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

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

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

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

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

FTC Opens Inquiry into Nation’s Largest PBMs

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced an investigation into the nation’s six largest pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). The targeted PBMs include CVS Caremark, Express Scripts, OptumRx, Humana, Prime Therapeutics, and MedImpact Healthcare Systems. PBMs are associated with the largest health insurance companies and mail-order and specialty pharmacies. These highly influential entities in the U.S. Read More

DOL Secretary Defends Worker Classification Approach

During a recent congressional hearing, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Marty Walsh addressed the DOL's approach to misclassifying workers as independent contractors and employees' freedom to join unions. Walsh appeared before the House Committee on Education and Labor to discuss the DOL's request for a $118 million budget increase to reach a total budget of $303 million for FFY 2023. Much of the increased Read More

Executive Order Directs Federal Agencies to Protect and Expand Access to Reproductive Health Care and Privacy Rights for Women Seeking Care

President Biden has issued an Executive Order on Protecting Access to Reproductive Healthcare Services in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In the Dobbs decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution does not prohibit states from restricting or banning abortion. Biden’s order instructs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Read More

Feds Poised to Implement Four Policy Changes Affecting ERISA Plans Before End of 2022

The Biden administration plans to introduce various rules before the end of 2022 that will impact ERISA-regulated benefits plans. Meanwhile, Congress is working to smooth out differences between the Senate and House on a broad retirement policy omnibus bill.  Secure 2.0 The House passed H.R. 2954 in March, which it dubbed "Secure 2.0," as a continuation of the original Secure Act passed in 2019. The overall aim Read More