Avoid the culture wars and legal issues post-transaction. Join our lawyers Kristin E. Michaels, Maureen O’Brien and moderator Judith Wethall for a discussion of how to best integrate employees and employee benefit plans after a transaction.

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The increased focus on issues of harassment is putting corporate culture under a microscope. Corporate management and board members—regardless of whether the entity is private, public or charitable—must adjust the way they think about harassment in the workplace and how to respond to allegations of misconduct.

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Join us Wednesday, March 21 at 1:00 pm (EDT) for an in-depth webinar on navigating cross-border mergers and acquisitions. Partners Alexander Lee and Maureen O’Brien along with Rob Wellner from Velocity Global will be presenting the unique tax, employment, benefits and executive compensation issues that arise during and after a global transaction. With these insights, participants will learn how to manage challenges associated with M&A activities and implement new solutions that streamline the process.

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On February 26, 2018, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (covering Connecticut, New York and Vermont) ruled that workplace discrimination on the basis sexual orientation violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).

The language of Title VII does not expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. However, in 2015, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) took the position that Title VII prohibits sexual orientation discrimination under the purview of prohibited sex discrimination. In 2016, the EEOC began filing sexual orientation discrimination lawsuits enforcing that position.

Circuit courts are divided on the question of whether claims of sexual orientation discrimination are viable under Title VII. In March of 2017, the Eleventh Circuit held that sexual orientation discrimination does not violate Title VII. The Seventh Circuit held the opposite the following month, and the Supreme Court declined to decide the split in December. With its en banc decision in Melissa Zarda et al. v. Altitude Express, dba Skydive Long Island, et al., the Second Circuit sided with the EEOC and the Seventh Circuit.

As a result of the decision, employers may see increased litigation in the area of sexual orientation discrimination. To protect against potential lawsuits, employers should consider updating their nondiscrimination policies to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition, employers should perform sexual orientation harassment training for employees and managers.

The decision also raises potential concerns for employee benefit plans. Although the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (ERISA) generally preempts state laws that relate to employee benefit plans, ERISA does not preempt other federal laws, including Title VII. While certain spousal benefits and rights under qualified retirement plans are required by federal law to be extended to same-sex spouses, the same explicit mandates do not apply to welfare plans. Employers should consider whether any of their employee benefit plans discriminate against employees with same-sex spouses (e.g., excluding same-sex spouses from coverage under a self-funded medical plan). Such distinctions may be ripe for legal action as a result of the decision and the EEOC’s ongoing enforcement efforts.

McDermott’s Benefits Emerging Leaders Working Group provides benefit professionals with tools to better serve employees in an ever-changing and evolving benefits landscape.

Presentations will tackle the latest benefits hot topics and best practice solutions, supplemented with important networking opportunities aimed to connect tomorrow’s benefit leaders with a broad network of professionals.

Planned agenda topics include:

  • What’s Happening in Washington?
  • Lessons from an RFP
  • Lunch Discussion: Changing Behavior through Benefits Communication
  • Global Benefit Plans
  • Moderated Group Discussion (including Voluntary Benefits)

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Patrick McCurry and Todd Solomon wrote this bylined article on how family offices are using sophisticated techniques to compensate their employees in a tax-efficient manner. “We expect to see the continued use of equity to deliver tax-efficient compensation to family office employees while aligning the economic interests and incentives of the family and the family office’s key employees,” the authors wrote.

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Originally published in Tax Executive, February 1, 2018.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was signed into law last year. From biking benefits to leave tax credits, we’ll discuss the employee benefit provisions and strategies for compliance, as well as opportunities your company won’t want to miss! Join the McDermott team on Friday, February 2 for a discussion of how the new law impacts fringe benefit plans, executive compensation and retirement plans.

Friday, February 2, 2018
10:00 – 10:45 am PST
11:00 – 11:45 am MST
12:00 – 12:45 pm CST
1:00 – 1:45 pm EST

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Whilst 2017 was anticipated to be a fairly static year for UK employment law, that did not in fact prove to be the case, and there were various notable developments. To a large degree, 2018 is likely to be defined by the ongoing Brexit negotiations and the passage of the EU Withdrawal Bill, which will, amongst other things, lay the framework for the future movement of EU workers to the United Kingdom. Employers should, however, be aware of some additional key developments on the horizon.

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The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act is having its moment. At least 32 class action lawsuits have been filed by Illinois residents in state court in the past two months challenging the collection, use and storage of biometric data by companies in the state. This may cause a reassessment of company strategies and development of new defenses in the use of advancing biometric technology.

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