CHRISTOPHER A. McMICAN is a Member of the Firm in the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation practice, in the Detroit and Chicago offices of Epstein Becker Green. Widely recognized as one of the top attorneys in his field, Mr. McMican has experience in virtually all aspects of employee benefits law. He focuses on assisting and advising employers with such issues as compliance with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), retirement plans, health and welfare plans, executive compensation, fiduciary matters, phantom and equity plans, stock options, and all elements of the compensation package as well as corporate matters. Preparing plans and working with clients on documentary compliance and plan operational issues, including those related to changes in the law, are central to his practice.
Mr. McMican has led the employee benefits portion of a $550 million international corporate transaction as well as various other transactions allowing clients to acquire or divest entities and divisions. He has also contributed to text publications on various aspects of employee benefits law and is experienced with union activity and the impact of collective bargaining on employee benefits.
Specifically, Mr. McMican provides counsel in the following areas:
Qualified Retirement Plans
His practice includes implementing, drafting, amending, and providing advice with respect to all sizes and types of plans, including defined contribution plans (such as 401(k) plans, “safe harbor” plans, cross-tested, age-weighted, and integrated profit sharing plans), traditional defined benefit pension plans, money purchase pension plans, cash balance plans, and various hybrid-style plans. He has represented many types of sponsors (including manufacturing companies, service providers, not-for-profits, etc.) both large and small, as well as “orphan” plans with no plan sponsor.
Mr. McMican advises regarding employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), fiduciary liability issues (including matters involving the Voluntary Correction Program), investment committees and policies, prohibited transactions and similar issues driven by ERISA and Forms 5500 (including the Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance Program), plan audits, and other governmental compliance issues.He is versed in both the self-correction and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-approved methods of voluntary correction and assists numerous plan sponsors that have discovered defects in their qualified plans.
Standard Compliance Issues
Mr. McMican spends significant time with discrimination testing of retirement plans, controlled group issues, the IRS determination letter process, and qualified domestic relations orders. He is often involved in corporate transactions (e.g., mergers and acquisitions impacted by employee benefits and indemnification issues) and multi-employer withdrawal liability cases with respect to union-sponsored plans. Mr. McMican is experienced in many other areas related to qualified retirement plans, such as professional employer organizations, leasing organizations and staffing agencies, claims for retirement plan benefits, litigation and settlement negotiation involving ERISA matters, and plan terminations (including PBGC procedures).
Mr. McMican regularly counsels clients regarding various elements of the pay package and represents employees and employers in matters involving executive compensation arrangements (including the entry and severance of employees), stock options, nonqualified salary deferrals (including “shadow” or “mirror” plans that function with qualified plans), incentive plans, phantom stock plans, employment agreements, change-in-control agreements, supplemental executive retirement plans, top-hat plans, rabbi trusts, and plans utilizing life insurance. His representation includes Internal Revenue Code Section 457 plans (both (b) and (f) types) for tax-exempt organizations as well as Code Section 83 plans involving equity compensation for services rendered and includes the consequences of constructive receipt, parachute payments, excise taxes, and Code Section 409A and its significant impact on many nonqualified deferred compensation arrangements. Mr. McMican recognizes Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act issues and often prepares documentation and provides advice on the employee benefits aspects of reductions in force, severance plans and arrangements, the resulting interplay with ERISA, and effectively implementing these arrangements with diverse workforces and facilities.
Health and Welfare Plans
Mr. McMican’s practice involves medical plans (including insured plans and self-insured plans with stop-loss coverage), “wrap” plans, cafeteria plans, VEBAs, wellness plans, health reimbursement arrangements, health savings accounts, multiple employer welfare arrangements, flexible spending arrangements, dependent care assistance plans, and the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). He also provides advice with respect to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), including discrimination, portability, privacy, and matters requiring the consummation of administrative services contracts and “business associate” agreements.
Mr. McMican is well versed in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and drafts documents and advises clients on the related issues, including employer mandates, calculations, measurement periods, reporting, penalties, and taxes. He has done extensive consulting on plan design based on PPACA and the self-insured discrimination rules.
Mr. McMican is experienced with health and welfare claims against a plan from both the plan and the participant perspective (such as claims for medical benefits and claims for COBRA rights). This aspect of the practice can also involve employment issues and post-administrative appeals involving arbitration.
Before joining Epstein Becker Green, Mr. McMican was a Principal at a large law firm based in Detroit, where he served as a member of the Employee Benefits Group and the Group Chair for several years. He also has teaching experience in the employee benefits area.
In his spare time, Mr. McMican enjoys tennis, golf, cooking, and reading. He also spends time teaching tennis to younger players.
Mr. McMican has been ranked among the "Leaders in Their Field" by Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business in Michigan, for Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation (2007-2019); selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law (2007-2019); named to the Michigan Super Lawyers list in Employee Benefits/ERISA (2009-2013, 2015-2016, 2018); selected by Leading Lawyers in the area of Employee Benefits Law (2014-2019); included in DBusiness Magazine’s “Top Lawyers” list (2010, 2011, 2013-2017) in the category of Employee Benefits Law; and recommended by The Legal 500 United States in the Employee Health and Retirement Plans category.
- University of Florida College of Law (LL.M., 1995)
- University of Detroit Mercy School of Law (J.D./M.B.A., 1994)
- University of Detroit Mercy (B.S., 1991)
- U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
- U.S. Tax Court
- American Bar Association, Tax Section, Employee Benefits Committee
- The Detroit Deferred Compensation Group
- The ESOP Association
- The Michigan Employee Benefits Conference
- The National Association of Health Underwriters
- Oakland County Bar Association, Employee Benefits Committee, Vice Chair, 2006-2007
- State Bar of Michigan, Taxation Section
- University of Florida Alumni Association