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Ninth Circuit Rules ERISA Pension Plan Must Pay Survivor Benefits to Registered Domestic Partner
Hanson Bridgett LLP, June 2019

In a short, unpublished opinion, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an ERISA pension plan administrator should have treated a deceased participant's registered domestic partner as a surviving spouse and granted his claim for survivor benefits...

California Appellate Court Affirms Large Punitive Damages Award Against Insurer
Hanson Bridgett LLP, June 2019

Last month, a California appellate court rejected an insurer's arguments and affirmed a large punitive damages award against the insurer, providing a fresh roadmap for policyholders to obtain such relief when insurers engage in certain bad-faith practices. Mazik v. GEICO General Insurance Company (2019) 35 Cal.App.5th 455 involved a policyholder's claim for the $50,000 limits under his underinsured motorist policy...

New COPA Policy Now in Effect as of June 2, 2019
Hanson Bridgett LLP, June 2019

On April 23, 2019, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA), a policy designed to stabilize communities by preventing displacement and preserving affordable housing. The Mayor signed the legislation on May 3, 2019 and it went into effect on June 2, 2019...

A Compendium of Qualified Opportunity Zone Proposed Regulations
Hanson Bridgett LLP, May 2019

 Article PDF   On April 17, 2019, the Treasury Department released a second round of proposed regulations (the "4/19 Regulations") providing additional guidance on the implementation of the Opportunity Zone (“OZ”) tax incentive included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The 4/19 Regulations are taxpayer-friendly and expand upon (but in some cases modify) the guidance provided in the initial proposed regulations released on October 19, 2018 (the "10/18 Regulations")...

Court Strikes Down Alameda Impact Fees in Boatworks, LLC v. City of Alameda
Hanson Bridgett LLP, May 2019

The Mitigation Fee Act, Government Code section 66000 et seq., authorizes local agencies to impose fees on development projects in order to cover the cost of public facilities needed to serve the developments. However, the local agencies' power to impose mitigation fees is not unlimited: the fees must be reasonably related to the increased burden on public facilities caused by the new development. (Gov. Code § 66000(b); 66001...

New IRS Rules Allow Retirement Plan Sponsors to Self-Correct Broader Range of Plan Failures
Hanson Bridgett LLP, May 2019

The IRS recently issued a new version of its Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System ("EPCRS") that gives sponsors of tax-qualified retirement plans additional options for self-correcting plan failures. The new EPCRS allows plan sponsors to use the Self-Correction Program ("SCP") in several circumstances, rather than requiring a Voluntary Compliance Program (VCP) filing with the IRS and payment of the applicable user fee...

San Francisco Nonprofits Granted Right of First Offer to Purchase Residential Buildings With Three or More Units
Hanson Bridgett LLP, May 2019

On April 16, 2019, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA). The Mayor signed the legislation on May 3, 2019. COPA grants certain qualified nonprofit organizations the right of first offer and right of first refusal on sales of privately-owned buildings with three or more residential units and privately-owned property on which three or more residential units could be built...

Newly Passed Measure Puts Pressure on Owners of Vacant Storefronts
Hanson Bridgett LLP, May 2019

Effective April 22, 2019, new legislation expands the obligation of property owners to register vacant commercial storefront spaces with the City. The Board of Supervisors may also place a "vacancy tax" on November's ballot, which would tax owners for vacant storefronts after six months of vacancy. The newly effective measure amounts to an update of a previous ordinance that was passed in 2014. Both were introduced by District 1 Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer...

Successor Employers Acquiring Unionized Workforces Benefit From NLRB Decision
Hanson Bridgett LLP, April 2019

In a recent case involving a health care facility, the NLRB issued a 3-1 decision that significantly changed a successor employer's bargaining obligations before imposing the initial terms and conditions of employment on a unionized workforce. While seemingly favorable to employers, the decision also serves as a reminder to companies that they should act cautiously and consult with counsel before they take over a business with a unionized workforce...

Successor Employers Acquiring Unionized Workforces Benefit From NLRB Decision
Hanson Bridgett LLP, April 2019

In a recent case involving a health care facility, the NLRB issued a 3-1 decision that significantly changed a successor employer's bargaining obligations before imposing the initial terms and conditions of employment on a unionized workforce. While seemingly favorable to employers, the decision also serves as a reminder to companies that they should act cautiously and consult with counsel before they take over a business with a unionized workforce...

DRE Implements Petition Process for Removing Discipline Information from Website
Hanson Bridgett LLP, March 2019

California Business and Professions Code Section 10083.2 requires the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) to provide information regarding the status of every DRE licensee on its website, including information regarding any disciplinary actions taken by the DRE against a licensee. The purpose of these disclosures is to ensure full transparency concerning information the DRE deems to present a "credible risk" to members of the public. The issue with Section 10083...

Ninth Circuit Decision on Santa Monica Short-Term Rental Ordinance is Win for Cities, Defeat for Airbnb
Hanson Bridgett LLP, March 2019

On March 13, the Ninth Circuit issued its highly anticipated opinion in HomeAway.com v. City of Santa Monica, upholding the City's ordinance restricting short-term home rentals on popular websites like Airbnb.com. Background In light of the severe housing crisis currently afflicting California, concerns have arisen over the impact of short-term home rentals on the supply of long-term housing...

California Supreme Court Rules No Vested Right to Airtime Purchases; Leaves California Rule Intact
Hanson Bridgett LLP, March 2019

On March 4, 2019, the California Supreme Court ruled in Cal Fire Local 2881 et. al. v. California Public Employees' Retirement System that public retirement system members do not have a vested right to purchase "airtime" – nonqualified service credit unrelated to public service...

San Francisco's Off-Street Parking Requirements Eliminated for Good
Hanson Bridgett LLP, February 2019

As of January 20th, 2019, San Francisco no longer requires a minimum number of parking spaces in new structures or new uses. This new law applies Citywide to all zoning districts. Previously, the City eliminated the parking requirement in many zoning districts in order to reduce traffic congestion, encourage alternative forms of transportation, and lower the cost to build housing...

San Francisco Supervisors Again Attempt to Limit Home, Apartment Sizes and Limit Demolitions
Hanson Bridgett LLP, February 2019

San Francisco Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Rafael Mandelman introduced the "Housing Preservation and Expansion Reform Act" in December 2018, a proposed law which hopes to limit major renovations and demolitions plus limit the size of newly built or newly altered residential structures. The two sponsors believe the current process results in too many larger units and demolitions, and that there is a connection between the two...

Proposed Bill Would Increase Skilled Nursing and Intermediate Care Facility Citations and Penalties
Hanson Bridgett LLP, February 2019

On February 13, 2019, Assembly Member Ash Kalra, District 27 (San Jose), introduced AB-506. If passed, AB-506 would amend California Health and Safety Code Sections 1423, 1424, and 1424.5 to grant the Department of Public Health the authority to issue more citations and higher penalty amounts...

California Court Rules That "Reporting Time Pay" Owed Even If Employees Are Not Required to Physically Report To Work
Hanson Bridgett LLP, February 2019

Employers in industries with fluctuating daily labor needs, such as retail services, often require employees to call in ahead of a scheduled shift to find out whether they are needed to work. According to a recently-published California Court of Appeal decision, employees who are required to use such a call-in procedure may be entitled to "reporting time pay" if they are told not to come to work that day—even if the employees do not physically report to work...

California Assisted Living Regulation Catches Up with Statute Regarding Evictions for Change of Use of Facility
Hanson Bridgett LLP, January 2019

On January 28, 2019, the California Department of Social Services issued a letter informing all licensed Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly that Title 22, Section 87224 of the California Code of Regulations has been revised. Section 87224 previously provided for a 30-day eviction notice to residents upon the change of use of a facility. This notice period was inconsistent with the applicable statute, Health and Safety Code Section 1569.682(a)(2)...

IRS Issues Proposed Regulations to Relax 401(k) Plan Hardship Distribution Rules
Hanson Bridgett LLP, December 2018

The IRS recently issued proposed regulations to implement changes to the rules for hardship distributions from 401(k) plans made by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (“BBA”) that will take effect on January 1, 2019. The proposed changes will make hardship distributions more widely available and will ease administration of hardship distributions for plan sponsors...

San Francisco's Large Central South of Market Upzoning Finally To Take Effect In January
Hanson Bridgett LLP, December 2018

Capturing lightning in a bottle: As fast-growing San Francisco concludes its largest rezoning in 10 years, will its novel new urban-planning guidelines for South of Market represent what the city's downtown needs in a fast-moving business, cultural and economic environment? In early December 2018, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors gave final approval of the "Central SOMA Plan," (the Plan) resulting in the largest rezoning of the commercial heart of the city since the renowned Downt

Trump Administration's Clean Water Act Proposal Will Affect Many Developer and Public Agency Projects
Hanson Bridgett LLP, December 2018

"What are the 'waters of the United States'? As it turns out, defining that statutory phrase—a central component of the Clean Water Act—is a contentious and difficult task." This observation, recently made by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, understates the difficulty in answering what should otherwise be an anodyne question: Does my project require a Clean Water Act permit? At this moment, answers to this question may be far from certain...

SB 50: As Housing Crisis Continues, Senator Weiner Announces Revised Upzoning Legislation
Hanson Bridgett LLP, December 2018

Last week, State Senator Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) announced new legislation intended to immediately encourage more residential construction in areas near public transit and job centers. Entitled the More Housing, Opportunity, Mobility, Equity and Stability (More HOMES) Act, SB 50 is essentially version 2.0 of SB 827, a similar housing bill proposed by Senator Weiner that failed in committee earlier this year...

IRS Extends Deadline for Providing Health Coverage Forms to Employees under the ACA, But Not the IRS Filing Deadline
Hanson Bridgett LLP, December 2018

Under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), large employers (generally those with 50 or more full-time employees or full-time equivalents) must report annually to the IRS information about the health coverage offered to their full-time employees during the prior year using IRS Form 1095-C. The IRS uses the forms to assess whether an employer "shared responsibility" penalty applies. Employers also must provide copies of the forms to their full-time employees...

IRS Updates Voluntary Disclosure Policy After Expiration of the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program
Hanson Bridgett LLP, December 2018

On November 20, 2018, the IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) unit issued a memorandum to IRS Division Commissioners on voluntary disclosure practice following the end of the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP). How Did We Get Here? For the last 7 years, the IRS maintained a consistent, robust program for taxpayers with exposure to potential criminal liability or substantial civil penalties due to a willful failure to report foreign financial assets...

Reminder: Minimum Wage Increases Effective January 1, 2019
Hanson Bridgett LLP, November 2018

New State Minimum Wage Effective January 1, 2019, the State minimum wage increases to $12.00 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees, and $11.50 per hour for employers with 25 or fewer employees. New Local Minimum Wages Additionally, several California cities and counties have passed their own minimum wage ordinances with a more aggressive schedule of minimum wage increases...

Capturing (San Francisco) Lightning in A SOMA Bottle
Hanson Bridgett LLP, November 2018

As Fast-Growing San Francisco Concludes Its Largest Rezoning in Ten Years, Will Its Novel New Urban Planning Guidelines for South of Market Represent What the City’s Downtown Needs in A Fast-Moving Business, Cultural and Economic Environment? On November 13, 2018, the Board of Supervisors voted to approve the Central SOMA Plan at its first reading. Its final reading and approval, and the Mayor’s signature, is expected in December...

Proposed Regulations for Qualified Opportunity Funds:
Hanson Bridgett LLP, November 2018

Article PDF   On October 19, 2018, the Treasury Department released proposed regulations regarding certain aspects of the new qualified opportunity funds ("QOF") and related qualified opportunity zones...

New California Employment Laws For 2019
Hanson Bridgett LLP, October 2018

Governor Brown signed into law a number of bills, which significantly impact employers. Unless otherwise indicated, each new law takes effect the begining of 2019. For an in-depth analysis of how each law might affect your organization, contact one of Hanson Bridgett's experienced labor and employment lawyers...

California Mediation Privilege Remains; Mediation Disclosures To Appear In 2019
Hanson Bridgett LLP, October 2018

Recently, California legislators passed SB 954 creating a new pre-mediation requirement – the prospective Mediation Disclosure. "As soon as reasonably possible" before agreeing to mediate, attorneys are to present to clients a Mediation Disclosure affirmatively explaining mediation's confidentiality restrictions, execution of which acknowledges the client's understanding of the restriction's impact...

Buy Me Some Peanuts and Crackerjacks?
Hanson Bridgett LLP, October 2018

On October 3, 2018, the IRS issued guidance for employers on how to claim tax deductions for business meals this year. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, ("TCJA") business expenses for "entertainment" are no longer deductible, effective for 2018. However, the TCJA did not modify the separate 50% deduction for expenses for business meals, which left employers wondering how to distinguish a business meal from entertainment...

Can Groundwater Permitting Affect the Public Trust?
Hanson Bridgett LLP, September 2018

The California Court of Appeal recently upheld a lower court decision that, as we previously discussed, expanded the scope of the "public trust doctrine" to include groundwater. In Environmental Law Foundation v. State Water Resources Control Board, the appellate court held that agencies permitting groundwater pumping must consider how pumping may harm "public trust interests...

Employer Obligations Regarding Post-Offer Medical Examinations
Hanson Bridgett LLP, September 2018

In EEOC v. BNSF Ry. Co., Case No. 16-35457 (9th Cir. Aug. 29, 2018), the Ninth Circuit held that an employer violates the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA") by demanding that a job applicant with a perceived disability pay the cost of medical testing prior to being deemed eligible for employment. The employer offered an applicant a job as a Senior Patrol Officer on the condition that he satisfactorily complete a medical review...

Compromise JPA Pension Liability Bill Ready for Governor's Signature
Hanson Bridgett LLP, September 2018

As we reported in our May 31, 2018 Alert, the California Legislature has been considering legislation to prevent joint powers authority (JPA) member agencies from contracting out of liability for the JPA's pension obligations...

California Legislature Passes Bill that will Permit Shippers to be Held Jointly Liable for State Labor and Employment Law Violations by Port Trucking Companies
Hanson Bridgett LLP, September 2018

On August 31, 2018 California’s legislature passed Senate Bill 1402. Unless vetoed by Governor Brown on or before September 30, SB 1402 will allow shippers to be held jointly liable for state labor and employment law violations by port trucking companies. The bill, which was authored by Senator Lara (D-Bell Gardens), is aimed at ending the purported “exploitation of truck drivers who haul cargo from California’s ports...

The SEC Increases Enhanced Disclosure Threshold Under Rule 701 and Considers Broader Changes
Hanson Bridgett LLP, September 2018

Following the enactment of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has adopted an amendment to Rule 701(e) increasing the threshold amount of securities that can be sold during a 12-month period from $5 million to $10 million. Securities sold in excess of the threshold trigger enhanced disclosure obligations for the issuer...

Student Loan Payments and 401(k) Benefits
Hanson Bridgett LLP, August 2018

The Internal Revenue Service has released a Private Letter Ruling ("PLR") allowing a plan sponsor to make contributions to employees' 401(k) accounts if the employees are repaying student loans. This is exciting news for employers sponsoring 401(k) plans who hope to attract and retain employees as student loan debt rises to unprecedented levels. The PLR confirmed that some student loan repayment programs linked to 401(k) employer contributions are acceptable...

Recent Cases Give Hope to Offshore Account-Holders
Hanson Bridgett LLP, August 2018

Two recent cases and a recently-released Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Program Manager Technical Advice Memorandum have sent shockwaves through the voluntary disclosure community. All three developments give offshore account-holders something to cheer.  PMTA 2018-13 In previous client alerts, we have discussed the definition of "willfulness" in the context of offshore assets and, more recently, the closing of the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP)...

Repeal of Costa Hawkins Could Preclude Developers of New Buildings from Ever Selling Condominiums If Their Projects Have a Recorded Condominium Map But No Public Report
Hanson Bridgett LLP, August 2018

In past years, we have advised clients that as long as no unit in a multi-unit new condominium project is rented before its condominium map is recorded, later sales of units do not fall under the city's condominium conversion ordinance, which does not at this time allow conversion of buildings of more than two units...

California Legislature Clarifies Salary History Ban and Equal Pay Statute
Hanson Bridgett LLP, July 2018

On July 18, 2018, Governor Brown signed into law AB 2282, which amends the California Labor Code to clarify aspects of California's salary history and equal pay statutes. Labor Code Section 432.3 As we previously reported, effective January 1, 2018, Labor Code section 432.2 prohibits both public and private employers from asking job applicants for “salary history information...

Lessons for Defined Contribution Plan Fiduciaries from Current Litigation
Hanson Bridgett LLP, July 2018

This month, courts have been active in several of the fiduciary breach cases involving 403(b) retirement plans at private universities, including USC, Brown, New York University, the University of Pennsylvania, Duke and Northwestern. We have been closely monitoring these and other lawsuits against fiduciaries of defined contribution plans, and the lessons to be gleaned for avoiding liability...

California Passes the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018
Hanson Bridgett LLP, July 2018

California has enacted a sweeping tough new privacy law...

California Supreme Court Rejects the Federal 'De Minimis' Doctrine, Ruling Instead that Employers Must Compensate for 'Minutes' of Off-the-Clock Work
Hanson Bridgett LLP, July 2018

Yesterday, the California Supreme Court issued an important decision for employers that rejects the application of the federal de minimis defense to unpaid wage claims arising under California law. In Troester v. Starbucks, Case No. S234969 (July 26, 2018), the Supreme Court held that California law prohibits requiring employees to "routinely work for minutes off the clock without compensation...

How Do Tiered Water Rates Help Californians Save Water?
Hanson Bridgett LLP, July 2018

In the Loop: With the Hanson Bridgett Government Group     Not long ago, the state of California suffered through a crippling six-year drought, and water conservation was the name of the game. But California’s last two winters have been wetter, and water conservation feels a lot less urgent when the stuff is literally falling from the sky...

Qualified Opportunity Funds: Parallels and Opportunities for Qualified Small Business Stock Investors
Hanson Bridgett LLP, July 2018

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ("TCJA") provides new exclusion and deferral benefits for investors who purchase interests in qualified opportunity funds. Much like qualified small business stock ("QSBS") under IRC sections 1202 and 1045, new IRC section 1400Z-2 allows investors to defer and, in some cases, exclude gain on the sale of assets. However, gain can be deferred under IRC section 1400Z-2 only if invested in designated low-income communities...

Central SOMA Rezoning Plan Goes before SF Board of Supervisors for Approval for the First Time
Hanson Bridgett LLP, July 2018

After 16 public hearings over a five year period lasting through the tenure of three mayors, the largest San Francisco rezoning plan in ten years received a unanimous Planning Commission approval on May 10, 2018. On Monday of this week, the Land Use Committee of the Board of Supervisors had a first hearing to listen to testimony about plan...

New FEHC National Origin Discrimination Regulations
Hanson Bridgett LLP, July 2018

The California Fair Employment and Housing Council (FEHC) issued new regulations under California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) addressing national origin discrimination. Effective July 1, 2018, the regulations provide a broad definition of "national origin" and apply to applicants and employees, regardless of documentation status. The regulations impact employment practices such as English-only policies, English proficiency requirements, and height and weight requirements...

Three Things about the Affordable Care Act Employers Need to Focus on Now
Hanson Bridgett LLP, July 2018

The Affordable Care Act ("ACA") is alive and well, despite renewed legal challenges and the elimination of the “individual mandate” beginning next year. While the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduced the tax penalty for individuals who don’t have health coverage to $0, effective for 2019, employers continue to be subject to penalties for failing to comply with certain ACA rules...

Janus v. AFSCME: SCOTUS Rejects Mandatory Agency Fees for Public Sector Employees
Hanson Bridgett LLP, June 2018

In a significant decision for all public agencies, yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the First Amendment prohibits public employees from being compelled to pay what are known as “agency fees” when they choose not to join their union. Janus v. AFSCME, No. 16-1466 (June 27, 2018). In so holding, the Court overruled its 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977)...

Employers Win this Round: CA Court of Appeal Upholds Employer's Rounding Policy
Hanson Bridgett LLP, June 2018

Employers may continue to rely on rounding systems that are neutral in policy and in practice. On June 25, 2018, the California Court of Appeal issued its decision in AHMC Healthcare, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County (Letona), finding legal an employer's use of a payroll system that automatically rounds employee time up or down to the nearest quarter hour...

DOL Finalizes Rules to Expand Access to Health Plans for Small Businesses
Hanson Bridgett LLP, June 2018

This week, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued final rules to expand access to “Association Health Plans” for small businesses that are unaffiliated, but are in the same line of business or geographic area. An “Association Health Plan” or “AHP” is a group health plan adopted by members of an employer group or association to provide health coverage for their employees...

 

 

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