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Sep 2014
09
September 09, 2014

HR Focus - News Briefs - Fall 2014


More, More, More: FMLA Claims Rising at Exponential Rates

From 2012 to 2013, the number of Family and Medical Leave Act claims filed against U.S. businesses tripled. Preliminary reports indicate the rate of FMLA claims in the first three quarters of 2014 has already outpaced that of the previous year.

Year FMLA Claims
2012 292
2013 881
2014 950+


The increase is being attributed to a variety of factors, including greater understanding of the law by employees. Myriad complicated federal regulations outlining communication requirements may lead to unintentional non-compliance by employers.  Finally, many managers do not clearly understand the ban on FMLA retaliation.  Managers who exhibit bias against employees put employers at risk of what have become cut-and-dry discrimination claims.  


Fidelity Settles Plan Litigation With Its Own Employees

Fidelity Investments will settle two lawsuits -- which could add up to $12 million -- in agreements made with employees who claimed that Fidelity had mismanaged its own employee 401(k) plans.  In addition to the payout, Fidelity agreed to make Fidelity Freedom Funds Class K shares its employee 401(k) plans’ default investment option.  It will also increase participants’ access to non-Fidelity mutual funds and change the way it credits revenue sharing to plan participants.


Court Ruling Emphasizes Importance of Contractual Limits

The Sixth Circuit recently held in Moyer v. Met. Life Ins. Co. that an employee could bring suit after the contractual limitations period in his long-term disability plan had expired where the claims administrator failed to include the time limit for judicial review in the benefit determination letter.  The court held that a benefit claims appeal denial letter without detail about the contractual limitations period is “not in substantial compliance with 29 U.S.C. Section 1133” even where the employee was put on notice through other available plan documents of the right to judicial review and the length of the limitations period. The absence of the provision did not allow the claimant to have a “fair opportunity for review.”
 
There appears to be somewhat of a split in the circuits on interpretation of this issue, but plan and claims administrators would be well advised to include any contractual limitations period in all benefit denial letters.


That was Easy: Michigan Allows Electronic Submission of Workers’ Comp Forms

Insurance companies writing workers’ compensation coverage in Michigan, approved self-insured employers and third-party administrators may now submit workers’ compensation forms to the state by means of upload through the Michigan Data Exchange Gateway.  This secure website now accepts Employer’s Basic Report of Injury (Form 100); Notice of Dispute (Form 107); Insurer’s Notice of Issuance of Policy (Form 400); Notice of Termination of Liability (Form 401); and Notice of Compensation Payments (Form 701).  Those interested in the Michigan Data Exchange Gateway’s electronic submission process must apply for approval using form WC-460.  Self-insured employers and group or group fund must also complete form WC-450.  Both documents are available on the State of Michigan website on the Forms page under Misc. Forms.

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