Employee Benefits and Compensation

Robinson+Cole's Employee Benefits and Compensation Group provides comprehensive employee benefits services to a wide range of clients, including publicly held and privately held companies, tax-exempt organizations, educational institutions, municipalities and other governmental entities, trust companies, and financial institutions. We pride ourselves on providing benefit solutions that meet the business needs of our clients while promoting compliance with the myriad laws governing employee benefit plans. We believe that this practical approach serves our clients well, particularly in the current environment of increasing benefit costs and shrinking resources to provide those benefits.

We advise and support our clients on a wide range of employee benefit programs, including:

  • tax-qualified pension plans, including cash balance plans
  • tax-qualified profit-sharing plans, including 401(k) plans
  • employer plans covering unionized employees, including multiemployer plans
  • Section 403(b) and Section 457(b) plans of tax-exempt organizations and governmental entities
  • executive compensation arrangements, including equity and nonequity compensation and Section 409A compliance issues
  • health and welfare benefit plans, including compliance with HIPAA and health care reform
  • cafeteria plans
  • employee stock ownership plans
  • fringe benefit programs

We have extensive experience in designing, drafting, and amending pension and welfare benefit plans, as well as executive compensation arrangements. In recent years, a significant portion of our practice has focused on the identification and correction of plan compliance issues and the effective utilization of the correction programs sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Labor (DOL). We frequently represent plan sponsors and fiduciaries in investigations and audits by government regulatory agencies, including the IRS, the DOL, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and state agencies. In addition, we work closely with our litigation group to defend employers and fiduciaries in a wide range of benefits-based individual and class action claims. We assist our clients in issues relating to the administration of benefit plans, such as administratively resolving benefit claim disputes and negotiating business associate agreements and agreements with third-party service providers.

We also advise and work with clients on the complicated employee benefits issues arising in mergers, acquisitions, and other significant corporate transactions. We provide support before, during, and after the transaction, from the evaluation of benefit plans during the due diligence phase to the design and creation of postclosing benefit programs.

ERISA Claim Defense Blog

Robinson+Cole group members contribute to the ERISA Claim Defense Blog. Established in 2012 by Patrick Begos, who joined Robinson+Cole in January 2017, this platform offers commentary and insight on administration and evaluation and litigation of group benefits claims as well as other compliance and litigation issues involving ERISA.

To get more thoughtful and timely discussions of legal news and perspectives on various issues relating to group benefits claims, subscribe to the blog at www.erisaclaimdefense.com.

    • Experience
      • Governmental Entities

      • Represented a large governmental entity regarding the possible implementation and administration of an arbitration award involving retirement benefits, including the submission of a private letter ruling request to the IRS on issues critical to the implementation of the award.
      • Assisted multiple municipalities with determining eligibility of contributions for “pick up” under Section 414(h) of the Code.
      • Represented a large municipality in addressing plan qualification issues raised during an IRS audit, including negotiation with the IRS, the drafting of new policies and procedures for multiple retirement plans, and communication with participants regarding such changes.
      • Advised several municipalities regarding the prefunding of retiree medical benefits through the creation of a 401(h) account, and the use of excess pension assets as allowed under Section 420 of the Internal Revenue Code.
      • Counseled a large municipality on a broad range of employee benefit matters, including its defined benefit and defined contribution plans, Section 457 plan, and retiree medical issues. We interacted with the town’s retirement board regarding benefit issues and have worked directly with the municipality in amending the town’s retirement ordinances.
      • Negotiated the issuance of a favorable determination on the tax-qualified status of a Native American tribe's defined contribution plan following the IRS’s assertion that the plan did not meet the qualification requirements of the Code.
      • Privately and Publicly Held Companies

      • Advised an NYSE public company with the planning, design, and implementation of a hard freeze of its cash balance plan and corresponding changes in its defined contribution plan design.
      • Counseled an NYSE public company with respect to its union and nonunion defined contribution plans, including the impact of acquisitions and an ongoing analysis of partial plan termination issues.
      • Advised a privately-held technology company with respect to the design, implementation, and administration of its stock, stock option, and stock equivalent programs.
      • Provided advice to a unionized corporation that participated in a multiemployer plan on a mechanism to reduce or avoid withdrawal liability while it was reducing its workforce.
      • Analyzed the deferred compensation and stock-based plans of an NYSE public company for compliance with Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code and provided recommendations and advice with respect to plan design.

      • Performed HIPAA analysis for plan sponsor's group health plans, including drafting of policies and procedures and negotiation of business associate agreements.
      • Advised plan sponsor regarding consolidation of sponsor's multiple welfare benefit plans and cafeteria plan into a single "wrap plan" and drafted document for new plan.
      • Represented an insurance company with regard to its withdrawal from a multiple employer plan and establishment of a new defined benefit plan, including the design and drafting of such new plan.
      • Created a correction plan for a plan sponsor’s failure to properly administer its loan program and applied for and obtained a compliance statement for such correction through the IRS’s Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System.
      • Advised a plan sponsor with regard to its failure to timely remit participant contributions and assisted the sponsor to obtain a no action letter under the DOL’s Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program.
      • Tax-Exempt Organizations

      • Served as outside employee benefits counsel to a large health care organization and assisted with executive compensation matters, including the design, drafting, and implementation of nonqualified deferred compensation programs for its executives.
      • Assisted a large hospital and health care system with respect to the design, drafting, and implementation of defined contribution plans, including the addition of a 403(b) plan.
      • Assisted a health care organization in reviewing its defined contribution plans for compliance with statutory requirements, developed correction strategies, and obtained approval of corrections through governmental correction programs.
      • Counseled a large hospital in employee benefits matters regarding its acquisition of another hospital in an integrated transaction.
      • Assisted large Connecticut-based hospital with complex RFP process involving a search for a retirement plan service provider and negotiation of a favorable administrative agreement.
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    • News
      • August 20, 2020

        61 Robinson+Cole Lawyers Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2021

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      • August 6, 2020

        Alisha Sullivan and Emily Zaklukiewicz Appointed to Key Positions in CBA-YLS Women in the Law Committee

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      • August 15, 2019

        57 Robinson+Cole Lawyers Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2020

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      • July 26, 2019

        Virginia McGarrity and Alisha Sullivan Co-Author Checklist on Terminating a Defined Benefit Plan Published in Lexis Practice Advisor

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      • May 31, 2019

        Virginia McGarrity Authors Article on ACA Employer Shared Responsibility

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      • May 16, 2019

        Virginia McGarrity Is Honored at Harriet Beecher Stowe Center Annual Meeting

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      • March 22, 2019

        Alisha Sullivan Moderates Panel on Careers in Tax-Related Areas of Practice

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      • December 17, 2018

        Robinson+Cole Promotes Nine Lawyers to Counsel

      • December 13, 2018

        Bruce Barth Presents During Fall Meeting of Actuaries' Club of Hartford & Springfield

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      • November 13, 2018

        Virginia McGarrity Presents Program on Municipal Defined Contribution Plans

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      • November 1, 2018

        Robinson+Cole Receives 36 First-Tier Metropolitan Rankings and Four National Rankings in Latest U.S. News – “Best Law Firms” Survey

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      • October 18, 2018

        51 Robinson+Cole Lawyers Recognized by Super Lawyers®

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      • March 7, 2018

        Virginia McGarrity Co-presents on Section 409A and Executive Compensation During CBA CLE Program

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      • January 10, 2018

        Virginia McGarrity and Alisha Sullivan Co-author Article Published in ABA Labor and Employment Law Newsletter

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      • December 22, 2017

        Virginia McGarrity and Alisha Sullivan Co-author Article Published in the Public Fiduciary

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      • December 12, 2017

        Bruce Barth Presents DOL Fiduciary Rule Program at Personal Financial Planning Conference

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      • November 15, 2017

        Virginia McGarrity and Alisha Sullivan Co-author Article Published in the Hartford Business Journal

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      • October 2, 2017

        Bruce Barth Presents to Pension Professionals at NIPA Forum

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      • August 21, 2017

        Patrick Begos and Greg Bennici Co-author Article Published in For the Defense

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      • August 15, 2017

        Fifty-Nine Robinson+Cole Lawyers Listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2018

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      • June 28, 2017

        Bruce Barth Speaks at FIA Annual Client Conference

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      • May 30, 2017

        Alisha Sullivan Appointed to CBA’s Young Lawyers Section Roles

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      • May 17, 2017

        Bruce Barth Speaks on Regulatory and Legislative Benefits

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      • May 2, 2017

        Virginia McGarrity Discusses the Future of Health Care Reform Under the Trump Administration

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      • April 3, 2017

        Employee Benefits Lawyers Speak at AICUM Spring Symposium 2017

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      • January 3, 2017

        Robinson+Cole Welcomes New Litigation Partner

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      • November 18, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Elects New Partners

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      • October 3, 2016

        Bruce Barth Speaks at ABA Fall CLE Meeting

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      • August 15, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Receives Top Listing in Connecticut Lawyer Count in The Best Lawyers in America® 2017

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      • June 1, 2016

        Virginia McGarrity Presents at CTCPA Conference

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      • February 3, 2016

        We are Pleased to Welcome Devin Karas to the Firm

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      • August 18, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Receives Top Listing in Connecticut Lawyer Count in The Best Lawyers in America® 2016

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      • June 10, 2015

        Virginia McGarrity Presents to Middlesex Chamber of Commerce Board

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      • April 21, 2015

        Virginia McGarrity Is Guest Lecturer at SCOTUS Symposium

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      • April 8, 2015

        Virginia McGarrity Presents on Health Care Reform

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      • October 30, 2014

        Virginia McGarrity Assesses High Court's Silence on Same-Sex Marriage

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      • July 7, 2014

        Cynthia Christie Quoted in Law360

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      • June 9, 2014

        Hartford Lawyers Present at CTCPA Conference

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      • May 6, 2014

        Hartford Lawyers Speak at CONNACCA Conference

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      • April 2, 2014

        Virginia McGarrity Speaks at CBIA Conference

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      • December 6, 2013

        Hartford Lawyers Hold Workshop on Affordable Care Act

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      • November 15, 2013

        Hartford Symphony Orchestra Elects Bruce B. Barth to Board of Directors

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      • November 8, 2013

        Hartford Lawyer Elected to Board of UConn's Law School Alumni Association

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      • October 21, 2013

        Super Lawyers® Names 61 Robinson & Cole Attorneys to 2013 List

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      • August 16, 2013

        Robinson & Cole Receives Top Listing in Connecticut Attorney Count in Best Lawyers National Peer Review Survey

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      • June 24, 2013

        Robinson & Cole Lawyers Answer Health Care Reform Questions

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      • June 18, 2013

        Robinson & Cole Lawyers Support The Stowe Center

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      • May 9, 2013

        Bruce Barth Speaks on Issues of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

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      • May 9, 2013

        Virginia McGarrity Quoted in Connecticut Law Tribune

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      • March 25, 2013

        Jean Tomasco Presents Webinar for HR Professionals

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      • February 26, 2013

        Virginia McGarrity Elected to Harriet Beecher Stowe Center’s Board of Trustees

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      • February 25, 2013

        Jean Tomasco Interviewed for CBIA's Business Minutes

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      • February 13, 2013

        Jean Tomasco Presents Update on Employment Law to CBIA’s HR Council

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      • January 24, 2013

        Bruce Barth Presents Annual Benefits Legislative Update to WEB

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      • November 2, 2012

        Virginia E. McGarrity Delivers Presentation to Connecticut Association for Independent Schools

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      • October 22, 2012

        Super Lawyers® Names 49 Robinson & Cole Attorneys to 2012 List and Recognizes 26 as Rising Stars

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      • September 14, 2012

        Ten Robinson & Cole Attorneys Selected as “Lawyers of the Year”

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      • September 13, 2012

        Bruce Barth Delivers Webinar on Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

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      • September 6, 2012

        Virginia McGarrity Writes Article on Defense of Marriage Act in American Bar Association Newsletter

      • August 28, 2012

        Robinson & Cole Receives Top Listing in Connecticut Attorney Count in Best Lawyers National Peer Review Survey

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      • June 30, 2012

        Theodore J. Tucci to Participate in the Metro Hartford Alliance’s Panel Discussion on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Ruling on Health Care Reform

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      • May 21, 2012

        Employee Benefits and Compensation Partner on Two Panels at Society for Human Resource Management Conference

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      • March 1, 2012

        Virginia McGarrity Weighs In on the Connecticut Bar Association’s Latest Diversity Initiative

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      • February 1, 2012

        Bruce Barth Presents Annual Benefits Legislative Update to WEB

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      • December 5, 2011

        Robinson & Cole Attorneys Participate in the Connecticut Society of CPAs’ Annual Tax Conference

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      • November 18, 2011

        Robinson & Cole Announces Pro Bono Award Recipients

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      • September 12, 2011

        Virginia McGarrity Accepts Award on Behalf of Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association

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      • August 31, 2011

        Reflexite Combines with ORAFOL to Create Leading Global Reflective Materials, Graphic Products, and Industrial Tapes Group

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      • June 28, 2011

        Bruce Barth Discusses Defined Contribution Plans at FIA Conference

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      • June 16, 2011

        Bruce Barth Weighs-in on Pension Plan Ruling in CT Law Tribune

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      • May 31, 2011

        CHBA President Virginia McGarrity Featured in Connecticut Law Tribune Article

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      • May 6, 2011

        Bruce Barth Presents on New Health Care Reform Laws

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      • April 5, 2011

        Benefits Attorneys Present at CBIA’s 2011 Compensation & Benefits Conference

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      • January 18, 2011

        Bruce Barth Provides Annual Legislative and Regulatory Update for WEB

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      • January 10, 2011

        Bruce Barth Panelist on “Health Care Reform: What HR Needs to Know”

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    • Publications + Presentations
    • "Telehealth: An Emerging Benefits Trend and New Frontier for HR," presented by Virginia E. McGarrity, during the Tri-State SHRM Conference. (8/11/2020)
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      "IRS Provides Additional Guidance on CARES Act Retirement Plan Distributions and Loans" co-authored by Bruce B. Barth, Virginia E. McGarrity and Alisha N. Sullivan (6/24/20)

      "Department of Labor Finalizes ERISA Requirements for Providing Electronic Retirement Plan Disclosures" co-authored by Bruce B. Barth, Virginia E. McGarrity and Alisha N. Sullivan (6/12/2020)
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      "IRS Issues Guidance on Cafeteria Plan Elections and Other Changes Amid COVID-19 Pandemic" co-authored by Bruce B. Barth, Virginia E. McGarrity and Alisha N. Sullivan (5/13/2020)
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      "Joint Agency Guidance Extends COBRA and Other ERISA Deadlines" co-authored by Bruce B. Barth, Virginia E. McGarrity and Alisha N. Sullivan (5/7/20)

      "Understanding the CARES Act and Employee Benefits," co-presented by Alisha N. Sullivan and Virginia E. McGarrity, one in a series of webinars on the CARES Act presented by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. (5/1/2020)
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      "CARES Act Provisions Affecting Employee Benefits" co-authored by Alisha N. Sullivan, Virginia E. McGarrity and Bruce B. Barth (3/27/20)

      "SECURE Act Becomes Law as Part of the New Budget Deal" authored by Alisha N. Sullivan (1/7/2020)

      "Pension Board Best Practices," presented by Virginia E. McGarrity, presented at the Connecticut Public Pension Forum Fall Conference. (10/24/2019)
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      "IRS Issues Interim Guidance on Qualified Transportation Fringe Benefits" (12/19/2018)

      "IRS Issues Long-Awaited Hardship Distribution Guidance" authored by Alisha N. Sullivan (11/16/2018)

      "Federal Budget Deal Includes Changes to Retirement Provisions" (2/16/2018)

      "White House Expands Exemptions to ACA Contraceptive Mandate" (10/16/2017)

      "Special Rules for Plans due to Hurricane Irma" (9/13/2017)

      "DOL Seeks to Extend Transition Period under the Fiduciary Rule" (8/10/2017)

      "The Probate Exception to Federal Jurisdiction," published in For the Defense, co-authored by Patrick W. Begos and Gregory J. Bennici (August 2017)
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      "Keeping Your Defined Contribution Plan Afloat in a Sea of Litigation," presented by Bruce B. Barth, panel member at the Fiduciary Investment Advisors (FIA) 2017 Client Conference in Newport, Rhode Island (6/23/2017)
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      "Department of Labor Secretary Acosta Announces Partial Implementation of the Fiduciary Rule" (5/25/2017)

      "The Affordable Care Act: Where Do We Go From Here?" presented by Virginia E. McGarrity, program hosted by Robert Hensley & Associates LLC (RH&A) (4/25/2017)
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      "403(b) plans under attack: Fiduciary breach class actions brought against multiple plans," co-presented by Bruce B. Barth and Virginia E. McGarrity, at the AICUM Spring Symposium 2017 in Worcester, Massachusetts (3/23/2017)
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      "President Trump Calls for a Review of DOL’s Fiduciary Rule" (2/7/2017)

      "Department of Labor Updates ERISA’s Civil Penalties" (7/22/2016)

      "IRS Provides Long-Awaited Guidance Regarding Code Section 457 Plans" (7/14/2016)

      "Fiduciary Update: Best Practices in Light of Recent Court Cases," presented by Virginia E. McGarrity, at the Connecticut Society of CPAs' (CTCPA) Employee Benefit Plans Conference in Rocky Hill, Connecticut (5/25/2016)
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      "Department of Labor Issues Final Fiduciary Rules" (4/8/2016)

      "U.S. Supreme Court Reaffirms ERISA’s Preemption Provisions as Applied to State Health Law Reporting Requirements" (3/7/2016)

      "IRS Issues Guidance to Plan Sponsors on Completing the 2015 Form 5500" (2/23/2016)

      "IRS Issues Notice on Midyear Changes to Safe Harbor Plans and Safe Harbor Notices" (2/2/2016)

      "Major Changes Coming to IRS Determination Letter Program for Individually Designed Plans" (7/21/2015)

      "Action Required for Health Plans and Their Business Associates" (8/27/2014)

      "Everybody Makes Mistakes: Retirement Plan Correction Options under EPCRS," co-presented by Cynthia R. Christie and Bruce B. Barth, presented at Employee Benefit Plans Conference, sponsored by the Connecticut Society of CPAs (CTCPA) in Rocky Hill, Connecticut (5/20/2014)

      "IRS Releases Safe Harbors, Intended to Promote Rollovers to Qualified Plans" (4/14/2014)

      "Supreme Court Holds Severance Payments Are Subject to FICA Taxes" (3/27/2014)

      "Perspective on the Affordable Care Act," co-presented by Bruce B. Barth, Virginia E. McGarrity and Thomas McGuire, senior deputy general counsel at UnitedHealthcare, at the Connecticut Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel's (CONNACCA) In-House Paralegal Conference (3/27/2014)

      "Benefits: What to Prepare for in 2015," at event sponsored by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, co-presented by Virginia E. McGarrity and Michelle Zettergren, senior vice president, chief sales, and marketing officer at ConnectiCare, Inc. (3/20/2014)

      "Health Care Reform's Employer Mandate" (02/11/2014)

      "IRS Modifies "Use-It-Or-Lose-It" Rule for Health Flexible Spending Accounts" (11/07/2013)

      "DOL Extends Participant Fee Disclosure Deadline" (07/25/2013)

      "IRS Compliance Checks on Section 457(b) Top-Hat Plans" (07/10/2013)

      "Administration Delays the Affordable Care Act Employer Mandate" (07/03/2013)

      "Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Significantly Affects Employee Benefit Plans" (06/28/2013)

      "DOL Issues Model Exchange Notices and Updated Model COBRA Continuation Coverage Election Notice" (05/15/2013)

      "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Employer-Shared Responsibility," at Connecticut Health Council, presented by Bruce B. Barth (3/22/2013)

      "The Time Is Now…To Fix Your 403(b) Plan" (03/21/2013)

      "Retirement Plan Distribution Relief" (11/28/2012)

      "A Key Court Decision for Employers in Connecticut" (10/16/2012)

      "Most Important Issues Business Managers Need to Plan for Under Health Care Reform," at Business Manager's Meeting for the Connecticut Association for Independent Schools, presented by Virginia E. McGarrity (10/10/2012)

      "PPACA: Developing Your Health Care Reform Strategy," presented by Bruce B. Barth, Connecticut Business & Industry Association webinar (8/29/2012)

      "Participant Fee Disclosures Right Around the Corner" (08/23/2012)

      "Supreme Court Holds Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Constitutional" (06/29/2012)

      "Defense of Marriage Act Ruled Unconstitutional" (06/04/2012)

      "Defining Your Health Care Priorities: Plan Auditing," at Society for Human Resource Management Tri-State Conference, presented by Bruce B. Barth, Panelist (3/26/2012)

      "Employee Benefits: The Game Changers," at Society for Human Resource Management Tri-State Conference, presented by Bruce B. Barth, Panelist (3/25/2012)

      "Summary of Benefits and Coverage Final Rules Released" (02/23/2012)

      "DOL Issues Final Regulation on Service Provider Fee Disclosures" (02/07/2012)

      "Annual Legislative & Regulatory Update," at Worldwide Employee Benefits Network, Hartford Chapter, presented by Bruce B. Barth (1/19/12)

      "Health Care Reform Update – Navigating the New Realities," at West Central Florida Healthcare Human Resources Association Meeting (1/13/2012)

      "To Love, Honor, and Share Tax Deductions…?" presented at Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants' (CSCPA) Tax360º Conference in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, co-presented by Virginia E. McGarrity, Felicia S. Hoeniger and Kelley Galica Peck (11/9/2011)

      "ERISA Health Plans: Changes and Challenges in the Fiduciary Arena," published in Payors Plans & Managed Care, co-authored by Jean E. Tomasco and Virginia E. McGarrity (11/2011)

      "Employer Welfare Plans: The Alphabet Soup of Compliance," at Brown & Brown of Florida seminar entitled Overwhelmed with Today's Employee Benefits and HR Challenges? (8/3/2011)

      "DOL Extends Compliance Deadline for Fee Disclosure Rules" (07/21/2011)

      "Health Care Reform Update: 2011 and Beyond," at Paperboard Packaging Council's Human Resources Forum (6/8/2011)

      "Health Care Reform: A Practical Look from the HR Perspective," at Human Resource Association of Central Connecticut, presented by Bruce B. Barth (4/26/2011)

      "How to Comply with the Most Recent Health Care Reform Guidance," at Northwestern Mutual Financial Network and Strategic Employee Benefit Services Spring Seminar (3/25/2011)

      "Noncompetition Agreement Act Creates New Rules" (03/09/2011)

      "The New Proxy Regime" (01/03/2011)

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