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EEOC Roundup: April 2015

Employment is heavily regulated in the U.S., where it is illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because he or she made a discrimination complaint, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment-discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Mental Health Awareness: A Reminder to Maintain Sensitive and Compliant Policies

With one in five Americans currently dealing with mental health issues and about half of Americans suffering from a diagnosable mental health condition within their lifetime, this is a topic which warrants serious attention. Indeed, if your workplace has at least five individuals, chances are that at least one employee is currently dealing with a mental health condition, and it is almost certain that even more employees will have mental health issues at some point in the future.

Temporal Gap Does Not Necessarily Preclude Retaliation Claim

While the adage "time heals all wounds" may apply to many situations, it is not always true with respect to claims of unlawful retaliation. According to several recent court decisions, a plaintiff can establish a causative link between an employee's protected activities and an adverse employment action, even if a significant amount of time has passed between the two events. 

Major Telecom Company Settles with FCC for $25 Million over Data Breach

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently resolved its largest data security action, resulting in a $25 million settlement. Information security and consumer privacy are hot topics as of late, and through this massive settlement the FCC is showing its dedication to being a strong advocate for consumers and their private information.

U.S. Forces FIFA to Face Corruption Charges

Allegations of corruption involving FIFA, the international ruling body for football — more commonly known as soccer in the U.S. — reached a boiling point last week when the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) unsealed a 47-count federal indictment charging 14 individuals with turning the global sport into a criminal enterprise.

DOJ Raises the Bar for Cooperation Credit

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has always made it clear that it values companies’ cooperation with investigations, and that willing cooperation on the part of a corporation can be a mitigating factor for a corporation facing potential charges. Indeed, the United States Attorneys’ Manual (USAM) Principles of Federal Prosecution of Business Organizations has several sections dedicated to the discussion of corporate cooperation and its relation to prosecution. The USAM states that “[i]n determining whether to charge a corporation and how to resolve corporate criminal cases, the corporation’s timely and voluntary disclosure of wrongdoing and its cooperation with the government’s investigation may be relevant factors.” It goes on to state that cooperation can gain a company credit towards potentially changing whether it is appropriate to prosecute.

Insights for Improving Conflict Minerals Compliance

As the annual May 31 deadline falls on a Sunday this year, companies must file their Conflict Minerals disclosures under Section 1502 of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) by June 1, 2015. As only the second year since the reporting requirements went into effect, companies continue to work on improving their understanding of the reporting requirements and effectively gather information from foreign refineries, smelters and other third parties to determine whether their products contain conflict minerals from relevant Central African countries. Fortunately, as companies finalize their 2015 Forms SD, expert reviews of last year's reports offer valuable insights into ways they can enhance their conflict minerals compliance activities and reporting processes.

Data Breach Increases Show Importance of Data Security Compliance in Business Sector

Data breaches have seen a lot of media attention in the past year, but that should come as no surprise since 2014 was a record year for them. According to a report by the Identity Theft Resource Center, there were 783 tracked U.S. data breaches in 2014, averaging 15 breaches per week. This is a 27.5 percent increase from the number of breaches in 2013.

Asking Supervisor to Stop Harassment Qualifies as Protected Activity Under Title VII

A recent Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling may concern employers, since it gives a broad definition to Title VII retaliation claims. On April 22, the court  of appeals affirmed the trial court in ruling that informal complaints against harassment can be enough to give an employee retaliation protection under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).

SEC’s Division of Investment Management issues new Cybersecurity Guidance

There’s certainly no shortage of media attention on data security breaches lately, and there’s a good reason for that: such breaches are at an all-time high. Against this backdrop of the ever-increasing risk of malicious cyberintrusion, businesses are expected to improve their data security policies commensurately. And those companies that store the most sensitive customer data – the most tempting targets to data thieves – have the most to lose from such cyberattacks. Undoubtedly, registered investment companies (“funds”) and registered investment advisers (“advisers”), being responsible for managing the assets of high net-worth investors, represent such tempting targets for cybercriminals. 

ACC Alliance Partner
Thomson Reuters