The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled on March 7, 2018, that workplace discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The language of Title VII does not expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity. However, the US EEOC has taken a broad approach to enforcing Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination, arguing that it includes both gender identity and sexual orientation.

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The Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule has recently been rendered unenforceable following a recent 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision. In an article published by the Society for Human Resource Management, McDermott partner Brian Tiemann weighs in on what this means for plan sponsors. “As a result of the Fifth Circuit’s ruling, the suitability standard is effectively restored” for advising plan participants on investments, distributions and rollovers, Tiemann observed. He also points out that advisors may want to revise service agreements with plan fiduciaries to clarify the scope of advice that fiduciaries will provide participants.

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Originally published by the Society for Human Resource Management, May 2018.

New proposed guidance on mental health parity issued last month spotlights the complexities of these rules. Join us for out next Fridays with Benefits webinar on June 1 as Jacob M. Mattinson and Judith Wethall discuss the impact these rules will have on group health plans and how to determine if your plan complies. Find out about recent litigation and agency enforcement actions.

Friday, June 1st, 2018
10:00 – 10:45 am PDT
11:00 – 11:45 am MDT
12:00 – 12:45 pm CDT
1:00 – 1:45 pm EDT

Register now.  

ESOP transactions continue to grow in sophistication as sellers, plan sponsors and fiduciaries seek to meet certain goals and regulatory requirements. Allison Wilkerson, and other panelists for this presentation, reviewed a number of advanced transaction structures that are being utilized more and more to address specific needs identified by one or more of the parties involved in the arrangement. Such structures include the use of warrants in a financing structure, implementation of clawback and/or earn out requirements, use of incentive plans for successive management, and provisions that may be impactful with respect to future transaction or planning.

This presentation provides information to those companies/sellers/ESOP fiduciaries who are pursuing an ESOP transaction with alternatives that may provide an opportunity to better address the goals and objectives of the shareholders, ESOP, Company, employees and other stakeholders.

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On May 10, 2018, the IRS announced cost-of-living adjustments to the applicable dollar limits for health savings accounts and high-deductible health plans for 2019. Many of the limits will change for 2019.

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Executive compensation for the health care industry is always an important topic for the board, made even more critical by the provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and recent governance trends. We’re joined by two of the leading health care industry voices on executive compensation practices: Tim Cotter of Sullivan, Cotter and Associates, and McDermott partner Ralph DeJong.

US tax reform is changing the game with respect to many of the popular benefits employers have traditionally provided to their employees. These new rules have produced a great deal of questions. However, while the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is formulating guidance, employers are left to navigate these changes on their own in order to determine the impact on both themselves and their employees. Employers are also reevaluating their benefit offerings in light of the new rules. These issues and more were addressed during the 2018 McDermott Tax Symposium on April 24, 2018.

The McDermott panel left the audience with these core takeaways:

  1. Due to the suspension of their employees’ ability to take many itemized deductions, employers should consider the feasibility of restructuring their compensation arrangements to save income taxes and FICA taxes.
  2. Certain employers that are public employers, private employers with public debt or non-U.S. employers with ADRs traded on a U.S. market should evaluate their executive pay arrangements to determine whether the grandfathering rules under section 162(m) apply to any compensation and further ensure compliance with the new rules under section 162(m).
  3. Employers should consider whether they will continue to provide popular benefits such as qualified transportation fringes and employer-provided meals. If employers choose to continue to provide these benefits, they will need to confirm that their systems are updated to reflect the changes in deductibility.
  4. Employers should begin using the updated Form W-4, if they are not already.
  5. Employers should encourage their employees to utilize the IRS’ updated withholding calculator to verify that the proper tax amounts are being withheld.

For additional information on these topics and other items addressed by McDermott tax professionals during the symposium, please see the compilation of slides. For additional tax reform resources, please visit McDermott’s Take on Tax Reform.

Last month, Alexander Lee and Maureen O’Brien joined with Rob Wellner from Velocity Global to discuss the tax and employee benefits complications that arise in cross-border transactions. Key points discussed:

  • Complex tax structures must be considered and understood
  • Transfers of employment may be governed by different statutes in each affected jurisdiction
  • Purchasers may not be ready to provide employment, payroll and benefits on the closing date without significant pre-closing work

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Allison Wilkerson presented on a panel at the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) Conference. The panel provided an overview of issues impacting compensation matters, as well as decisions affecting privately held companies that are wholly or partially owned by an ESOP.  The presentation included an analysis of certain legal requirements and a current view on best practices.  Finally, the panelists provided real-life examples of effective compensation programs and decision-making strategies for executive and staff compensation.

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