On March 12, 2014, the European Parliament approved a data-protection reform bill that would, among other things, increase the maximum fine for violating the EU's data-protection laws to €100 million or 5 percent of the violator's global annual turnover. The new reform is part of an effort to replace the existing and outdated EU Data Protection Directive, adopted in 1995, with the more modern and currently pending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
U.S. business leaders are concerned about the potential impact of a new set of sanctions authorized by President Barack Obama last week in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea. The new sanctions broaden those already in place under a March 17 executive order and authorize the U.S. Treasure Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to target anyone with financial connections to the Russian economy. This makes it a violation of U.S. law to deal with companies and individuals specifically marked for sanctions, as well as any company in which they have a 50% or more ownership interest.
Montreal-based construction and engineering giant SNC-Lavalin is at the center of another Canadian kickback scheme, this time in connection with the $125-million restoration of the Jacques Cartier Bridge.
Schools may have taken the issue of bullying head-on, but employees are often hard-pressed to do anything about the bully in the next cubicle. The Workplace Bullying Institute's 2014 US Workplace Bullying Survey found that employers most often react to bullying by denying or discounting it, and few take positive steps to stop the behavior.
Employers should expect the long-term trend towards increased scrutiny of wage and hour issues to continue in 2014. Wage and hour claims currently outpace all other types of workplace litigation and have increased by over 500% since 1990. In FY 2013, the Wage & Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor recovered a record $280 million in back wages on behalf of more than 260,000 workers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Companies often take extensive measures to avoid litigation, particularly with respect to employment issues. In particular, as the number of employment discrimination claims continues to rise, employers should be on their guard from the very beginning of the hiring process and remain vigilant in implementing measures to minimize potential claims.
Automated teller machine maker NCR Corp. has agreed to settle charges of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and U.S. sanctions violations. In 2012, a whistleblower accused the company's board members and executives of violating U.S. sanctions in Syria and bribing government officials in China and the Middle East. As part of the settlement, NCR Corp. will be required to strengthen its risk and compliance program, including increased compliance training for company employees and those who work with the company. It must also develop a China-specific supplement to chart the company’s gifts and entertainment expenditures within the country, and implement a process to monitor company-wide gift and entertainment expenditures.
The Second Circuit may have granted the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) a new weapon against insider trading. In SEC v. Contorinis, the court endorsed an expansive theory of disgorgement, allowing the SEC to require the defendant to disgorge funds over which he never had ownership or control.
Discrimination claims in FY 2013 fell by almost 6% from the previous fiscal year, according to new data released as a supplement to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) for Fiscal Year 2013. The new data — including the number of private sector charges received, federal lawsuits filed and monetary awards recovered — includes detailed charge breakdowns by claim type and state.
Federal fines for violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) may not exceed $1.5 million per incident per year. That's already a big number to think about — but employers also need to remember that state and regional governments may impose separate fines in addition to the federal ones, thus increasing the potential cost of privacy and security breaches. This fact became clear when the Puerto Rican Health Insurance Administration (HIA) fined Triple-S Management Corp. (Triple-S) an unprecedented $6.8 million for its alleged failure to properly respond to a breach of protected health information (PHI).