Employee Benefit Arbitration & Mediation

These issues arise under contracts of employment, employee benefit plan documents, or statutes and are equally-well able to be addressed in arbitration and mediation. They can involve determination of individual claims for benefits, appeals of claim denials, employer obligations under plans, plan administration disputes, and settlor issues. The employment contracts, plan documents, and statutes at issue will specify the procedures for arbitration selection, case management, and conduct of the proceeding. Withdrawal liability and trustee deadlock are specialized proceedings governed by statutes. The Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980 (“MPPAA”) requires employers who withdraw from a Taft-Hartley multi-employer pension fund to pay their proportional share of the fund’s unfunded vested benefit liability and establishes an arbitration procedure for determining disputes under specified provisions of the Act. Section 302 of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947 establishes the ground rules for jointly-administered labor-management employee benefit funds and requires fund documents to provide an arbitration procedure to resolve trustee deadlocks. That procedure essentially casts the arbitrator as a tie-breaking trustee to vote on the deadlocked resolution.  Again, parties who wish to settle their employee benefit disputes voluntarily can agree to retain a mediator to facilitate their negotiations.  In all these cases, mediation prior to arbitration is an option to consider that can resolve the issues voluntarily in ways that parties can negotiate with the assistance of a skilled facilitator of their discussions.

John Sands is experienced in both arbitration and mediation of employee benefit disputes and is a Fellow of the American College of Employee Benefit counsel.  To learn more, contact him at 973.226.6620 or by email at js@sandsadr.com.