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Chris C. Scheithauer advises clients on general civil litigation matters, with a focus on class action employee benefit litigation and counseling under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), and other employment litigation and advice. Read Chris C. Scheithauer's full bio.

A lawsuit against Vanderbilt University is moving forward based on allegations that the university and its fiduciaries mismanaged its retirement plan by paying excessive fees and maintaining poor investment options.

In that lawsuit, Cassell v. Vanderbilt et al., plaintiffs filed a 160-page complaint alleging multiple violations of ERISA. Cassell v. Vanderbilt, No. 3:16-cv-02086 (M.D. Tenn. Jan. 5, 2018). Cassell is one of numerous class action lawsuits that have been filed against prominent universities based on similar allegations. The lawsuits allege that Internal Revenue Code Section 403(b) plan fiduciaries breached duties of prudence and loyalty, and engaged in prohibited transactions. Vanderbilt University, like other schools, filed a motion to dismiss the claims. The court granted part of its motion, but allowed the rest of the lawsuit to proceed.

Continue Reading 403(b) University Cases Move Forward: Cassell v. Vanderbilt University

The Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced its proposed regulations to implement Executive Order (EO) 13706, establishing paid sick leave for federal contractors. The proposed regulations describe the categories of contracts and employees covered by the EO, the rules and restrictions regarding the accrual and use of such paid sick leave, the obligations of contracting agencies, and the available remedies and enforcement procedures.

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In its first major guidance of 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor has issued a definition of joint-employer status under the Fair Labor Standards Act that is even broader than the definition of joint-employer status issued by the National Labor Relations Board last summer. Coupled with its 2015 guidance on the misclassification of independent contractors, the DOL has greatly expanded the definition both of who is an employee and who is an employer.

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As previously reported, California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (California’s Sick Leave Law) took full effect on July 1, 2015, although some provisions were effective as of January 1, 2015. The new law generally requires most employers to allow employees to accrue paid sick leave. This On the Subject discussed requirements employers must meet, including Assembly Bill 304, which amends California’s Sick Leave Law to make immediate changes.

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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 that respondents owed a continuing duty to monitor and remove imprudent investment selections. Through the decision, the Supreme Court expressly held that ERISA fiduciaries have a continuing duty to monitor plan investments and to remove imprudent investments.

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On March 5, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the finding of a prior Sixth Circuit panel that allowed successful plaintiffs to recover additional equitable relief in the form of disgorgement of profits under a return-on-equity analysis in addition to the recovery of the denied benefits. This decision realigns the Sixth Circuit with the other circuits by requiring that plaintiffs prove a separate injury in order to receive additional equitable relief under ERISA.

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On September 10, 2014, California’s Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 (California’s sick leave law) became law.  The new law requires most employers to allow employees to accrue up to three days of paid sick leave per year based on an accrual of at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.  California’s sick leave law does provide for various accrual caps, in deference to employers that already have a paid time off (PTO) policy meeting certain standards, as well as various other exceptions.  Employees may use the paid sick leave to care for themselves or other family members.  Notably, the new law imposes notice, posting and record-retention obligations with which employers must now comply.

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