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Employment Law This Week: Record Whistleblower Award, Union Election Rules, Wellness Program Rewards, Mixed-Guard Units

We invite you to view Employment Law This Week - a weekly rundown of the latest news in the field, brought to you by Epstein Becker Green. We look at the latest trends, important court decisions, and new developments that...more

Monthly Benefits Alert - February 2015

Health & Wellness Plans - Anthem Data Breach Requires Plan Sponsor Attention - On January 29, 2015, Anthem Inc., one of the largest managed health care companies in the country, disclosed that the sensitive personal data of almost 80 million current and former participants in its network was breached in a cyber attack. This breach also impacted health plan participant data of plans that use the Blue Cross Blue Shield network of health providers. In some states, Anthem administers certain aspects of Blue Cross’s network. Those states include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Accordingly, health plans that have participants who received care in those states through the Blue Cross network are likely to be impacted.more

IRS Ruling Permits Inclusion of “Friendly PCs” in Consolidated Federal Income Tax Returns

On December 19, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) issued a private letter ruling (the “Ruling”) allowing corporations that manage physician practices through a so-called “friendly physician” arrangement to treat the physician practices as members of the corporations’ consolidated tax group for U.S. federal income tax purposes. The Ruling is significant because it demonstrates that management companies, which must use the friendly physician structure in states that prohibit the corporate practice of medicine, can benefit from tax consolidation, which includes the ability to use the losses of the friendly physician entity to offset other taxable income of the management company.more

A Review of the Supreme Court’s 2013-2014 Term

The United States Supreme Court concluded its 2013-2014 term by issuing decisions in several highly publicized employment and employee benefits cases during the Court’s final scheduled sessions, including Noel Canning, Harris, and Hobby Lobby. Overall, the Roberts Court continued to validate its pro-business reputation in labor, employment and employee benefits cases, with employers and plan sponsors prevailing more often than not, including in several key cases. But the Court also issued a handful of decisions that were favorable to employees. While the predominantly pro-business results were not a surprise, the vote counts of the Justices in the cases were certainly unexpected. In a substantial departure from previous terms, the Court’s conservative and liberal wings were frequently in agreement. Of the 10 decisions during the 2013-2014 term, six were unanimous, and only two were by a vote of 5 to 4. This represents a complete reversal from the Court’s 2012-2013 term, in which six of the 11 employment-related decisions were 5-4, and only two were unanimous. And the Court’s unanimity was not limited to employment-related decisions. According to SCOTUSblog, the Court issued unanimous opinions in 66% of all cases during this year’s term, the highest percentage in any term since World War II. The Court’s decisions during the 2013-2014 term also display an increased willingness by the Justices to issue narrow rulings that focus on the specific factual situations that are presented, rather than broad rulings that reach well beyond the facts of a particular case. While some commentators have applauded the Court’s exercise of “judicial restraint,” others expect the narrow rulings to spur future litigation. Please see full Publication below for more information. more

The ERISA Litigation Newsletter - July 2014

Editor's Overview - The end of the U.S. Supreme Court's term brought two significant ERISA decisions. The first concerns the standard of review that courts apply when evaluating ERISA stock-drop claims. As discussed below, the Supreme Court concluded that the "presumption of prudence," which had been adopted by every circuit court to consider it over the past twenty years, could not be supported by the text of ERISA. more

Monthly Benefits Update

In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court held that regulations under the Affordable Care Act that require employer group health plans to provide contraceptive coverage violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The case came to the Court through a challenge to the requirement that employer group health plans provide certain preventive services...more

Employee Benefits Developments - June 2014

In This Issue: - Rulings, Opinions, Etc. ..Validating Rollover Contributions: New Guidance - Case ..Stock Drop Case Development: The Supreme Court Rejects The Presumption Of Prudence ..Dividend Equivalents Subject To FICA Tax At Time Of Payment ..IRS Publishes 2015 Amounts For Health Savings Accounts ..SSA Ends Letter-Forwarding Program - Cases ..ERISA Pension Benefit May Be Assigned To Co-Habitant ..Court Rules “Clickwrap” Post-Employment Restrictive Covenants Enforceable - Excerpt from Validating Rollover Contributions: New Guidance: When accepting a rollover contribution, a plan administrator must reasonably conclude the contribution is a valid rollover contribution. While evidence that the distributing plan received a favorable IRS determination letter is useful to the plan administrator of the receiving plan in concluding a rollover contribution is valid, evidence of a favorable determination letter is not absolutely required to reach that conclusion. Relevant regulations do not mandate any particular documentation or procedure the plan administrator of a receiving plan must use to reach a reasonable conclusion of validity. However, if the receiving plan obtains a letter from the plan administrator of the distributing plan representing that the distributing plan is or is intended to be a qualified plan, and that the administrator is unaware of any plan provision or operation that would result in disqualification of the distributing plan, the administrator of the receiving plan, absent facts to the contrary, is permitted under existing guidance to reasonably conclude the distributing plan is qualified and that the rollover contribution is valid. Please see full Publication below for more information. more

Monthly Benefits Update - February 2014

Health & Welfare Plans - Health Care Reform: IRS Issues Final ACA “Pay or Play” Regulations - The IRS issued final regulations regarding the employer shared responsibility provisions under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as the “pay or play” rules. Please see our separate alert, which covers this item in more detail.more

Insurance Topics We Will Be Watching in 2014

With the first month of the year behind us, this report outlines major insurance topics that we will be watching throughout 2014. Forces, trends and events that we believe will affect regulation, transactions and litigation in the insurance industry during the coming year include: - The effect of low interest rates and an uneven global economic recovery. - The impact of large amounts of capital being deployed in the property/casualty and reinsurance sectors. - Continuing advancement of a risk-based approach to regulation and its emphasis on enterprise risk management and capital models. - NAIC and Congressional responses to the Federal Insurance Office’s report on “How to Modernize and Improve the System of Insurance Regulation in the United States.” - Implementation of the Affordable Care Act.more

The Treasury Department and the IRS Implement Windsor and Adopt “State of Celebration” Rule: Compensation and Benefits Considerations of Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

On August 29, 2013, the Treasury Department and the IRS issued Revenue Ruling 2013-17 (“Rev. Rul. 2013-17”) and updated Answers to Frequently Asked Questions for Individuals of the Same Sex Who Are Married Under State Law (“FAQs”) to clarify and implement the federal tax consequences of United States v. Windsor. As we explained in a previous Client Alert, Windsor overturned Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which required the federal government to deny married same-sex couples the rights and benefits provided to married heterosexual couples. The U.S. Supreme Court held that the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages performed by states (and foreign jurisdictions). However, DOMA also provides states with the authority to refuse to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples from other states, and this portion remains in force. This left some confusion regarding whether the law of the state in which a married same-sex couple resides, or the law of the state or other jurisdiction in which that same-sex couple entered into marriage, would control the couple’s marriage status for federal tax purposes; Rev. Rul. 2013-17 answers this key question. Following the IRS’s approach with regard to common-law marriages, Rev. Rul. 2013-17 adopts the “state of celebration” approach for federal tax purposes,2 holding that a same-sex couple legally married in any state (or other jurisdiction) that recognizes same-sex marriages will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes, including for income, gift and estate tax purposes, even if the couple resides in a state (or other jurisdiction) that does not recognize same-sex marriages. The effective date of this ruling is September 16, 2013 (though same-sex spouses may claim retroactive tax relief for overwithheld income taxes). Please see full alert below for more information. more

The ERISA Litigation Newsletter - August 2013

In this month's newsletter we address ten important issues to consider when drafting and amending a summary plan description. more

Introducing the "Compliance Corner"

Several governmental agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Department of Labor (DOL), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), have stepped up their audit and examination activities in a number of areas related to employee benefits and executive compensation.more

Legal Alert: IRS Provides Guidance On HSA Contributions

The IRS recently issued two notices affecting Health Savings Accounts (HSAs): Notice 2008-51 provides procedures for carrying out a qualified HSA funding distribution from certain types of IRA accounts; Notice 2008-52 replaces the old HSA maximum contribution limit rules with new rules. See full alert for more information.more

The IRS Whistleblower Program: Updated Summary for Lawyers with Potential Tax Whistleblower Claims

A detailed description of the country's major "whistleblower" law, the False Claims Act and its "qui tam" provisions, which allow private citizens to report fraud against the government and share in the government's recovery of damages. The article also discusses the wave of new "State" versions of the False Claims Act.more

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