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Northwest OH Legal Blog

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Cognovit Notes Can Be Useful But Cannot Be Used For All Types of Loans


ERISA fringe benefit funds often use cognovit notes for repayment of delinquent employer fringe benefit contributions.  Cognovit notes offer certain advantages, since they permit the holder to take judgment on the delinquent balance in the event of default without engaging in protracted litigation.  The holder of the note simply files a complaint for the delinquent balance while an answer to the complaint is simultaneously filed with the court.  The answer is filed by an attorney, usually at the same law firm, confessing judgment on behalf of the delinquent payor on the note. 

Under a cognovit note, the payor authorizes any attorney in the State of Ohio to appear in court on the payor’s behalf and confess judgment.
Read more . . .


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

United States Department of Labor Initiates Review of Fiduciary Rule


On June 8, 2017, the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) took a first step in its review of the DOL’s previously promulgated and highly anticipated fiduciary regulations (“Fiduciary Rule”), which were intended to better define who is a fiduciary and when related prohibited transaction exemptions apply with respect to plan participants’ retirement benefits.  The review was ordered by President Trump earlier in 2017.  That first step was the delivery to the White House Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) of a request for information (“RFI”) regarding the Fiduciary Rule.

Background.  In April 2017, the DOL had extended by 60 days, to June 9, 2017, the compliance deadline for the Fiduciary Rule, including the applicability dates of the Best Interest Contract Exemption and the Class Exemption for Principal Transactions in Certain Assets Between Investment Advice Fiduciaries and Employee Benefit Plans and IRAs.
Read more . . .


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Vocational Rehabilitation Through the BWC


Vocational Rehabilitation is a benefit provided by the BWC that all injured workers should be aware of. It is a service paid for by the BWC that gives Injured
Workers the support they need to return to their former jobs, or in the alternative, find new jobs with new employers.

When an injured worker is referred to vocational rehabilitation, he or she will be assessed to determine a rehabilitation plan. An injured worker’s previous job training, skills, education, and training will be considered. The purpose of this exercise is to determine if the injured workers is “feasible,” meaning it will be determined if there is a feasible plan to return the injured worker to the work force.
Read more . . .


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

United States: Department of Labor's New Fiduciary Rule Became Effective June 9, 2017


The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced that the new fiduciary conflict of interest rule and related exemptions will begin taking effect on June 9, 2017. However, the DOL also announced a relaxed enforcement standard for the rest of 2017

The rule expands the “investment advice fiduciary” definition under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). These fiduciary standards require advisers to adhere to a best interest standard when making investment recommendations, charge no more than reasonable compensation for their services and refrain from making misleading statements.
Read more . . .


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Federal Court of Appeals Affirms Prohibition against Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation


In a landmark decision issued on April 4, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held in Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, No. 15-1720 (en banc), that discrimination in employment based on a person’s sexual orientation is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Civil Rights Act”). In particular, the Court of Appeals held that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of unlawful sex discrimination.

Background.
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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

WHAT PLACE WILL NEIL GORSUCH HOLD IN U.S. BENEFITS HISTORY?


Judge Neil Gorsuch was confirmed on April 7, 2017 as the 113th Justice of the Supreme Court.  Coming from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Gorsuch fills the late-Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat.  Since Judge Gorsuch has been labeled a conservative, many employee benefits professionals wonder how he will affect future cases related to retirement and health plans. Gorsuch, age 49, takes a disciplined, cautious approach and rejects expansive views of employment laws and administrative agencies’ authority. He has often ruled to strike down government regulations but has defended religious freedoms consistently.
Read more . . .


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Staying Eligible for Temporary Total Disability


An injured worker is eligible for Temporary Total Disability when he or she is hurt at work, cannot return to the job he or she was working when injured, and a different “light duty” job is unavailable. If the injured worker stays with that employer, there is usually little concern. But injured workers are often concerned if they can change jobs. If an injured worker changes jobs, will he or she receive temporary total compensation if the injury is re-aggravated?

According to the Ohio Supreme Court, the employer is free to switch jobs. Back in 2000, in a case called Baker v.
Read more . . .


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Wellness Plan Benefits May Be Taxable to Employees


Employers may offer their employees various types of benefit arrangements that are designed to reduce their employees’ tax obligations by using a combination of wellness programs, voluntary benefits and cafeteria plans. However, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has provided guidance that points out that many of these arrangements are treated as taxable benefits by the IRS.

In May 2016, the IRS issued IRS Chief Council Advice Memorandum 201622031, which addressed the tax treatment of three different situations in which wellness benefits result in taxable income to employees. It provides as follows:

Situation 1: The employer provides health coverage with a separate no-cost wellness program that provides health screenings and other services that generally qualify as a tax-favored accident and health plan under Internal Revenue Code section 106. Employees that participate in the wellness program may also earn cash rewards and other benefits that do not qualify as Code section 213(d) medical expenses, such as gym memberships.
Read more . . .


Friday, April 28, 2017

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth the Avoidance of a Data Breach Health and Welfare Plan Fiduciaries Must Prepare for Battle


The data that health and welfare plans may store or exchange with service providers electronically often includes participants’ names, addresses, dates of birth and pertinent health information or even social security numbers.  Technology experts claim that health plan breaches are much more valuable to hackers than credit card breaches because health records and plan eligibility data have a longer “shelf life” than credit card data, which can be changed or eliminated when the credit card company is notified to shut the card down.  Health care plan information therefore has a higher “resale” value than other data obtained after a technology breach. 

Rather than wait to be a victimized health plan, plan sponsors and fiduciaries must take precautionary measures to prevent data breaches within their own organizations and between their plan and the service providers that support their plan’s operations.  By implementing several simple processes and educating employees and participants regarding these processes, plan trustees can block the efforts of not only hackers but can also prevent the unauthorized release of private health information and pertinent identity-revealing data of plan participants and their dependents.
Read more . . .


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

DOL Extends Fiduciary Rule Applicability Date


The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a final rule delaying the applicability date defining who is a fiduciary and related prohibited transaction exemptions for 60 days.

The rule also extends for 60 days the applicability dates of the Best Interest Contract Exemption and the Class Exemption for Principal Transactions in Certain Assets Between Investment Advice Fiduciaries and Employee Benefit Plans and IRAs. It requires that fiduciaries relying on these exemptions for covered transactions adhere only to the Impartial Conduct Standards (including the “best interest” standard), as conditions of the exemptions during the transition period from June 9, 2017, through January 1, 2018.

The April 4, 2017 News Release from the Department of Labor states as follows:

US LABOR DEPARTMENT EXTENDS FIDUCIARY RULE APPLICABILITY DATE

The U.S.
Read more . . .


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

New Law to Benefit Firefighters with Cancer Takes Effect


Legislation signed by Governor John Kasich to benefit firefighters who contracted cancer because of their service took effect on April 6, 2017. Although, firefighters could previously file a Workers’ Compensation claim for such an injury, they would often face difficulty getting their claims allowed because it was difficult to prove their service caused this injury. The new law creates a rebuttable presumption that the cancer was caused by his or her work as a firefighter. In other words, the BWC will have to prove that another factor caused the firefighter to contract cancer. The BWC issued a notice regarding this new law prior to taking effect:

Firefighters will still have to prove their employment caused cancer under two circumstances.


Read more . . .


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