Stephen Harris is a partner in the Tax Department of Paul Hastings, and co-chair of the firm’s Global Compensation, Benefits, and ERISA practice. Mr. Harris is a recognized leader in compensation, benefits, and ERISA law. He has been ranked by Chambers USA as one of the top employee benefits and executive compensation lawyers in California and Chambers has noted that he "maintains an impressively broad practice that includes IRS, HIPAA and COBRA compliance." He is also recognized by The Best Lawyers in America and The Legal 500 for ERISA litigation. Mr. Harris’ published works include authoring a treatise covering the Federal WARN Act and state analogs and co-authoring the fiduciary responsibility chapter of Employee Benefits Law. He was also a contributing author for Reductions in Force.
Mr. Harris devotes his practice to executive compensation, employee benefits, and workforce restructuring matters. His employee benefits practice focuses on designing, implementing, interpreting, and litigating claims related to qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, domestic and international executive contracts, stock option and other equity plans, severance plans, and vacation plans. He advises clients on ERISA, Internal Revenue Code, COBRA, and HIPAA compliance, as well as the federal WARN Act and various state analogs, and counsels qualified plan fiduciaries how to best limit fiduciary liability concerns. He negotiates and drafts employment contracts and severance agreements, represents sponsors of employee benefit plans in voluntary compliance programs maintained by the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor, and conducts due diligence and drafts contract provisions for employee benefits matters in connection with corporate transactions.
Mr. Harris regularly represents compensation committees, boards of directors, and qualified plan fiduciary committees and has litigated a wide range of individual and class action cases involving numerous employee benefits issues. His clients include financial institutions, retailers, telecommunication companies, healthcare systems, and global entities.
- The Legal 500, Labor & Employment - Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation and Retirement Plans: Transactions (2021)
- Chambers, Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation - Band 1 (2021)
- The Legal 500, ERISA Litigation
- Best Lawyers in America
- University of Southern California Law School, J.D.
- University of California Los Angeles, B.A.
- Outside Benefits Counsel: Mr. Harris worked closely with clients to advise and implement a number of important strategic initiatives, including advising clients on benefit plan changes; amending and restating qualified pension plans; revamping plans’ claims procedures; eliminating certain non-qualified deferred compensation plans and obligations; eliminating "Rabbi trusts" in a trust busting exercise; handling benefit claims as well as advising on numerous Internal Revenue Code Section 162(m), 280G and 409A issues. Mr. Harris recently devised a strategy that resulted in the IRS approving a retroactive qualified plan amendment that saved our client millions of dollars when a scrivener’s error introduced a faulty provision into the retirement plan.
- Won Several Defined Benefit Class Actions: Mr. Harris won summary judgment against class claims brought by plaintiffs alleging that they were unjustly denied defined benefit plan benefits.
- Won Several Single-Plaintiff Benefits Cases: Mr. Harris won summary judgment on behalf of a client who offset long-term disability benefits by certain pension plan benefits in the face of adverse Ninth Circuit authority and, in doing so, convinced the Ninth Circuit that the offset did not violate ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code, or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Mr. Harris prevailed at arbitration against a plaintiff’s claim that she was entitled to "good reason" resignation benefits under a change in control plan. Mr. Harris won perhaps the very first Affordable Care Act case claiming that retiree annual or lifetime limits are illegal.
- Mergers and Acquisitions: Regularly leads the benefits, labor, employment, and executive compensation; and international labor and employment representation, including transactions valued in the many billions of dollars.
Reported Litigation Victories
- Impress Communications v. UnumProvident Corp.
- Grenell v. UPS Health and Welfare Package
- Serpa v. SBC Telecomms. Inc.
- Safavi v. SBC Disability Income Plan
- Stewart v. AT&T Inc.
- Barnes v. AT&T Pension Ben. Plan-Nonbargained Program
- Day v. AT&T Disability Income Plan
- The Agency Acquires Triplemint, Combining a Best in Class Luxury Real Estate Brand with Revolutionary Technology - May 4th, 2022
- Black Rifle Coffee Company Completes $1.7 Billion Business Combination with SilverBox Engaged Merger Corp I - February 10th, 2022
- Fox Entertainment Acquires MarVista Entertainment - December 15th, 2021
- Paul Hastings Honored with TMT Deal of the Year at ALB Korea Law Awards 2021 - December 3rd, 2021
- Black Rifle Coffee Company to Go Public in $1.7 Billion Business Combination with SilverBox Engaged Merger Corp. - November 2nd, 2021
- Vance Street Capital Partners Acquires McFarlane Aviation - October 27th, 2021
- SpotOn to Acquire Appetize Technologies for $415 Million - September 15th, 2021
- Trusted Media Brands Announces Acquisition of Jukin Media to Form Multi-Faceted Digital Media Company - August 12th, 2021
- Moody's to Acquire RMS for $2 Billion - August 5th, 2021
- QAD to be Acquired by Thoma Bravo for $2 Billion - June 28th, 2021
- Acorns To Go Public in $2.2 Billion Business Combination with Pioneer Merger Corp. - May 27th, 2021
- Paul Hastings Ranked as Top Three Firm for New Rankings and Recognized for Numerous Practice Strength and Growth in Chambers USA 2021 - May 21st, 2021
- Seaport Global Acquisition Corp. Announces Business Combination with Apollo Portfolio Company Redbox - May 17th, 2021
- HYBE Acquires Ithaca Holdings in $1 Billion Deal to Lead Global Music Industry Innovation - April 2nd, 2021
- Romeo Power Technology to list on NYSE through merger with RMG Acquisition Corp. - October 6th, 2020
- Paul Hastings Advises Lead Investor in Equity Financing of The SpringHill Company - September 14th, 2020
- Colony Capital Leads $1.2 Billion Investment in Vantage Data Centers - July 8th, 2020
- Paul Hastings Practices and Lawyers Score Top Rankings in Chambers USA 2020 - May 1st, 2020
- Walmart to Sell Vudu Streaming Service to NBCUniversal’s Fandango - April 22nd, 2020
- Binance Acquires CoinMarketCap - April 7th, 2020
- Recognized by Chambers USA 2021 - May 21st, 2021
- Recognized by Chambers USA 2020 - May 1st, 2020
- Ranked by Chambers USA 2019 - April 26th, 2019
- Recognized by Chambers USA 2018 - May 15th, 2018
- Recognized by Chambers USA 2017 - June 5th, 2017
- Recognized by Chambers USA 2016 - June 8th, 2016
- Recognized by the Daily Journal’s as Top Labor and Employment Lawyers for 2015 - June 3rd, 2015
- Law360 Awards - Top Practice Groups of the Year - January 2nd, 2013
- ‘Perpetual’ COVID Furloughs Invite Suits in Hospitality Space - May 25th, 2021
- Key Business Tax Provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 - January 11th, 2021
- Department of Labor Allows Private Equity Investment Exposure in 401(k) Plans - June 9th, 2020
- IRS Dramatically Relaxes Mid-Year Section 125 Election Changes for Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance and Flexible Spending Accounts - May 19th, 2020
- Legislature Amends N.J. WARN Act to Provide COVID-19 Relief - April 22nd, 2020
- PH COVID-19 Client Alert Series: COVID-19 and Equity Compensation Valuations - March 19th, 2020
- PH COVID-19 Client Alert Series: The WARN Act and Similar State Laws - March 16th, 2020
- COVID-19 Paul Hastings LLP Hospitality & Leisure Client Alert - March 16th, 2020
- PH COVID-19 Client Alert Series: Employment Issues - March 8th, 2020
- Unprecedented Private Equity Funds ERISA Decision Is Reversed - December 3rd, 2019
- Who’s Covered and What’s Grandfathered? A Look at the New 162(m) Guidance - August 24th, 2018
- Unhappy New Year—New Tax Law Adversely Affects Certain Executive and Equity Compensation Arrangements - December 29th, 2017
- No Corporate Tax Deduction for Sexual Harassment or Sexual Abuse Settlements? - November 16th, 2017
- Heads-Up: Proposed Tax Law Would Doom Nonqualified Deferred Compensation (Including Stock Options and Other Equity-Based Compensation) As You Know It - November 3rd, 2017
- Asset Buyers Beware: PBGC Attempts to Hold Asset Buyer Liable for Seller’s Underfunded Single Employer Pension Plan Termination Liabilities - February 1st, 2017
- Feel The Burn? Equity Compensation Plan Amendment to Increase Withholding is Not a Material Amendment - October 20th, 2016
- 2017: New Year, New Retirement Requirements for California Employers - October 17th, 2016
- EEOC Issues Final ADA and GINA Wellness Program Regulations - May 25th, 2016
- You Can Bank On Your Incentive Pay - Eventually: Proposed Regulations Would Require Sweeping Changes - April 26th, 2016
- Unprecedented Private Equity Court Decision Collapses Related Funds Triggering Their ERISA Withdrawal Liability for Portfolio Company’s Union Pension Obligations - April 12th, 2016
- Previous board member, Junior Achievement of Southern California and Menorah Housing
- Served as counsel for various charities on a pro bono basis