Archives: Fiduciary and Investment Issues

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The Quandary of Publicly-Traded Employer Stock in a 401(k) Plan

Offering employer stock in a 401(k) plan investment lineup can seem like a win-win situation. It can enable employees to become company owners—real, skin-in-the-game, participants in their employer’s economic future—through a simple deferral election. The U.S. Supreme Court has even recognized the value of employer stock funds, confirming that Congress sought to encourage their creation … Continue Reading

Partial Victories to Two Universities in Their Motions to Dismiss Code Section 403(b) Fee Litigation

Multiple large, class action lawsuits have been filed against prominent higher education institutions claiming fiduciary breaches under their Code Section 403(b) plans as a result of insufficient oversight of plan investments, which allegedly caused excessive fees to be paid by participants. Last week, district courts in Georgia and North Carolina, respectively, ruled on defendants’ motions … Continue Reading

Upcoming Employee Benefits Innovators Roundtable Series!

McDermott will be holding its annual Employee Benefits Innovators Roundtable Series this month. The roundtables offer experienced benefits professionals an opportunity to discuss cutting-edge, topical employer-driven benefit programs with their peers and members of McDermott’s employee benefits team. We are meeting in four locations this year. Join us in one of the following cities: May … Continue Reading

Private Equity Compliance with ERISA: Navigating Manager Fiduciary Duties for Funds Holding ERISA Plan Assets

On February 28, Todd Solomon and Maureen O’Brien presented a Strafford live webinar, “Private Equity Compliance With ERISA: Navigating Manager Fiduciary Duties for Funds Holding ERISA Plan Assets”. ERISA imposes fiduciary obligations on funds that hold employee benefit plan assets, including private equity managers responsible for investing fund assets. Managing those fiduciary obligations requires knowledge … Continue Reading

White House Urges Suspension of DOL Fiduciary Rule

The future of the fiduciary rule—originally set to be implemented this upcoming April—remains uncertain after the White House directed the United States Department of Labor (DOL) to reevaluate, defer implementation and consider rescinding the controversial new fiduciary rule on February 3, 2017. In response to the White House, the acting US Secretary of Labor announced … Continue Reading

White House Urges Suspension of DOL Fiduciary Rule

The future of the fiduciary rule—originally set to be implemented this upcoming April—remains uncertain after the White House directed the United States Department of Labor (DOL) to reevaluate, defer implementation and consider rescinding the controversial new fiduciary rule on February 3, 2017. In response to the White House, the acting US Secretary of Labor announced … Continue Reading

ERISA Basics National Institute: Section 401(k) Plans

A 401(k) plan has a qualified cash or deferred arrangement that is part of a profit sharing plan or stock bonus plan. Under the Internal Revenue Code Section 401(k)(2), an employee may elect to make contributions to the plan, the covered employee’s contributions are not distributable before severance from employment, disability, death, attainment of age … Continue Reading

Financial Planning & Analysis

On Monday, October 24, Chicago partners Todd Solomon and Brian Tiemann will speak at the Association of Financial Professionals conference in Orlando, Florida. Joined by Kendall Frederick, Senior Manager of Finance Integration at Hanesbrands Inc., the panel will discuss how to use financial planning and analysis analytics to help plan fiduciaries assess the need and potential … Continue Reading

401(k) Plan Sponsors and Fiduciaries Face an Alarming Number of Stable Value Fund and Other Class Action Lawsuits

In the last several months, plaintiffs have filed multiple class action lawsuits against plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries and stable value fund providers. These lawsuits, which have involved 401(k) plans sponsored by large corporations, have alleged that: Plan fiduciaries breached their fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (ERISA), by … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Emphasizes Heightened Pleading Standard for Stock Drop Cases

On January 25, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a per curiam opinion in Amgen Inc. v. Harris, holding that the Amgen, Inc. employees who filed suit after the value of the employer stock in which they had invested dramatically decreased, failed to sufficiently plead a breach of fiduciary duty claim under … Continue Reading

Increase in PBGC Premiums Effective for 2017 and Later Years

President Barack Obama signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (the Budget Act), which raised Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) premium rates beginning in 2017. Background Single-employer defined benefit pension plans must pay annual premiums to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), the U.S. government agency that insures these plans. All single-employer defined … Continue Reading

Reportable Event Changes for Pension Plans Effective January 1, 2016

Effective January 1, 2016, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) altered the reportable event rules for defined benefit pension plans. Although new PBGC regulations make electronic filing of all reportable event notices mandatory, the regulations also substantially reduce the reporting requirements for pension plan administrators, sponsors and contributing employers. Read the full article.… Continue Reading

Recent Case Law Suggests Corporations Should Implement Limits on Director Equity Awards

Recent case law suggests that corporations should consider implementing limits on director equity awards similar to those implemented for executives. The current practice is to include director equity awards in stockholder approved “omnibus” stock plans that also cover executive officers and key employees. However, unlike for certain executives, there are no regulatory requirements regarding limits on directory … Continue Reading

DOL Clarifies Fiduciary Duties for Defined Contribution Plan Sponsors Offering Annuity Contracts

The availability of annuity options under defined contribution plans has increased in recent years due to the shift from defined benefit to defined contribution plans. The U.S. Department of Labor recently issued new guidance that clarifies the legal responsibilities for fiduciaries who select an annuity provider for a defined contribution plan. Read the full article.… Continue Reading

Cracking the Code: Taxing Developments in Benefit Compliance

Generally, any type of organization can offer a defined benefit pension plan under Section 4019a) in the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code) or a Code Section 401(k) Plan. However, only employers described in Code Section 501(a) and educational organizations described in Code Section 170(b)(A)(iii) are permitted to sponsor Code Section 403(b) … Continue Reading

What Private Equity Funds Should Know About ERISA

Managers of private equity funds who are responsible for investing the assets of a fund that holds plan assets are likely to be considered a fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (ERISA). ERISA imposes numerous duties on fiduciaries, and those who fail to meet ERISA’s standards may be personally … Continue Reading

Privacy and Security Concerns for Employee Benefit Plans with Service Provider Relationships

Recent cyber-attacks on health insurers have heightened awareness that sensitive participant and beneficiary information may not be adequately secure. There will undoubtedly be other attacks on databases maintained by service providers to employee benefit plans, which raises an important question for Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) fiduciaries: what should be done now … Continue Reading

King v. Burwell Decision Upholds Subsidies in Federal Exchanges

On June 25, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in King v. Burwell that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires premium tax credits to be made available in states that use a federal exchange. The case challenged an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulation allowing tax credits in federal exchanges. The Supreme Court upheld the … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Rejects Latest Challenge to Affordable Care Act: What Are Employers’ Obligations Going Forward?

On June 25, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld one of the main pillars of the Affordable Care Act (ACA): the tax credits that allow millions of Americans to afford health care insurance on the public exchanges. In King v. Burwell, Chief Justice Roberts, writing for a 6–3 majority, held that middle- … Continue Reading

Fiduciary Risks Involved in Transferring Assets from a Seller’s 401(k) Plan to the Buyer’s Plan

In many transactions, particularly those where the buyer is a portfolio company of a private equity fund, the buyer agrees to cause its 401(k) plan to accept a transfer of assets from the seller’s 401(k) plan. The asset transfer from the seller’s plan provides the buyer’s with an asset base with which to negotiate the … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Acknowledges Fiduciaries Have Continuous Duty to Monitor Plan Investments, Remove Imprudent Investments

On May 18, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion in the Tibble v. Edison Int’l, 575 U.S. ___ (2015) case, finding that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit erred in applying the six-year statutory bar in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) to plaintiff’s claim alleging … Continue Reading

McDermott’s Todd Solomon Discusses Same-Sex Employee Benefits with the Wall Street Journal

As the U.S. Supreme Court weighs whether gay couples are constitutionally entitled to marry, more companies in states with marriage equality have begun to mandate that gay employees marry in order to maintain benefits, including health care coverage. In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, McDermott partner Todd Solomon discusses the shifting terrain … Continue Reading
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