The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) continues to reward whistleblowers through Dodd-Frank’s bounty program. On April 22, the SEC announced an award of more than one million dollars to a whistleblower who provided useful information to the commission that assisted in bringing a successful enforcement action against the whistleblower’s company. Since the program’s launch in 2011, the SEC has paid out more than $50 million to 16 whistleblowers, with a record $30 million paid out in September 2014.
An historic Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) settlement was approved by the U.S. District Court in Tampa, Florida, on April 9, 2015. The suit was one of only two gender-identity discrimination claims ever filed by the EEOC; the other such case is still on-going. These claims are the EEOC’s newest efforts in implementing its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP), created in 2012, and intended to prioritize enforcement of Title VII gender discrimination provisions for LGBT individuals.
Citing cyberthreats as one of the most serious economic and national security challenges to the U.S., President Obama recently issued an executive order (EO) authorizing the use of economic sanctions against those who maliciously engage in cyberespionage. This is the latest in a number of administration efforts to address America's lack of a unified federal cybersecurity framework in the face of increased public pressure to make cybersecurity a priority.
Protecting employee rights while also protecting the employer can be a balancing act, but a necessary one in order to maintain a successful and compliant business. One such challenge is maintaining data protection and confidentiality while simultaneously respecting whistleblower protections. And, the importance of remaining diligent in this area of compliance is obvious, as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently filed suit against a company with a confidentiality agreement that allegedly violated whistleblower regulations.
$58 Million Antitrust Settlement Approved for Performing Rights Organization Accused of Monopolization
A nationwide class of local television broadcasters recently celebrated when a federal judge approved a settlement agreement in its antitrust lawsuit against one of the three U.S. performance rights organizations (PROs). In addition to ending five years of vigorous litigation, the deal nets the plaintiffs and its attorneys $58 million and binds the organization to observe the same conduct practices observed by the other two U.S. PROs since 1941.
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.
New Volcker Rule FAQ Allows Non-U.S. Banks to Make Certain Investments Despite Offerings to U.S. Residents
Federal regulators recently issued a new interpretation of Title VI of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act — commonly referred to as the "Volcker Rule" — that makes it significantly easier for non-U.S. banking entities to invest directly in third-party private equity funds, hedge funds and other private funds. According to the new FAQ from U.S. financial regulatory agencies, foreign banks can invest in third-party funds even if they market and sell ownership interests to U.S. residents.
New OSHA Guidelines Underscore Workplace Violence Risks Faced by Healthcare and Social Service Workers
Workers in the healthcare and social service fields face a significant risk of job-related violence. In fact, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), while the number of days away from work due to workplace violence for the entire private sector in 2013 were only around 3 per 10,000 full-time workers, this number is somewhere in the range of 13 to 36 per 10,000 workers for healthcare and social assistance facilities. Faced with this reality, and in recognition of the month of April being “National Workplace Violence Prevention Month,” OSHA has released an updated Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers. While these guidelines create no new legal or regulatory requirements, they do offer important insight into how employers in healthcare and social service industries can minimize workplace violence.
Employers now have a set of guidelines to keep their employee handbook policies from violating federal labor law. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently issued a comprehensive set of rules outlining what types of policies it considers legal — and illegal — under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Applicable to both union and non-union companies, these rules aim to minimize potential violations of Section 7 caused by policies that infringe on the ability of employees to exercise their right to engage in group activity aimed at improving their terms and conditions of employment.
A recent case out of New York reminds employers of the serious impact that off-the-cuff comments can have, especially when they take place during an employee’s termination. A couple of statements uttered by a supervisor, likely without much thought, were the “smoking gun” that kept a former employee’s lawsuit alive.