Employee Benefits

McGuireWoods provides comprehensive employee benefits counsel to a wide range of clients, including publicly held corporations, small and large privately held companies, tax-exempt organizations and educational institutions. We regularly represent clients before the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Department of Labor (DOL) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), and in federal and state courts across the country.

We deliver comprehensive solutions that help clients address day-to-day issues and execute long-term business strategies. By establishing efficient, cost-effective teams with a well-rounded view of each client’s needs, we help design and implement customized solutions that are practical, comprehensive and conform to regulatory requirements. To ensure that clients are up to date on emerging employee benefits issues, we constantly monitor legislative, regulatory and judicial developments under the Internal Revenue Code, the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), and federal and state employment and securities laws.

Our team provides counsel to plan sponsors (employers), institutional fiduciaries, securities issuers, plan administrators, and securities brokers and dealers on the implications of their employee benefit plan activities. We regularly advise companies and fiduciary committees regarding plan governance, plan investment selection and monitoring, the retention and monitoring of third-party administrators, and the handling of benefits claims. This advice encompasses ERISA standards for fiduciary conduct, prohibited transactions, available exemptions, plan asset issues and disclosures to participants and beneficiaries.

We regularly handle employee benefits issues raised in the acquisition and disposition of businesses, such as negotiation of employee benefit agreements, plan assumptions and integrations, plan terminations, plan spin-offs and special problems involving plans for collectively bargained employees. We also provide tax advice regarding the consequences to the plan sponsor, plan and plan participants of all types of employee benefit programs, including obtaining private letter rulings from the IRS.

When disputes arise, we represent employers in arbitrations involving pension and benefit claims arising under collective bargaining agreements and employment agreements, including disputes over “shutdown” pensions, service dates, benefit calculations and other issues. We have negotiated, arbitrated and litigated employee benefits issues with many unions, including the United Steelworkers, PACE (and its predecessors), Machinists, American Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, Teamsters, IBEW, Graphic Communications International Union, United Auto Workers, IUE-CWA (and their predecessors), United Food and Commercial Workers (and its predecessors), Plumbers & Pipefitters, Carpenters, SEIU, UNITE-HERE, and Transport Workers.

The Employee Benefits Group is key practice within our full-service firm, working closely with lawyers in the firm’s labor and employment, corporate, estate planning and litigation departments. We have represented clients in collective bargaining benefits work in virtually every significant American industry, including bakery, aluminum, steel, paper, automotive, communications, chemical, cement, food processing, grocery retail, grocery warehouse, trucking, energy production and distribution, security and others. Our clients have business operations in countries around the world, and we regularly advise clients on the relationship between U.S. and foreign benefits laws; in particular, we provide counsel about foreign law compliance in implementing global stock compensation plans. With offices in capitals and commercial centers worldwide, and well-established relationships with lawyers in an even longer list of jurisdictions, we help clients comply with the unique rules found in different legal systems worldwide.


  • Representation of a Fortune 500 information technology services and solutions company in connection with its employee benefits and executive compensation matters, including matters related to the spin-off of its $4 billion annual revenue U.S. public sector business.
  • Representation of the fiduciary committee of a multinational financial services company in connection with fiduciary matters concerning its qualified retirement plans as well as ERISA compliance issues for its 401(k) plan, one of the largest in the nation.
  • Representation of large multinational financial services firm regarding all aspects of executive compensation, SERPs, deferred compensation, incentive programs, 401(k) and pension plans and health and welfare programs.
  • Representation of a publicly-traded diversified aerospace and industrial distribution company in connection with its retirement, health and welfare benefit plans, as well as employment and litigation matters.
  • Representation of a major servicer of private and federal student loans in employee benefits and executive compensation matters, including its executive agreements and incentive compensation arrangements.
  • Revised compensation policies and practices under SEC executive compensation disclosure rules, including compensation committee charter, documentation of decision making, revised perk policies, and draft of proxy disclosure to comply with current rules.
  • Representation of a global specialty chemical company in executive compensation and employee benefits matters, including in connection with its implementation of de-risking strategies for its retirement plans.
  • Representation of a public company in the spin-off of a new public company and assist the companies in the establishment of all employee benefit plans for the new public company, including defined benefit plans, defined contribution plans, executive compensation plans and welfare benefit plans.
  • Representation of a publicly-traded leading producer of fiber-based packaging, pulp and paper in connection with its employee benefits and executive compensation matters, including a significant U.S. Department of Labor audit and Internal Revenue Service audit of its pension and retirement plans.
  • Conducted audit of all retirement programs maintained by a large public company, including all attendant documentation and communications and assisted the min self-correction programs.
  • Representation of one of the nation’s largest military shipbuilding companies in employee benefits and executive compensation matters, including collectively bargained plans.