Biography

Gretchen Harders helps companies ensure the health and welfare of their employees with compliant and tax-efficient health care and retirement benefit plans. She also advises multinational employers on designing and implementing equity-based compensation packages to incentivize top-level executives. Clients value Gretchen’s commitment to understanding their challenges and her ability to break down the complex rules governing their programs. She explains highly intricate tax laws and regulatory rules from a business perspective. Tax-exempt and not-for-profit institutions rely on her advice to ensure compliance for their pension plans, executive compensation, deferred compensation, and employee benefits.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gretchen helped numerous clients use disaster-relief tax provisions and coordinate with new benefit providers to give employees access to health and wellness benefits through secure mobile apps. As companies grapple with Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act rules, Gretchen’s analysis and insight inform practical solutions for updating and changing benefits plans. When implementing a post-merger rollover of benefits, she helps employers see beyond the technical aspects of their decisions to anticipate how their actions will be perceived by employees and the public.

Gretchen is a frequent speaker on various employee benefits issues and developments. She authors articles on timely ERISA and employee benefits law topics.

Additionally, Gretchen is a trustee of the Helene Fuld School of Nursing and an officer in the Rotary Club of the Palisades. Her interests include reading, playing piano, and coaching youth soccer.

Experience:

  • Frequently helps non-U.S. employers adhere to U.S. tax, legal, and employment considerations when developing compensation plans for U.S.-based executives. For example, Gretchen counseled a multinational financial services firm in structuring its global incentive compensation programs for fund managers. Her global analysis of the incentive compensation strategies allowed her client to integrate its international policies and goals while adhering to U.S. tax, legal, and employment considerations.
  • Helps employers comply with retirement plan rules, and if, for example, the U.S. Department of Labor scrutinizes a client’s 401(k) plan, she brings the plan back into compliance quickly to avoid costly fines. Gretchen has represented many employers in correcting retirement plan qualification and fiduciary issues through the IRS and Department of Labor correction programs.
  • Represented a financial services firm in its post-acquisition termination of its retirement and equity-based compensation plans. Drawing on her knowledge of legal risks and compliance and notice requirements, Gretchen helped her client successfully integrate an Employee Stock Ownership Plan conversion and eliminate retiree medical risks through a seamless rollover to a new benefit plan structure.
  • Counseled a telecommunications company on implementing a national COVID-19 testing program, an employee assistance program, and wellness initiatives. Gretchen navigated strict group health plan legal requirements and privacy issues to help her client use new benefit providers to provide workplace safety benefits delivered through apps.
  • Advises professional sports organizations on tax-favored approaches to providing their workforces with access to qualified COVID-19 relief programs, donation programs, and other benefits. Gretchen helped her clients communicate the valuable benefits of the programs to provide relief to employees directly impacted by COVID-19.
  • Negotiates effectively with unions when transferring pension benefits from distressed multiemployer plans to single-employer plans. For example, Gretchen represented a consumer goods and services company in its union negotiations involving its withdrawal liability of a multiemployer pension plan and transfer of assets to single-employer plan. She negotiated an alternative pathway to address distressed multiemployer plan pension funds involving union members.
Education
  • University of Minnesota Law School (J.D., cum laude, 1997)
  • University of Chicago (B.A., Fundamentals: Issues & Texts, 1989)
Bar Admissions
  • New York
Memberships
  • Helene Fuld School of Nursing, Trustee
  • New York State Bar Association, Employee Benefits Committee, Tax Section
Recognition