IRS Adds “Gloss” to Partial Plan Termination Temporary Relief in New FAQs

On April 27, 2021, the IRS updated its Coronavirus-Related Relief for Retirement Plans and IRAs FAQs to add guidance for partial termination of a qualified retirement plan under Section 209 of the Taxpayer Certainty and Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020. Section 209 provides that a plan is not treated as having a partial termination during any plan year which includes the period beginning on March 13, 2020, and ending Read More

DOL and HHS Clarify Purpose of New MHPAEA Reporting Rules

As of February 10, 2021, group health plans are required to evaluate compliance with the existing rules governing nonquantitative treatment limitations (NQTLs) under the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA).  The MHPAEA requires group health plans that apply NQTLs to mental health or substance use disorder (MH/SUD) benefits to ensure that the Read More

Health Plan Sponsors Take Note! A Review of COBRA Notice Requirements Beyond the New Special Extended Election Notice

As required by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), the Department of Labor (DOL) issued special extended COBRA election period notices on April 7, 2021. Current and former employees who qualify for the ARPA COBRA subsidy must be notified by May 31, 2021, and have 60 days to make an election.  In the rush to make the May 31 deadline, plan administrators may not have given full attention to other ARPA Read More

Court Permits Claim Against Employer For Denying Same Sex Spousal Benefit Based on Religious Purposes

A Maryland federal district court has ruled that a Title VII case involving a plaintiff who sued his employer for dropping health care coverage for his same-sex spouse can proceed, while dismissing the plaintiff’s claims for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, and detrimental reliance as well as several state wage and collection law claims. Background The case -- Doe v. Catholic Relief Services -- Read More

DOL Releases New Investment Advice: Prohibited Transaction Exemption FAQs

On April 13, 2021, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued guidance to help investment advisors more fully understand the Prohibited Transaction Exemption (PTE) 2020-02, which went into effect on February 16, 2021.  PTE 2020-02 allows certain investment advice fiduciaries -- registered investment advisers, broker-dealers, insurance companies, banks, and individual investment professionals that are their employees or Read More

Ninth Circuit Affirms Stock Drop Case Dismissal Against Executives

A three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed a California federal court’s 2016 decision to dismiss a proposed stock drop ERISA class action, stating that the plaintiff “failed plausibly to allege the requisite alternative action” as required by the standard established in a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer. Background The case -- Wilson Read More

DOL Issues Cybersecurity Protection Practices for Retirement Plan ERISA Fiduciaries

On April 14, 2021, the Department of Labor (DOL) released its first-ever guidance on cybersecurity for retirement benefit plan sponsors, record keepers, service providers, and participants. The guidance comes in three forms: Plan Sponsors: Tips for Hiring a Service Provider with Strong Cybersecurity Practices The DOL prepared this list of tips to help plan sponsors and fiduciaries “meet their responsibilities under Read More

DOL Proffers Model Notices to Accommodate ARPA-Mandated COBRA Subsidies and Expansion

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 from April 1, 2021, to September 30, 2021. Current and former employees who qualify for the COBRA subsidy must be notified by May 31, 2021, and have 60 days to make an election.  The ARPA required the Department of Labor (DOL) to issue model notices within 30 Read More

Biden Administration Continues Actions Aimed at Addressing and Advocating for Racial and Gender Equality

On January 20, 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, to affirm that “the Federal Government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and Read More

Unemployment Expanded to Include Individuals Who Won’t Return to Work Due to Noncompliant COVID Environments

On February 25, 2021, the DOL issued guidance to state unemployment agencies that expands the eligibility of employees who declined to work due to pandemic safety concerns to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). The new guidance expanded PUA eligibility to three categories of employees: Workers receiving unemployment benefits who had their continued regular unemployment benefits’ claims denied Read More