Photo of James Wayne Barnett

James Wayne Barnett is an associate in the New Orleans, Louisiana, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. As a former officer in the United States Air Force, Jim brings his experience overseeing high-level criminal and counterintelligence operations and investigations to his dedication in serving clients in his current practice.

Jim’s practice focuses on defending employers, fiduciaries, all types of plan sponsors, third-party administrators, managed care entities, and other ERISA actors in complex class-actions and individual plaintiff matters including 401(k) Plan and 403(b) Plan fee litigations, other claims for breach of fiduciary duties, ESOP disputes, withdrawal liability claims, multi-employer plan litigation and collection claims, and other benefits claims. Jim has experience on the retirement plan side, including multi-employer plans, and on the health and welfare plan side. He has litigated and helped resolve a myriad of sensitive employment-related matters for several high-profile employers in the entertainment, hospitality and retail industries.

Jim has litigated federal and state wage and hour claims, equal employment opportunity claims involving Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act, Family and Medical Leave Act claims, and breach of contract claims. In addition to litigating ERISA actions, Jim also represents employers in a wide variety of workplace legal matters, including preventive advice and counseling. He has experience practicing employment law in federal and state courts, arbitration tribunals, and before administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the DOL.

Prior to attending law school, Jim served his country for eight years including one combat tour in Afghanistan. During this time, he was a supervisory special agent in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, where he honed his legal skills.

On June 21, 2022, CommonSpirit Health defeated a putative class action brought by former employees who alleged that the company mismanaged their 401(k) plan by offering higher-cost, actively managed investment options when lower-cost index funds with better returns were available. The plaintiffs also alleged that the plan’s recordkeeping and investment management fees were excessive when

On October 12, 2021, Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting, Inc. (“Aon”) defeated a class action in the Western District of North Carolina brought by nearly 250,000 current and former Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (“Lowe’s”) employees who were participants in Lowe’s 401(k) retirement plan (the “Plan”). Plaintiffs alleged that Aon and Lowe’s breached their fiduciary duties of loyalty

American Airlines, Inc. and its affiliated credit union recently defeated an appeal challenging a low-yield investment option in the airline’s 401(k) plan when the Fifth Circuit ruled that the plan participants lacked Article III standing to bring their ERISA claims.

In 2016, the plaintiffs filed suit on behalf of a putative class of nearly 20,000