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The Law of Employee Benefits
Employer-provided pension and health care programs play a critical role in the lives of individuals, families, and communities. They also affect corporations, financial markets, and the economy as a whole. Employee benefit programs are, in short, an important staple of modern law practice. This course surveys the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and relevant portions of the Internal Revenue Code. Classes examine what benefit plans must do regarding reporting and disclosure, accrual, vesting, funding, and fiduciary standards. The course covers health care reform, the shift from defined benefit to defined contribution programs, and the effect of stock market volatility on benefit programs. Throughout the semester, students examine the policy goals underpinning federal benefits law. The course surveys major issues in ERISA litigation, including that statute's claims and remedies provisions, as well as its preemption of state law.