The Department of Labor (DOL) recently proposed a rule revising the definition of “employer” under Section 3(5) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”) for purposes of sponsoring a multiple-employer plan (MEP). The proposed rule, which is in response to President Trump’s August 31, 2018 Executive Order directing the DOL to examine policies expanding access to MEPs, would make it easier for small businesses who meet certain requirements to pool their resources to form a MEP, thereby reducing administrative costs. Continue reading
On March 15, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit elected, in a 2-1 decision, to vacate the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Fiduciary Rule (Chamber of Commerce of the U.S.A., et al. v. U.S. Dep’t of Labor, et al.). In doing so, the Fifth Circuit overturned the Fiduciary Rule in its entirety, including its new definition of fiduciary advice under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1975 (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code (Code), as well as the various new exemptions and revisions to existing exemptions that it features. It is uncertain whether the DOL will request that the Fifth Circuit rehear the case, appeal the case to the United States Supreme Court, or do nothing. The Fifth Circuit’s decision, however, has not deterred the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from continuing to discuss implementing its own fiduciary rule.
According to the Fifth Circuit’s majority opinion, the DOL exceeded its authority in adopting the new fiduciary investment advice definition in the Fiduciary Rule, finding the definition inconsistent with the plain text of ERISA and the Code. The Fifth Circuit also concluded that the DOL acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” in, among other things, requiring people providing services to IRAs to sign a contract under the Best Interest Contract exemption in which they admit that they are fiduciaries and can be sued. Therefore, the Fifth Circuit concluded that “the Rule fails to pass the tests of reasonableness of the [Administrative Procedures Act].” Continue reading