Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c. Alerts and Updates

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With the news that COVID-19 vaccines will soon be available in Wisconsin, employers are beginning to question whether they can—or should—require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Although employers can mandate the COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment, as discussed below, this may not be the best choice for most employers. When determining whether to implement a mandatory vaccination, employers should assess the exposure risk inherent in the workplace. For example, is it a high risk workplace, such as a hospital or nursing home? Second, employers should consider the effect of a mandatory vaccination program on workplace morale. Recent…
Given that COVID-19 vaccines will soon be available in Wisconsin, employers in the health care industry are beginning to evaluate how to navigate questions surrounding the administration of the vaccines to employees and patients. Requiring vaccinations as a condition of employment is already a common practice in the health care industry, particularly with flu vaccinations. However, employers may be required to provide employees with religious accommodations as required by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII) or disability accommodations as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). An employee may also have a valid medical reason to…
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is set to expire on December 31, 2020, but employers must remain diligent in complying with their responsibilities as employment litigation related to COVID-19 continues to grow. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act Congress enacted FFCRA on March 18, 2020, and it went into effect April 1, 2020. The legislation created new types of paid leave for employees related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees who may be entitled to leave under FFCRA can include: An employee who is under a quarantine or isolation order. An employee who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking…
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued revised guidance with options for reducing the length of quarantine for individuals who are asymptomatic, but have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. While the CDC still acknowledges that the 14-day quarantine period provides the greatest protection from spreading the virus, they also recognize that a full 14-day quarantine period can be a burden for employers and employees alike. The CDC’s new guidance applies only to individuals who have been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive person, but are not showing symptoms. The new…
On November 19, 2020, the Court of Justice for the European Union determined cannabidiol (CBD) derived from the entire cannabis plant is a lawful product, greatly expanding opportunities for CBD production and sales in the European Union. The Court’s decision stems from a challenge to France’s prosecution of a Czech company that marketed CBD oil extracted from the entire cannabis plant in France. Under French law, companies can only sell fiber and seeds from the cannabis plant that contain less than 0.2% of Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound found in cannabis. When THC is ingested at certain levels, it…
The Proposal On June 23, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) proposed new regulations to govern decisions by fiduciaries at private pension funds when considering environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in making investment decisions under the Employees Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Citing prior conflicting DOL guidance, the proposal questioned materiality of ESG factors and built the proposal on a stated belief that “ESG investing raises heightened concerns under ERISA… the growing emphasis on ESG investing may be prompting ERISA plan fiduciaries to make investment decisions for purposes distinct from providing benefits to participants and beneficiaries and defraying…
As the end of the year nears, a U.S. subsidiary may try to repatriate cash to its foreign parent. Repatriation may occur in several different methods with each having advantages and disadvantages. Most methods to repatriate will incur a 30 percent withholding tax, unless reduced by an applicable treaty. Dividends are the simplest way to repatriate, but are usually tax inefficient. A U.S. subsidiary cannot deduct a dividend from taxable income. Moreover, a dividend will typically incur the highest withholding taxes under tax treaties. Repatriating via interest payments is tax efficient – the U.S. subsidiary can deduct the interest, which…
HEALTH AND WELFARE PLAN DEVELOPMENTS Agencies Issue Final Transparency in Coverage Rule On October 29, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of the Treasury (collectively, the Departments) published the final version of the Transparency in Coverage rule. First proposed in November 2019, the rule imposes new transparency requirements on group health plans and health insurers. The final version of the rule is largely consistent with the proposed version, but modifies certain definitions and procedures to clarify requirements. Under the final rule, most health insurers offering non-grandfathered health insurance…
Probate is the court-supervised process by which a deceased individual’s assets are transferred after death. Assets that are titled in an individual’s sole name at death without an appropriate beneficiary designation become part of that decedent’s probate estate and must make their way through probate. The goal of the probate process is to protect the rights of heirs, beneficiaries and creditors. Probate can be costly and time consuming, making it an undesirable process. Because it is court-supervised, documents filed with the court (such as the decedent’s will and an inventory of the decedent’s probate property) become public record. Expenses generally…
On October 15, 2020, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) announced its decision to postpone the transition of Wisconsin’s Hemp Pilot Research Program to the permanent Wisconsin State Hemp Plan. The permanent Wisconsin State Hemp Plan is more restrictive than the current Pilot Research Program. For example, in order to recoup some of their costs, the Pilot Research Program allows hemp farmers to sell plant stalks or other components even if their flowers test above the legal THC limit, which is a practice the Wisconsin State Hemp Plan does not permit. This and other restrictions in…
RETIREMENT PLAN DEVELOPMENTS PBGC Provides COVID‑19 Relief for Variable‑Rate Premium Filers by Extending Due Date for Prior Year Contributions On September 23, 2020, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) issued Technical Update 20‑02 that provides additional flexibility for variable‑rate premium filers. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act extended the due date for certain pension contributions otherwise due during 2020 until January 1, 2021, but did not provide any guidance with respect to PBGC premiums related to such contributions. Under the PBGC’s new guidance, plans may include all contributions received by January 1, 2021, in their plan assets…
The 2020 General Election is less than a month away and like most facets of our daily lives, it will be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Although many people are voting early or absentee, those voting in-person may experience longer wait times as a result of safety and social distancing measures and due to the potential of short-staffed polling sites. As a result of shortages of election officials during the prior elections in 2020, municipalities are actively recruiting new election officials to compensate for the existing poll workers in high-risk categories who have chosen not to serve during the COVID-19…
On September 17, 2020, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (Patent Office) launched a new pilot program in an effort to incentivize inventors to find solutions to COVID-19. Under the new pilot program, filing fees for provisional patent applications may be deferred and, in some cases, need not be paid at all if certain conditions relating to COVID-19 are met. The pilot program is reserved for provisional patent applications filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(b). Nonprovisional patent applications or international applications designating the United States are not eligible for participation. Currently, inventors enjoy the economic advantage provided by the patenting right…
On September 17, 2020, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (Patent Office) launched a new pilot program in an effort to incentivize inventors to find solutions to COVID-19. Under the new pilot program, filing fees for provisional patent applications may be deferred and, in some cases need not be paid at all if certain conditions relating to COVID-19 are met. The pilot program is reserved for provisional patent applications filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(b). Nonprovisional patent applications or international applications designating the United States are not eligible for participation. Currently, inventors enjoy the economic advantage provided by the patenting right…
As 2020 is coming to a rapid close and business losses are looming, noncorporate taxpayers should consider whether their businesses will generate net operating losses (NOLs), and whether any loss limitation rules will prevent them from utilizing these losses on their individual returns. Several months ago, we alerted clients to the recent change in NOL rules. Under the CARES Act, NOLs generated in tax years beginning after December 31, 2017 and before January 1, 2021 (i.e., 2018, 2019 and 2020 for calendar year taxpayers), can be carried back five years, and carried forward indefinitely with no limitation. For noncorporate…
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant challenges to M&A transactions. Negotiations have crumbled, closings have been delayed and overall M&A activity has declined. While uncertainty remains about when M&A activity will return to normal, it appears that M&A litigation will increase in the coming months. Cases are being filed across the country as buyers and sellers who entered into M&A deals prior to—or in the early stages of—the pandemic seek legal relief to enforce or excuse obligations under their respective agreements. One of the more talked about disputes involves Victoria’s Secret owner, L Brands, who sued Sycamore Partners after Sycamore…