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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. 

EEOC releases proposed rule on employee wellness programs

On April 16, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) setting forth the commission’s interpretation of how Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to employer wellness programs that are part of group health plans. Specifically, the EEOC is providing guidance on how it views the definition of “voluntary” as it pertains to employer inquiries into employees’ health or employer requirements for employees to undergo medical examinations – both of which are prohibited by the ADA unless they are “voluntary” and part of an employee wellness program.

Religious Accommodation Claim Depends on Definition of “Religion”

Every year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) files numerous religious accommodation claims on behalf of employees, pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1969 (Title VII). These cases often involve discerning the intentions of the employer and how aware it was of an employee’s religious practices. Also often at issue is how easy it would be for the employer to accommodate the employee. A recent religious accommodation case out of California, though, turns on a completely different issue: whether the employee’s religion is truly a religion.

Tax Preparation Company Sued For Failing to Prevent Fraud

A major tax preparation company was in a great deal of hot water over fraud issues this past tax season. And now, to make matters worse for the company, it appears to be facing multiple class action lawsuits. Plaintiffs’ attorneys filed suit on April 20, 2015, claiming that the company’s poor security measures were responsible for recent fraudulent tax filings.

EEOC Victory Reversed for Improper Direct Threat Standard

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently experienced a particularly painful loss, as a former “win” was reversed. In March, the 10th District Court of Appeals ruled that an EEOC victory was erroneous due to improper jury instructions, and reversed the jury verdict. Indeed, details are important in jury instructions, but that is not the only takeaway from this case. Employers would be interested to know that the jury instructions in question involved the details of an important employment law defense: the “direct threat” standard. 

Asset Management Firm Pays $12 Million in Settlement of SEC Conflict of Interest Case

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is showing new vigor in enforcing conflict of interest cases within asset management firms. Earlier this year, an SEC spokeswoman mentioned that the Commission has unearthed various violations of this type, and plans to take action against the companies. The first such action revealed itself in mid-April, with a large asset management firm agreeing to a $12 million settlement. Notably, this is the first time the SEC has ever taken action against a company for failing to disclose a compliance matter to a fund board.

Sixth Circuit Reverses its Decision on Telecommuting as an ADA Accommodation

Telecommuting is becoming increasingly common as technology allows workers to be ever more “present” in the workplace without actual physical presence. With this trend, the question of telecommuting as a reasonable Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodation has arisen; thus, the courts have been addressing this, with varying outcomes. The contentious nature of this issue is apparent as the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals made an en banc ruling on April 10, 2015, overturning an earlier panel ruling from last year on an EEOC case involving telecommuting.

ACC Alliance Partner
Thomson Reuters