Alerts Archive

  • May 13 2016

    This law alert follows up on our prior alerts entitled "Employee Benefit Plan Filing Deadlines." The following are the most common applicable filing deadlines (and/or "Heads Up" for coming deadlines) or other important dates for May, June and July 2016 for calendar year plans:

    May 15 – Deadline for a plan administrator to distribute benefit statements for the second quarter to participants who have participant-directed accounts in a defined contribution plan.

  • May 13 2016

    Finally, some good news for software patents! On May 12, 2016, the Federal Circuit in Enfish, LLC v. Microsoft Corp., __ F.3d __ (Fed. Cir. 2016), reversed a district court’s summary judgment that two software-based patents asserted against Microsoft Corp. lack patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. §101 in view of the patent eligibility tests expressed in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int'lAlice Corp. Pty Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int’l, ___ U.S. ___, 134 S.Ct. 2347 (2014). The ...

  • May 10 2016

    Recently, U.S. Congress passed the landmark Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (DTSA), which will now make its way to the desk of President Obama, who has already voiced his support and indicated that he intends to sign the DTSA into law. How does the DTSA affect your company? In short, it means that the federal courthouse doors are now open!

    Misappropriation of Trade Secrets

    Traditionally, lawsuits for misappropriation of trade secrets have been fought in state court and ...

  • May 10 2016

    On April 12, 2016, Governor Deal signed into law Senate Bill 255 (SB255) which was passed by the Legislature to repeal and replace the existing garnishment code. SB255 was drafted in response to orders from Judge Shoob of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia finding that the current garnishment code was unconstitutional because it did not provide adequate protection for claims of exempt funds and did not provide a quick enough adjudicative ...

  • May 04 2016

    On May 3, 2016, The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that it was amending its rules related to the thresholds for registration, termination of registration, and suspension of reporting under Section 12(g) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These amendments implement provisions of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) and the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act).

    SEC Chair Mary Jo White stated that, “With ...

  • Apr 22 2016

    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 1974 (ERISA) by virtue of providing investment advice for a fee. Thus the final regulations close the door on the spirited, six year debate between the DOL and the investment community over the challenges that the members of the investment ...

  • Apr 20 2016

    This is a follow-up on the IRS’ recent reminder to plan sponsors using pre-approved defined contribution plans (i.e., prototype and volume submitter plans) that they must adopt restated plan documents by the end of this month. Plan sponsors should have already received restated plan documents from their service provider to review and execute by April 30, 2016. However, if a plan sponsor uses these kinds of plans and has not received these documents, it needs to ...

  • Apr 11 2016

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has implemented new procedures which include electronic filing and which allow the EEOC to release an employer’s position statement to a charging party. The EEOC may release any information or documents which are not determined to be confidential.

    New Procedures

    The EEOC generally allows an employer 30 days to gather information and submit a position statement. Previously, submissions by an employer ...

  • Apr 11 2016

    With increasing frequency employees are claiming disabilities based on work-related stress. Some employees are asking for accommodations such as transfers to new supervisors, working from home, additional leave, and alternative jobs. These requests may require an employer to make a determination of whether the employee has a disability and potential accommodations for the alleged disability.

    Is Stress a Disability?

    Under the broader definition of ...

  • Mar 04 2016

    The IRS announced in its February 29, 2016, edition of “Employee Plans News” that plan sponsors did not need to answer the following new compliance questions on the 2015 Forms 5500 and 5500-SF:

    • Form 5500 – Preparer information at the bottom of page 1;
    • Schedule H – Lines 4o-p and 6a-d;
    • Schedule I – Lines 4o-p, 6a-d;
    • Schedule R – New Part VII, lines 20a-c, 21a-b, 22a-d and 23; and
    • Form 5500 SF – Preparer information at the bottom of page 1 and lines 10j, 14a-d, and ...
  • Feb 26 2016

    This client alert follows up on our prior alerts entitled "Employee Benefit Plan Filing Deadlines." The following are the most common applicable filing deadlines (and/or "Heads Up" for coming deadlines) or other important dates for March and April 2016 for calendar year plans:

    March 1 - Deadline for existing multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs) to file Form M-1 for 2015 with the Employee Benefits Security Administration. 

    March 1 - Deadline for a plan ...

  • Feb 02 2016

    The beginning of a new year is always a good time to review and strengthen child protection policies, where a few simple precautions can yield important benefits.

    Goals: The goals of child protection policies include (1) accident prevention; (2) abuse prevention; (3) anti-bullying measures; and (4) mandated reporter responsibilities (including recognizing harm that occurs elsewhere). Also assess other risks that your program may face, such as parental ...

  • Jan 26 2016

    Many employers are unaware of the accuracy required by the federal government in the completion of I-9 documents. Only when the government conducts an audit do these employers learn the extent of mistakes they have been making for years. Committing errors on documents may result in penalties of up to $1,100 for each I-9 form. Thus, a mistake on 100 forms could result in penalties exceeding $100,000. In addition, employing individuals who are ineligible to work because ...

  • Jan 14 2016

    This client alert follows up on our prior alerts entitled "Employee Benefit Plan Filing Deadlines." The following are the most common applicable filing deadlines (and/or "Heads Up" for coming deadlines) or other important dates for January and February 2016 for calendar year plans:

    January 15 – Deadline for the plan administrator of self-insured health plans to pay all or at least the first installment of the transitional reinsurance fee for 2015 ($44 per ...

  • Dec 31 2015

    The IRS earlier this week in Notice 2016-4 announced that the deadline for furnishing or filing six related Obamacare information returns otherwise due as early as February 1, 2016, has been extended. More specifically,

    (1) the deadline for furnishing a copy of Forms 1095-B and 1095-C to individuals has been extended from February 1, 2016 to March 31, 2016, and

    (2) the deadline for filing Forms 1094-B, 1094-C, 1095-B and 1095-C with the IRS has been ...

  • Dec 08 2015

    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a reminder this afternoon to all employers who had 50 or more full time or full time equivalent employees in 2014 of their obligation to file the Obamacare tax returns for 2015. The unusual twist here is that the reporting requirement will apply to employers who were not required under Obamacare to provide coverage to their full time employees in 2015 because they had less than 100 full time and full time equivalent employees in ...

  • Nov 20 2015

    This client alert follows up on our prior alerts entitled "Employee Benefit Plan Filing Deadlines." The following are the most common applicable filing deadlines (and/or "Heads Up" for coming deadlines) for December 2015 for calendar year plans:

    December 1 - Deadline for the plan administrator of a group health plan or the insurer of group health plan, whichever is applicable, to provide a summary of benefits and coverage (SBC) to participants and beneficiaries ...

  • Nov 09 2015

    On October 30, 2015, more than three years after the passage of the Jumpstart Our Small Business Startups Act of 2012 (the “JOBS Act”) the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) adopted rules that implement the “crowdfunding” provisions of Title III of the JOBS Act.  

    Title III of the JOBS Act and the SEC’s rules promulgated thereunder (referred to herein as “Regulation CF”) have been called some of the most sweeping changes to U.S ...

  • Oct 21 2015

    The IRS today in IR-2015-118 announced the cost of living adjustments for 2016 with respect to the dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement plan related limitations. There are not a lot of changes from 2015. For example, there is no change to what participants can contribute to a 401k plan ($18,000) and no change in the 401k catch up contributions for participants age 50 and over ($6,000). Click here to view IR-2015-118. Please contact Jan G. Marsh at ...

  • Oct 06 2015

    The European Union (EU) High Court this week struck down the 15 year-old "Safe Harbor" that has allowed United States businesses to operate there under a single set of privacy rules. Reacting to the Edward Snowden revelations about NSA spying programs, the EU Court ruled that companies in the U.S., which has no national set of privacy rules about consumer data, must now deal with the privacy regulators in each EU country rather than deal with a single, uniform, EU-wide ...

  • Sep 30 2015

    This client alert follows up on our prior alerts entitled "Employee Benefit Plan Filing Deadlines." The following are the most common applicable filing deadlines (and/or "Heads Up" for coming deadlines) for October and November, 2015 for calendar year plans:

    October 2 - Earliest date (no more than 90 days before and no less than 30 days before beginning of a plan year) a plan administrator of a safe-harbor 401k plan needs to provide notice of its intent to use ...

  • Sep 23 2015

    We want to remind clients who had less than 100 full-time and full-time equivalent employees in 2014 but who have 50 or more full-time or full-time equivalent employees in 2015 that what some have termed the "Obamacare hammer" now will fall on them effective January 1, 2016, and the hammer will fall on January 1 even if they have a group health plan which operates on a fiscal year basis rather than on a calendar year basis. Here are some points for these clients to consider:

  • Aug 19 2015

    The IRS for decades had a "favorable determination letter" program under which employers could get confirmation that their individually designed qualified plans such as 401(k) plans and the like met the IRS' requirements for a tax qualified plan. The IRS now has announced that this program will not be available after 2016 for individually designed "ongoing plans" except for "new plans" or "ongoing plans" that are terminating. We are sending this alert ...

  • Aug 11 2015

    This alert follows up on our May 20, 2015, alert, titled "Employee Benefit Plan Filing Deadlines." The following are the most common applicable filing deadlines for calendar year plans for August and September: 

    August 14: Deadline for plan administrator to distribute benefit statements for the second quarter to participants who have participant-directed accounts in a defined contribution plan.

    August 14: Deadline for plan administrator for disclosing ...

  • Jul 15 2015

    On July 15, 2015, the Administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (DOL) issued guidance regarding the proper classification of workers as independent contractors. The DOL claims that they are issuing the guidance because they are concerned that too many companies are misclassifying employees to escape overtime requirements, worker’s compensation and payroll taxes. The guidance is a reminder to employers that the DOL interprets ...

  • Jul 06 2015

    Today the United States Department of Labor (DOL) published proposed rules that will dramatically change which employees are exempt from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The proposed rule changes are projected to increase the number of workers eligible for overtime from approximately 5 million to, in some estimates, 15 million. Under the proposed rules, it is possible that only those workers who earn at least $50,440 per ...

  • Jun 02 2015

    On Monday, June 1, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled in an 8-1 decision (EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc.) that retailer Abercrombie & Fitch violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it applied its “look policy” to a Muslim woman who wore a head scarf when she applied for employment. The applicant wore the head scarf (Hajib) for religious reasons. Abercrombie’s “look policy” was intended to maintain the retailer’s East Coast ...

  • May 28 2015

    Over the past few years, there has been an increasing amount of litigation involving the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). A lot of those disputes have centered on issues plaguing the industry, such as whether certain software is an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS), whether calls were made with express consent, and how a consumer can revoke consent. Case law has developed on both sides of these types of issues which has resulted in numerous ...

  • May 26 2015

    On March 25, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted final amendments to Regulation A, one of the key exemptions from the general requirement that securities be registered before sale. The amendments were adopted in response to changes in the Securities Act passed by Congress as part of the JOBS Act of 2012. How those amendments work, and how they create a pathway for growing companies to access capital markets, will have a significant impact on how ...

  • May 20 2015

    This alert follows up on the March 26, 2015 alert, titled “Employee Benefit Plan Filing Deadlines” regarding upcoming employee benefit plan deadlines. As a reminder, the following deadlines are the most common deadlines applicable generally to calendar year plans for June and July.

    June 30: Deadline for processing corrective distributions for failed ADP/ACP test from a 401k plan with eligible automatic contribution arrangement without 10 percent excise ...

  • Mar 26 2015

    This alert follows up on our previous alert on February 13, 2015, titled "Upcoming Filing Deadlines," regarding upcoming employee benefit plan deadlines. The following deadlines are the most common deadlines applicable generally to calendar year plans for April, May and June.

    • April 1: Deadline for distributing prior year's required minimum distributions for participants who reached age 70 and a half or older and terminated employment in ...

  • Mar 19 2015

    Many HR Professionals don't worry about the NLRB. And why should they? Their employees don't have a union, no union has ever tried to organize their workforce, and unions haven't been active in their region or business sector. Actually, those managers probably don't need to worry too much­­--until they do.

    All it takes is one disgruntled employee stumbling upon the NLRB's web site to get the ball rolling. Say an employee is fired for insubordination. Then, somehow ...

  • Mar 06 2015

    The IRS has two offshore disclosure programs to bring taxpayers with undisclosed foreign accounts into compliance with the tax laws: The Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) and the Streamlined OVDP procedures. Rather than cumulative penalties for failure to disclose the offshore account the taxpayer pays one penalty of 27 and a half percent of the highest outstanding balance of undisclosed assets. Penalties in the Streamlined OVDP for U.S. resident ...

  • Feb 13 2015

    A number of clients have asked about upcoming employee benefit plan deadlines for 401(k) and other "tax qualified" plans, which has prompted us to prepare this alert on generally applicable deadlines for the remainder of February and for March and April for these kinds of plans which operate on a calendar year basis.

    February 16 Deadline to furnish 4th quarter 2014 statements to participants on fees charged to their "self-directed" accounts in defined contribution ...
  • Oct 23 2014

    Today the IRS announced the cost of living adjustments for 2015 with respect to dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items. For example, participants in 401k plans can contribute up to $18,000 next year, and 401k catch-up contributions for participants age 50 and over will increase from $5,500 to $6,000. Although the limitations are not yet posted on the IRS' website, click here to view the IRS' newswire listing all of the updated ...

  • Sep 30 2014

    Yesterday, in Gulf Coast Collection Bureau, Inc. v. Mais, No. 13-14008 (11th Cir. Sept. 29, 2014), the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a clear and decisive victory for the collection industry under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). In general, the TCPA is a consumer protection statute that prohibits certain telephone solicitations and automated telephone equipment. Although many TCPA cases involve the use of automatic dialing ...

  • Sep 04 2014

    On July 31, 2014, President Obama signed the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order (FPSW Executive Order). The crux of the FPSW Executive Order is that it requires federal government contractors (including subcontractors) to disclose labor law violations. The disclosure applies to any "administrative merits determination, arbitral award or decision, or civil judgment" related to the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the ...

  • Aug 07 2014

    An employer's obligations to pregnant employees are often confusing and an area where employers make mistakes. The following are guidelines to follow should a pregnancy issue arise. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) requires that a covered employer treat women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions in the same manner as other applicants or employees who are similar in their ability or inability to work. The PDA covers all aspects ...

  • Jul 25 2014

    This alert is intended to address the general misconception that the Obamacare effective date for a fiscal year group health plan automatically will be deferred to the first day of the plan's 2015 fiscal year. There are transition rules which can defer the effective date for a fiscal year plan to the first day of its 2015 fiscal year, but the deferral is not automatic. There are several conditions to the deferral, two of which put a price tag on the deferral--the large ...

  • Jul 22 2014

    Youth programs should conduct criminal background checks for all volunteers and employees. If your program is subject to regulation as a day care program from Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL), then it must complete a national background check. Even if your organization is exempt from DECAL rules, however, requiring background checks is a bedrock practice that should be part of your organization's child protection ...

  • Jun 30 2014

    The United States Supreme Court earlier today handed down its decision in Hobby Lobby and two companion cases, each of which involved a question of religious freedom for closely held corporations and the Obamacare mandate that group health plans offer 20 different kinds of birth control. Here the Court specifically held that, very briefly, religious freedom trumped the Obamacare mandate on birth control for these closely held corporations. But, equally ...

  • Jun 20 2014

    Many employers use an automatic time deduction for employee meal breaks. Most systems deduct either 30 minutes or an hour for a meal break, and the employee is responsible for notifying the employer if the meal break is not taken. This timekeeping system has the benefit of not requiring employees to clock in and out during their breaks-only at the beginning and end of each shift. These automatic deductions have led to many lawsuits, including class actions, where ...

  • Jun 12 2014

    The need to adequately and thoroughly investigate and respond to a charge of discrimination filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has always been important in defending against accusations made by a current or former employee. That need has become even more critical given new tactics that are being used by EEOC investigators which may prejudice employers. Recently, the EEOC District Office in Atlanta began tape-recording statements of ...

  • Jun 09 2014

    The Eleventh Circuit's recent opinion in Osorio v. State Farm Bank, F.S.B., 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 5709 (11th Cir. Mar. 28, 2014), could have profound consequences for businesses that are subject to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). In general, the TCPA is a consumer protection statute that prohibits certain telephone solicitations and automated telephone equipment. Although many TCPA cases involve the use of automatic dialing programs/systems, the ...

  • Jun 03 2014

    The Georgia Department of Revenue has proposed new rules to address the application of sales and use taxes to purchases and sales made by restaurants and similar establishments that sell prepared food. These new rules will likely provide significant tax savings to many companies in the industry.

    Some examples of non-taxable purchases by restaurants set forth in the new rules are as follows:

    a) Disposable food packaging used to contain food provided to the customer ...

  • May 31 2014

    The jury's verdict in the case of Carl R. Zwerner, rendered on May 28, 2014, and the Credit Suisse AG guilty plea entered on May 19, 2014, demonstrate that the IRS is tightening the noose around those individuals with offshore accounts who have still failed to come forward to declare the offshore funds. The IRS is not just targeting Swiss accounts. They are seeking information about the accounts of US citizens and residents in financial institutions around the globe and ...

  • Apr 16 2014

    By now you have read and heard much news coverage of the "Heartbleed" Internet security bug discovered last week.  The headlines are dominated by the large companies known to be vulnerable to the bug -- Amazon, Google and Yahoo! among them.  No matter what the size of your business, however, you should be aware of the issue and take steps to protect yourself if you depend on secure Internet connections for your operations or communications. WHAT IS IT? Heartbleed affects ...

  • Apr 01 2014

    Contractors who agree to abide by minimum coverage requirements on an Owner's Controlled Insurance Policy ("OCIP") may at the same time be unwittingly agreeing to provide insurance for all down-stream contractors and subcontractors on a project, according to some recent Georgia court decisions. A general contractor unsuccessfully appealed a judicial decision holding the general contractor liable to an injured worker of a subcontractor on the project under the ...

  • Mar 07 2014

    FYI the IRS late yesterday afternoon released two sets of final regulations on the Obamacare tax information returns which now will be required to be filed for calendar year 2015 and thereafter. One set is for insurers and others who provide healthcare coverage to individuals (click here to see TD 9660), which is 50 pages, and the other set is for employers who are subject to the Obamacare employer mandate (click here to see TD 9661), which is 84 pages. Note that neither set ...

  • Feb 25 2014

    The purpose of this Client Alert is to call to the attention of clients, large and small, one significant and undisputed tax fact in the highly publicized Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius case--employers, large and small, which provide group health plan benefits to their employees are at risk for a significant excise tax if their plan fails to provide all of the health care benefits mandated under Obamacare, a number of which first became effective on January 1 ...

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