The US Supreme Court took up several Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) cases this term, handing down both a major loss and a substantial win to employees looking to sue their employers over retirement plan mismanagement. In a recent Law360 article, McDermott Partner Chris Nemeth discusses these decisions. "It's going to be really interesting to see how this plays out," said Nemeth. Access the article.
Plan Sponsor Council of America hosted a webinar to discuss the new electronic disclosure rule for retirement plans from the US Department of Labor (DOL), which took effect July 26, 2020. The rule allows employers to deliver disclosures to plan participants primarily electronically, which the DOL says will reduce printing, mailing, and related plan costs by an estimated $3.2 billion over the next decade. Speakers included McDermott's Andrew Liazos, and the topics discussed included: New Safe Harbors, Effective Date and Scope of Rules Notice and Access Safe Harbor E-Disclosure Rule Q & A Access the presentation slides.
The US Supreme Court ruled June 15 in Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga. that the prohibition against sex discrimination in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act covers sexual orientation and gender identity. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including part-time and temporary workers. Following the decision, benefits experts advise that employers review their benefits programs to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) employees are treated equally. Employers can use a checklist to find and correct discriminatory language and practices, and thereby reduce the likelihood of being sued under Title VII or other statutes that provide employees with sexual-orientation and gender-identity protections. Access the full article.
The coronavirus pandemic has shifted some employees to remote work permanently while others are telecommuting more frequently. Employers' wage and hour policies and enforcement should account for the rise in telework. "Ensure that employees understand that time spent checking e-mails is compensable," said Ellen Bronchetti, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery in San Francisco, in a recent article by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). "Employers should conduct periodic audits to ensure employees are not checking e-mails off the clock." Consider requesting supervisors regularly certify that they did not call, text or e-mail a nonexempt employee outside workhours, Bronchetti said. Access the full article.
New Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance expands the availability of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) distributions and loans under eligible retirement plans, and it provides important clarifications regarding how to administer and report CARES Act distributions and loans. The guidance also provides welcome relief for a participant who receives a CARES Act distribution, allowing the participant to revoke an otherwise irrevocable salary deferral election under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan. Finally, consistent with prior guidance, the new IRS guidance confirms that CARES Act provisions are optional, meaning that plan sponsors may choose whether to implement CARES Act changes. Access the full article.
In response to the administrative difficulties faced by plan administrators due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued Notice 2020-35, which extends additional retirement plan deadlines for 2020 not previously extended under IRS Notice 2020-23. The IRS also stated that this relief applies for purposes of ERISA if the tax code deadline has a corresponding ERISA provision. Access the full article.
The US Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Treasury issued a second set of answers to frequently asked questions. The tri-agency FAQs (Part 43) clarify important health and welfare provisions under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which became law on March 18, 2020, and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted on March 27, 2020. Both laws addressed Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing and prevention coverage, as well as expansion of telehealth service availability. Access the full article.
The US Department of the Treasury has released long-expected proposed regulations regarding the section 4960 excise tax on certain remuneration or separation amounts paid to the five highest paid employees of a tax-exempt organization. The new proposed regulations continue the tough approach previously taken on section 4960 issues, while also providing some new exceptions and important clarifications. Access the full article.
On Monday, June 15, 2020, the US Supreme Court held in Bostock v. Clayton County that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects transgender, gay and lesbian employees (and prospective employees) from workplace discrimination based on sex. This means that the protective authority of Title VII for LGBTQ individuals generally extends to employer-sponsored healthcare benefits. Access the full article.
Under the recently published final rule issued by the US Department of Labor, retirement plan administrators can choose to deliver required disclosures electronically by complying with the conditions of a new safe harbor. The final rule represents an opportunity for retirement plans to save costs and enhance participant access to disclosure documents. Access the full article.