Colorado civil union law takes effect May 1

by Rebecca Hudson

Colorado’s new civil union law goes into effect May 1, meaning Colorado joins eight other states that permit civil unions or have similar laws that recognize them. Nine other states and Washington, D.C., allow same-sex marriage.

Under the Colorado Civil Union Act, the state will recognize civil unions entered into by same-sex and opposite-sex couples, granting rights afforded to traditionally married couples. But unlike a marriage, a civil union doesn’t provide federal protections or responsibilities. For example, under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), federal programs define marriage as “between one man and one woman.” If a Colorado employer remains governed by federal law, any benefits it offers won’t be extended to partners in a civil union.

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Supreme Court Sends ERISA Case Back to Lower Court for Second Look

May 17, 2011 - by: Jessica Webb-Ayer 0 COMMENTS

Yesterday, May 16, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a district court must take another look at a case that will determine whether approximately 25,000 employees are entitled to have their pension benefits recalculated under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Although the Supreme Court indicated that the employees may be eligible for such relief, it noted that the district court had relied on the wrong provision when it fashioned its remedies plan.

Under ERISA, employers must provide certain notices before reducing medical or retirement benefits. However, when CIGNA changed its pension plan from a traditional defined benefit plan to a cash balance plan, Janice Amara, along with other plan participants, brought a class action lawsuit alleging that CIGNA did not comply with ERISA’s notice and summary plan description (SPD) requirements. More specifically, the participants alleged that the SPD and other disclosures were inconsistent with the plan itself.

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