Prior to the pandemic, ultra-low unemployment at roughly 3.3% put a spotlight on ‘lifestyle benefits’ for employees such as gym memberships and pet sitting. When the COVID-19 crisis hit, the focus immediately shifted for many plan sponsors. Some employers are now offering high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) paired with health savings accounts (HSAs). Scaling back on company matches to 401(k) plans and contributions to profit sharing accounts are two other areas where employers are trying to save money, said Lisa Loesel, an employee benefits partner at McDermott. “Depending on what kind of plan they have and the terms set forth for them, we have seen plan sponsors delay the timing of their contributions, change the amount, move from a fixed to a discretionary amount or even cut their contributions indefinitely,” Loesel said in a recent article for PLANSPONSOR Magazine. Among sponsors offering a pension plan, more are de-risking their plans. “The market...
“Because of Bostock” – Court Delays HHS Rule Re-interpreting Section 1557 Discrimination “Because of Sex”
One day before an updated rule of the US Department of Health and Human Services regarding Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act took effect, the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York ordered a stay and issued a preliminary injunction precluding the most recent final rules from becoming operative. Entities subject to Section 1557 should — at least until decisions are issued in cases pending in US district courts — be cautious in their approach to their non-discrimination compliance obligations. Access the article.
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.
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.
On June 12, 2020, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finalized a rule under Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the 2020 Final Rule) that rescinds certain protections afforded to LGBTQ individuals and persons with limited English proficiency. At the same time, the 2020 Final Rule removes burdensome disclosure requirements that may be a welcome relief for entities covered by Section 1557. On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that workplace discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation is forbidden under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Although Title VII is not included in the precedential civil rights laws that gave rise to Section 1557, we nevertheless anticipate that the Supreme Court’s holding will lead to legal challenges in a number of areas, including healthcare and health insurance, religious exemptions and the 2020...
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.
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.
With rapid developments in local, state and federal guidance and law, the appropriate approach for each employer in relation to COVID-19 will vary depending on the nature of their work, the industries served and their location and size, among other considerations. This article outlines what employers need to know about employees experiencing symptoms and employee absences. Access the full article.
Telehealth is no longer just a nice-to-have, but instead a must-have for patients and healthcare professionals alike during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lisa Mazur, partner at McDermott Will & Emery specializing in the digital healthcare space, is quoted in a recent Forbes article about why telehealth is here to stay: “Telehealth was already experiencing significant momentum and growth prior to this public health emergency, and its continued trajectory has been solidified by the vital role it is playing in care delivery today.” Access the full article.
A bill titled Jumpstarting Our Businesses’ Success Credit Act of 2020, which would make significant changes to the employee retention tax credits available under the CARES Act, is currently under consideration in the US House of Representatives. In this article, we outline the proposed changes, which are generally designed to increase the availability, scope and amount of the credits. Access the full article.