Bruce Barth, chair of the firm's Labor, Employment, Benefits + Immigration Group, as well as the firm’s Employee Benefits + Compensation Team, focuses his practice on the representation of employers and fiduciaries with respect to retirement and welfare benefits, executive compensation, and benefits issues in corporate transactions.
Mr. Barth advises clients on the implications of tax, securities, labor, and other laws, including the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Drawing from over 30 years of employee benefits experience, Mr. Barth partners with clients to develop benefit plan design and compliance strategies that meet both their business objectives and the legal requirements applicable to their employee benefits plans. He counsels clients with regard to the full spectrum of employee benefits matters, including qualified defined benefit and defined contribution plans, defined benefit plan funding and plan termination, deferred compensation, and other nonqualified plan programs and executive compensation arrangements, plan compliance and correction, health and welfare programs, participation in multiemployer plans, withdrawal liability, and mergers and acquisitions. Mr. Barth frequently consults and negotiates with the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Labor, and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation with regard to audits of plans, correction issues including voluntary correction and correction on audit, plan termination issues, and requests for advisory rulings and opinions.
A substantial portion of Mr. Barth’s practice is dedicated to assisting governmental employers. As a result, he has an in-depth understanding of the unique challenges involved in the design, administration, and operation of governmental retirement plans. Mr. Barth helps governmental clients ensure their benefit plans meet obligations to their citizens and employees and comply with all legal requirements applicable to governmental plans. He has assisted numerous governmental entities with a variety of pension plan compliance issues, including qualification issues under Section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code), the applicability of various Code limitations to governmental plans, Section 414(h) “pick up” issues, constructive receipt concerns, and compliance with Section 415 of the Code. He has significant experience assisting governmental employers with the creation, design, and administration of 457(b) plans, including fiduciary duties related to such plans. He also represents a number of municipalities and related entities with respect to Length of Service Award Programs (LOSAP), and their creation, design, and administration.
Tax- Exempt Employers
Mr. Barth also represents numerous tax-exempt entities in connection with their employee benefit plans. His clients include tax-exempt hospitals, health care organizations, private foundations, and other non-profit organizations. He routinely assists tax-exempt clients with the design, drafting, and implementation of defined contribution plans, including 403(b) plans, defined benefit plans, Section 457(b) and 457(f) programs, as well as other executive benefit programs and issues. He assists clients with the application of the new excise tax rules associated with executive compensation under Section 4960 as well as the intermediate sanctions rules. He represents clients before the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Labor, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation in connection with audits, qualification submissions, plan corrections, and other matters of these programs.
Health and Welfare Benefit Plans
Mr. Barth counsels clients on a wide range of health and welfare benefits matters, including issues related to the Affordable Care Act, self-funded health arrangements, wellness and disease management programs, HIPAA privacy and security rules, COBRA administration, and various state laws and regulations governing health and welfare plan design and administration.
Executive Compensation and Equity Arrangements
Mr. Barth has significant experience in designing, implementing, and maintaining executive and outside-director compensation and incentive programs, including equity-based plans. He regularly provides counsel on the tax consequences of such programs, as well as assisting in structuring those arrangements to comply with ERISA, Section 409A, and Section 457(f) (for tax-exempt organizations) in addition to Section 162(m), 280G and 4960 issues. In addition to designing executive compensation programs, he assists compensation committees of public companies on compliance with Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure and reporting requirements.
Mr. Barth routinely counsels boards of directors, trustees, investment committees, plan administrators, and plan fiduciaries regarding their duties and responsibilities under federal law. He counsels plan sponsors on all aspects of ERISA fiduciary compliance, including plan governance, plan administration issues, and the selection and monitoring of plan investment options. He also has assisted plan sponsors and fiduciaries with RFPs in connection with the retention of plan advisors including third party administrators, actuaries, and investment advisors.
Mr. Barth has regularly been asked to speak and publish about employee benefit plan issues, executive compensation matters, fiduciary duty obligations and health care reform.
Mr. Barth has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America© in the area of Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law since 1995. He has also been included on the Connecticut Super Lawyers® list since 2006 in the areas of Employee Benefits/ERISA, Mergers & Acquisitions, and Employment & Labor Law.