termination, from developing the termination strategy, to communicating with employees and retirees, to reporting to and negotiating with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC).
  • We successfully obtained, on behalf of a large battery manufacturer, a temporary waiver of the minimum funding standards applicable to the company's defined benefit pension plans. Our attorneys negotiated with the IRS and the PBGC for more than a year to provide the company with much needed financial flexibility following its emergence from bankruptcy.

Health and Welfare Benefit Plans

  • We advised a transportation company regarding its ability to transfer its retiree health liabilities to a voluntary employees beneficiary association (VEBA) trust controlled by a union. The transfer is similar in many respects to the recent pre-bankruptcy transaction involving General Motors and the United Auto Workers.
  • We advised a multi-jurisdiction sales company regarding its ability to modify its retiree health benefits for active and retired, union and non-union employees. Our attorneys focused on the varying ERISA standards that courts have applied in different jurisdictions.