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COVID-19 FAQs: For Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation

Coronavirus (COVID-19) raises serious concerns for employers of all shapes and sizes, across all industries and in every business sector. As the impact of COVID-19 continues to grow, many employers are faced with new challenges that affect not only their businesses and their employees, but the health and welfare, retirement and executive compensation plans and programs on which those employees rely. These new issues are arising in addition to the myriad benefit plan challenges that employers face each day. We address a number of frequently asked questions regarding health and welfare, retirement and executive compensation issues in the COVID-19 era. This includes not only questions about issues employers are currently facing, but questions about issues employers may face going forward. Given the rapidly evolving nature of the crisis, McDermott’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation team will periodically update these FAQs to provide you with the most...

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SCOTUS Holds Proof of ‘Actual Knowledge’ Required Under ERISA Statute of Limitations

The US Supreme Court handed workers a big win by preserving a six-year deadline to file ERISA class actions as the standard, but employers have already seized on language in Justice Samuel Alito's opinion as a road map for how to impose a shorter deadline. Justice Alito ended the unanimous opinion—which affirmed the Ninth Circuit's ruling that ERISA grants workers six years to sue except under special circumstances—by listing several tactics employers can use to invoke a three-year statute of limitations. McDermott’s Richard Pearl contributes to a Law360 article discussing the decision, including how employers should respond. Access the full article. Originally published on Law360, February 2020 See Richard Pearl's January 2019 On the Subject on this case: Ninth Circuit Clarifies 'Actual Knowledge' for ERISA’s Statute of Limitations

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Up, Up and Away: 2020 Increased Penalties for Employee Benefit Plans

For 2020, legislation enacted in December of 2019 dramatically increases penalties imposed by the Internal Revenue Code (the Code) for late filing of certain employee benefit plan notices and reports. In addition, a final rule published by the Department of Labor (DOL) makes inflation adjustments to a wide range of penalties. Learn the penalty amounts that apply beginning in 2020. Access the full article.

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Mechanics of DB Plan QDROs Differ from Those for DC Plans

There are requirements for a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) that apply whether the QDRO is for splitting up defined contribution (DC) plan assets or defined benefit (DB) plan assets, notes McDermott’s Lisa K. Loesel. However, the mechanics of setting up QDROs vary between DC and DB plans. Read on to discover the different paths for getting the right benefits to the right people when a plan participant divorces. Access the full article. Originally published on PLANSPONSOR, January 2020

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ERISA Cases to Watch in 2020: All Eyes on the High Court

2020 is shaping up to be a banner year for benefits law, with three ERISA cases already on the US Supreme Court’s docket and a number of other high-profile lawsuits at the circuit court level that could attract the justices’ attention. While waiting on the high court’s ERISA decisions, lawyers are watching litigation trends develop in the lower courts and waiting to see if the high court picks up another two ERISA cases. McDermott’s Richard J. Pearl contributes to a Law360 article that look at what 2020 may hold for benefits litigation. Access the full article. Originally published on Law360, January 2020

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Addressing Employees’ Student Loan Debt in 2020

Student loan debt skyrocketed in the past decade, topping $1.5 trillion among millions of Americans. The crisis has prompted US employers to address it in their benefits programs. McDermott’s Jeffrey M. Holdvogt contributes to a Plan Sponsor article that provides a review of how employers can help employees break free from the bind student loan debt has on financial wellbeing and retirement savings. Access the full article. Originally published on Plan Sponsor, December 2019

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The Biggest ERISA Decisions of 2019

In a relatively slow year for benefits rulings, multimillion-dollar settlements were the star of the show. And amid the slew of settlements this year, two court rulings stood out. McDermott’s Richard J. Pearl contributes to a Law360 article that breaks down the Ninth Circuit ruling allowing benefit plan managers to force fiduciary-breach suits into solo arbitration and the Tenth Circuit holding that insurers who determine workers’ profits from 401(k) investments aren’t fiduciaries. Access the full article. Originally published by Law360, December 2019

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Finally SECURE: Opportunities in the 2019 SECURE Act for Plan Sponsors

The SECURE Act—the most significant piece of retirement plan legislation in more than a decade—is now law. Plan sponsors should immediately start considering how changes included in the SECURE Act could impact their retirement and health and welfare plans in 2020 and beyond. Access the full article.

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Ninth Circuit Decides Not to Rehear Its Decision Requiring Arbitration of ERISA Claims

As we wrote in a previous On the Subject, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had signaled that it might rehear its August 2019 decisions in Dorman v. The Charles Schwab Corp., in which the Court compelled arbitration of ERISA class-action claims relating to a 401(k) plan. After ordering additional briefing, however, the Ninth Circuit denied the plaintiff’s petition for rehearing, leaving the Court’s decisions unchanged and requiring the plaintiff to arbitrate his ERISA breach-of-fiduciary-duty claims. Access the full article.

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DOL and IRS Expand Access to Multiple Employer Plans and Propose to Eliminate the ‘One Bad Apple’ Rule

Recently, the Department of Labor (DOL) published final rules clarifying the circumstances under which “bona fide” groups or associations of employers and professional employer organizations (PEOs) may be permitted to sponsor single defined contribution multiple employer plans (MEPs). Concurrently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published proposed rules detailing an exception to the “one bad apple” rule for defined contribution MEPs, which rule provides that the failure of one employer to meet established qualification requirements results in the disqualification of the MEP for all participating employers. Access the full article.

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