Greta E. Cowart
Greta Cowart has counseled employers for more than 30 years on best practices in human resources and employee relations related to benefits and executive compensation. In her practice, Greta routinely develops strategies for effective administration of claims and other disputes, including defense of grievances, and in ERISA claim litigation, while also considering applicable labor and employment laws. Greta also provides fiduciary training and review of fiduciary operations to improve the documentation of the fiduciary process.
Greta works closely with clients in defense of IRS team audits and U.S. Department of Labor audits, including service provider audits, and works with clients to take proactive steps to reduce the risk related to audit. She also assists clients in creative executive compensation plan design and resolution of administration and operation issues, including those under Code section 409A.
With considerable experience in benefit plan and executive compensation issues including de-risking pension, disability and retiree medical benefits, Greta represents clients in corporate transactions including mergers and acquisitions and spin-offs, as well as workforce integration issues and fixing complex human resources issues. She also facilitates HR transition teams during and after corporate transactions. She also counsels and negotiates executive employment and separation agreements.
Greta is a former chair of the Employee Benefits Committee of the ABA Section of Taxation, and has served on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services CHIP Working Group.
B.S., with high distinction, Indiana University Kelley School of Business
J.D., cum laude, Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Greta has extensive experience representing plan sponsors, plan administrators and benefit appeal committees including:
- Counseling clients through reducing risks of fluctuating liabilities due to pensions, retiree life, retiree medical and long term disability benefits.
- Representing clients in de-risking pension plans and disability plans
- Representing health care system in an Internal Revenue Service team audit of all of its retirement, welfare, fringe benefit and executive plans.
- Representing state school system in Internal Revenue Service audit of its 403(b) and 457 plans.
- Representing numerous clients before the Internal Revenue Service in correcting qualification issues in a number of qualified retirement plans under the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System.
- Representing clients before the Internal Revenue Service to correct violations in 401(k), defined benefit and other qualified retirement plans, and 403(b) plans and to fix complex qualified plan issues.
- Representing numerous clients successfully through U.S. Department of Labor audits of their 401(k), ESOPs, welfare benefit plans and other employee benefit plans.
- Representing clients in moving retiree health benefits to private exchanges, including all regulatory compliance issues (tax, ERISA, and Medicare) and communications.
- Representing client through ESOP releveraging transaction to address repurchase liability
- Representing clients in connection with collective bargaining grievances related to benefits and other related issues.
- Representing corporations on merger strategy and benefit integration negotiation teams for retirement, health and welfare and executive compensation benefits.
- Representing employers against assessment of the employer shared responsibility tax
- Counseling corporations regarding establishing disability plan claims administration procedures, forms and practices for compliance, and to provide the best defense.
- Counseling clients with collectively bargained workforces regarding benefits issues considering collateral implications under collective bargaining agreements.
- Assisting clients with reversing outsourcing of benefits administration.
- Assisting in representation of plan sponsors, fiduciaries and administrators in ERISA litigation.
- Assisting corporations and managed care organizations regarding legal operating issues related to employee benefit plans.
- Analyzing extensive health plan issues under health reform, COBRA, HIPAA portability, GINA, Michelle’s Law, ADA, HIPAA privacy, HITECH and the Affordable Care Act and subsequent laws
- Obtaining private letter rulings resolving difficult defined benefit plan funding and qualification issues.
- Providing expert opinion to plan administrator in contested appeal of health plan benefit denial.
- Providing expert opinion to retirement plan committee facing multiple claimants to same benefit.
- Working with corporations analyzing their nonqualified deferred compensation issues under Code section 409A and proposing alternate designs.
- Represented retirement plan service providers during U.S. Department of Labor audits.
- Representing clients in outsourcing of benefits.
- Counseled hospitality industry client in corporate restructuring and $1.1 billion refinancing.
- Represented a leading modular building and portable storage provider in the Western U.S. in the sale of substantially all assets for a purchase price of $260 million.
- Lawdragon 500 Leading U.S. Corporate Employment Lawyers, 2020-2021
- “Best Lawyers in Dallas,” D Magazine – 2020
- The Best Lawyers in America (Woodward/White Inc.), 2005-2022
- Lawyer of the Year – Dallas, Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law, 2019
- Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law, 2005-2022
- “Texas Super Lawyer,” Super Lawyers by Thomson Reuters, 2019-2020
- The Top Women Attorneys in Texas, Super Lawyers, 2020-2021
- Indiana University Bicentennial Medal, 2020
- Author, “The American Rescue Plan Act’s COBRA Subsidy – Déjà Vu But Different: Considering the Guidance Issued Through April 30, 2021,” Bloomberg BNA Tax Management Compensation Planning Journal (May 2021)
- Co-Author, Chapter 14, Statutory Standards for Deferral Under IRC Section 409A, Bender’s Federal Income Taxation of Retirement Plans (2021 edition)
- Co-Author, Chapter 14A, A More Permanent 409A Foot Fault Correction Program for Operational Violations, Bender’s Federal Income Taxation of Retirement Plans (2021 edition)
- Author, “Multiemployer Pension Plan Changes in the American Rescue Plan Act”, Employee Benefit Plan Review, Wolters Kluwer, May 21, 2021, Vol. 75, Number 4.
- Author, “Health and Welfare Plan Changes in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021,” Bloomberg BNA Tax Management Compensation Planning Journal (February 2021)
- Co-Author, “ERISA” Chapter of the Texas Employment Law Handbook, Texas Association of Business and Texas SHRM (2019-2021 edition)
- Author, “Coronavirus Relief Guidance for FSAs and Other Welfare Benefit Plans,” Bloomberg Tax – Tax Management Memorandum (June 2020)
- Co-Author, “Responding to the Covid-19 Pandemic — The Families First Coronavirus Response Act and Other Tools for Employers,” Bloomberg BNA Tax Management Compensation Planning Journal (April 2020)
- Author, “401(k) Plan Changes In SECURE Act May Necessitate System Changes,” Bloomberg Tax Tax Management Memorandum (February 2020)
- Co-Author, “Tools and Tripwires Involved in Using Retirement Accounts for Charitable Planned Gifts,” Bloomberg Tax Tax Management Estates, Gifts, and Trusts Journal (January 2020)
- Co-Author, “Tools and Tripwires Involved in Using Retirement Accounts for Charitable Planned Gifts,” Bloomberg Tax Tax Management Memorandum (December 2019)
- Co-Author, “INSIGHT: Tools and Tripwires Involved in Using Retirement Accounts for Charitable Planned Gifts,” Bloomberg Tax Daily Tax Report (December 2019)
- Author, “Affordable Care Act Shared Responsibility Penalties,” Bloomberg Law Benefits Guide: Basics, Health Care Benefits, Affordable Care Act Shared Responsibility Penalties (October 2019)
- Author, “COBRA Compliance,” Bloomberg Law Benefits Guide: Basics, Health Care Benefits, COBRA Compliance (October 2019)
- Co-Author, “INSIGHT: Notre Dame Fire Underscores Tools and Tripwires in Supporting Charitable Work Abroad,” Bloomberg Tax Daily Tax Report (April 2019)
- Co-Author, “A Deeper Look at Tax Reform’s Evolving New Game Plan for Tax-Exempt Organizations,” Bloomberg BNA Tax Management Compensation Planning Journal (March 2019)
- Co-Author, “Post-Flores v. City of San Gabriel: What Other Benefits Should Employers Be Wary Of,” Bloomberg BNA Tax Management Compensation Planning Journal (Sept. 2018)
- Co-Author, “A Whole Employer Approach to the Opioid Epidemic,” Bloomberg Law Daily Labor Report (Sept. 2018)
- Co-Author, “A Practical Look at Tax Reform’s Radical New Game Plan for Compensation in Tax Exempt Organizations,” ALI CLE’s The Practical Tax Lawyer (May 2018)
- “Insights Into Tax Reform’s Radical New Game Plan for Tax Exempt,” Bloomberg Tax Daily Tax Report (Feb. 2018)
- Co-Author, “When Is Your ERISA Plan or Flexible Benefit Plan Not Good Enough to Be a Bona Fide Plan?” Bloomberg Law Pension & Benefits Daily (Dec. 2017)
- “What Retirement Plan Sponsors and Employers Need to Know About Cybersecurity Risk and Liabilities,” Bloomberg BNA Tax Management Compensation Planning Journal (April 2017)
- “Cybersecurity Risks and Liabilities for Employers, Retirement Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries,” Bloomberg BNA Pension & Benefits Daily (Feb. 2017)
- “Sponsors Shouldn’t Wait to Find Answers To Challenges of Unwinding the ACA,” Bloomberg BNA Pension & Benefits Reporter (Dec. 2016)
- “Liabilities from Health and Welfare Plans on Mergers and Acquisitions,” Bloomberg BNA (Feb. 2016)
- “The Big Picture of the Employer Shared Responsibility Tax,” Bloomberg BNA Pension & Benefits Daily (April 2015)
- “Finding Liberation in the Big Picture of the Employer Shared Responsibility Tax,” Bloomberg BNA Tax Management Memorandum (Feb. 2015)
- 389 T.M., Medical Plans – COBRA, HIPAA, HRAs, HSAs and Disability, Bloomberg BNA Report
- 330 T.M., Tax and ERISA Implications of Employer-Provided Medical and Disability Benefits, Bloomberg BNA Report
- Co-Author, 338 T.M., COBRA — Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, Bloomberg BNA Revised Tax Management Portfolio
- “HIPAA Compliance Basics” and “COBRA Compliance,” Benefits Practitioners’ Strategy Guide
- Panelist, “The Changing Landscape of COVID Rules, Regulations, and Policies: DOL Updates (EEOC, FFRCA); Can Vaccines Be Required? Paid or Unpaid Leave? ARPA, OSHA, Etc.,” COVID Impact Series co-hosted by the Texas Business Group on Health and Dallas Fort Worth Business Group (May 2021)
- “Health and Welfare Benefits Update,” ALI-CLE’s Employee Benefit Plans of Tax-Exempt and Governmental Employers 2020 Webcast (October 2020)
- “Evolving Rules for Executive Compensation for Tax Exempts, Charities and Governments- After the Proposed Regulations”, ALI-CLE Webinar (July 2020)
- “CARES Act: Retirement Plan Tools and Relief,” Jackson Walker Fast Takes webinar (April 2020)
- “CARES Act: Health Plan, Student Loan, and Employee Retention Relief,” Jackson Walker Fast Takes webinar (April 2020)
- “COVID 19 & Your Business Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” Jackson Walker webinar (March 2020)
- Panelist, “Corporate Wellness Plans That Work,” Women in the Know Wellness Roundtable (March 2020)
- “Analyzing the New Mechanisms for Health Benefits Delivery,” ALI-CLE Employee Benefit Plans of Tax Exempt and Governmental Employers, Washington, DC (October 2019)
- “Evolving Rules for Executive Compensation for Tax Exempts, Charities, and Governments,” ALI-CLE Employee Benefit Plans of Tax Exempt and Governmental Employers, Washington, DC (October 2019)
- Panelist, “Preparing Your 401(k) Plan for Inspection,” Southwest Benefits Association (SWBA) 2019 Webinar Series, (June 2019)
- “New IRS Guidance on the Section 4960 Excise Tax on Tax Exempt Organizations,” American Bar Association, Joint Committee on Employee Benefits Webinar (March 2019)
- Co-Author, “Case Studies for 457(f) and 409A Proposed Regulations,” ALI-CLE Employee Benefit Plans of Tax-Exempt and Governmental Employers (Sept. 2018)
- “Welfare Plan Issues and Benefits Update,” ALI-CLE Employee Benefit Plans of Tax-Exempt and Governmental Employers (Sept. 2018)
- “Executive Compensation Limits for Tax Exempts, Charities, and Governments After the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” ALI-CLE Employee Benefit Plans of Tax-Exempt and Governmental Employers (Sept. 2018)
- “Managing Hidden Risks in the HR Department,” SouthWest Benefits Association (Aug. 2018)
- “Managing Hidden Risks in the People Department,” ACC Charlotte (July 2018)
- “What Do I Do Now? Responding to Today’s Most Significant Employee Benefits Changes,” ALI-CLE On-Demand CLE (April 2018)
- “The New Disability Claims Regulations,” ALI-CLE The Year in Employee Benefits (April 2018)
- “Advising Tax Exempt Compensation Committees in Light of New Code section 4960,” ALI-CLE (March 2018)
- Panelist, Indiana University Kelley School of Business 2nd Annual Women’s Leadership Summit (March 2018)
- “Healthcare Twister,” Texas Minority Counsel Program (Nov. 2017)
- “Welfare Benefits Update and Retirement Plan Data Security,” ALI-CLE Employee Benefit Plans of Tax-Exempt and Governmental Employers (Oct. 2017)
- Co-Author, “The Evolving Landscape for Wellness Programs,” ALI-CLE Employee Benefit Plans of Tax-Exempt and Governmental Employers (Oct. 2017)
- “Plan Sponsors Growing Fiduciary Responsibilities for Cyber Security,” SPARK Institute National Conference (June 2017)
- Video Webcast, ALI-CLE The Year in Employee Benefits (March 2017)
- “Trusted Fiduciaries Giving Investment Advice: What’s It Like to Be a “Gandalf”?”
- “ACA Update”
- “The New World of Labor Department Investigations”
- “What is the Duty to Protect Retirement Plan Data?”
- “Welfare Benefits Update,” ALI-CLE Employee Benefit Plans of Tax-Exempt and Governmental Employers (Oct. 2016)
- “Employer Shared Responsibility 3.0” and “Claim Proofing Your Welfare Benefit Plan,” ALI-CLE (April 2016)
- “Worker Misclassification: the Game Changes and Consequences” ABA Section of Taxation (March 2016)
- “Reportable Events, New Waivers and Notifications, and U.S. Department of Labor Proposed Disability Claim Regulations, et. al.,” ALI-CLE (Dec. 2015)
- “What You Need to Know About ERISA: A Comprehensive Overview,” Bloomberg BNA Conference (Oct. 2015)
- “Retiree Medical Benefits Liabilities After the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision in M&G Polymers USA, LLC v. Thackett,” The American Law Institute Continuing Legal Education Telephone Seminar/Audio Webcast (March 2015)
In the News
- “Private Equity Isn’t for Every Retirement Plan, Advisers Say,” Bloomberg Law (June 2020)
- American College of Employee Benefits Counsel, Fellow, Since 2005
- American College of Tax Counsel, Fellow, Since 2012
- American Law Institute, Since 2004
- Curriculum Advisory Panel, Since 2009
- CLE Program – Employee Benefit Plans of Tax-Exempt & Government Employers, Co-Planning Chair, Since 2014
- Bloomberg BNA Compensation Planning Advisory Board, Since 2017
- BNA Pension and Benefits Advisory Board, 2007-2016
- Chair, 2016
- Dallas Bar Foundation, Life Fellow, Since 2009
- Indiana Bar Foundation, Fellow, Since 1995
- Indiana University Maurer School of Law
- Founder – DFW Indiana University Maurer School of Law Alumni Group, Since 2012
- Adjunct Professor – “Transactional Drafting: Anatomy of a Deal,” Since 2017
- Alumni Board, 2010-2015
- American Bar Association Section of Taxation, Employee Benefits Committee
- Chair, 2006-2007
- Chair Elect, 2005-2006
- Vice Chair, 2002-2005
- COBRA Subcommittee, Chair (1997-2002)
- Indiana State Bar Association Section of Taxation, Chair, 1994-1995
- SMU Dedman School of Law, Adjunct Faculty, 2018
- SouthWest Benefits Association
- Board Member, 1998-2001
- Chair, Education Committee, 1998-2001
- U.S. Department of Labor and Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Working Group, Member, 2009-2011
- Attorneys Serving the Community
- King of Glory Lutheran Church, 2000-2020
- Finance Committee, Co-Chair, 2005-2006
- Adult Education Committee, 2005-2011
- Adult Education Teacher, 2005-2020
- Registered Pet Partner Therapy Dog Team Handler and Volunteer, Since 2015
- Arcadia Foundation
- Board Member, 1999-2003
- Chair, 2001-2003
- Briarwood Retreat Center, Board Member, 1998-2001