April 1, 2018 is Fast Approaching – Are Your Disability Claims Procedures Ready?


The Department of Labor issued the final disability claims regulations on December 16, 2016. These regulations are effective for all claims filed on or after April 1, 2018.

The Department felt the update was needed to provide claimants a full and fair review, to promote fairness and accuracy, and to better protect participants.  The Department also realized that long-term disability cases make up the lion’s share (64 percent) of the ERISA cases the Department reviewed for the six-year period beginning in 2010, while health care plans and pension plans account for only 14.4 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively.  A review of recent disability cases indicated that often a conflict of interest was present when the decision maker was also the payer of the benefits.

Finally, the Department wanted to align the disability claims procedures with the Health Care Reform group medical plan claims procedures to provide better participant protections while recognizing the unique features attached to disability claims.

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California as a Sanctuary State: Restrictions on Employers’ Compliance with Federal Immigration Actions


In October 2017, California passed the widely publicized Senate Bill 54, the unofficial “sanctuary state” bill, which bars state and local law enforcement agencies from asking people about their immigration status. Another new California law, the Immigrant Worker Protection Act (Assembly Bill 450), effective January 1, 2018, provides worksite immigration protection for employees while on the job.

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Happy 25th Birthday, FMLA! 25 Years Later – Where Are We Now?


The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month. On February 5, 1993, President Bill Clinton signed the FMLA into law guaranteeing certain employees up to 12 unpaid weeks off of work a year to care for children or ill family members, or to recover from one’s own serious health condition. During the time off, an employee’s medical benefits would remain intact.

When initially passed, the statute’s purpose was to address the rising number of American households with working parents who were concerned about losing their jobs when taking time off to care for a child or a sick family member. It was also meant to allow people who had serious health conditions to  remain employed when taking time off work for temporary periods.

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An Annual Retirement Plan “Check-Up” May be Just What the Doctor Ordered!


February is Heart Health Month, which always reminds me to schedule my annual doctor checkup. This got me thinking that the need for ongoing “checkups” and maintenance applies not just to our health, but to our homes, cars, and even to your company’s retirement plans!  That’s right—if you work with your employer’s tax-qualified retirement plans, such as a 401(k) or pension plan, now is the time to consider implementing operational checkups for those plans to ensure that the plan is being administered in compliance with the plan’s terms as well as applicable law.  The new user fees for the IRS VCP correction program (described below) should be considered to the extent you find any errors during a plan checkup.

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R2-Me2? How Should Employers Respond to Job Loss Caused by Robots?


There is no question that the use of robots, along with other similar technological changes in the workplace, will continue to eliminate or downgrade jobs. Indeed, it has been estimated that on average, each workplace robot eliminates six jobs. This article will examine (1) the impact such changes will have on women and (2) whether these changes can be subject to legal challenge as prohibited gender discrimination.

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