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As required by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), the Department of Labor (DOL) issued special extended COBRA election period notices on April 7, 2021. Current and former employees who qualify for the ARPA COBRA subsidy must be notified by May 31, 2021, and have 60 days to make an election.  In the rush to make the May 31 deadline, plan administrators may not have given full attention to other ARPA COBRA-related notice requirements:…
A Maryland federal district court has ruled that a Title VII case involving a plaintiff who sued his employer for dropping health care coverage for his same-sex spouse can proceed, while dismissing the plaintiff’s claims for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, and detrimental reliance as well as several state wage and collection law claims. Background The case — Doe v. Catholic Relief Services — involves a gay cisgender male (John Doe) who is legally married…
On April 13, 2021, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued guidance to help investment advisors more fully understand the Prohibited Transaction Exemption (PTE) 2020-02, which went into effect on February 16, 2021.  PTE 2020-02 allows certain investment advice fiduciaries — registered investment advisers, broker-dealers, insurance companies, banks, and individual investment professionals that are their employees or agents — to receive compensation as a result of providing fiduciary investment advice if that advice meets the DOL’s…
A three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed a California federal court’s 2016 decision to dismiss a proposed stock drop ERISA class action, stating that the plaintiff “failed plausibly to allege the requisite alternative action” as required by the standard established in a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer. Background The case — Wilson v. Craver — was filed in 2015 by Cassandra…
On April 14, 2021, the Department of Labor (DOL) released its first-ever guidance on cybersecurity for retirement benefit plan sponsors, record keepers, service providers, and participants. The guidance comes in three forms: Plan Sponsors: Tips for Hiring a Service Provider with Strong Cybersecurity Practices The DOL prepared this list of tips to help plan sponsors and fiduciaries “meet their responsibilities under ERISA to prudently select and monitor” service providers. Plan sponsors are encouraged to engage…
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) included a provision to help unemployed workers by authorizing a 100% subsidy of COBRA health insurance premiums from April 1, 2021, to September 30, 2021. Current and former employees who qualify for the COBRA subsidy must be notified by May 31, 2021, and have 60 days to make an election.  The ARPA required the Department of Labor (DOL) to issue model notices within 30 days of the…
On January 20, 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, to affirm that “the Federal Government should pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of color and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.” As an immediate first step, E.O. 13985 revoked E.O. 13950, Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping, which…
On February 25, 2021, the DOL issued guidance to state unemployment agencies that expands the eligibility of employees who declined to work due to pandemic safety concerns to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). The new guidance expanded PUA eligibility to three categories of employees: Workers receiving unemployment benefits who had their continued regular unemployment benefits’ claims denied after they refused to work or accept an offer of work at a worksite not in compliance with…
On March 29, 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that the opening date for the collection of 2019 and 2020 EEO-1 data will be April 26, 2021. The final deadline for employers to submit that data is July 19, 2021. Employers with more than 100 employees are required to file EEO-1 data (workforce demographic information) annually. This requirement also applies to federal contractors with more than 50 employees. The EEOC delayed the opening…
On March 12, 2021, OSHA released its new temporary COVID-19 National Emphasis Program (NEP) that will expand its inspection and enforcement efforts to protect workers at high risk for contracting COVID-19. The NEP targets certain industries and worksites that the agency considers “high-hazard” environments and is effective immediately. Targeted Industries OSHA developed a list of primary and secondary targeted industries for NEP inspection and enforcement based on workplaces with an increased risk of COVID-19 exposure…