Following the loss of two high-profile insider trading cases, the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) is hoping to improve its chances in future actions by taking advantage of expanded administrative powers under the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010. Andrew Ceresney — the head of the SEC's Division of Enforcement — recently indicated the agency's intention to bypass federal courts and pursue more insider trading charges as administrative proceedings. The agency followed this announcement with the hiring oftwo administrative judges, three new attorneys and other staff, nearly doubling the size of its Office of Administrative Law Judges. Many are concerned these moves may afford the SEC a potential "home court advantage" since the procedural safeguards and rights guaranteed to defendants in federal courts are lacking in administrative proceedings.
Although it might seem strange to suggest that a firefighter's fear of entering a burning building is a disability, that's exactly what a Texas jury decided. In the end, however, the Texas Supreme Court overturned the jury's decision and determined that the firefighter’s fear of fire was not a condition that could be reasonably accommodated under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
As the relationship between the American public and computers continues to evolve, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) promotes safe and secure Internet use each October during National Cyber Security Awareness Month. While 30 years ago only 8.2% of U.S. households owned a computer, today, Americans are connecting to the Internet from home, work and/or school and using multiple devices to perform a variety of tasks online. Unfortunately, this provides criminals with new opportunities as incidents of online identity theft, fraud and/or abuse become increasingly more common and expensive to address.
The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional in United States v. Windsor prompted many businesses to review and revise their employee benefit plans. However, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently reminded businesses that employee benefits are not the only area of concern they face following Windsor. According to guidance issued by its Office for Civil Rights (OCR) those considered covered entities under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) must also ensure Windsor is properly applied under HIPAA's Privacy Rule.
Third-party arrangements continue to proliferate despite increased regulatory scrutiny meant to boost compliance with a variety of complex laws and regulations, making third-party risk management more important than ever. While generally this onerous task is undertaken by regulated institutions, a recent white paper urges third-party businesses to be more proactive partners in the compliance process.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) slapped nearly $6 million in fines on a prominent online professional-networking company for violating overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The fine consists of $3,346,195 for overtime back wages and $2,509,646 for liquidated damages, the latter being paid directly to the 359 former and current employees who were affected by this ruling.
A new law that will soon go into effect in California will significantly change the legal relationship between temporary staffing agencies and the companies (“client employers”) that contract with them to use temporary workers. The new law, Assembly Bill 1897, which is being called the “Temp Worker Protection Bill,” will make California companies jointly liable with the staffing agencies for violations of wage, safety and workers' compensation laws. The Temp Worker Protection Bill goes into effect on January 1, 2015, and will apply to most California companies with 25 or more employees.
Many are up in arms following a memorandum issued by the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) authorizing employees of a national restaurant chain to argue that the franchisor is jointly responsible with the franchisee for unfair labor practices. Many find this less restrictive "joint employer" standard disturbing as it was not only overturned by the Board almost 30 years ago, but could make corporate franchisors, parent companies and those who use contract workers liable in worker lawsuits, and potentially responsible in any collective bargaining activity.
Employers often take appropriate measures to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, ADA compliance efforts may be useless in situations where an accommodation request or disability is not readily apparent. For this reason it is crucial that human resources professionals are able to recognize and effectively address accommodation requests.
In California, training supervisors to prevent workplace bullying is now required by law, even though bullying itself is generally not unlawful in California unless it involves a protected characteristic or constitutes legally prohibited discrimination, harassment or retaliation.