Christopher McMican is widely recognized as one of the top attorneys in his field with 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.
Chris 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, Chris 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.
Chris 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
Chris 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. Chris 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).
Chris 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. Chris 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
Chris’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.
Chris 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.
Chris 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, Chris 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, Chris enjoys tennis, golf, cooking, and reading. He also spends time teaching tennis to younger players.
Non-ERISA, Tax-Exempt, and Church Plans
Chris’s practice involves the representation of tax-exempt and church-related clients that sponsor various types of ERISA and non-ERISA retirement, health, and executive compensation plans. He regularly advises on, designs, and drafts retirement plans, heath plans, and executive compensation plans for tax-exempt, non-profit and church-related employers, including large religiously-affiliated hospitals. This includes advising on 403(b) plans, 457 plans (eligible and ineligible), and 401(k) plans from both an ERISA and non-ERISA standpoint. This experience includes designing and drafting such plans and their summary plan descriptions, counseling regarding their operation, and advising on compliance with the tax provisions of the Code and fiduciary provisions of ERISA. His experience covers the specific hurdles that tax-exempt employers face related to such issues as the interplay, testing, and limits of maintaining various plans (such as 403(b) plans, 401(k) plans, and 457 plans) simultaneously, drafting and negotiating information sharing agreements, Form 990 cross-over issues, Section 4960 excise taxes, constructive receipt issues, the application of the controlled group rules specifically to tax-exempt organizations based on directorships and trusteeships, investment expense and litigation risks, late deferral deposits and corrections, special loan and prohibited transaction risks related to certain 403(b) plan vendor procedures, contract exchanges, legacy vendors, multi-level matching contributions and universal availability and part-term employee eligibility issues. He advises retirement committees on governance, best practices and other issues including when and how to implement IRC Section 457(f) plans. Chris also addresses union situations and collectively-bargained plan participants, including where a union desires increased involvement on a committee. Chris is well-versed in the complications presented to church and church-affiliated plan sponsors, and he prepares, advises on, and structures such plans and has represented church-related organizations in full-scale government audits for those types of plans with an understanding of the nuances that differentiate tax-exempt and church plan sponsors from for-profit entities. He advises on the IRS positions for church-affiliated entities and plans, pension plan funding issues, as well as IRS positions and case law pertaining to those concepts and the coverage of IRS determinations and rulings for church groups and their plans.