Pension and Employee Benefit Law
Gilbert & Sackman has represented employee benefit plans since shortly after it was founded in 1945. Over the years, the firm has established a national reputation for innovative plan design. For example, beginning in the 1980s, Gilbert & Sackman established the first multiemployer 401(k) plans to win IRS approval. Gilbert & Sackman has also obtained IRS approval to convert many collectively-bargained 401(k) plans into a new breed of 401(a) plans which permit employees to periodically elect the amount their employer contributes to their individual accounts. The advantage? Lower payroll costs for the employer with greater flexibility for the employee.
Over the years, the firm has established a national reputation for innovative plan design.
More than 20 years ago, Gilbert & Sackman established “non-covered” service rules that penalized employees for working in non-union employment and thereby competing with contributing employers, by denying or delaying a variety of pension and health benefits. The rules have survived challenges before the IRS, the DOL, the NLRB and the federal courts. See Atkinson v. Sheet Metal Workers’ Trust Funds, 833 F.2d 864 (9th Cir. 1987).
Recently, Gilbert & Sackman pioneered the addition of vacation and savings accounts to 401(k) and other defined contribution plans. The vacation and savings accounts are funded by mandatory, post-tax, employee contributions. The advantage? Administrative costs that are much lower than free-standing vacation and savings plans.
Gilbert & Sackman was successful in persuading the California Supreme Court to reverse more than a decade of state court decisions
Gilbert & Sackman also pioneered the use of multiemployer Section 125(g) “cafeteria” plans, allowing union members to select from a menu providing a wide range of health, child care, disability, life insurance, and other benefits. The firm also created multiemployer plans providing retirees with periodic tax-free reimbursements of medical insurance and Medicare Part B premiums.
The firm is also nationally-renowned for its innovative collection litigation practice. Recently, for example, Gilbert & Sackman was successful in persuading the California Supreme Court to reverse more than a decade of state court decisions holding that ERISA preempts trust funds’ use of California mechanic’s lien laws to collect delinquent employer contributions. Betancourt v. Storke Housing Investors, 31 Cal.4th 1157, 8 Cal.Rptr. 3d 259 (2003).