On November 22, 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced a final rule (the “2022 Final Rule”) that allows plan fiduciaries to consider climate change and other environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) factors when selecting retirement investments and exercising shareholder rights, such as proxy voting, for ERISA-governed plans.
Continue Reading DOL’S Final Rule Gives ERISA Fiduciaries Green Light to Consider ESG Factors When Selecting Investments

Under ERISA, a plaintiff must file a lawsuit within six years of an alleged breach of fiduciary duty, or within three years if the plaintiff had “actual knowledge” of the breach. There has been a longstanding split among the circuits regarding what constitutes “actual knowledge” for purposes of determining whether ERISA’s three-year limitations period should apply. On February 26, 2020, the Supreme Court settled this issue in Intel Corp. Investment Policy Committee v. Sulyma, 140 S. Ct. 768 (2020). 
Continue Reading Actual Knowledge under the Supreme Court’s Intel Decision: Can the DOL’s New Electronic Disclosure Regulations Bridge the Divide?

As we move closer to implementation of the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, companies should consider how the new law could affect their operations in multiple ways – including, for example, data collected through their employee benefit plans.
Continue Reading CCPA: Employers Should Consider Implications for Employee Benefit Plans

Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk. Oral argument was heard on October 8, 2014. This case will resolve a circuit split on whether time spent by warehouse workers going through security is paid time. The Fair Labor Standards Act, as amended by the Portal to Portal Act, does not require an employer to compensate for activities that are preliminary or postliminary to their principle work.
Continue Reading Key Labor And Employment Cases Currently Pending Before the U.S. Supreme Court

In Euchner-USA, Inc. v. Hartford Cas. Ins. Co., No. 13-2021-cv, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 10797 (2d Cir. June 10, 2014), the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that an insurer must defend its insured in a case alleging ERISA violations because the facts alleged (as opposed to the embedded legal

In a landmark ruling, United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court struck down a major provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”).  Since its enactment in 1996, DOMA defined “marriage” to mean “only a union between one man and one woman as a husband and wife” and “spouse” to refer “only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife,” which, by their terms, excluded marriages of same-sex couples.  These definitions were applicable to all federal statutes, regulations, rulings and orders, including the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”).
Continue Reading Impact On Employee Benefit Plans Of The Supreme Court’s Defense of Marriage Act Ruling

EMPLOYMENT DECISIONS

Vance v. Ball State University: Narrow Definition of Supervisor in Harassment Suits
In Vance, the Supreme Court announced a narrow standard for determining which employees constitute “supervisors” for purposes of establishing vicarious liability under Title VII. In a 5-4 decision, the Court decided that a supervisor is a person authorized to take “tangible

In an opinion issued on October 18, 2012, the Federal District Court of Massachusetts provided clarity and relief for private equity firms on the significant, but murky, question of whether a private equity fund can be liable for the ERISA pension obligations (including multiemployer withdrawal liability and defined benefit pension plan underfunding) of its portfolio companies.Continue Reading Clarification On Private Equity Fund Exposure For Portfolio Company ERISA Pension Liability

The Department of Labor (DOL) takes audits of employee plans very seriously.  Over the past few years, the Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA) has increased its civil and criminal audits of plans and, in 2011, collected $1.39 billion in fines in the process.  EBSA has recently added several hundred more auditors to its ranks to increase audits.Continue Reading Department Of Labor Audit? Best Practices To Prepare And Protect Your Benefit Plan