Employee Stock Ownership Plans

News & Analysis as of

DOL Fiduciary Regulations

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) earlier this month released final regulations which significantly expand the more than 40-year-old definition of who is a plan fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of...more

DOL Announces in Final Fiduciary Rule that Additional ESOP Guidance is Forthcoming

When the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released its long-awaited final rule describing investment advice (the Final Rule) on April 6, 2016, it delivered a special note to many in the employee stock ownership plan (ESOP)...more

Department of Labor Releases Final Investment Advice Fiduciary Rules

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has finalized regulations describing the circumstances in which a person who provides investment advice in connection with a retirement plan or individual retirement arrangement (IRA) acts...more

SCOTUS v. the Ninth Circuit on Failure to Enforce ERISA Stock-Drop Pleading Standard

In a terse per curiam opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court in Amgen Inc. v. Harris, No. 15-278 (U.S. Jan. 25, 2016), made clear that it expects lower courts to faithfully apply the pleading requirements for “stock-drop” cases...more

U.S. Supreme Court Clarifies Pleading Standard for Cases Involving Retirement Plan Investments in Employer Stock

The U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision in Amgen, Inc. v. Harris makes clear that the Court's heightened pleading standard applies to claims that a fiduciary of a retirement plan that has investments in employer stock should...more

Supreme Court Provides Additional Clarity on Pleading Requirements for ERISA Stock Drop Cases

The Supreme Court has provided additional clarity on the Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer decision. In Dudenhoeffer, the Supreme Court held that a fiduciary decision to invest in employer stock is not deemed to be...more

Supreme Court Emphasizes Heightened Pleading Standard for Stock Drop Cases

On January 25, 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a per curiam opinion in Amgen Inc. v. Harris, holding that the Amgen, Inc. employees who filed suit after the value of the employer stock in which they had...more

Revised Capital Framework for Depository Institution Holding Companies Organized as LLCs and Partnerships

The Federal Reserve Board (the “Board”) has adopted amendments to the Board’s regulatory capital framework (“Regulation Q”), that clarify how the revised regulatory capital framework applies to depository institution holding...more

Non-Equity Incentive Plans

We previously discussed the benefits of equity incentives. When it comes to compensating a start-up’s key people, equity incentives are often the best way to align interests with the founders. Sometimes, however, non-equity...more

The Supreme Court Meant What It Said On Employer Stock Funds

On January 25, 2016, in Amgen, Inc. v. Harris, 2016 WL 280886, the Supreme Court sent a strong message to the lower courts, plaintiffs and ERISA fiduciaries that pleading standards for breach of fiduciary duty prudence claims...more

Harris v. Amgen

On January 25, 2016, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion in Harris v. Amgen that will impact the pleading standard for stock drop litigation. The plaintiffs in Harris are former employees of Amgen Inc. who...more

The Supreme Court Once Again Visits The Employer Stock Dispute — Amgen, Inc. v. Harris

Background — fiduciary obligations vs. ERISA’s specific nod to employer stock. Courts have long struggled to determine how to reconcile ERISA’s rules explicitly allowing participants in defined contribution plans to invest in...more

Creating ESOPs: 6 Essential Questions For Successful Employee Stock Ownership Plans

The Baby Boomer business owner has worked hard for a lifetime. The company is thriving. But retirement is in sight, and a big question looms: How do I convert a lifetime of hard work into a comfortable retirement income?...more

Another ROBS Gone Wrong – IRS Disqualifies ESOP

On November 23, 2015 the U.S. Tax Court issued a declaratory judgment that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) did not abuse its discretion in issuing a Letter of Revocation of the tax qualified status of the Fleming...more

Prudent is as Prudent Does: Divided Sixth Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment in Favor of State Street in Post-Dudenhoeffer Review...

In 1995, the Third Circuit adopted the presumption that an employee stock ownership plan (“ESOP”) fiduciary’s decision to remain invested in the employer’s securities was prudent. Over the following years, a number of other...more

IRS Annual Limits on Qualified Plans

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has released the 2016 cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limits on benefits and contributions under qualified retirement plans and health savings accounts, which are largely...more

IRS Annual Limits on Qualified Plans

The Internal Revenue Service has released the 2016 cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limits on benefits and contributions under qualified retirement plans and health savings accounts, which are largely unchanged...more

Can an LLC Adopt an ESOP? IRS Says Yes

In a private letter ruling released on September 18, 2015 (PLR 201538021), the Internal Revenue Service concluded that an employer organized as a limited liability company (LLC) under a state statute, upon making a federal...more

Department of Treasury Issues 2015-2016 Priority Planning Guide

The Department of the Treasury issued its 2015-2016 Priority Guidance Plan detailing projects that it intends on dedicating resources to in the coming year. There are numerous employee benefits-related items in the plan....more

Craft Beer Industry Update: M&A ESOPs and Liquidity Transactions over the past 12 Months

Craft beer is at a turning point in the history of the industry. Craft beer has grown dramatically (about 20% in 2014) during a time when overall beer consumption has increased only 0.5%.1 This has changed everything -- from...more

Government Contractors Beware: Trying to Fit A Square Peg into A Round Hole

What may be standard in the corporate world can severely disrupt set-aside status in the highly-regulated government contract space. Take the recently-decided case of Precise Systems. ...more

Employee Benefits Alert - July 2015

Major Revisions to Qualified Plan Determination Letter Process Announced - Effective January 1, 2017, the staggered five-year determination letter remedial amendment cycles for individually designed plans will be...more

Three Simple QDRO Tips to Make Your Agreements More Enforceable

The purpose of a settlement agreement is to resolve some or all of the outstanding issues in a pending case. In the divorce context, it is common for attorneys to use broad language in their agreements related to the...more

Declaration of Independence: Preserving the Role of the Independent Fiduciary Post-Dudenhoeffer

In the wake of Fifth Third v. Dudenhoeffer, a complaint that seeks to hold an ERISA fiduciary liable for failing to divest a plan of employer stock based solely upon publicly available information fails to state a plausible...more

Labor & Employment E-Note - June 2015

In This Issue: - Debruge and Childs Alabama Law Survey on Employee Privacy Laws Published to Practical Law - "WTF", Under the NLRB, Employers Should "Cut the Crap?" - Tom Brady, Deflategate, and Florida...more

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