President Announces Plan to Expand Fiduciary Rules Applicable to Investment Advisers

in Fiduciary Issues, Retirement Plans

On Monday February 23, 2015, President Obama announced plans for the Department of Labor (DOL) to re-propose rules in the coming months to expand the definition of fiduciary investment advice under ERISA. These rules are intended to crack down on what the President characterizes as “back door payments or hidden fees” that lead to conflicted advice from investment advisers to retirement plan clients. The forthcoming rules will also hold investment advisers to a fiduciary standard, meaning...Continue Reading

Department of Labor Broadens Family and Medical Leave Act Protections for Same-Sex Spouses

in Welfare Benefits

On February 25, 2015, the Department of Labor announced a new regulatory definition of “spouse” for purposes of spousal leaves under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The new definition will significantly enhance the opportunities for same-sex spouses to take leaves under the Act and will affect some opposite-sex spouses as well. This Legal Alert discusses the new regulation and how it will affect employers covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Final Annual Funding Notice Requirements for Defined Benefit Plans

in IRS Examinations, Retirement Plans

On January 30, 2015, the DOL issued final regulations implementing the annual funding notice requirements for defined benefit pension plans under ERISA Section 101(f). The final rule is applicable to notices for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2015 (that is, for calendar year plans, the annual funding notice provided in 2016). However, plan administrators may elect to comply with the final requirements prior to this date. Overall, the final regulations are substantially similar...Continue Reading

Senate HELP Committee to Discuss Wellness

in Wellness Programs

Ever since the EEOC filed a lawsuit challenging Honeywell’s employer wellness plan under the ADA, employers have become hyper sensitive to wellness plan issues.  Many employers feel the EEOC challenges are unwarranted, particularly because the wellness plans already meet the requirements under the DOL and IRS guidance for employer-sponsored wellness plans.  Still others feel that ADA challenges should not filed until regulations have been finalized by the EEOC.  On that latter front,...Continue Reading

Supreme Court Upholds Contract Law for ERISA Plans

in Court Cases, Retiree Benefits

Today the Supreme Court upheld ordinary notions of contract law in interpreting ERISA plans, thereby apparently defeating the so-called “Yard-Man Inference.”

In Yard-Man, the Sixth Circuit found a provision governing retiree insurance benefits ambiguous as to the duration of those benefits using two major theories.  First, the court inferred an intent to vest those benefits for life, under an illusory promise theory.  Second, the court relied on the context of labor negotiations to...Continue Reading