Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Blog

The View from Proskauer on Developments in the World of Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation & ERISA Litigation

Category Archives: Severance

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No Ongoing Administration, No ERISA Plan

Participants in a voluntary separation program filed suit for breach of fiduciary duty under ERISA seeking additional benefits after learning that greater benefits were provided to individuals who did not participate in the program but were later part of an involuntary reduction-in-force.  The Third Circuit concluded that the program was not an ERISA plan because … Continue Reading

Highlights from Proskauer’s Annual ERISAFEST Conference

Proskauer held its annual ERISAFEST conference on Thursday, April 26, bringing together over 200 legal counsel, plan fiduciaries and professionals involved in the administration of employee benefit plans to discuss recent developments and legal issues in the area of employee benefits. We were pleased to host a special lunch panel featuring Aliya Wong from the … Continue Reading

[Podcast]: Severance Pay Plans & ERISA

In a benefits law edition of The Proskauer Brief, senior counsel Anthony Cacace and partner Robert Projansky discuss how severance plans can be subject to ERISA. They also discuss the key advantages of having severance pay arrangements covered by ERISA and what employers can do to design plans that comply with the substantive and procedural requirements of ERISA, but … Continue Reading

View From Proskauer: Investigating and Deciding Severance Benefits Claims

Plan administrators charged with administering Employee Retirement Income Security Act-governed severance plans are often confronted with the question of whether they should conduct an independent investigation into the reasons the employer-plan sponsor terminated an individual’s employment before deciding whether to grant or deny the individual’s claim for severance benefits. The decision to conduct such an … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Finds Severance Payments are Subject to FICA

On March 25, 2014, in a decision highly anticipated by employers, the U.S. Supreme Court held unanimously that certain severance payments paid to employees who were involuntarily terminated were taxable wages for purposes of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). United States v. Quality Stores, Inc., et al., No. 12-1408 (U.S. Mar. 25, 2014). The … Continue Reading

Supreme Court to Decide Whether RIF-Related Severance Pay Is Subject to FICA

Although some would argue that the next U.S. Supreme Court term is not shaping up to be as monumental as the last term, employers should have their eye on the recent decision of the Court to hear United States v. Quality Stores, Inc. The Court’s decision in this case in the next term will finally … Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit Will Not Rehear Quality Stores Decision that Severance Pay in Connection with a Reduction in Force is not Subject to FICA; Supreme Court Next Step?

On September 7, 2012, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held in United States v. Quality Stores, Inc. that severance payments to former employees pursuant to an involuntary reduction in force are not taxable “wages” for purposes of Social Security and Medicare withholding under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act, or FICA. The decision is significant … Continue Reading

Eighth Circuit Affirms Denial of Severance Benefits Where Plaintiff Terminated for Misconduct

In Carr v. Anheuser Busch Co., No. 12–1224, 2012 WL 6685323 (8th Cir. Dec. 21, 2012), the Eighth Circuit affirmed summary judgment dismissing an ERISA Section 502(a)(1)(B) claim for severance benefits, finding that the plaintiff was terminated for misconduct, thereby disqualifying him from receiving benefits under the terms of the plan.  Plaintiff was terminated for attempting … Continue Reading
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