On June 30, 2014, the US Supreme Court decided the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. in a 5-4 decision along partisan lines.  The Court ruled that closely held, for-profit companies are entitled to certain religious freedom protections from generally applicable regulations that violate the sincerely held religious beliefs of their owners.  Specifically, the majority held that such companies are exempt from the requirement under the Affordable Care Act (the “ACA” a/k/a Obamacare) to provide birth control coverage for their employees.
Continue Reading The Supreme Court’s Ruling in Hobby Lobby that Closely Held, For-Profit Companies Should Receive Religious Exemptions From ObamaCare’s Conception Mandate Likely Will Have Little Practical Impact Immediately in the Employment Arena

On February 10, 2014, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service announced another one-year delay for a portion of businesses covered by the Employer Mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act (also known as the “ACA” or “ObamaCare”). Specifically, otherwise-covered entities with 50 to 99 full-time employees will not have to comply with the Mandate until January 1, 2016. Meanwhile, employers with 100 or more full-time employees now only will need to offer coverage to 70 percent of their full-time employees in 2015. However, all covered employers will be required to offer coverage to the previously mandated 95 percent of full-time employees beginning in 2016.
Continue Reading ObamaCare’s Employer Mandate is Delayed for Another Year Until 2016 for Businesses with Less Than 100 Full-Time Employees and is Modified for Larger Businesses Too

By Karin Johnson and Megan Grant*

When the Supreme Court issued its opinion in U.S. v. Windsor on June 26, it invalidated the federal definitions of “spouse” and “marriage,” and, in so doing, altered employer obligations with respect to same-sex marriages. Although the media coverage of this decision has understandably focused on other implications of the decision, it inevitably creates new challenges for employers. In this post, we will provide insight into how the decision will affect employers moving forward and provide suggestions as to how employers can best prepare in the face of new areas of uncertainty created by this decision.


Continue Reading Considerations for US Employers Post-DOMA

On March 30, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 ("Health Care Act"), which amended the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Patient Protection Act") that was signed into law only a few days prior on March 23, 2010. The Health Care Act contained provisions proposed by President Obama and requested by various members of Congress after the Patient Protection Act had already been passed by Senate in December 2009. This new law, which was designed to provide coverage to millions of Americans who are uninsured or underinsured, makes broad changes to the nation’s health care system, and will have both an immediate and long-term impact on employers and their benefit plans. Below is a brief overview of important aspects of the law which will affect employers in the next year as well as certain other provisions with later effective dates.


Continue Reading Navigating Through Health Care Reform: Important Information For Employers

On March 2, 2010, President Obama signed into law legislation that extends the Federal government’s COBRA premium subsidy program. The new legislation extends the subsidy program until March 31, 2010, retroactive to March 1, 2010. Currently, the Federal government is subsidizing the cost of COBRA continuation coverage for certain individuals that experience a loss of coverage under employer-sponsored health plans due to an involuntary termination. Previously, only employees who were terminated prior to February 28, 2010 were eligible for the subsidy. Pursuant to this recent extension, employees who are involuntarily terminated between March 1, 2010 and March 31, 2010 will also be eligible for the subsidy.


Continue Reading Federal Government Extends COBRA Subsidy

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ("ARRA"), which President Obama signed into law on February 17, 2009, created a federal subsidy of the premiums payable by certain terminated employees for continuation coverage provided under employer-sponsored group health plans pursuant to the requirements of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, as amended (also known as "COBRA"). The premium subsidy and new notification requirements under COBRA that apply to employers and plan administrators as a result of this legislation are summarized below.


Continue Reading The COBRA premium subsidy under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – What Employers and Plan Administrators need to know

The Second Circuit’s ruling in Westrec Marina Management v. Arrowood Indemnity Co. is a warning to employers to report potential claims to their insurance carrier as soon as possible or face denial of coverage.  In Westrec, an employee filed a charge of discrimination against Westrec with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and requested an immediate right to sue letter.  Subsequently, her attorney sent a demand letter to Westrec asserting claims and seeking possible early settlement prior to filing a lawsuit.  At the time of the letter, Westrec failed to inform its insurer, Arrowood, of the claim.  The employee later filed a civil action, and when Westrec tendered the claim, Arrowood denied coverage.


Continue Reading Second Circuit Court Of Appeals Rules That An Employer Must Notify Its Insurer Of A Potential Claim Upon Receiving A Demand Letter From Counsel