Hall Benefits Law, LLC

Latest from Hall Benefits Law, LLC

BY ANNE TYLER HALL AND ERIC SCHILLINGER  Cybersecurity has become a daily struggle for businesses. In the last decade, cybersecurity breaches soared, with companies like Capital One having more than 100 million individuals impacted.  The unprecedented technological challenges caused by the global pandemic have exacerbated the cybersecurity vulnerabilities of employers, many of which already struggled with unprotected data issues and weak cybersecurity practices. Even in a post-pandemic business environment, it remains imperative that companies employ best practices for cybersecurity awareness, prevention, and security as a part of their culture.  These cybersecurity practices extend beyond general business transactions…
On March 5, 2021, a California federal court ruled in Doe v. United Behavioral Health that UnitedHealth violated the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (Parity Act) and federal benefits law by refusing to pay for a common form of autism treatment. Plaintiff Jane Doe filed the suit on behalf of her son against UnitedHealth, which was the administrator of the employer-sponsored health plan at Wipro Ltd., where her son’s father worked until 2020. She alleged that UnitedHealth had breached its fiduciary duty under ERISA and violated the Parity Act when it refused to cover a common form of…
Executive pay clawback clauses have become more common following the financial crisis of 2008 since they allow companies to recover incentive pay from executives in the event of misconduct, fraud, scandal, poor performance, or a drop in company profits.  Clawbacks Under Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 mandated an executive compensation clawback rule that covered CEOs and CFOs, but did not apply to other high level executives. That rule specified that executives would have to return incentive pay to the company if their misconduct resulted in a restatement of the company’s financial results.  The Dodd-Frank Act of 2010…
On March 10, 2021, the DOL issued a policy statement regarding enforcement of its final rules on ESG investments and proxy voting by employee benefit plans. In the statement, the DOL said that until it issues further guidance, it will not enforce the “Financial Factors in Selecting Plan Investments” regulation published on November 13, 2020 (the “ESG Rule”) and the “Fiduciary Duties Regarding Proxy Voting and Shareholder Rights” regulation, published on December 16, 2020 (the “Proxy Voting Rule”). The ESG Rule requires ERISA plan fiduciaries to make “selected investments and/or investment courses of action based solely on their pecuniary factors and not on…
On February 26, 2021, the DOL issued Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01 to provide guidance on the duration of COVID-19 relief for certain actions related to employee benefit plans.  This guidance revises the DOL’s Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01 and its Notice of Extension of Certain Timeframes for Employee Benefit Plans, Participants, and Beneficiaries Affected by the COVID-19 Outbreak, which paused the deadlines for COBRA elections, ERISA notice and disclosure requirements, claims procedures, and special enrollment elections until 60 days after the announced end of the COVID-19 National Emergency (the “Outbreak Period”).  Due to the one-year tolling limit in ERISA and the…
Signed into law on March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) contains provisions that benefit both single employer and multiemployer pension plans: Single Employer Provisions Extended amortization of funding shortfalls. Under the Internal Revenue Code, plan sponsors have been allowed to amortize contributions required to pay for plan underfunding over a period of seven years. ARPA lowers a plan sponsor’s minimum required contributions by spreading amortizations over 15 years, which becomes effective for plan years beginning in 2022. Shortfall amortization bases and installments that apply to plan years before 2022 are reduced to zero, with new…
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) included a provision to help unemployed workers by authorizing a 100% subsidy of COBRA health insurance premiums through September 30, 2021. The ARPA was signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021. Under the ARPA, employers would receive the subsidy through a payroll tax credit against their quarterly taxes. Employees who lost their jobs due to the pandemic and their covered relatives would be allowed to remain on their employer-sponsored health plans for a six-month period beginning April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021. The subsidy is not available to…
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled that a lawsuit involving a construction company’s bonus program belongs in state court because it is not a benefit program that is governed by ERISA. The case — Atkins et al. v. CB&I, LLC — was filed by five construction workers in Louisiana after the company they worked for refused to pay them a bonus because they quit their jobs before the project they were working on was completed. The company’s Project Completion Incentive Plan (PCIP) stipulated that employees would earn a bonus of 5% of their earnings while…
Following almost four years of litigation, a $9.65 million settlement has been reached in a complex ERISA class action brought by investors in the BlackRock Retirement Savings Plan that included allegations of self-dealing and excessive fees.  Plaintiffs Charles Baird and Lauren Slayton sought to certify two classes, including one class of BlackRock employees that participated in the company’s collective trust investment funds and another class that participated in BlackRock’s 401(k) plan, known as the BlackRock Retirement Savings Plan. A California federal judge declined to certify the first class in February 2020, but did certify the second class, which reached the…
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought dramatic changes to the employment landscape over the past year, challenging employers to keep pace with ongoing updates to guidance from OSHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how to protect employees from being exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace. The CDC recently updated three of its resource pages that provide guidance on the use of masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19: Guidance for Wearing Masks  Improve How Your Mask Protects You  Improve the Fit and Filtration of Your Mask to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19 The…