In a Law360 article, David Thornton provided insight on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed regulations on retirement plans that would make it easier for companies to join existing retirement plans or join forces to generate new ones – which has the potential to broaden the availability of workplace retirement plans to allowing small businesses. Under the proposed regulations, “a group of unrelated employers could now have a single ERISA plan,” explained David.
We recognize that many of our clients sponsor ERISA welfare benefit plans and are currently undergoing their open enrollment process and issuing related participant communications. To assist our clients with that process, we have prepared an Automatic Participant Disclosures Checklist for use during open enrollment and throughout the plan year.
If you have questions regarding the information in this checklist, please contact any of the attorneys in our Employee Benefits Practice Group.
On August 31, 2018, President Trump signed an executive order authorizing the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury to evaluate expanding access to 401(k) retirement plans. The order is designed to cut some of the administrative burdens and costs that prevent smaller employers from offering 401(k) plans to their employees. The Trump administration noted that in 2017, roughly 89 percent of larger employers offered retirement plans compared to only 53 percent of small employers (those with fewer than 100 employees).
The executive order directs the agencies to consider two main issues:
- Expanding the criteria for multiple-employer plans (MEPs), under which employees of different private-sector employers may participate in a single retirement plan; and
- Raising the age when individuals with traditional Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and 401(k)s must start making required minimum distributions, which is currently age 70 ½.
Bass, Berry & Sims invites you to a complimentary seminar focusing on trending areas of labor & employment law.
Topics will include:
- FMLA/ADA Considerations for Leaves of Absence: A practical, scenario-based discussion regarding extended leaves of absence and how they are regulated by application of the FMLA and the ADA, including a detailed discussion of the EEOC’s position with respect to extended leave as a reasonable accommodation.
- Preventing and Addressing Workplace Violence: A comprehensive discussion of workplace violence, including strategies for preventing and properly addressing acts of violence in the workplace.
- An Employers Approach to Reducing Harassment: Questions employers should ask as they strive to reduce harassment in the workplace and cultivate a healthy working environment.
The recent Sixth Circuit opinion in Hostettler v. The College of Wooster, No. 17-3406 (6th Cir. July 17, 2018), is a cautionary tale for employers faced with a full-time employee seeking a modified work schedule as an accommodation for a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
An HR Generalist for the College, Hostettler was unable to return to work full time after the conclusion of her 12 weeks of maternity leave because of postpartum depression and separation anxiety. The district court granted summary judgment to the College, finding that full-time work was an essential function of the position and that Hostettler was not a qualified individual under the ADA because she could not perform that essential function.
In an article published in the Nashville Business Journal’s Largest Employers special report on July 6, 2018, Tim Garrett provided a column highlighting three important questions for employers to ask as they strive to reduce harassment in the workplace and cultivate a healthy workplace environment. The effectiveness of an anti-harassment policy often comes down to employee perception of how the policy is enforced, trained and embraced by leadership, so it is important that employers are mindful of the answers to these questions:
Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Bob Horton authored an article for Modern Restaurant Management magazine outlining the Supreme Court’s recent decision impacting the future of class action waivers in arbitration agreements. In May 2018 the Supreme Court issued a decision in three consolidate cases NLRB v. Murphy Oil USA Inc., Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, and Ernst & Young LLP v. Morris ruling that “an employer may require an employee, as a condition of employment, to enter into an arbitration agreement in which the employee agrees to waive the right to bring a class or collective action.”
Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Dustin Carlton discussed the tension that exists between state and federal laws regarding medical marijuana use in the workplace. While marijuana remains a controlled substance under federal law and currently illegal to use, many states have legalized the drug for medical and even recreational use. Many employers are faced with remaining compliant with these opposing laws. Dustin recommends employers review any current zero-tolerance policies in light of new state laws, “If you are a multi-state employer, you need to assume you need to make some modifications to tailor to each individual state, or make concessions in terms of past practices.”
Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Doug Dahl outlined the key considerations, important steps and issues of concern when buying a company that is employee-owned, or at least partially employee-owned, by an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), including:
- The nature of an ESOP: In an ESOP, employees have retirement accounts invested primarily in their employer’s stock, rather than having accounts invested in an array of securities and mutual funds. The trustee of the ESOP – who represents ESOP participants as the beneficial owners of the company stock – is entitled to participate in the sale or transaction like other shareholders would. Most importantly, anytime an ESOP is involved in the acquisition or sale of company stock, the transaction must be for “adequate consideration,” and the trustee’s decision to buy or sell must be in the financial best interest of the ESOP participants.
Continue Reading Key Considerations When Buying a Company with an ESOP
Tim Garrett provided insight on background check best practices as employers seek ways to balance the need to validate applicants’ background and experience with compliance and privacy issues, particularly amid a surge of legislation, litigation and public scrutiny.