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Will the Biden Administration Upend Workplace Law?

Joe Biden's ascendance to the presidency not only spells doom for many of the Trump administration's business-friendly employment policies; it also may place established tenets of federal labor law on the chopping block. Biden may bring with him to the White House an ambitious pro-labor platform aimed at giving workers and unions a leg up after four years in which the Trump administration moved the legal needle sharply in employers' direction. A recent article in Law360, featuring McDermott partner Ron Holland, outlines four areas that labor and employment lawyers should watch after the Biden transition. Access the article.

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Final Rule for Selecting Retirement Plan Investments Leaves “ESG” Behind

In recent guidance, the Department of Labor clarified the retirement plan standards for environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) investing without mentioning the term ESG. The new guidance provides that, when selecting and monitoring plan investments, an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) fiduciary must never sacrifice investment returns, take on additional investment risk or pay higher fees to promote non-pecuniary benefits or goals. Teal Trujillo, an incoming associate in our Chicago office, also contributed to this On the Subject. Access the article.

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Agencies Issue Final Employer Healthcare Price Transparency Rule

On October 29, 2020, the US Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury (collectively, the Departments) issued the Transparency in Coverage final rule (the Rule), along with a fact sheet, setting forth requirements for group health plans and health insurance issuers to disclose cost-sharing information upon request to participants, as well as additional pricing information to the general public. Access the article.

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New H-1B Rules Struck Down

On December 1, Judge Jeffrey White of the US District Court for the Northern District of California invalidated two new regulations that raised prevailing wages and eligibility criteria for foreign workers to receive H-1B visas. "This decision ensures the continued viability of the H-1B program, which supplies work authorization to more than 580,000 individuals in the United States," Paul Hughes, partner at McDermott Will & Emery, said in a recent article by the Society of Human Resource Management. Access the article.

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4 Tips to Help Benefits Plans Achieve Mental Health Parity

As federal benefits regulators turn their focus toward plans' mental health offerings and California lawmakers expand plans' obligations in that area, now is a great time for employers to ensure their plan approaches mental health treatment the same way as traditional medical care. In a recent article by Law360, McDermott partner Judith Wethall helps explain the importance of mental health parity in benefits plans. Access the article.

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DOL Creates Path for 401(k) Plans to Offer Private Equity Investment Options

In June, the US Department of Labor issued an information letter indicating that it will allow defined contribution retirement plans (such as 401(k) plans) to indirectly invest in private equity funds. While information letters are not binding, this new guidance creates a significant opportunity for plan sponsors to consider investment options that include private equity funds. However, it will be important for both plan sponsors and funds to carefully evaluate potential investments for compliance with fiduciary requirements. Access the article.

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DOL Proposed Regulations on Proxy Voting

The Department of Labor (DOL) issued a proposed rule with 30-day comment period to address the application of fiduciaries' duties with respect to proxy voting and exercises of other shareholder rights. The proposal requires fiduciaries to vote any proxy where the matter being voted upon would have an economic impact on the plan and prohibits fiduciaries from voting any proxy that does not have an economic impact on the plan. In our recent webinar, we reviewed the proposal and explained what the changes mean for plan sponsors. View the slide deck here.

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Healthcare Employers: What You Need to Know about the New FFCRA “Health Care Provider” Exclusion and California COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave

Healthcare employers are immediately impacted by two recent developments in federal and California COVID-19 paid leave laws: a Department of Labor revision to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and a new California supplemental paid sick leave legislation. For both changes in the law, quick action is required for compliance. Access the article.

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Employer Considerations for Remote and In-Person Workers as the School Year Commences

With the school year underway, employers in the United States face a new challenge: childcare-related leave and accommodation requests by employees. With widespread remote learning and evolving legal obligations to provide paid leave to working parents, employers must navigate unique staffing challenges while complying with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and other state and local leave laws. In our recent webinar, we outlined some of the current leave requirements regarding childcare obligations and practical solutions to navigate these uncharted waters. View the slide deck here.

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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.

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