Tag Archives: Supreme Court

Supreme Court Deals Another Blow to Sixth Circuit’s “Yard-Man Inferences”

On February 20, 2018, the Supreme Court decided CNH Industrial N.V. v. Reese, 574 U.S. ___ (2018), which raised, for the second time in three years, the question of how courts should interpret collective-bargaining agreements (“CBAs”).  Reese involved a dispute between retirees and their former employer, CNH, about whether an expired 1998 CBA created a … Continue Reading

Marriage Equality Decision Is Big News (But May Have Little Impact on Private Sector Employee Benefit Plans)

The Supreme Court’s decision last week in Obergefell v. Hodges is big news: it held that the 14th Amendment requires states to license same-sex marriages and to recognize lawful out-of-state same-sex marriages, and thus legalized same-sex marriage throughout the country.  In a final section that begins with a philosopher’s take — “No union is more … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Makes New Rule in Analyzing Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Supreme Court held on March 25, 2015 in Young v. UPS that a plaintiff alleging pregnancy discrimination based upon the denial of an accommodation may proceed under the familiar McDonnell Douglas framework generally applied to Title VII discrimination claims. The Court’s decision, which resulted in a remand to the Fourth Circuit, surprised many observers … Continue Reading

Lawsuit by Surviving Same-Sex Spouse Raises Windsor Retroactivity Question

A complaint filed this month against FedEx Corporation and its pension plan asks a court to apply the Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor v. United States retroactively.  The case is Schuett v. FedEx Corporation.  The plaintiff is the surviving same-sex spouse of a FedEx pension plan participant who died six days before the Court issued … 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

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

Federal Courts Decide Rights of Same-Sex Spouses After DOMA

More than a month after the Supreme Court struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) in United States v. Windsor, employers are still waiting for the federal government to answer fundamental questions about the rights of same-sex spouses in the post-DOMA world.  In the meantime, however, lower federal courts have begun … Continue Reading

ACA Employer Mandate Survives Constitutional Challenge

A federal court of appeals has ruled unanimously that the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act is a valid exercise of Congress’s constitutional power to regulate commerce.  The employer mandate requires employers with more than 50 full-time employees to provide affordable health coverage or pay a penalty.  The plaintiffs argued that the Commerce Clause … Continue Reading

Supreme Court’s DOMA Decision Has Significant Implications for Employers and Employee Benefit Plans

Earlier today in United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court struck down section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”).  Section 3 of DOMA limits the definition of marriage for purposes of federal law to marriage between individuals of the opposite sex.   The Court held that DOMA deprives same sex couples of due … Continue Reading

U.S. Seeks Supreme Court Review of Decision that Severance Pay for Layoffs Is Not Subject to FICA Tax

Last Friday, the government asked the Supreme Court to review the Sixth Circuit’s decision in 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 compensation benefit payments (or “SUB” payments) for federal income tax purposes are not subject to … Continue Reading

Supreme Court’s McCutchen Decision Highlights Plan Drafting Opportunity

In its recent decision in U.S. Airways v. McCutchen, all nine justices of the Supreme Court agreed that equitable principles do not override the clear terms of an ERISA plan.  Although a majority of the Court went on to find that the plan at issue was ambiguous, the decision makes clear that plan documents—when clear—may … Continue Reading

While the Supreme Court considers DOMA’s fate, what’s an in-house benefits lawyer or HR professional to do?

If the Supreme Court holds that the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) is unconstitutional, those involved with the administration of employee benefits plans will be very busy.  Under DOMA, a benefit plan is not required to recognize same-sex marriage and, in many cases, must treat same-sex spouses differently than opposite-sex spouses.  If DOMA is struck … Continue Reading

Supreme Court to Address Plan’s Ability to Recover the Cost of Medical Benefits for Injuries Caused by a Third Party

On Tuesday, November 27th, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in U.S. Airways v. McCutchen.  The case will address a medical plan’s ability to recover the cost of medical benefits for injuries caused by a third party.  McCutchen is important to employers, because a ruling against U.S. Airways might significantly increase the cost of providing … Continue Reading