The early bird really does get the best end of the deal, according to a new U.S. Supreme Court decision interpreting who is entitled to share in litigation awards. Montanile v. Bd. Of Trustees Of The Nat’l Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan, 577 U.S. –, No. 14-723 (Jan. 20, 2016). The decision both limited employee benefits plans’ ability to recoup monies paid out to participants, and incentivizes plan sponsors to aggressively litigate rather than try to negotiate while the participant spends monies that might rightfully belong to the plan. The decision addresses an issue that can be of paramount importance to employers, particularly those that operate a self-funded medical plan, because no insurance carrier is available to bear the risk of paying medical claims.
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Employment law loomed large on the Supreme Court’s docket this term. In seven highly anticipated cases, the Court interpreted federal employment statutes from Title VII and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to FLSA and ERISA.

While employers received favorable rulings in some cases, the Court’s decisions regarding religious discrimination and the accommodation of pregnant workers could impact employers’ current practices and policies. Employers should review hiring, accommodation, and other policies—even those that are facially neutral—to ensure compliance with the Court’s recent holdings.
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