Executive Compensation

In a presentation at McDermott’s Employment and Employee Benefits Forum, Jeffrey Holdvogt discussed qualified plans, including student loan repayment benefits and the rise of DOL/IRS/PBGC plan activity. He also commented on the scrutiny on plan governance and fiduciary process materials. He addressed the legal challenges and mandates, such as state laws protecting against balance billing by out-of-network providers.

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In a presentation at McDermott’s Employment and Employee Benefits Forum, Andrew Liazos discussed areas of focus for Section 162(m) and third-party loan funding for employee stock purchase plans (ESPPs). He also provided insight on the new SEC final rule on hedging, and the 21 percent excise tax on pay over $1 million to covered employees at tax-exempt organizations.

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In a presentation at McDermott’s Employment and Employee Benefits Forum, our lawyers discuss the patchwork of state and local laws surrounding pay equity for similarly situated employees doing the same job. Particularly in California, new developments have emerged further clarifying pay equity laws. For best practices, they recommend:

  • Establishing compensation ranges across substantially similar jobs
  • Taking into account job-related factors when establishing and evaluating employee compensation
  • Conducting pay equity analysis under privilege
  • Performing a thoughtful time analysis and remedial action

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One of the more controversial and complex provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has been the 21 percent excise tax on certain nonprofit executive compensation. On December 31, 2018, the IRS issued interim guidance that addresses how this tax will apply in various situations that commonly arise for tax-exempt employers. Establishing internal systems to comply with this guidance will be challenging.

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Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. and Glass, Lewis & Co., LLC both recently issued their annual proxy voting guideline updates. As revised, these guidelines have important implications for companies preparing for the 2019 proxy season.

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Andrew Liazos presented on 162(m) deduction limitations and transition rules at NYU’s 77th Institute on Federal Taxation. Amongst other topics, he discussed key changes for employers under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the guidance provided under Notice 2018-68 and the potential impact of such changes on incentive compensation practices.

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Given the rise of the #MeToo movement, companies are having to deal with many issues when drafting employee agreement contracts. In a presentation, Evan Belosa discussed these issues, including triggering events, nondisclosure agreements and restrictive covenant changes. He also addressed latest trends in state and local law affecting hiring and management of the workforce.

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The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) has long been a source of complex and often-expensive litigation for employers. However, as the number of actions brought by employees under ERISA have surged, employer-defendants have often relied on the so-called top-hat exemption to dismiss certain claims involving executives. Now, several federal courts of appeals have addressed the disputed contention that the presence of employee bargaining power is required for a plan to fall under the top-hat exemption. In this article, Elizabeth Rowe, J. Christian Nemeth and Joseph Urwitz look at recent appeals court decisions and their effects on this exemption.

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Originally published in Benefits Law Journal, Autumn 2018

Tax reform made many structural changes to our tax system. Changes to Code Section 274, however, sent shudders through corporate America. As amended, Code Section 274 eliminated the 50 percent deduction for “entertainment” expenses that are related to business activities. Sadly, gone are the days of companies deducting the cost of box tickets to games for the local sport’s team. Gulp! But, in its haste, Congress left what constitutes entertainment expenses substantially undefined. Accordingly, a strict reading of the statute meant—along with the box seats—went the hot dogs and beer! Ugh! So, under this strict interpretation, taking your client to the fancy restaurant to encourage her to buy your product or services would no longer be deductible.

Thankfully, the IRS has recently clarified that meals are not entertainment under amended Code section 274. IRS Notice 2018-76 explains that business meals arestill eligible for the 50 percent deduction if they are not lavish and extravagant. And an IRS press release, IR-2018-195, explains that the IRS will release proposed regulations explaining what “entertainment” means.

Practice Point: We can all sigh with relief that Uncle Sam will continue to underwrite the “wining and dining” of our clients. Although eating is officially not entertainment (at least for tax purposes), the recent IRS guidance acknowledges that America does a lot of its business while breaking bread.

Evan Belosa, Tony Bongiorno and Andrew Liazos summarize key changes and important issues associated with Massachusetts Noncompetition and Trade Secret Law and next steps to consider as the date of effectiveness approaches.

The Massachusetts Noncompetition Agreement Act and Trade Secret Law will become effective October 1, 2018.

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