In the News

Dean Schaner in Bloomberg BNA Pension and Benefits Reporter: Attorneys Say Misclassification, Inoculation

Benefit interference claims under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act will increase following recent emphasis by the Department of Labor and the Internal Revenue Service to address the misclassification of workers as independent contractors, panelists said during a March 21 webcast.

ERISA and Other Benefits Litigation

The ERISA Litigation Practice Group is an example of our collaborative, proactive approach to addressing an area of increasing interest and need for our clients. Partnering with our securities litigation and employment law attorneys, we developed this group to provide claims avoidance, risk assessment, and trial and appellate services for ERISA class actions and litigation relating to wrongful denial of benefits, breach of fiduciary duties, top hat plans, prohibited transactions, anti-cutback issues, preemption, and benefit discrimination/retaliation claims. The ERISA Litigation Practice Group provides clients with comprehensive legal services for disputes involving ERISA, securities laws, RICO and state law causes of action. We also have acted as special pension counsel in several ERISA class action lawsuits. Regardless of the industry, Haynes and Boone has represented plans, employee benefit plans, employers, administrators, and other entities in all aspects of ERISA-related claims. We also work with insurance companies in these efforts.

Additionally, we created a Workers' Compensation Non-Subscriber Practice Group to assist Texas employers with their alternative occupational injury benefit plans and other legal compliance matters, and to provide defense representation in litigation and arbitration proceedings brought by employees arising out of work-related injuries.

Our ERISA Litigation Practice Group has dealt with numerous issues including the following:

Class Actions
Have successfully defended plans, employers and administrators in class actions alleging wrongful denial of benefits, breach of fiduciary duties, prohibited transactions, invalid top hat plans, improper funding, failure to disclose information and many other ERISA-related issues.

Wrongful Denial of Benefits
Extensive experience in cases representing plans, employers and administrators in several states. Have obtained summary judgment where plaintiffs sought several million dollars in damages for alleged wrongful denial of benefits based on various state law claims.

Breach of Fiduciary Duties 
Extensive experience and knowledge in cases involving breach of fiduciary duties, including obtaining summary judgment on alleged breach of fiduciary duty claims, and have pursued breach of fiduciary duty claims on behalf of a plan.

Prohibited Transactions 
Have represented both plans and individuals involving allegations that fiduciaries or related entities engaged in prohibited transactions.

Top Hat Plans 
Have tried a class action case defending a top hat plan, in what was a case of first impression.

Failure to Disclose Information Against Investment Banks 
Have defended investment banks in Enron-related litigation for alleged failure to disclose information which allegedly resulted in several million dollars in damages to plan participants and beneficiaries.

Anti-Cutback Claims
Have successfully defended employers in actions by employees alleging that the employer defendants violated employees’ rights under ERISA when employees were denied the opportunity to receive enhanced retirement benefits.

Complex ERISA Preemption Issues 
Obtained summary dismissal or summary judgment in several cases involving ERISA preemption issues, including a case which involved discovery in several states and involved non-ERISA entities.

Benefit Discrimination/Retaliation Claims 
Have successfully defended claims alleging that employers wrongfully interfered with an employee’s right to obtain benefits.