Robert Newman

Robert Newman

Robert Newman represents clients ranging from small employers to some of the nation’s largest employers, including for-profit and tax-exempt entities.  His practice includes designing, drafting, and amending a wide range of retirement plans (including 401(k) plans, ESOPs, and traditional and hybrid defined benefit plans) and welfare plans (including health, severance, and cafeteria plans); creating executive compensation arrangements including nonqualified deferred compensation plans, stock option plans, and other incentive plans; representing clients before the IRS and the Department of Labor; assisting clients with legislative initiatives; providing benefits expertise in corporate transactions and ERISA litigation; counseling clients with respect to pension fund investments in private equity funds and hedge funds; and negotiating and writing employment agreements.

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Employees in France and Germany May No Longer Have to Respond to Work-Related Emails Out of Working Hours

As people head off on their summer breaks, regulators in Europe, particularly Germany, are increasingly focused on the breakdown of the division between home and work life and how this division is changing as mobile devices become used for work-related emails. Regulators are considering new rules that would limit an employer’s ability to require employees … Continue Reading

Pension De-Risking Gets New Rules: IRS Shuts Down Lump Sum Offers to Retirees While Connecticut Increases Safety of Group Annuity Contracts

The IRS issued a notice today stating that it intends to amend regulations to prohibit a pension plan from offering a lump sum distribution to participants who are receiving annuity payments. The new guidance would take effect today, except for certain lump sum offers already in progress. While de-risking through lump sum offers becomes more … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Overturns Inference of Vesting of Bargained Retiree Benefits

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in M&G Polymers USA v. Tackett, addressing the question whether a collective bargaining agreement is presumed to provide vested retiree medical benefits.  Unlike pension benefits, welfare benefits, such as retiree medical coverage, are not subject to statutory vesting rules under ERISA.  Accordingly, whether an employer may … Continue Reading

Senators Identify Concerns and Call for Guidance on Pension De-Risking

The Chairs of the two Senate committees that govern pensions sent a letter last week to the heads of government agencies overseeing pensions requesting additional guidance on pension de-risking.  The letter was written by Senator Wyden (D-Or), as Chair of the Committee on Finance, and Senator Harkin (D-IA), as Chair of the Committee on Health, … Continue Reading

Hybrid Plan Regulations Could Reinvigorate the Defined Benefit Plan System

Treasury and the IRS recently issued long-awaited regulations governing cash balance and other hybrid pension plans.  Final regulations implement the intent of Congress in the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (the “PPA”) to eliminate the so-called “whipsaw calculation” and permit more generous rates of return for employees and retirees.  Proposed regulations issued at the same … Continue Reading

Motorola Solutions Announces Third-Largest Pension De-Risking Transaction

Earlier today, Motorola Solutions announced that it is transferring $3 billion of pension liabilities to Prudential.  The transfer covers approximately 30,000 plan participants who  currently receive monthly pensions.  In addition, former employees who have a vested benefit under the company’s pension plan but have not yet begun to receive benefits will be given a one-time … Continue Reading

NLRB Continues to Limit Employers’ Actions Governing Employees’ Use of Social Media

We previously noted that the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) takes the position that the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) protects employees’ use of social media for certain purposes, and these protections apply regardless of whether the employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement.  Our colleagues at InsidePrivacy recently posted a blog post discussing … Continue Reading

Reducing Pension Costs By Increasing Defined Benefit Pensions: Kodak’s Innovative Approach

Kodak recently announced that it is increasing the benefits provided under its defined benefit plan.  Kodak will credit an additional 3% of pay each year under its cash balance pension plan instead of making a matching contribution of up to 3% of pay under its 401(k) plan.  In connection with this change, Kodak announced that … Continue Reading

Stock-Drop Decision Helpful to ESOP Fiduciaries

Yesterday, the Supreme Court issued its much anticipated decision in the stock-drop case, Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoeffer.  The Court vacated the lower court decision that was adverse to the employer, Fifth Third Bancorp, and remanded the case to the lower courts for further proceedings. Fiduciaries of employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) had hoped that … Continue Reading

Verizon Prevails (Again) on Motion to Dismiss Challenge to $7.5 Billion Pension Settlement

Seems like we’ve written this before, but this time we (actually a federal district court) really means it:  the court in Lee v. Verizon granted last Friday Verizon’s motion to dismiss a class action lawsuit challenging its transfer in late 2012 of $7.5 billion of pension liabilities to Prudential (Lee v. Verizon, N.D. Tex.).  The … Continue Reading

Will Windsor Apply Retroactively to Retirement Plans? IRS Provides Some (But Not All) the Answers

When the Supreme Court held in United States v. Windsor last June that federal law recognizes same-sex marriages, the question arose whether this ruling would apply to tax-qualified retirement plans retroactively.  Last week, the IRS answered that question, in part. For tax-qualification purposes, plans must generally recognize the Windsor decision as of the date of … Continue Reading

Supplemental Unemployment Benefits Subject to FICA Tax, Supreme Court Holds

Earlier today, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in United States v. Quality Stores.  The opinion, authored by Justice Kennedy, reverses the Sixth Circuit and concludes that the supplemental unemployment benefit payments (or “SUB” payments) at issue in the case are subject to tax under the Federal Insurance Contribution Act (“FICA”).  The Government has previously … Continue Reading

Top Ten Things to Know about the Final Shared Responsibility Regulations

The final shared responsibility regulations under the Affordable Care Act, issued earlier this month, in large part maintain the rules set forth in the proposed regulations.  However, there are several ways in which the final regulations modify or clarify these rules.  Below is a top ten list (which we’re sure David Letterman would use if … Continue Reading

Dust Off HIPAA Policies and Procedures Before HHS Comes Knocking

Employers should be aware that the Department of Human Services (“HHS”) is stepping up its enforcement of requirements for covered entities, such as group health plans, to adopt and implement policies and procedures for protecting and securing protected health information in accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”).  As our … Continue Reading

Another Large Pension Settlement Indicates Transfer Trend Will Continue

SPX Corporation recently announced it would transfer pension liabilities for 16,000 retirees to Massachusetts Mutual.  The amount of these liabilities is reported to be $625 million.  In addition, SPX will offer 7,500 former employees the option of taking a lump sum distribution from the SPX pension plan.  SPX expects that the two actions together will reduce … Continue Reading

Institutional Investor Names the 40 Most Influential People in Pensions

Who is most influential in shaping the future of the nation’s pensions?  Institutional Investor names the top 40 for 2013.  The list includes politicians (such as Rahm Emanuel and two U.S. senators), actuaries, hedge fund managers, government officials, academics − and two lawyers in private practice, David Boies (for his work defending Rhode Island’s pension … Continue Reading

ERISA Plans’ Valuation of Private Equity and Other Alternative Investments Draws Increased Scrutiny

The Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General recently issued a report detailing concerns with the valuation of alternative investments (such as private equity funds, hedge funds, and real estate) held by ERISA plans.  ERISA requires plan sponsors and fiduciaries to value investments for several purposes, including to determine funding obligations, select investments, monitor investment … Continue Reading

Supreme Court To Resolve Whether Severance Pay for Layoffs Is Subject to FICA Tax

Earlier today, the Supreme Court agreed to review the Sixth Circuit’s decision United States v. Quality Stores.  In that decision, the Sixth Circuit sided with taxpayers and concluded that certain severance payments that qualify as supplemental unemployment benefit payments (or “SUB” payments) for federal income tax purposes are not subject to tax under the Federal … Continue Reading

IRS Issues Special Administrative Procedures for DOMA Tax Refund Claims by Employers

The IRS issued a notice today setting forth special procedures by which employers may claim a refund of FICA taxes that were paid on employee benefits solely because of the application of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”).  Section 3 of DOMA prohibited the IRS from recognizing same-sex marriages for federal tax purposes and was … Continue Reading

Not To Miss the Party, Department of Labor Joins the Place Of Celebration Approach Following Windsor

The Department of Labor issued a technical release today addressing the effect of the Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Windsor on employee benefit plans.  The Windsor decision struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, thereby requiring the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages that are recognized under state law.  The IRS … Continue Reading

Plan Documents Should Not Be Rewritten When an SPD Does Not Disclose Wear-Away, Industry Groups Say

In an amicus brief filed last week, the ERISA Industry Committee and Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America stated that a court should not rewrite a plan document, or penalize the administrator who follows the plan document, merely because a summary plan description does not disclose wear-away in pension accruals (although it did summarize … Continue Reading

Health Coverage Reporting Rules Create New Burdens for Employers

The IRS has released proposed regulations that implement two significant new reporting requirements for employer group health plans.  Employers and insurers that provide minimum essential health coverage must report information to the IRS about the coverage provided to each individual for each month, with a copy of the statement to the individual.  Employers with at … Continue Reading

Celebrating the Arrival of Windsor Guidance: Same-Sex Marriages Will Be Recognized For Federal Tax Purposes Based on Place of Celebration

The IRS issued guidance today defining same-sex marriage for purposes of federal tax rules.  Following the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor last June invalidating section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), federal law no longer limits the definition of marriage to opposite sex spouses.  However, the Windsor decision did not … Continue Reading
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