A good article from the Oklahoma Bar Journal discusses the interplay of bankruptcy laws, ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code and COBRA: “Employee Benefits in Bankruptcy: The Employer’s Perspective and the Employee’s Perspective.” The article written by Kenni Merritt begins with some humor:
. . . This article will discuss the interplay of these laws as they relate to employee benefit issues that typically arise in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy of the employer who sponsors a benefit plan, and in a bankruptcy filing by the employee who participates in a retirement plan.
At the outset, it is important to understand that bankruptcy attorneys are from Mars and employee benefits attorneys are from Venus. It is unusual to find a bankruptcy attorney with expertise in ERISA or a benefits attorney with expertise in bankruptcy. Although bankruptcy attorneys and employee benefits attorneys often use the same key words (i.e., Plan, Trustee, Code, priority categories), these terms have very different meanings in the bankruptcy context than they do in the ERISA/employee benefits context. Let me hasten to add that I am from Venus, though I have had spent several summers on Mars. . .