American Rescue Plan Act and COBRA: Guide for Employers

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 Read More

Circuit Court Deems Bonus Program a Non-ERISA Plan

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 Read More

BlackRock Signs Nearly 8-Figure Deal to End ERISA Class Action Claim

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 Read More

American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: Highlights for Employers to Watch For

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) became law on March 11, 2021, and there are several provisions that are likely to have a significant impact on employers, including the following: Unemployment benefits. The ARPA increases the duration of unemployment benefits under temporary pandemic relief programs from March 14, 2021, to September 6, 2021. Unemployment claimants will receive an additional $300 per week Read More

Employer Retirement Plan Platform Overload: MEPs, PEPs, and Single Employer Plans

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (SECURE Act) established a new retirement plan platform - Pooled Employer Plans (PEPs) - whereby a group of unrelated employers could participate in a single defined contribution plan as of January 1, 2021. This adds a new retirement plan option for employers to consider among other existing plan options that include the following: Single Employer Read More

A Recent Fifth Circuit Court Decision May Elevate HIPAA Enforcement Hurdles

On January 16, 2021, a Fifth Circuit Court decision in University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services vacated a $4.3 million penalty imposed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) against M.D. Anderson for alleged HIPAA violations, finding that the penalty was “arbitrary, capricious, and otherwise unlawful.” Background M.D. Anderson disclosed to HHS Read More

IRS Releases Final Regulation on Tax-Exempt Organizations Excise Tax

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) enacted in December 2017 created a 21% excise tax on executive compensation in excess of $1 million paid by tax-exempt organizations to certain employees (IRC Section 4960). On January 19, 2021, the IRS published the final regulations to help applicable tax-exempt organizations (ATEOs) comply with the excise tax on excessive pay under Section 4960. The following summarizes the key Read More

DOL Approves PBGC Missing Participant Program for Defined Contribution Plans

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently released Field Assistance Bulletin 2021-01 that authorizes, as a matter of enforcement policy, plan fiduciaries of terminating defined contribution plans to use the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) missing participant program for missing or nonresponsive participant’s account balances.  Following the termination of a defined contribution plan, current DOL Read More

DOL Proffers Guidance on Missing Participants

It’s hard to believe people would leave retirement funds behind when they move to a new job, but it happens. In fact, many people fail to roll over retirement plans when they leave a job and move to a new employer. Plan administrators and sponsors are then faced with a dilemma – and sometimes unclear or evolving guidance from government agencies that oversee employee retirement plans. Now the Department of Labor Read More

DOL Reinstates Five-Part Test for Determination of ERISA Fiduciary Status

On December 18, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) published in the Federal Register a final prohibited transaction exemption for investment advice fiduciaries that effectively reinstates the DOL’s “five-part test” as set forth in its 1975 regulation defining investment advice fiduciaries under the Code and ERISA. For advice to constitute “fiduciary investment advice” under the five-part test, a financial Read More