On October 11, 2022, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) issued its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking to undo the Trump administration’s 2021 independent contractor regulations and revert to the six-factor economic realities test. While the test factors remain the same (for the most part), the DOL’s NPRM advances interpretations of the various factors that support employment status at every turn.
When Are Cryptocurrencies Appropriate Investments for Retirement Plans and IRAs?
The US Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued guidance for the first time on the investment of retirement plan assets in cryptocurrencies. Compliance Assistance Release No. 2022-01 cautions 401(k) plan fiduciaries to “exercise extreme care” before allowing participants to invest plan assets in cryptocurrencies because cryptocurrencies “present significant risks and challenges to participants’ retirement accounts, including significant risks of fraud, theft, and loss.” In this Intellectual Property & Technology Law Journal article, McDermott Partners Andrea S. Kramer and Brian J. Tiemann outline what retirement plan fiduciaries need to know about cryptocurrency investments in the current market.
ERISA Litigation: What Have We Learned?
Earlier this spring, McDermott Partner Erin Turley delivered a presentation about the impacts of recent Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) litigation. Lawsuits now target both large and small employee benefit plans; plan sponsors are being sued and dragged into complex and lengthy litigation, thus changing the basic economics of the provision of fiduciary liability insurance. In response to these lawsuits, plan sponsors are looking to outsource as much of this fiduciary responsibility and potential liability and exposure as possible.
The Fiduciary Duties of 457(b) Plans and How to Mitigate Potential Risks
Fiduciaries of 403(b), 401(a) and 457(b) retirement plans have come under increased scrutiny in recent years, in part due to participant lawsuits filed against plan sponsors and the resulting media attention. In this presentation with the 457 Consulting Group, McDermott Partner Todd Solomon discusses the fiduciary duties of plan sponsors and how to mitigate potential risks. The content in these slides applies to governmental 457(b) plans.
ERIC Files Amicus Brief Rebutting DOL Attempt to Create New Regulations in Lawsuit
McDermott Will & Emery’s Andrew C. Liazos, Michael B. Kimberly and Charlie Seidell recently filed an amicus brief in the US Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit on behalf of the ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC). McDermott filed the brief in response to a US Department of Labor (DOL) amicus brief that advanced a novel interpretation of its regulations which, if adopted through litigation, would change longstanding procedures for benefit determinations under self-funded medical plans sponsored by large employers. The amicus brief focuses on key arguments against the DOL’s attempted regulatory reinterpretation, including that:
- DOL may not rewrite its regulations outside of notice-and-comment rulemaking;
- DOL’s interpretation of its own regulations is inconsistent with the plain text of the regulations;
- There are good policy reasons underlying differential treatment of healthcare and disability benefits determinations; and
- DOL’s interpretation of the regulations in its amicus brief is not entitled to deference under the Supreme Court decision in Kisor.
Read ERIC’s amicus brief here.
Cryptocurrency for Employee Benefits Lawyers: What You Need to Know
As the popularity of cryptocurrency continues to grow, what do employee benefits lawyers need to know about this emerging investment option? McDermott Partners Andrew Liazos, Andrea Kramer and Brian Tiemann recently offered their perspectives about cryptocurrencies and how they relate to Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) plans, individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and incentive awards in an American Bar Association virtual event.
Biden Administration Foreshadows Impending Nursing Home Quality Reforms
On February 28, 2022, the White House issued a fact sheet outlining several efforts aimed to increase safety, accountability, oversight and transparency in the senior services industry (Fact Sheet). Although the Fact Sheet’s initiatives have not yet been implemented, President Biden reiterated his administration’s focus on nursing home reform during his March 1, 2022, State of the Union address. Accordingly, the efforts described in the Fact Sheet provide stakeholders with a peek into the regulatory crystal ball of the governmental efforts that may be forthcoming, either through new laws, regulatory action, policy changes, enforcement activities or subregulatory guidance.
Inflation and ERISA Penalties: Hand in Hand for 2022
The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015 directs the US Department of Labor (DOL) to make annual inflation adjustments to specified Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) violations. The increased penalties generally apply to reporting and disclosure failures if the penalty is assessed after January 15, 2022, and if the violation occurred after November 2, 2015.
How Employers Can Determine COVID-19 Test Mandate Costs
Even though the US Supreme Court blocked the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) vaccinate-or-test mandate for most employers, there is still confusion around who covers the cost for employee COVID-19 tests. In this Law360 article, McDermott’s Dawn Peacock outlines what employers need to know.
Issues Mount as Health Plans Offer At-Home COVID-19 Tests
The Biden administration’s January guidance that group health plans and insurers cover the costs of at-home COVID-19 tests has rattled insurers and employers. According to this SHRM article, insurers’ data processing systems have had difficulty paying for tests purchased by consumers at pharmacies, and self-insured employers have struggled to identify the best way to pay for tests. McDermott’s Jacob Mattinson, Teal Trujillo and Judith Wethall recently advised plan administrators to work with their third-party administrators to develop a process for coverage of over-the-counter COVID-19 tests and to develop procedures to reduce the risk of participant fraud.