Liebert Cassidy Whitmore provides representation, advice, and counsel to employers on public employee retirement plans, health and welfare benefits, and issues related to employee disabilities, including disability retirement, the interactive process and reasonable accommodations.
We advise agencies on public employee retirement plans, including the California Public Employees' Retirement System ("CalPERS"), the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937 ("37 Act"), the California State Teachers' Retirement System ("CalSTRS"), and local agency retirement systems. Our firm offers retirement system audits to review compliance with public retirement statutes, regulations, and charter provisions, and regularly provides advice and opinions on retirement system obligations, including enrollment, independent contractor status, retirement formulas, CalPERS optional contract benefits, disability retirement eligibility and procedures, reportable compensation, unfunded liabilities, elected official benefits and post-retirement work restriction compliance. We also provide training and defend public agencies in administrative and court proceedings brought by employees, retirees, and public agencies and retirement boards.
The major areas of this practice are:
We successfully represent public agencies in administrative proceedings and in court on all issues involving retirement benefits, including:
The firm advises employers on all aspects of employee health and welfare benefits, including the complex and evolving Affordable Care Act ("ACA") [hyperlink to page]. We also advise employers on compliance with the Public Employees' Medical and Hospital Care Act ("PEMHCA"), health reimbursement accounts, health and welfare benefits for elected officials, vesting of retiree health benefits, and structuring and modifying benefits for retirees, current employees, and future employees in order to manage the cost of benefits.
Our firm is at the forefront of advising employers on their duties under the ACA and related health care laws. The firm routinely advises clients on the following issues:
LCW regularly provides comprehensive training on the ACA including individualized training to the management team on the safe harbors and new operations an employer needs to comply with the ACA.
Our firm works with local agencies on every facet of the disability accommodation process, including identifying disabilities, requesting medical documentation and evaluation, ensuring leave rights of disabled employees, engaging in the interactive process, identifying possible reasonable accommodations, complying with applicable disability laws, and, when necessary, medical separations or disability retirements. We have also defended clients in state and federal court from disability discrimination suits brought by employees. Our firm also guides public agencies through the entire disability retirement application process from filing the application to representing agencies in administrative and court proceedings.
Retirement and Health Aspects of Labor Relations
Retirement and employee health care issues have major impacts on agency labor relations, as well as on long-term financial stability. The firm acts as chief negotiator for our clients, providing strategy and direction during labor negotiations on retirement and health benefits and all other matters subject to negotiations. We review agency policies, collective bargaining agreements/memoranda of understanding to ensure that they comply with applicable law. We also advise agencies on the issue of modifying vested and non-vested benefits.