join our network! affiliate login  
Custom Search
GET OUR FREE EMAIL NEWSLETTERS!
Daily and Weekly Editions • Articles • Alerts • Expert Advice • Learn More

SHRM’s 2019 Survey Reveals Most Popular Employee Benefits

Employers continue to place a lot of value in the employee benefits they offer their workforce, according the SHRM 2019 Employee Benefits Survey. SHRM conducts the survey annually to gather information on the types of benefits employers are offering their employees and to report on trends.

HHS Proposed Regulations Remove Protections from the Affordable Care Act for Transgender Patients

On May 24, 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued new proposed regulations interpreting Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which contains the ACA’s anti-discrimination provisions.1 These proposed regulations substantially change Obama-era HHS regulations interpreting Section 1557 to prohibit discrimination in certain health programs based on gender identity, gender expression, and transgender status. (Littler’s previous coverage of Section 1557 is available here.)

A Welcome Expansion: IRS Resuscitates Determination Letter Program

Beginning September 1, 2019, employers that sponsor cash balance plans and certain merged plans can sleep easier. Revenue Procedure 2019-20, issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on May 1, 2019, opens the IRS’s determination letter program for individually designed “statutory hybrid plans” and certain “merged plans.” Plan sponsors will recall that beginning January 1, 2017, the IRS’s determination letter program for individually designed plans was significantly curtailed by Revenue Procedure 2016-37. Revenue Procedure 2016-37 provided that plan sponsors of individually designed plans could seek a determination letter from the IRS only for initial plan qualification, plan terminations, or other circumstances to be provided by the IRS at a later time.

Supreme Court to Review ERISA Statute of Limitations Case

In late 2018, in Sulyma v. Intel Corporation Investment Policy Committee, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a plaintiff’s access to documents disclosing an alleged breach of fiduciary duty did not trigger the Employee Retirement Income Security Act’s (ERISA) statute of limitations. According to the court, actual knowledge is required to start the limitations period. The plaintiff testified that he was not aware of the investments at issue or the documents disclosing the investments, therefore, he did not have sufficient knowledge of the alleged breach.

How Multiemployer Pension Plans Continue To Extract More From Contributing Employers Than What They Bargained For

Contributing employers to multiemployer pension plans (“MEPPs”) are commonly surprised that their obligations to such a plan can extend well beyond the contributions required under a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) negotiated with a union. The most significant extra-contractual obligation is withdrawal liability, a statutory exit fee imposed on employers that leave a plan that has unfunded vested benefits.

New Rules Will Allow Employees to Buy Individual Health Insurance Plans Through HRAs

The Trump Administration today published new rules that will allow employees to use employer-funded Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) to purchase health insurance on the individual market.

The Battle Lines of Mental Health Parity Litigation: Utah District Court Grants Motion to Dismiss, Finds Conclusory Allegations Insufficient

n June 5, 2019, in the matter Kerry W. v. Anthem Blue Cross and Shield, No. 2:19cv67, Judge Dee Benson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah granted Anthem Blue Cross and Shield’s motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ cause of action for violation of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equality Act (MHPAEA). The district court in Utah continues to determine that a denial of a mental health benefit claim based on medical necessity cannot be transformed into a cause of action for violation of the MHPAEA through conclusory allegations.

District Court in California Denies Motion to Dismiss, Finds an Independent Review Organization to Be a Functional Fiduciary Under ERISA

In Josef K. v. California Physicians’ Service, No. 18-cv-06385-YGR (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, June 3, 2019), Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers concluded that an independent medical review (IMR) organization can be subject to a claim under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) as amended, 29 U.S.C. 1132(a)(3), for breach of fiduciary duties based on the review of a medical necessity appeal under an ERISA-governed employee welfare benefit plan.

Benefits Update (No. 2, June 2019)

The Internal Revenue Service recently amended its Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) to allow more retirement plan qualification failures to be self-corrected, including retroactive plan amendments. This is welcome news for employers. The changes to EPCRS in Revenue Proc. 2019-19 are intended to facilitate plan compliance while reducing associated costs by allowing plan sponsors more opportunities to self-correct. The changes took effect on April 19, 2019, and supersede Revenue Procedure 2018-52.

Required Minimum Distributions

The aging of the baby boomer generation has increased the level of scrutiny with which the Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (“EBSA”) will review the efforts of pension plans to locate missing plan participants who did not receive reported benefits. The focus of the EBSA which began with a review of the efforts of defined benefit plans to find and pay benefits to participants has now expanded to include defined contribution plans.