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Doug Dahl provides technical knowledge and advice to companies on a wide range of federal tax and ERISA matters regarding employee benefits, including qualified retirement plans, executive compensation arrangements and health and welfare plans. Doug regularly assists companies with employee benefit issues that arise during and following various corporate transactions and events, such as mergers, acquisitions, dispositions and bankruptcies.

Join us for a virtual seminar in which the firm’s labor & employment and employee benefits attorneys will discuss recent COVID-19-related announcements from the CDC, FDA and other relevant agencies, and the implications they have on how employers should structure policies and procedures moving forward.

In this session, we will provide guidance for navigating the

Equity compensation – which links the self-interests of a company’s service providers with the interests of the company and its investors – is a compelling incentive for start-up companies to attract and motivate employees and consultants. Many of these employees and consultants understand and expect that equity or phantom equity arrangements will make up a

Public companies maintaining deferred compensation arrangements for their executive officers should consider how recent changes to the regulations under Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code (the Code) may impact the timing of payments to be made to participants and their beneficiaries under such plans – if action is required, the affected plans must be amended before December 31, 2020 to avoid complications or penalties.

Continue Reading Changes to Section 162(m) Affecting Deferred Compensation Arrangements

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision on Monday, June 15, in the case of Bostock v. Clayton County, ruling that the prohibitions against discrimination “because of sex” contained in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) extend to protect gay and transgender employees against workplace discrimination. Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the opinion of the Court with Justices Alito and Kavanaugh each issuing dissenting opinions. In each of the three consolidated cases upon which this opinion was rendered, an employee had been terminated from employment for being gay or transgender.

The three employees brought suit in three different jurisdictions. In one case, the Eleventh Circuit ruled that Title VII’s protections did not prohibit employers from firing employees for being gay, and dismissed the lawsuit. In the other two cases, the Second Circuit and Sixth Circuit ruled that Title VII did provide the alleged protections and had permitted the cases involving those two employees to proceed. These inconsistent rulings, therefore, set the following question before the Court:

Is it legally permissible under Title VII’s language prohibiting discrimination “because of sex” for an employer to take an adverse action against an employee merely because the employee is gay or transgender? 

Continue Reading Supreme Court Rules that Title VII Protects LGBTQ Employees

As part of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) have recently provided relief to benefit plan sponsors by moving back certain upcoming plan compliance deadlines. See further below for a detailed list of the specific relief. IRS Notice 2020-23 provides that if any deadline would occur between April 1 and July 14, that deadline is automatically moved back until July 15, 2020, and this extension applies to a list of 44 employee benefit plan-related deadlines. The IRS notice triggered the PBGC’s disaster relief policy, which automatically extends certain PBGC deadlines that occur in the same April 1 to July 14 time period to July 15, 2020.

Additional relief was announced on April 28, in the form of a joint notice ( Joint Notice) issued by EBSA, IRS and the Treasury Department, which extended a number of deadlines for benefit plans and participants in accordance with CARES Act changes to ERISA Section 518. The Joint Notice’s relief applies to the “Outbreak Period,” the length of time beginning on March 1, 2020, and ending 60 days after the announcement that the COVID-19 National Emergency is over. On the same day, EBSA issued Disaster Relief Notice 2020-01 (Disaster Relief Notice). The Disaster Relief Notice clarified EBSA’s enforcement stance on certain fiduciary duties that plan sponsors have by extending deadlines. The Disaster Relief Notice also stated that the Outbreak Period extension, described in the Joint Notice, also applies to the distribution timelines for notices, disclosures, and other documents that Title I of ERISA requires plans to distribute to participants and beneficiaries. EBSA also released an FAQ which explains some of the relief provided by the Joint Notice and Disaster Relief Notice.

Continue Reading IRS, EBSA and PBGC Provide Further COVID-19 Relief for Benefit Plans

In an article published by the Nashville Business Journal, Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Doug Dahl discussed student loan repayment benefits offered by employers and the IRS’s ruling last year regarding this issue.Student loan debt in the United States is escalating, and employers are finding it harder to fill open positions. In an effort to tackle both of these issues, more employers have been offering student loan repayment opportunities as part of the benefits packages they offer employees. In an article published by the Nashville Business Journal, I discussed student loan repayment benefits offered by employers and the IRS’s ruling last year regarding this issue.

For example, employers can offer student loan debt management programs that offer counseling services and access to student loan marketplaces or more favorable finance terms. In May 2018, the IRS issued a ruling allowing an employer to make contributions to its 401(k) plan on behalf of employees who make payments toward their student loan.

Continue Reading Student Loan Repayment Benefits Offered by Employers

On November 29, we participated in a webinar sponsored by Bright Horizons about employer-sponsored student loan repayment benefits. In order to help employees faced with mounting student debt, employers are offering creative solutions that help attract and retain workers. Earlier this year, healthcare company Abbott announced a program in which the company will contribute 5%

In an article published by Managed Healthcare Executive, I discussed the potential impact of a recently proposed regulation from the U.S. Departments of the Treasury, Health and Human Services and Labor that expands the usability of health reimbursement arrangements (HRA). The new rule as proposed would apply for most health plans beginning January 1, 2020, and would be particularly beneficial to employees of small employers who are not required to offer health plan coverage to their full-time employees under the ACA.
Continue Reading Looser Restrictions on HRAs on the Horizon

I 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:

  1. 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