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January 13, 2006
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Recent Fifth Circuit Decision Imposes Heightened Burden on Employers Defending Against FMLA Claims (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "[T]he Fifth Circuit recently joined the Sixth Circuit in holding that employees can prevail on such claims if they establish that their employer's adverse employment action was motivated, at least in part, by retaliatory animus, unless the employer can prove that it would have taken the action absent the retaliatory motive." (Powell Goldstein LLP)

IRS Notice 2006-10 Discusses Special Tax Treatment for Allowances Paid to Katrina Gov't. Workers (PDF)
5 pages. Excerpt: "[This notice] discusses the income and employment tax treatment of special allowances paid by federal executive agencies to employees and their dependents to reimburse certain expenses incurred while evacuating from the Hurricane Katrina core disaster area and staying at a safe haven. In general, the special allowances are excludable from the gross income and wages of the employees under § 139 of the Code ..." (Internal Revenue Service)

Maryland Sets a Health Cost for Wal-Mart
Excerpt: "The Maryland legislature passed a law [January 12, 2006] that would require Wal-Mart Stores to increase spending on employee health insurance, a measure that is expected to be a model for other states.State Senator Gloria G. Lawlah told the Maryland General Assembly ... that 'this is not a Wal-Mart bill, it's a Medicaid bill.'" (The New York Times; one-time registration required)

Lowes to Open Five On-Site Clinics for Employees
Excerpt: "Home improvement retailer Lowe's Cos. recently unveiled free, on-site medical clinics to keep employees productive and aid them in managing their health care expenses." (BenefitNews Connect)

Cutting Drug Copayments Can Reduce Hospitalizations and Save Money (PDF)
7 pages. Excerpt: "Consumer cost sharing has been a long-standing component of pharma.ceutical cost containment. Published MCO data clearly demonstrate that higher copays are associated with lower utilization and lower pres.cription drug costs." (The American Journal of Managed Care)

Ruling Upholds New York State Law Requiring Contraception Coverage
Excerpt: "A state appeals court in Albany, N.Y., ruled Thursday that religious groups must abide by a state law that they had complained forces them to pay for contraception for employees in violation of their groups' religious opposition to birth control." (The Business Review (Albany) via; one-time registration required)

Evaluating Alternatives for Consumer-Driven Health Care (PDF)
Consumer-driven health care represents a major change from traditional health benefit plans and managed care. The movement toward consumer-driven health care changes employees from passive beneficiaries to active, informed consumers, and gives them a greater financial stake in medical spending, more choice in providers, more information about provider costs and quality, and more information about their health problems, treatment alternatives and lifestyle choices affecting their health. (Sanders, Schnabel & Brandenburg, P.C., Washington, D.C.)

PlanSponsor Reader Survey Asked: What If Your State Mandated Benefits?
Excerpt: "[PlanSponsor has] been reporting on various state initiatives, most recently one in Maryland that would require larger employers to spend a certain amount of their payroll on health care. .... [T]his week [PlanSponsor] asked readers what they would do if a state that [they] operate in mandated health-care coverage/contribution." (; one-time registration required)

Bush Expected to Reject Tax on Health Benefits
Excerpt: "President Bush has rejected a key proposal of his tax advisory panel to impose a tax on some employer-provided health benefits, said White House National Economic Council Director Allan Hubbard." (The National Journal Group via BlueCross BlueShield Association)

Links to Items on Executive Comp, Benefits in General

IRS's Employee Plans News -- January 12, 2006, Special Edition (PDF)
2 pages. This Special Edition announces the release of the Roth 401(k) Final Regulations; contains reminders that the submission deadline for defined contribution pre-approved plan letters is January 31, 2006 and the deadline for the Abusive Transaction Settlement Initiative is January 23, 2006; and, highlights the new 401(k) Resource Guide. (U.S. Internal Revenue Service)

Overview: GO Zone Act Expands KETRA Relief and Corrects Dependent Definition (PDF)
2 pages. Excerpt: "The GO Zone Act codifies certain retirement plan tax relief originally provided in the Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act of 2005 (KETRA) and extends it to taxpayers affected by Hurricanes Rita and Wilma." (Hewitt Associates)

2005-2006 Worldwide Total Remuneration-- Selected Charts (PDF)
7 pages. (Towers Perrin)

Hewitt Federal Legislation Quick Guide Updated as of January 10, 2006
Excerpt: "Hewitt's Federal Legislation Quick Guide provides short updates on federal legislation that is currently under active consideration by Congress or has recently been enacted into law regarding health and welfare benefit plans, retirement plans, and human resources and employment law." (Hewitt Associates)

U.S. Alleges Airline Cut Reservists' Benefits
Excerpt: "The U.S. government filed a lawsuit against AMR Corp.'s American Airlines Thursday charging that the airline denied benefits to three of its pilots during their service with the Naval Reserve and Air National Guard." (Business Insurance)

Audio: Sharing the Wealth -- Bonuses for Low-Income Workers
Excerpt: "A California company is taking the unusual step of giving its low-income workers a share in its annual profits. This year, each non-management worker at Timbuk2 ... received bonuses averaging $25,000." (Day to Day via National Public Radio)

Newly Posted Events
(Post Yours!)

Distributions and Taxation Workshop
Nationwide on January 19, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel

Health Plans, HIPAA, and COBRA Update
Nationwide on April 27, 2006
presented by ALI-ABA (American Law Institute-American Bar Association)

One day benefits seminar
in Pennsylvania on February 1, 2006
presented by Central Pennsylvania Chapter - ISCEBS

Plan Design Workshop
Nationwide on February 8, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel

Plan Design Workshop
Nationwide on February 15, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel

Ready for Roth?
Nationwide on January 19, 2006
presented by SunGard Corbel

Newly Posted Press Releases
(Post Yours!)

Recent Tax Law Changes Affecting Small Businesses in the Gulf Region
(Internal Revenue Service (IRS))

International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists Announces 2006 Officers
(International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS))

www.VerizonRetirementWatch Established To Help Verizon Employees Fight Pension Freeze
(Pension Rights Center)

AIM Investments(R) Launches Roth 401(k) Contribution Option
(AIM Investments)

Newly Posted or Renewed Job Openings
Post a Help Wanted Ad

Annual Plan Reporting Services Manager - PA
for Vanguard
in PA

Pension Administrator DB/DC
for Block Consulting Actuaries, Inc.
in CA

Assistant to the VP of Operations
for Associated Pension Consultants
in CA

Senior Consultant, Actuarial Services
for Summit RPS
in OH

Handy Links:

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Editor and Publisher: David Rhett Baker, J.D.