Benefits Notes |

Employee benefits are an important part of every employees' total compensation package. The continuously evolving landscape in the areas of health care reform, retirement plan design, and executive compensation makes it difficult for employee benefits professionals to keep up with relevant developments. The employee benefits attorneys at Stinson Leonard Street provide human resources professionals, plan fiduciaries, actuaries, accountants, and others in the industry with practical and cost-effective assistance as they navigate through the complex laws, regulations and guidance that govern employee benefits plans. This blog highlights key developments in the employee benefits field and items of interest to our clients. Our Bloggers →

Latest Benefits Notes Posts

Internet Posting of SPD is Insufficient

By Angela Bohmann | May 22, 2015

ERISA and Other Benefits Litigation, Welfare Plans Employers know that they must prepare and distribute a summary plan description (SPD) for their ERISA benefit plans, including retirement benefits, health insurance, life insurance and disability insurance. Because of the length of such documents, employers may prefer to distribute the documents electronically. Some...

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Are Top Hat Plans Entitled to a Discretionary Standard of Review?

Deferred Compensation and 409A, Executive Compensation Many years ago the Supreme Court decided that qualified retirement plans that gave their fiduciaries discretion to determine plan benefits were entitled to have their decisions, reviewed by a court under a generous “abuse of discretion” standard. Although that standard may be limited in situations in which the...

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Some Wellness Benefits are Taxable

By Angela Bohmann | May 15, 2015

Health Care Reform, Health Plan, Payroll My colleagues blogged on recent wellness guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the three agencies charged with enforcing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Department of Treasury, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Health and Human Services. The guidance from the EEOC...

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A Bad Deed is Not Entirely Unpunished

By Angela Bohmann | May 13, 2015

ERISA and Other Benefits Litigation, Retirement Plans Richard Thomas embezzled nearly $20,000,000 from his employer. The employer then kept Thomas’s profit sharing account of about $21,000 as an offset against the embezzled amount. Of course, this violated ERISA’s anti-alienation provisions. Thomas sued his former employer for the money and won. To add to the...

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Be Careful What You Promise Employees Who Leave Your Employment

By Angela Bohmann | March 5, 2015

ERISA and Other Benefits Litigation, Welfare Plans Clients sometimes like to ease the transition for employees who are retiring or whom the client would like to encourage to leave. One strategy is to continue the employee “on payroll” for a period of time with the expectation that all benefits will remain in place. However, the practice makes benefits lawyers...

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Make Sure Participants Know When Their Plan Benefits Have Been Transferred

By Angela Bohmann | February 25, 2015

Retirement Plans Employers need to make sure that their employees know when benefits shift from one plan to another as illustrated by this case from Utah: Martin Marietta Corporation (Martin) operated a cement plant that it later decided to lease to Southwestern Portland Cement Company (Southwestern). The employees operating the...

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Employers Can Be Responsible for FICA Withholding Errors

By Angela Bohmann | January 13, 2015

Deferred Compensation and 409A, Payroll Back in 2013 I blogged about a class action lawsuit brought against Henkel Corporation for improper Social Security (FICA) tax withholding from nonqualified deferred compensation benefits. I am blogging now on an update to that case. To understand that case we need to review the taxation of nonqualified deferred...

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Plan Administrators Have Discretion to Round

By Angela Bohmann | December 17, 2014

Retirement Plans Cash balance plans often provide a pay credit and an interest credit in determining a participant’s accrued benefit. The pay credit is often a percentage of compensation. The interest credit is established in the plan and can be a fixed rate or a formula. Recently the Duke Energy Retirement Cash Balance Plan was...

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Undocumented Worker Can Cause Health Plan Problems

By Angela Bohmann | December 8, 2014

ERISA and Other Benefits Litigation, Health Plan Employers know that since the 1980s they have been required to check the lawful work status of employees that they hire through the I-9 process. Employers also know that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can audit their workplaces, as can the Department of Labor, and impose fines and other sanctions for...

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EEOC Challenges Honeywell’s Wellness Program

By Angela Bohmann | December 3, 2014

Health Care Reform, Health Plan The EEOC recently sued Honeywell International, Inc., claiming that Honeywell’s wellness program violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). Although the EEOC sued two other employers for wellness program violations before it sued Honeywell, this is...

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