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Judge Kills the Last Trump H-1B Visa Rule Left Standing

International students will have an easier time obtaining H-1B status after a federal judge ended a Trump administration regulation that made the process more difficult.

According to this Forbes article, Trump administration officials increased H-1B denial rates via memos and policies that were later ruled unlawful. McDermott Partner Paul Hughes—who represented plaintiffs in an complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief—said a Trump administration move to end H-1B via lottery violated the law.

Read more here.




COVID-19 Laws and Regulations: A Midyear Update

As employers navigate evolving COVID-19 state and federal rules, workplaces will have to stay vigilant about changes throughout the second half of 2021. These include changes to mask mandates, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Emergency Temporary Standard and the New York Health and Essential Rights (HERO) Act.

Recent US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidance, for example, confirmed what employment lawyers had already been counseling businesses to do, according to McDermott partner Carole A. Spink in a recent Law360 article.

“The guidance was important because it did clarify that employers can provide incentives for voluntary programs. [There] was a big open question about, ‘Am I going to get into trouble because I’m trying to incentivize people to be vaccinated?'”

Access the article.




Ruling Gives Ammunition in Fights Over Health Insurer Clawbacks

A recent ruling from a New Jersey federal district court gives ammunition to providers fighting to stop insurers from engaging in cross-plan offsetting, a common billing practice where health insurers attempt to claw back overpaid claim money from one patient by withholding payment from another patient in a different health plan.

The ruling—which found that the practice violates the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)—could lead to more lawsuits and changes to plan documents. McDermott partner Judith Wethall said in a recent Bloomberg Law article the ruling was more significant than the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit’s 2019 ruling in Peterson v. UnitedHealth Group, Inc.

Access the article.




EBSA Privacy and Cybersecurity Guidance

Andrew C. Liazos, partner at McDermott Will & Emery, recently moderated an American Bar Association panel on the new cybersecurity guidance for retirement plan sponsors issued by the Department of Labor (DOL). The panel slides included 10 takeaways for the new DOL guidance.

Access the slides.

As a background, the DOL’s new guidance formalized its long-held view that retirement plan fiduciaries have an obligation to ensure proper mitigation of cybersecurity risks. More specifically, the DOL expects retirement plan fiduciaries to select and monitor the cybersecurity practices of their service providers.

The DOL guidance is in three parts.

  • The first part provides plan fiduciaries with a framework for reviewing a vendor’s cybersecurity practices.
  • The second part provides a robust list of cybersecurity “best practices” for record keepers and other vendors responsible for plan-related IT systems and data. For example, the DOL recommends that all retirement plan vendors with critical participant data conduct a reliable annual third-party audit of their security controls.
  • The third part provides security tips for participants and beneficiaries who manage their retirement accounts online.



President Releases Executive Order Prohibiting Training for Contractors and Federal Grant Recipients

On September 22, 2020, US President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order, which prohibits federal contractors and recipients of federal grants from conducting certain workplace training on race and sex stereotyping. This Executive Order is likely to be challenged on various grounds, including First Amendment grounds, but all employers may wish to review their workplace training materials in anticipation of future Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) action for reverse discrimination.

Access the article.




DOL Provides Guidance on Tracking Telecommuters’ Work Hours

Employers must use reasonable diligence in tracking nonexempt telecommuters’ work hours and may do this by providing a reporting procedure for unscheduled time, the US Department of Labor (DOL) stated in August 24 guidance. The workers then must be compensated for all reported work hours, even those not requested by the employer.

In a recent article by the Society of Human Resource Management, McDermott partner Ellen Bronchetti explained that employers should have policies that prohibit working off the clock. “If an employer has an expectation that an employee was working from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm and the employee works later at night responding to emails, that could lead to wage and hour liability.”

Access the article.




DOL Issues Final Electronic Disclosure Rule for Retirement Plans

Under the recently published final rule issued by the US Department of Labor, retirement plan administrators can choose to deliver required disclosures electronically by complying with the conditions of a new safe harbor. The final rule represents an opportunity for retirement plans to save costs and enhance participant access to disclosure documents.

Access the full article.




Pandemic Unemployment Aid Intensifies Debate Over Classifying Gig Workers

The federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program extends relief to workers and employees who don’t have access to state benefits, but it will almost certainly put pressure on gig economy companies to start paying into state unemployment insurance funds as government resources continue to diminish due to COVID-19, attorneys say.

Michelle S. Strowhiro, partner at McDermott Will & Emery, said, “To the extent that, post-COVID, we want to maintain unemployment benefits for those traditionally not eligible, … we’d have to contemplate a way that additional funding could be accessed for the long term.”

Access the full article.




DOL Issues New Proposed Rule for Electronic Disclosures of Retirement Plan Notices

The Department of Labor (DOL) issued a proposed rule that, if finalized, would expand its existing guidance and liberalize rules for electronic disclosure of retirement plan notices under ERISA. The proposed rule, which sets forth a notice and access safe harbor, would permit electronic disclosure as the default method of delivery while permitting participants to opt out and continue to receive paper disclosures.

Access the full article.




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