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

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

ARPA and Dependent Care FSA: Understanding the Recent Guidance

The Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), which was signed into law in December 2020, allowed for certain relief pursuant to dependent care flexible spending accounts (DCFSAs) as follows: All unused benefits in plan years ending in 2020 may be carried over into the plan year ending in 2021. Similar relief is also available for unused FSA benefit carryovers for plan years ending in 2021 into the plan year Read More

DOL Proffers Three-Pronged Guidance on Cybersecurity Breaches for Retirement Plans

BY ANNE TYLER HALL AND ERIC SCHILLINGER  Cybersecurity has become a daily struggle for businesses. In the last decade, cybersecurity breaches soared, with companies like Capital One having more than 100 million individuals impacted.  The unprecedented technological challenges caused by the global pandemic have exacerbated the cybersecurity vulnerabilities of employers, many of which already struggled with Read More

Federal Court Determines That Autism Treatment Exclusion Violates Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act

On March 5, 2021, a California federal court ruled in Doe v. United Behavioral Health that UnitedHealth violated the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (Parity Act) and federal benefits law by refusing to pay for a common form of autism treatment. Plaintiff Jane Doe filed the suit on behalf of her son against UnitedHealth, which was the administrator of the employer-sponsored health plan at Wipro Ltd., Read More

DOL Releases Non-Enforcement Policy on ESG Final Rules

On March 10, 2021, the DOL issued a policy statement regarding enforcement of its final rules on ESG investments and proxy voting by employee benefit plans. In the statement, the DOL said that until it issues further guidance, it will not enforce the “Financial Factors in Selecting Plan Investments” regulation published on November 13, 2020 (the “ESG Rule”) and the “Fiduciary Duties Regarding Proxy Voting and Read More

DOL Proffers New Tolling Procedure for COBRA, Special Enrollment, and Claims Deadlines

On February 26, 2021, the DOL issued Disaster Relief Notice 2021-01 to provide guidance on the duration of COVID-19 relief for certain actions related to employee benefit plans.  This guidance revises the DOL’s Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01 and its Notice of Extension of Certain Timeframes for Employee Benefit Plans, Participants, and Beneficiaries Affected by the COVID-19 Outbreak, which paused the deadlines for Read More

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