Emily E. Friedman is a Partner in the Executive Compensation and Employee Benefits Practice of Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP.
With over 18 years of experience, Ms. Friedman specializes in ERISA Litigation and Litigation Avoidance, ERISA Compliance, and Employment Counseling and Litigation. She represents plans, plan sponsors (the employer or business), and plan fiduciaries. She has litigated cases ranging from single benefit claims to complex class action lawsuits. Her practice is wide-ranging, including working with qualified retirement plans, retiree medical plans, health and welfare plans, non-qualified plans, executive arrangements and contracts, and compensation and bonus plans.
Ms. Friedman has significant experience litigating ERISA matters and providing advice to employers, ERISA benefit plans, and ERISA fiduciaries to ensure compliance with ERISA regulations. Ms. Friedman’s ERISA practice includes defending ERISA plans, plan sponsors, and plan fiduciaries in ERISA actions. These include class actions involving benefit claims, breach of fiduciary duty claims, prohibited transaction claims, claims alleging ERISA disclosure violations, claims brought by out-of-network and other healthcare providers, claims alleging discrimination and interference with ERISA rights, and coordination of benefits and subrogation issues.
Ms. Friedman also pursues litigation on behalf of ERISA plans and fiduciaries seeking to recoup benefit overpayments or benefits wrongfully paid on account of fraud or theft of plan assets. She counsels ERISA plan fiduciaries to ensure compliance with ERISA disclosure obligations and the proper adjudication of benefit claims, including severance, health and welfare, and pension benefit claims.
Ms. Friedman also assists her clients in formulating and revising benefit plans and plan designs to mitigate litigation risks and position her clients for the best possible business results. She has conducted numerous training sessions for plan fiduciaries and assists them in discharging their ongoing obligations under ERISA. Ms. Friedman counsels benefit plans and plan fiduciaries subject to DOL audits and investigations, and helps negotiate settlements.
In addition to her ERISA practice, Ms. Friedman has extensive experience in labor & employment law. In her labor and employment practice, she provides advice and counsel to employers on all workplace matters, including best practices in connection with leave administration and designing and implementing leave programs and policies to ensure compliance with the complex federal and state leave law landscape. Ms. Friedman also regularly counsels employers on compliance with employment laws such as Title VII, ADEA, ADA and the WARN Act, and best practices for dealing with internal and administrative investigations, employee separation and discipline, restrictive covenants, and discrimination issues.
Ms. Friedman helps clients in formulating and revising employment policies, employee handbooks and workplace codes of conduct, preparing employee communications and templates to be used in connection with leave administration, and drafting and negotiating separation agreements, employment agreements, and offer letters.
She also has experience litigating federal and state employment law actions. For example, she defends employers in federal court in actions involving FMLA, ADA and discrimination claims, and in administrative proceedings involving issues such as discrimination, sexual harassment, wage violations and practices, and compliance with state labor laws. She also regularly litigates employment disputes in state court, including claims involving trade secrets, defamation, wrongful termination, restrictive covenants, breach of contract, and malicious prosecution.
Ms. Friedman received her J.D. degree, cum laude, from American University, Washington College of Law. During law school she was a note and comment editor for the Administrative Law Review.
American Bar Association Labor & Employment Section
State Bar of Georgia, Employee Benefits Section (Board Member)