The Impact of the Supreme Court’s DOMA Ruling on Employee Benefits

2014 Employment Law and Legislative Conference
Workplace Application: This session will provide an overview of post-DOMA implementation practices for different types of organizations and discuss the various challenges and opportunities that may arise within the workplace while implementing the Supreme Court’s recent decision U.S. V. Windsor.

Windsor struck down the provision in the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996  (DOMA) which limited the recognition of marriage for purposes of all federal laws, including ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code, to marriages of opposite-sex couples. This session will discuss how Windsor affects employee benefits, post-DOMA implementation practices for various types of organizations, the interplay between Windsor and various state laws, and upcoming challenges your organization may face in a post-DOMA world. Panelists will discuss their personal strategies and the challenges they’ve encountered while updating their employee benefit plans and practices to reflect Windsor. 

Date(s) & Time(s): 
Tuesday, March 18, 2014 - 2:15pm to 3:45pm

Laura R. Westfall


Ms. Westfall represents clients in the employee benefits and executive compensation aspects of mergers and acquisitions, financings, and other types of transactions, including due diligence, negotiations, and post-transaction benefits integration. In addition, she advises clients with respect to the design and operation of equity compensation arrangements, including all forms of stock compensation (such as stock option, restricted stock and phantom stock plans), partnership equity plans and long-term incentive plans, and the implications of Sections 162(m), 280G and 409A of the Internal Revenue Code on such arrangements. Ms. Westfall regularly represents both employers and senior executives in connection with the negotiation and drafting of executive compensation agreements, including employment, change-in-control, retention and severance agreements. Ms. Westfall also counsels investment fund sponsors and investing plans on the fiduciary, prohibited transaction and other implications of ERISA. She provides advice to clients on all aspects of their employee benefit programs, including the design and implementation of tax qualified retirement plans (such as 401(k) plans, defined benefit plans and ESOPs), health, welfare and other fringe benefit plans (including medical, dental, disability, life insurance, cafeteria and consumer-directed health plans), as well as compliance with ERISA, COBRA, HIPAA and the Internal Revenue Code.

Ms. Westfall received her B.A. in International Relations from Mount Holyoke College in May 2003, and her J.D. from Widener University School of Law in May 2006. Ms. Westfall earned her LL.M. in Taxation, with distinction, as well as an Employee Benefits Law Certificate, from Georgetown University Law Center in May 2007.

Vicki D. Blanton


Vicki D. Blanton is the Senior Benefits Counsel practicing ERISA, employee benefits and executive compensation for American Airlines, Inc. In that capacity, she handles the legal issues related to the Company's various union and non-union retirement plans, health and welfare plans, international benefits, and executive compensation plans. She joined American Airlines in August 2008 from JCPenney, where she worked for almost 8 years in a similar capacity with increasing responsibilities. Vicki began her legal career in 1991 at Thompson & Knight as a trial lawyer. In 1995, Vicki became an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Dallas, Texas, where she changed her practice from litigation to employee benefits.

Vicki received a J.D. from the Southern Methodist University School of Law in 1991, and a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. During her legal career, Vicki has been named to D Magazine's list of Best Lawyers in 2005 and 2007, as well as Eclipse Magazine's Dynamic Lawyers list. She was also named as one of the Best Corporate Counsel by the Dallas Business Journal. She is the Vice-Chair of the Corporate Counsel Forum of the Employee Benefits Subcommittee of the American Bar Association Tax Section.

Lynn Franzoi


With over thirty years of experience in the benefits field, Lynn Franzoi is recognized as an accomplished Benefits Executive. She has demonstrated a unique ability to interface with employees and executives at all levels, providing quality benefits while controlling costs. Lynn has managed the design, administration and financing of benefits for Fox Entertainment Group, a major global entertainment company, as well as other major Los Angeles-based companies, including American Honda and Whittaker Corporation. Lynn is an accomplished executive who has served on the boards of hospitals and non-profit organizations and who has provided advisory services to public, private and government agencies.

Congressional A
Amount of Credit: 
Credit Type: 
HR Credit
Session Type: 
Concurrent Session
Business Acumen
Ethical Practice
HR Expertise
Intended Audience: 
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