Employee Benefits and Retirement Security
Keller Rohrback is one of America’s leading law firms helping employees or retirees with their retirement or benefit plans. Whether you participate in a pension, a 401(k), or another kind of plan, we’re committed to helping you protect your retirement savings and other employment-related assets. We work on a wide range of employee benefit issues. Here are just a few examples of the work we do:
Retirement plans and pensions: We frequently represent employees and retirees in cases where their plans were charging them excessive fees to save for retirement, or where their retirement savings were invested badly, or where employees were not getting paid what they were owed under their pensions.
Health care plans: We’ve represented participants in health care plans when they weren’t provided with accurate information, or were denied the benefits they were owed, or when those running the plan violated other duties they owed participants under the law.
ESOPs: An Employee Stock Ownership Plan, or ESOP, is a special kind of benefit plan. It invests primarily in the stock of the company sponsoring it. Those in charge of ESOPs must carefully value the stock and must act in the best interest of the plan participants when they use ESOPs in corporate transactions. We’ve represented participants in ESOPs when the people running their plans didn’t follow the law.
A federal law called ERISA governs many employer-provided pension plans. ERISA establishes what are called fiduciary duties—the most exacting duties known to the law—to ensure that pension plans are managed prudently and that participants and beneficiaries receive the benefits that they were promised. Keller Rohrback has a great deal of experience representing pension participants and beneficiaries when they have been victimized by pension mismanagement or broken promises.
The federal law governing private pensions, called ERISA, doesn’t apply to all pension plans. One of the plans exempt from ERISA is called a “church plan.” For years, Keller Rohrback has been representing employees in federal lawsuits against large healthcare companies that claim their pension plans are “church plans,” and thus don’t need to comply with the protective standards of ERISA. The employees involved in these lawsuits all work for large healthcare organizations, hospital systems, and their affiliates. The lawsuits ask the courts to determine these pension plans aren’t really “church plans” at all, to order the employers to properly fund the plans, and to give their employees the safety and security of ERISA protections.
Learn more about Church Plans here.
401(k) and Similar Retirement Plans
Workers and retirees across America depend on 401(k) plans to provide them with health insurance and financial security after retirement. Keller Rohrback is a pioneer in ensuring that ERISA’s fiduciary duties of prudence and loyalty apply to all the investment options that 401(k) participants can invest in—including shares of their employer. Making sure that the employer’s stock is a prudent investment is hugely important, since an employee’s livelihood is already tied to the well-being of their employer—thus, if an employer’s stock collapses, employees can lose their jobs at the same time that their retirement savings are decimated.
Private Employee Stock Ownership Plans
An Employee Stock Ownership Plan (“ESOP”) is a retirement plan that invests primarily in the stock of the ESOP participant’s employer. Keller Rohrback is a national leader in ESOP cases and has substantial experience representing ESOPs in lawsuits against trustees who approve or permit transactions that favor corporate interests to the detriment of the ESOP participants.
Learn more about ESOP here.
Excessive Plan Fees
Precious retirement savings are vulnerable to being whittled away by fees associated with investment products. Many fees are hidden or undisclosed. Some fees are paid directly by participants, while others are charged indirectly. In many cases, these fees are charged for improper purposes—to enrich plan fiduciaries or service providers at the expense of hard-working Americans. High fees over time can slash retiree balances by a third or more. Federal law provides robust protections and remedies against excessive plan fees. Keller Rohrback has successfully litigated ERISA class actions challenging excessive and conflicted fees. Our attorneys have challenged investments that contain many layers of securities and insurance products—and many layers of fees.
Insurance Investment Products Offered by Retirement Plans
Keller Rohrback is actively litigating cases arising from so-called guaranteed investment contracts (“GICs”) and Stable Value Funds (“SVFs”) offered by insurance companies and large financial institutions to participants in retirement plans. We have alleged that the “guarantee” is illusory and that there is a significant difference between the investment return represented in the contracts and what is actually passed on to participants—with fiduciaries improperly keeping the difference for themselves.
Foreign Currency Trading
Foreign exchange is a necessary component of all international investment transactions, and yet the foreign exchange market is one of the least transparent and least regulated of the international markets. The lack of regulation in the marketplace makes it easy for the banks to manipulate transactions and the rates at which they are effected to the banks’ advantage—at the expense of workers participating in retirement plans. Keller Rohrback’s practice has encompassed a range of foreign exchange trading abuses faced by both institutional investors and participants and beneficiaries of retirement plans.
Securities lending is a service offered by asset managers to their institutional clients. Clients lend out their securities in order to receive interest income on the loan. When the loan is made, the borrower is required to provide the lender with cash collateral of equivalent value. Prudent investment of the collateral is required so that it can be returned to the borrower at the conclusion of the loan. As payment for the loan, the parties also negotiate a fee for the value of the loaned securities. Keller Rohrback has represented institutional investors and served as co-lead counsel on behalf of public and private pension funds in litigation alleging that a bank imprudently invested its clients’ cash collateral in risky securities and breached its legal obligations to clients.
Health Care and Welfare Plans
In addition to retirement plans, federal law also governs how employee health care plans are administered. Health care plans must be operated with particular standards that were designed to protect the interests of employees, retirees, and other plan beneficiaries, such as family members. Keller Rohrback has years of experience protecting those interests in litigation.