New Corporate Compensation & Benefits Attorney Joins Our Team

We are very pleased to announce that attorney William T. Cullen has joined the law firm’s Pittsburgh office as Counsel.

Cullen’s practice is in corporate law and benefits, with an emphasis on ERISA and executive compensation.

He joins the firm after serving most of his career with K & L Gates. He has worked with many Fortune 100 firms and is a graduate of Duquesne University’s law school, where he was managing editor of the Law Review.

“The addition of Bill adds significantly to our corporate practice and reflects our strategy of focusing on bringing top-notch professionals with large law firm experience to Spilman,” said Ron Schuler, Member in Charge of the Pittsburgh office.

To read more about Cullen or contact him directly, click here.



Spilman SuperVision Symposium Helps Businesses Prepare for What’s Next

Spilman recently hosted more than 70 business leaders from the Mid-Atlantic region for the law firm’s Pittsburgh SuperVision™ symposium, which focused on helping businesses prepare for what’s next in employment challenges.

Presentations discussed what’s next across the spectrum of HR hot topics such as:

  • What’s Next with Arbitration Agreements: Controlling Employee Litigation and Related Costs
  • What’s Next from the NLRB: Shaping the Way Employers Focus on Their Workforces
  • What’s Next for Restrictive Covenants: Protecting Your Human Capital and Trade Secrets
  • What’s Next For You? A Discussion of the Next Wave of Critical Employment Issues

The symposium concluded with a lively question-and-answer session with Spilman attorneys.

The popular SuperVision™ event series was launched eight years ago by Spilman’s labor and employment group, which has been recognized nationally for representation of management in employment disputes.

The symposia are complimentary and are offered in various locations throughout Spilman’s geographical footprint each year.


Dave Kerns provides insight on key employment issues

Dave Kern, Global Brass and Copper, provides insight on key employment issues

Spilman's Larissa Dean and Jeff Patton address the crowd

Spilman’s Larissa Dean and Jeff Patton address the crowd

Our clients and attorneys discuss upcoming issues regarding labor and employment

Our clients and attorneys discuss upcoming issues regarding labor and employment

For more information, please visit our website.

SuperVision Today: First Quarter 2014 Published

The latest issue of SuperVision Today, our labor and employment e-newsletter, is out.  This quarter, we discuss workers’ compensation legislation, deadlines for ACA, H-1B specialty updates, distinctions under ADA, pay time and protective gear, and our SuperVision seminar dates and locations. Read it now.

Two New Updates for the Commonwealth

The NLRB Reissues Ambush Election Amendments to Union Election Procedures – February 6, 2014

Earlier this morning, the NLRB revived its proposed amendments to the representation election procedures that would dramatically cut down the time between a union representation petition and the actual union vote by employees. Read our latest alert on why this matters and what employers can do in preparation.


The Shale Play Today – January 2014

The latest issue of The Shale Play Today is out. This issue discusses the Pennsylvania Supreme Court striking down key provisions of Act 13, shale deals responsible for $1.14 billion and more. Read it now.

Spilman Thomas & Battle Releases Innovative Employment Law App

The law firm Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC (Spilman) announced today that the firm has launched its new Spilman SuperVision app for iOS devices. The app, which is available for free download in the Apple App Store, is designed to help corporate executives, general counsel and human resources professionals with the most frequent questions encountered by the firm’s labor and employment attorneys.

“We are excited to share the latest information on human resources issues and regulations via this new channel,” said Eric W. Iskra, chair of Spilman’s Labor and Employment Practice Group. “This app is a perfect complement to our SuperVision labor and employment symposium series and our quarterly e-newsletter. Finding new ways to deliver additional value to our clients is always front-of-mind at Spilman.”

The app allows users to explore common employment law situations, including those relating to overtime pay, final wage payment and employee complaints on social media. Following the app’s simple decision tree, users can gain a better understanding of their particular employment issue, what their options are, and when to seek the counsel of a knowledgeable legal advisor. Spilman worked with Pittsburgh design firm Quest Fore for the app coding and programming.

Spilman’s Labor and Employment Practice Group has been ranked at the national level through the Best Law Firms survey, a combined effort of U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers®, for excellent representation of management in employment disputes. The group has also been recognized by ALM as a Go-To Law Firm® for labor law litigation.

New Fee Disclosure Regs for Pension and 401(k) Plans: What Should Employers Do?

In February of 2012, the DOL published long-awaited final regs under Section 408(b)(2) of ERISA which took effect July 1, 2012. These require the disclosure of fees that service providers charge to pension and 401(k) plans. In light of this ruling, employers shuold:

  • Review their pension and 401(k) plan documents, SPDs and TPA agreements to determine if the company is identified as the plan administrator or named fiduciary.
  • Obtain fiduciary liability insurance coverage if the company, committee or individuals are identified as a fiduciary or plan administrator.
  • Contact the existing TPA to determine its position on compliance with the new regs. If the existing TPA is willing to provide support for compliance with the new regs, enter into a service agreement with the TPA which spells out what responsibilities of the TPA are and the fees for same. Consider having these fees paid from the company funds rather than the plan assets, at least for the initial compliance requirements.
  • Put in place written procedures and policies which spell out how and by whom the fiduciary obligations of the new regs will be fulfilled.
  • Don’t permit the company or yourself to be a sitting duck for inventive plaintiffs class action lawyers which are sure to have an interest in the new fee regs.


Posted by Carl H. Hellerstedt, Jr.
Mr. Hellerstedt is Counsel with Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC. His primary areas of practice are labor and employment and ERISA law.

Carl H. Hellerstedt, Jr.

New 401(k) Regs on Fee Disclosures

In February of 2012, the DOL published long-awaited final regs under Section 408(b)(2) of ERISA to be effective July 1, 2012 which require the disclosure of fees that service providers charge to pension and 401(k) plans. The fee regs do not apply to government plans, simplified employee pensions, simple retirement accounts, IRAs and 403(b) annuity contracts and custodial accounts. The fee regs would also not apply to the fees paid to service providers directly by the employer out of general business funds. The regs are directed at fees paid out of assets of the plan or the individual participant’s account. The kinds of services for which fees must be disclosed include, but are not limited to, direct fiduciary services, direct investment advisor services, record keeping and brokerage services, accounting, auditing, actuarial, legal and third party administration.

Why should the employer be concerned about the new regs? Can’t all these requirements be handled by the existing third party administrator for the plan?

The employer should be concerned because almost always the plan documents name the company as the plan administrator which in turn makes the company a fiduciary with respect to the plan. Virtually all service provider agreements, except those for the trustee custodian of funds and entities acting as investment advisers, disclaim that the service provider is a fiduciary and point to the plan administrator as the fiduciary. Since virtually always it is the employer who has the authority to enter into service contracts, the employer will have the fiduciary responsibility. It is important how the plan and related documents identify the plan administrator and/or the “named fiduciary.” It is highly likely that company is named as the plan administrator. Sometime a committee is named as the plan administrator. Virtually never is the third party administrator (“TPA”) identified as the plan administrator (sometime the TPA is identified as the claims administrator which is not the same as the plan administrator).

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