On October 26, 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted final rules implementing the Dodd-Frank requirement for issuers to recover incentive-based compensation erroneously paid to current and former executive officers due to an accounting restatement.

These rules were originally proposed in July of 2015, and subsequently reopened for comment in October 2021 and June 2022.3

On August 25, 2022 the SEC adopted final rules (the so-called “pay vs. performance” rules) that will require U.S. public companies (including smaller reporting companies (“SRCs”) but excluding emerging growth companies, foreign private issuers, and registered investment companies) to disclose information reflecting the relationship between executive compensation “actually paid” and company financial performance for the five most recently completed fiscal years (three years for SRCs).
Continue Reading Final Pay vs. Performance Rules: Teaching Old Disclosure New Tricks

On October 14, 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor (the “DOL”) issued a proposed rule (the “Proposed Rule”) clarifying whether investments made by fiduciaries of plans subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”) may take into account environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) concerns in selecting investments and investment courses of action, as well as fiduciary duties in exercising shareholder rights.[1]  The Proposed Rule aligns more closely with recent trends toward ESG-oriented investing and seeks to reduce any chilling effects introduced by the Trump administration’s regulatory and non-regulatory guidance on fiduciary duty-compliant ESG investing.
Continue Reading New DOL Proposal on ESG Investing and Fiduciary Exercise of Shareholder Rights

On Wednesday, March 10, after engaging in conversations with stakeholders, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration issued an enforcement policy statement in which it declined to enforce two DOL rules put in place by the Trump administration in 2020.

The first of these rules placed limitations on the ability of plans subject to ERISA to invest in environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) funds. In particular, it provided that a fiduciary’s duty of loyalty and prudence under ERISA would only be satisfied if investments were selected solely on the basis of pecuniary factors (defined as factors that have a material effect on the risk and return of an investment), and that ESG factors could only be considered to the extent they created economic risks or opportunities that qualified investment professionals would treat as material economic considerations under generally accepted investment theories. The ESG rule, which many regarded as making ERISA plan investments in ESG-oriented funds prohibitively difficult, received overwhelmingly negative comments from both financial institutions and the public at large. This latest development is not surprising, as the Biden administration had previously signaled that it would be reexamining this rule.
Continue Reading DOL Declines to Enforce Trump Administration Rules on ERISA Plan Investments, Proxy Voting

At the end of last year, Institutional Shareholder Services (“ISS”) released a handful of updated FAQs on equity compensation plans and compensation policies as well as a slightly updated pay-for-performance mechanics statement; there were no substantive changes to the peer group FAQs.[1] In addition to providing the 2021 Burn Rate Benchmarks for ISS equity plan evaluation (which are effective for shareholder meetings on or after February 1, 2021), the updates address questions regarding the inclusion of a terminated equity plan’s existing share reserves in ISS’ Shareholder Value Transfer (“SVT”) analysis for new equity plan approval proposals, threshold passing scores for the Equity Plan Scorecard (“EPSC”) framework, quantitative pay-for-performance screens and how ISS will evaluate COVID-related pay decisions.
Continue Reading ISS Issues 2021 Updates to Certain Compensation Related FAQs and Policies

In 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) solicited comment on ways to modernize Securities Act Rule 701 (“Rule 701”), the registration statement on Form S-8 (“Form S-8”), and the relationship between the two regulations. Following up on this effort, the SEC recently published several amendments to Rule 701 and Form S-8 to simplify

Three recently filed shareholder derivative lawsuits contain intentionally provocative allegations that, despite public statements emphasizing the importance of diversity within their respective organizations, the boards and executive management teams of Oracle, Facebook, and Qualcomm remain largely white and male, and have failed to deliver on their commitments to diversity.  While calls to strengthen commitments to

The COVID-19 pandemic is likely a watershed moment for the traditional structure of America’s business workforce.  Although there is much uncertainty and opaqueness about the future, it seems clear that in the short term “remote” work arrangements – remote from large commercial office complexes and from concentrated city centers – will become more common for a substantial part of the workforce.

In the medium and longer terms, the pandemic may also support trends toward a more gig-based workforce in sectors of the labor market that are not currently significantly gig-based, specifically for workers in white-collar, business service industries.  We lay out below a few of the reasons to anticipate that result and briefly explore the principal legal implications for business.  As virtually all companies are considering the impact of the pandemic on their businesses, and specifically the cost-saving potential tied to remote work where feasible, they should take the opportunity now to also consider the possibility that gig-based workforce trends will impact them and how the steps they take in the short term may influence any such impact.  For many public companies, the trends and issues discussed below fall under the umbrella of human capital management strategy, as to which the board of directors may be expected to exercise oversight.[1]
Continue Reading The Gig is Up? COVID-19 & Remote Work Trend Toward Growth in Gig Labor*

On May 18, 2020, partners Michael Albano and Jennifer Kennedy Park participated in a webcast hosted by The Conference Board entitled “Reopen Ready: Managing Governance and Legal Risks in the New Normal.” Michael Ullmann, Executive Vice President, General Counsel of Johnson & Johnson, also participated on the panel.
Continue Reading Cleary Partners Participate in Panel Discussion on Reopening Considerations