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Admitted to Practice

  • Washington, 2011
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Washington, 2014
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit, 2015

Christine C. Hawkins

HawkinsChristine
Associate
T425.646.6112
F425.646.6199

Christine Hawkins assists clients who are restructuring their employee benefits and compensations programs to address changes in law, minimize risk, and offer greater investment flexibility. She regularly advises companies on a wide range of employee benefits and ERISA matters, including plan operational and non-amender failures, mergers and acquisitions due diligence, COBRA, 409A arrangements, multiemployer withdrawal liability, health care reform compliance, and fringe benefit programs.

As part of her practice, Christine drafts plan restatements, amendments, 204(h) notices, and summary plan descriptions. She helps employers communicate and explain benefits changes to their employees and also designs plans for highly compensated executives.

Christine works with companies in health care, banking and finance industries, as well as government agencies and nonprofit organizations, handling benefits plans in both union and non-union contexts. Her experience covers qualified plans, including 403(b) and 401(k) plans, nonqualified top hat and incentive plans, and cafeteria plans.

Representative Experience

Litigation

Montgomery v. Horizon Air Industries, Inc.

Christine secured the dismissal of a USERRA claim brought against Horizon on allegations that Horizon refused to allow Montgomery to make up deferral contributions in violation of USERRA. Christine contended that because Montgomery had not returned to active employment at Horizon, he was not eligible to make catch up contributions. The plan did not permit non-payroll contributions by any participant, military or otherwise. Upon receiving Christine’s motion to dismiss, Montgomery agreed to dismiss with prejudice. (2015)

Lehman v. Nelson

In a case of first impression, now pending before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, represented a class of union Travelers seeking the transfer of reciprocity contributions. The under-funded multiemployer Plan was utilizing the dollar amount of the Pension Protection Act contributions to fund the Plan, rather than transferring such contributions to the Travelers’ home fund, as required by the terms of the pension plan and the reciprocity agreement. A judgment in the amount of approximately $2.5 million was secured on behalf of the Class. (Ongoing)

Business Health Trust v. Office of the Insurance Commissioner

In a case of first impression, Business Health Trust litigated the issue of an Association’s status as an ERISA 3(5) Employer. After prevailing on jurisdictional motions, this case was settled on terms favorable to Business Health Trust. As a result, the Seattle Chamber of Commerce was able to offer group medical insurance policies to its members that were organized along historical industry group lines of business. (2015)

Consulting

Prepared unit appreciations rights plan for restaurant

Assisted startup company in designing and implementing unit appreciation rights plan to incentivize select employees and allow them to share in company growth. (2016)

Established section 457(b) and 457(f) top hat plans for credit union executives

Drafted and consulted on 457(b) and 457(b) plans for non-governmental tax-exempt entities. (2015)

Converted defined benefit plan into 403(b) plan for hospital

Assisted employer in a partial freeze of pension benefits and created new 403(b) plan applying only to non-union employees. (2012)

Created multiemployer plan spinoff

Terminated annuity plan and established profit-sharing plan for statewide labor union workers. (2012)

Merged ESOP into 401(k) plan for financial services employer

Implemented merger of ESOP into 401(k), transitioning employee stock into freely traded account. (2012)

Professional & Community Activities

  • Board Member, King County Washington Women Lawyers, 2014-2016
  • Western Pension and Benefits Council