* Listed in Best Experts in America® for Employment Law. Mr. Reiss has written two of the most important state bar journal articles on the topic. (For links for both visit "Publications Link" section)
Nearly all benefits fall into one of two categories: Retirement or Welfare Benefits.
Retirement benefits have requirements for an earnings and vesting definition. That makes them compensation promised for service provided and the employer is required by law to pay these benefits. Retirement benefits are distinguised from Welfare Benefits on the basis of when they are paid. Depending on the plan in question retirement benefits are paid only at retirement age or at termination of employment.
Welfare benefits seldom contain any rights to future earned benefits. Thus your employer generally is free to terminate them at any time and is only obligated to pay for losses you sustained when the benefit was in effect. The sole instance welfare benefits vest a property right is when the employer failed to retain the right to terminate them in the written plan, or when the written plan or individual contract with the employer specifically provides such rights, or when management made specific promises outside the written plan that these benefits would continue in exchange for termination of employment or early retirement. If the perks do not fit within the definition of a retirement benefit it is very likely a welfare benefit. Welfare benefits include life insurance, health insurance, reimbursement of certain wages lost from long and short-term disability, vacation pay and sick leave, legal reimbursement plans and any other benefit that fits within the parameters defined herein. For more information, including your remedies to disputed compensation or benefits, see topic tags at the upper left hand corner of this page.
Executive compensation includes regular pay and bonuses and a wide variety of promised benefits. Executive pay is distinguised from regular pay on the basis that nearly all of it is exempted from ERISA enforcement procedures and is enforceable under state contract law. That means you will not be able to enforce your rights without securing a competent attorney and often you will have to sue your employer. Mr. Reiss can assist you by quantifying the amount of your damages or economic value of the promises and by providing expert witness testimony support.
A key service that Mr. Reiss can provide the management or executive employee is the valuation of lost promised compensation for services already rendered that occurs when changing jobs. It doesn't matter whether it falls within the scope of awarded stock options that have not fully vested, earned retirement benefits which increase because of higher salary, or termination benefits or other compen-sation triggered by a covered contract provision, a very large portion of these benefits are lost and are promised only if you remain with the current employer. Whether it is a an executive retirement plan, stock option, or other contractual benefit, Mr. Reiss can value the seniority-based component that accompanies all these benefits which will be lost even if the new employer provides identical benefits. It very often respresent most of the value of the benefit. This allows the executive to compare fully the value of the old compensation package with the value of the package that replaces it by factoring in the hidden cost of leaving the current employer.