On the heels of sweeping pay equity legislation, the New Jersey Legislature has passed a comprehensive paid sick leave bill that, if signed, will require employers to provide employees with paid time off for a variety of purposes. For What Purpose Can Leave Be Taken? Employees can use paid sick leave for the following purposes: diagnosis, care, treatment, or recovery related to the employee’s illness; to care for a family member during diagnosis, care, treatment, or recovery related to a family member’s illness; for certain absences resulting from the employee or a family member being a victim of domestic or sexual violence; for time during which the employee is not able to work because of a closure of the employee’s workplace, or the school or place of care of a child of the employee, in connection with a public health emergency or a determination that the presence of the employee or child in the community would jeopardize the health of others; or to attend school-related conferences, meetings, or events, or to attend other meetings regarding care for the employee’s child. Paid time off used for these purposes must be paid at the same rate of pay with the same benefits...
Category: Employee Benefits
In Mathias v. Caterpillar, Inc., the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld a forum selection clause requiring a participant in a benefits plan governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) to bring suit in the Central District of Illinois. The plaintiff had brought suit in federal court in Pennsylvania, invoking ERISA’s venue provision, which, inter alia, allows suit to be brought in any district in which the defendant is found. The Court, however, ruled that ERISA’s venue provision was subject to the benefits plan’s forum selection clause. The decision is of obvious significance to employers who would prefer to avoid being subject to ERISA-based suits in multiple jurisdictions. Background Mathias, who had been employed at a Caterpillar facility in York, Pennsylvania, began receiving health insurance benefits in 1997 under the company’s long term disability plan. When he chose to retire in 2012 retroactive to 2009 his change in status mandated an increase in his insurance premiums, which Caterpillar mistakenly failed to implement. In 2013, the company realized its mistake and notified Mathias that he owed more than $9,500 in past-due premiums. When Mathias did not pay that amount, Caterpillar terminated his benefits. Mathias sued...
The EEOC Finalizes Wellness Program Guidance, Issuing Final Rules on Workplace Wellness Programs and a Sample Notice
After much anticipation (and confusion) regarding legally permissible parameters for certain employer-sponsored wellness programs, on May 16, 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued two final rules concerning wellness programs that offer incentives in exchange for health information from employees and their spouses. Specifically, the rules describe how wellness programs can comply with Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and Title II of the Genetic Information Nondisclosure Act (“GINA”). According to the EEOC’s press release, the rules provide guidance under the ADA and GINA consistent with the relevant provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”), as amended by the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). The EEOC’s proposed regulations were discussed in a previous post following our presentation entitled “Wellness Programs for a Healthy Workplace” at the Fifth Annual Gibbons Employment & Labor Law Conference. Then, in June, the EEOC issued a sample notice for employer-sponsored wellness programs. Here, we parse the rules into bright-line takeaways for employers.
At the Fifth Annual Gibbons Employment & Labor Law Conference for clients of the firm, we presented a program entitled “Wellness Programs for a Healthy Workplace.” Cathy Kenworthy, President and CEO of Interactive Health, discussed the business case for implementing wellness programs in our workplaces, while I addressed the numerous laws impacting such programs.
Supreme Court Rules ERISA Statute of Limitations Does Not Bar Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claim Challenging 401(k) Plan Investments Made More Than 6 Years Before Filing of the Claim
The statute of limitations governing breach of fiduciary duty claims brought under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) provides that such claims are untimely if not brought within 6 years after “the date of the last action which constituted the breach or violation” or “in the case of an omission, the latest date on which the fiduciary could have cured the breach or violation” (29 U.S.C. § 1113). In Tibble v. Edison International, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that ERISA’s statute of limitations did not bar plaintiffs from pursuing their breach of fiduciary duty claim arising out of investments made by their employer’s 401(k) plan, although the investments were made more than 6 years before plaintiffs filed their claim. The Court held that ERISA plan fiduciaries have an ongoing duty to monitor plan investments and to remove imprudent investments. As long as the alleged breach of this continuing duty occurred within 6 years of suit, a claim challenging a fiduciary’s failure to act will be timely. The Court rejected the argument that only “a significant change in circumstances” triggers the duty to remove imprudent investments.
Pennsylvania’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance May Be Put On Permanent Bed Rest but Trenton’s Ordinance Survives Court Challenge
In response to the growing trend of municipalities enacting paid sick leave ordinances, business groups are trying to fight back. On April 15, 2015, the Pennsylvania Senate passed a bill that would overturn Philadelphia’s new paid sick leave law. In New Jersey, however, a court challenge to Trenton’s paid sick leave ordinance has hit a roadblock.
“Five New Year’s Resolutions for Employers,” written by Employment & Labor Law Department Directors Kelly Bird and Carla Dorsi, was the featured cover story in this month’s Metropolitan Corporate Counsel. The article outlines the following five employment practices for clients to focus on in 2015. Resolution #1: I will review my company’s arbitration agreements. Resolution #2: I will examine my company’s hiring practices, from job postings through background checks. Resolution #3: I will ensure my company’s paid time off policies and practices are compliant with paid sick leave laws. Resolution #4: I will rethink my company’s policies and practices concerning pregnant employees. Resolution #5: I will equip my employees with the knowledge and ability to comply with and enforce my company’s policies and our legal obligations.
Trenton and Montclair became the latest New Jersey municipalities to approve paid sick leave laws in 2014. The issue was put before voters on Election Day and was approved by a comfortable margin in both cities. The Trenton and Montclair ordinances, which will take effect on March 4, 2015, are part of a growing trend in the state of New Jersey which began last year when Jersey City became the first municipality in the State to pass such a law. In early 2014, Newark followed suit with a similar law. Thereafter, Passaic, East Orange, Paterson, and Irvington have all passed paid sick leave laws scheduled to take effect between December 31, 2014 and January 7, 2015. In addition, a bill is pending in the New Jersey State Legislature which would, if passed, make paid sick leave a statewide law.
On January 28, 2014, the Newark, New Jersey City Council passed a paid sick leave ordinance making it the second New Jersey municipality ─ along with Jersey City ─ to pass such a law. The Newark ordinance, which takes effect 120 days after its enactment, requires Newark employers of all sizes (with the exception of governmental entities) to provide a minimum number of paid sick leave days to employees.
On September 25, 2013, the City of Jersey City became the first municipality in New Jersey to pass paid sick leave legislation. City Ordinance 13.097, which takes effect on January 23, 2014, makes Jersey City the seventh U.S. state or municipality to enact legislation mandating paid sick leave. Previously, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland passed similar laws. The District of Columbia and the state of Connecticut have also passed such legislation. The Jersey City ordinance mandates that individuals employed by employers with 10 or more employees accrue 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum accrual of 40 hours. Those individuals employed by employers with less than 10 employees will accrue sick time under the same formula, however it need not be paid.