Mar 29, 2024

Navigating Supply Chain Disruptions for Businesses Affected by the Collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge

On March 26, 2024, the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed. Spanning the Port of Baltimore, the Bridge was one of the busiest in the United States, handling more than 444,000 passengers and $80 billion in foreign cargo each year. The collapse of the Bridge will significantly impact supply chains, particularly in the automotive, farming, and construction industries. Businesses relying on either the Bridge or the Port of Baltimore for their supply chain operations may experience challenges in sourcing materials, fulfilling orders, and meeting contractual obligations. Given the potential for prolonged disruptions, it is crucial for affected parties to assess the… Read more

Mar 20, 2024

“Equivalent Benefits” Requirements for Illinois Staffing Employees Temporarily Enjoined

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (the “District Court”) recently entered a temporary injunction halting enforcement of certain benefits-related provisions under the Illinois Day and Temporary Labor Services Act (the “DTLSA”). These benefits-related provisions were previously set to take effect on April 1, 2024. “Equivalent Benefits” Requirements. The benefits-related provisions of the DTLSA gave staffing agencies operating in Illinois a choice: Pay their staffing employees who were assigned to work at a client site for more than 90 days within a year at least the same wages and “equivalent benefits” as the lowest paid, comparable employee… Read more

Mar 11, 2024

Texas District Court Invalidates NLRB’s Joint Employer Rule

On March 8, 2024, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas invalidated the recently issued final rule for establishing joint employer status under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). As we previously reported, on October 27, 2023, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) issued a final rule on the criteria for establishing joint employer status under the NLRA, rescinding the 2020 joint-employer rule of “direct and immediate control.” The federal court criticized the new proposed joint-employer standard, which posited that an entity could be deemed a joint employer of a group of employees if each entity… Read more

Mar 7, 2024

What You Need to Know About the Corporate Transparency Act

On January 1, 2024, the Corporate Transparency Act (“CTA”) went into effect.  The intent of the CTA is to bring the United States into compliance with international anti-money laundering standards.  The CTA requires certain entities to register with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network bureau of the United States Department of the Treasury (“FinCEN”) and provide FinCEN with certain limited personal information regarding their beneficial owners and company applicants. CTA Filing Deadlines The following filing deadlines apply to entities that are required to make filings with FinCEN under the CTA: Entities formed or registered prior to January 1, 2024 have until… Read more

Feb 16, 2024

Group Health Plan Fiduciaries May Now be a Target of Lawsuits for Excessive Fees

History of 401(k) Plan Excessive Fee Cases.  Once the Department of Labor’s participant fee disclosure rules for retirement plans became effective in 2012, the plaintiffs’ bar latched onto recordkeeping and investment fees paid by 401(k) plans, and the number of lawsuits claiming excessive fees exploded. In the early cases, participants filed lawsuits against the plans’ recordkeepers claiming that they overcharged the plans.  However, as courts consistently ruled that the recordkeepers were not fiduciaries and had no duty to charge low or even reasonable fees, the focus of these lawsuits pivoted to the plan fiduciaries. Now, hundreds of fee cases are… Read more

Jan 30, 2024

Two New Laws Expand California’s Non-Compete Prohibition and Require Employers to Provide Notice to Current and Former Employees

California flag flying in front of capitol building.

California State Senate Bill 699 (“SB 699”) and California State Assembly Bill 1076 (“AB 1076”) enhance California’s well-known prohibition against non-compete agreements or restrictive covenants. Both bills, which took effect on January 1, 2024, add additional requirements and penalties to the existing statutory framework. Prior to passage of SB 699 and AB 1076, Business & Professions Code Section 16600 provided that “every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind is to that extent void.” Historically, courts have interpreted Section 16600 to prohibit post-employment non-compete agreements, as well as post-employment… Read more

Jan 12, 2024

The DOL Publishes Final Rule Regarding Independent Contractor Classification Under the FLSA

On January 10, 2024, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published its Final Rule amending the criteria used to determine whether a worker qualifies as an employee or an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Final Rule is available here. While the Final Rule goes into effect March 11, 2024, legal challenges are expected and may impact when or if the Final Rule takes effect. The Final Rule rescinds the preceding 2021 rule and replaces it with six-factor test focused on the “economic reality” of the relationship between a potential employer and a worker to determine… Read more

Dec 18, 2023

Fourth Quarter 2023: Private Wealth, Trusts & Estates Practice Group of Smith Gambrell & Russell LLP

Upcoming Cuts to Estate and Gift Tax Exemptions, and Importance of Prompt Decisions and Actions: Most estate planning clients of SGR’s Private Wealth Trusts & Estates Practice Group are familiar with the unified estate and gift tax exemption.  That exemption allows a donor or to transfer property during life or at death without paying gift or estate taxes, respectively. The base exemption was raised to $5 million in 2011 and has since been increased for inflation.  (The exemption for the Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, or “GST Tax,” has tracked that same exemption amount starting in 2011.) The base exemption was doubled… Read more

Dec 1, 2023

Long-Term, Part-Time Employees IRS Proposed Regulations

On November 24, 2023, the IRS released the long-awaited Proposed Regulations addressing the changes made by the SECURE Act and SECURE 2.0 related to long-term, part-time employees (“LTPTs”) in 401(k) plans.  While the IRS uses the name ‘long-term, part-time employees’ in the Proposed Regulations, these rules apply to part-time, seasonal and other types of reduced-hours workers, and could potentially apply to even some full-time employees if a plan uses hours to determine eligibility to participate.  The Proposed Regulations would amend Treasury Regulation 1.401(k)-5 to reflect the LTPT rules and would be applicable for plan years that begin on or after January… Read more