University Medical Center’s Delayed Disclosure of HIPAA Hacking Breach Results in $875,000 Settlement

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has reached an $875,000 settlement and an extensive corrective action plan (CAP) with a university medical center concerning its violation of HIPAA’s privacy, security, and breach notification rules. Hacking a medical center web server, containing protected health information (PHI) by an unknown third party, led to Read More

Eleventh Circuit Reinstates Lawsuit Seeking Equitable Relief by Participant in ERISA Life Insurance Plan

In Gimeno v. NCHMD, Inc., 2022 WL 2309436, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reversed the trial court's dismissal of a lawsuit for breach of fiduciary duty concerning an ERISA-governed life insurance plan. In reinstating the lawsuit, the Court of Appeals ruled that ERISA permits claims to recover money equal to benefits lost due to a breach of fiduciary duty. After a life insurance plan Read More

Eleventh Circuit Rejects Joint Employer Argument in FLSA Case

A three-judge panel has summarily denied a request for rehearing by the plaintiffs in Ramon Valle et al. v. Ceres Environmental Services Inc. et al., case number 21-12020, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. In Valle, six laborers were seeking unpaid overtime and wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) from two environmental response companies stemming from their work during Hurricane Michael. A Read More

Costco ERISA Suit Ends in $5.1 Million Deal

A Wisconsin federal judge approved a $5.1 million settlement of a class action lawsuit against Costco concerning its 401(k) plan. Costco Wholesale Corp.'s retirement plan participants alleged that the company violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). An independent fiduciary, Fiduciary Counselors, approved the settlement, which represents an amount that is about 16% of the allegedly excessive fees Read More

Application of WARN Act Complicated by COVID-19 Pandemic

The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic is making employer compliance with some federal laws, such as the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, more complicated. In addition, the rise of the remote workforce also is making compliance more difficult. Court ruling and changes in state laws are contributing to these ongoing issues concerning the WARN Act.  The WARN Act is a federal law that Read More

Is EEOC Wellness Guidance Coming Out of the Deep Freeze?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has significantly delayed the issuance of guidance on the ability of employers to offer certain incentives for employees to participate in wellness programs. These delays are attributable to the current composition of the EEOC, which consists of three Republicans and two Democrats, who have been unable to publish a regulatory agenda for the agency in the fall of 2020 Read More

EEOC Recommends Employers Justify Mandatory Workplace COVID-19 Testing

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently issued guidance about mandatory COVID-19 testing in the workplace. Until now, employers could require worksite COVID-19 testing without assessing current conditions or justifying its necessity. The EEOC stated in its guidance that employers now must perform an individualized assessment of the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic and other circumstances in Read More

Wage and Hour Concerns for Employers of Remote Workers

Employers who allow workers to work remotely, or on a hybrid work schedule, could face challenges related to wage and hour compliance issues under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Hourly workers who are not exempt from the FLSA overtime rules, which have no set or enforced policies on where and when they can work, could create major liability for employers under certain circumstances.  While there is no way to Read More

Gun Reform: How Employers Can Protect Employees from Workplace Violence

Congress recently passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, or gun reform legislation, that President Biden has now signed into law. Portions of this legislation may help reduce workplace violence that involves domestic abusers who pursue their partners at their workplaces. The gun reform legislation contains a provision that closes what is commonly known as the "boyfriend loophole." Previously, federal law Read More

Significant Court Decisions Impacting ERISA Plans in 2022

Several courts issued notable decisions during the first six months of 2022 that significantly affected ERISA-governed benefit plans.  U.S. Supreme Court Revives Workers’ Benefits Lawsuit In January, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Northwestern University’s argument that the workers’ ability to choose from quality investment options insulated it from claims over alleged poor or imprudent options. The high Read More