José M. Jara concentrates his practice in ERISA and labor and employment matters. He has over 20 years of experience representing corporations, tax-exempts, associations, pension funds, boards of trustees, multiple employer plans, multi-employer plans and individuals in the areas of employment, ERISA, and employee benefits law. José defends plan sponsors and fiduciaries in lawsuits alleging breach of fiduciary duty claims, as well as represents clients under investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Employee Benefits Security Administration and Office of the Solicitor. José assists clients in correcting retirement plan errors under the Internal Revenue Service’s Employee Plans Compliance Resolution Program, the Department of Labor’s Delinquent Filer Voluntary Correction Program and similar programs.
José has extensive experience in matters regarding discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, restrictive covenants, exempt and non-exempt employees, overtime, and sexual harassment. He also drafts employee handbooks and executive compensation agreements.
Additionally, José assists clients with professional liability insurance matters, providing counsel on D&O, Fiduciary, and EPL insurance issues. He has served as monitoring counsel and coverage counsel, and provides advice to underwriters on a variety of provisions of the insurance policy.
- Served as Special Counsel in the successful defense of a DOL lawsuit against a nonprofit corporation alleging ERISA breach of fiduciary duties and prohibited transactions due to purportedly paying excessive fees to its service providers in connection with a group self-funded health plan that it sponsored.
- Defended fiduciaries and the board of directors of a manufacturing company sponsoring an ESOP and 401(k) Plan (the “Plans”) from a class action lawsuit alleging ERISA breach of fiduciary duty in connection with the Plans’ investment in the employer’s stock. The case favorably settled before trial well within the insurance policy’s limits.
- Represented a billion dollar pension fund in an investigation by the DOL looking for violations of ERISA, including the proper allocation of costs and expenses shared with other related funds. The investigation resulted in a “no action” letter by the DOL.
- Negotiated a favorable settlement for a client being investigated by the State DOL alleging wage and hour violations. The settlement amount was for less than half the amount the DOL was seeking.
- Successfully conducted an internal investigation for a financial news and literacy company involving a fraudulently cashed check to ensure it was not committed by any of the client’s employees, former employees, or its contractors.
Professional and Community Involvement
- Vice-Chair, Fiduciary Responsibility, Administration, and Litigation Committee, American Bar Association Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section
- Member, Hispanic National Bar Association
- Member, International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans
- Member, Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS)
- President, Board of Directors, Rising Ground (formerly Leake and Watts Services, Inc.) – Video: New York Stock Exchange Welcomes Rising Ground (6.22.18)
- Member, Board of Directors, The Center for Family Support
- Member, Executive Committee, Cardozo Alumni Association, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
Awards and Recognitions
- Named a “Top Attorney” for Pension & Profit Sharing by SJ Magazine (2019)
- Alumni Association Volunteer Service Award, Cardozo Law School (2014)
- “Benefits Guide: Basics, Retirement and Pension Plan Administration, EBSA Investigations,” Bloomberg Law (March 2020)
- “What You Don’t Know, [Can Really Still] Hurt You – ERISA’s Statute of Limitations Conundrum,” Bloomberg Tax, Tax Management Compensation Planning Journal (2020)
- ‘What You Don’t Know, [Can] Hurt You’ — ERISA’s Statute of Limitations Conundrum, Bloomberg Tax, Tax Management Compensation Planning Journal (2019)
- Form 5500 Employee Benefit Plan Audits, Practice Note, LexisNexis (2019)
- DOL’s Enforcement Results Reach An All Time High of $2.5 Billion, Archer & Greiner Client Advisory (2019)
- ERISA: Thou Shall Not Pay Excessive Fees!, RPTE eReport, American Bar Association (2019)
- The Ins and Outs of ERISA Fiduciary Insurance, Law 360 (2018)
- ERISA Fiduciary Insurance, Practice Note, LexisNexis (2018)
- ERISA Fiduciary Considerations When Incorporating Alternative Investments in Your Pension Plan’s Portfolio, Cardozo Law Alumni Quarterly (January 2015)
- What is the Correct Standard of Prudence in Employer Stock Cases, New York University Review of Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation, Chapter 1B , Alvin D. Lurie ed. (2012)
- ERISA Prudence and Employer Stock: What’s the Correct Standard of Prudence?, John Marshall Law Review (August 2012)
- Legal Insight – COBRA, Employment Law Manual, Employee Benefits, XpertHR.com (2012)
- DOL and IRS Health and Welfare Plan Audits: Latest Examination Initiatives, Key Legal Provisions, Avoiding Triggers, Strafford Webinar (June 2020)
- Employee Releases in ERISA Disputes: Minimizing Claims With Effective Release Provisions, Strafford Webinar (January 2020)
- Changes to Valuation of Stock Cases: What It Now Takes for Successful Management of Stocks, Employee Stock Ownership (ESOP) Challenges, and Enforcement Activity, ACI ERISA Litigation, New York, NY (November 2019)
- DOL Investigations of Employee Benefit Plans: Responding to Enforcement Actions, Audits, and Settlements, Strafford Webinar, (November 2019)
- Employee Benefits Defined Contribution Plans, American Bar Association Section of Taxation and Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law 2019 Fall Tax Meeting, San Francisco, CA (October 2019)
- #MeToo in the Workplace and Beyond,” 2019 Hispanic National Bar Association Annual Convention, New York, NY (September 2019)
- How to Properly Conduct an RFP, 38th Annual ISCEBS Employee Benefits Symposium, New Orleans, Louisiana (September 2019)
- Diversity & Inclusion Strategies for Making or Saving Insurance Companies Money, Business Insurance, Chicago, Il (September 2019)
- ERISA Benefit Plan Wraps and SPDs: Structuring and Amending Compliant Plan Documents and Notices, Strafford Webinar (August 2019)
- Recent Developments in Private Company D&O, 15th Annual Directors & Officers Insurance ExecuSummit, Uncasville, CT (May 2019)
- ERISA and Employee Benefits – How To Effectively Handle a DOL Investigation of Your Retirement Plan, PLUS Management & Professional Liability Webinar (April 2019)
- Disability Claims & Procedures: DOL Final Rule for Employee Benefits and Nonqualified Compensation Plans, Strafford Webinar (March 2019)
- Meet the Enforcers – A Sexual Harassment Seminar, Cardozo Law School, New York, NY (October 2018)