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

HHS Increases Annual Civil Monetary Penalties

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced increases to civil monetary penalties assessed after March 17, 2022, for statutory violations. Although HHS is supposed to adjust these penalties by January 15 of each year, these adjustments have come at irregular intervals. For instance, HHS missed the January 15 deadline for 2021 and 2022, with the most recent adjustment occurring on November 15, 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

President Continues COVID National Emergency

President Biden issued a Notice on the Continuation of the National Emergency Concerning the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic on February 18, 2022. In this Notice, President Biden extended the National Emergency scheduled to end on March 1, 2022. The previous administration initially declared the National Emergency on March 13, 2020. The latest extension of the National Emergency is expected to last at 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