Coca-Cola Scraps Controversial Diversity Initiative

The Coca-Cola Co. has confirmed that it will not move forward with a controversial diversity initiative that would have required its outside counsel to apportion some work to Black attorneys and attorneys from other underrepresented groups. Bradley Gaston, former general counsel for Coca-Cola, announced the diversity initiative in January 2021. Under the initiative, the overarching goal was for diverse billing by Read More

Biden Budget Focuses on Improved Coverage for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment

President Biden recently revealed his $5.8 trillion budget for the 2023 fiscal year, which includes $14.6 in discretionary spending for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and mandatory funding. Much of this spending is devoted toward developing new policies to guarantee better health care coverage for mental health and substance abuse disorder treatment. The DOL also would have enhanced enforcement authority against Read More

9th Cir. Reverses Major Court Rulings in UnitedHealth ERISA Cases

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has reversed a pair of major rulings by a California federal district court. Those rulings would have required UnitedHealth Group Inc. to reprocess thousands of mental health and substance abuse claims, due to its application of improper coverage guidelines. The 9th Circuit disagreed, finding that the insurance company's claim denials were reasonable under its Read More

DOL Urges 7th Circuit to Vacate Dismissal of Northwestern ERISA Case

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently sent a letter to the U.S. Court of Appeals, for the 7th Circuit, urging the court to vacate its dismissal of an ERISA class action concerning Northwestern University’s 403(b) retirement plan. The case at issue is Laura Divane et al. v. Northwestern University et al., case number 18-2569. An Illinois federal district court originally dismissed the ERISA suit filed by Read More

When HIPAA and ERISA Claims Procedures Clash: What Plan Sponsors Need to Know

Plan sponsors must understand the intersection of claims procedures under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), and the mandate to keep individually identifiable health information confidential, under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This understanding is particularly important when plan sponsors receive letters or requests for information from third parties. The U.S. Read More

Capital One Seeks to Dismiss Proposed Class Challenging 401(k) Plan Administration

Capital One Financial Corp. has filed a motion to dismiss an ERISA suit, arguing that there is insufficient evidence that it mismanaged its 401(k) plan. In Morales v. Capital One Financial Corp. et al., case number 1:21-cv-01454, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the proposed class of Capital One 401(k) plan participants claims that Capital One violated ERISA by violating its fiduciary duty to Read More

401(k) Plan Investments in Cryptocurrencies

The Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued Compliance Assistance Release No. 2022-01 on March 10, 2022. This release warns plan fiduciaries to exercise extreme caution before adding a cryptocurrency investment option to their 401(k) plan’s investment menu for participants. Fiduciary Duties Under ERISA ERISA fiduciaries must exercise a professional standard Read More

Yale Inks $1.29M Deal to End Wellness Policy Suit

Yale University and its employees asked a federal court to approve a $1.29 million settlement in a disability and genetic information bias lawsuit. The case is Lisa Kwesell et al. v. Yale University, case number 3:19-cv-10980, U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. Yale workers filed a proposed class action lawsuit in 2019, alleging that the university had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act Read More

U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Review CA Auto-IRA Program Win

The U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition to review a recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that upheld the legality of California’s automatic retirement savings program. The case is Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association et al. v. California Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program et al., case number 21-558. California created CalSavers in 2012 and required California employers with five Read More

Costco Settles COBRA Notice Language Suit for $750,000, Admits No Liability

Costco Wholesale Corp. and plaintiff John G. Baja asked a Florida federal district court to approve their $750,000 settlement in a proposed class-action lawsuit, challenging the retail giant’s allegedly deficient COBRA notices. Baja claimed that the defective notices about Costco’s continuing health care options, upon the occurrence of qualifying events, deterred him and thousands of others from choosing the Read More