Although initially touted as one of the world's toughest anti-corruption laws, a string of high-profile failures in the three years since the UK's Bribery Act went into effect have left many wondering about the ability of Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to enforce the law. The end of 2014, however, marked a pivotal turning point for the SFO, with its first prosecution and conviction under the UK Bribery Act — followed shortly thereafter by its first corporate bribery conviction — and proved its ability to enforce the country's anti-bribery laws.
Whenever a mass shooting occurs, it triggers the question: What went wrong? Could the incident have been prevented, or at least, could it have had a less tragic outcome? While we never want to blame victims of attacks, it is important to realize that preparedness can mitigate the damage caused by workplace violence.
On January 30, 2015, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) published proposed updates to its Sex Discrimination Guidelines setting forth its interpretations and rules for complying with the nondiscrimination and affirmative action requirements related to sex under Executive Order 11246. As the first update of these guidelines since 1970, the OFCCP maintains they impose no new obligations on federal contractors and subcontractors, but simply bring them in line with current law and societal norms.
The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division (DOJ) recently reported its criminal prosecution of companies and individuals engaged in cartel, price-fixing or bid-rigging behavior resulted in $1.861 billion in criminal penalties for fiscal year 2014. Contributing to this record total were five penalties in excess of $100 million, including DOJ's fourth-largest criminal fine of $425 million levied against an individual corporate defendant. FY 2014 also saw jail terms for 21 individual defendants, with the third-highest average sentencing time of 26 months.
In October 2013, the Department of Labor's (DOL) new rule extending minimum wage and overtime protections to the nation’s nearly two million home-care workers prompted controversy over the Department's authority to reverse the 40-year old exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Less than two weeks before the rule was to go into effect, however, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia vacated part of the DOL's regulation as a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.
Changes in state laws concerning the medical and/or recreational use of marijuana have spawned a string of employment discrimination lawsuits by medical marijuana patients. The most recent case to seek guidance from the courts — filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) — charges a Rhode Island fabrics company with discriminating against a graduate student when it denied her an internship after learning of her status as a registered medical marijuana user.
The growing frequency, impact and sophistication of cyberattacks in the U.S. and abroad have highlighted the need to address America's lack of a unified federal cybersecurity framework. No single congressional committee or executive agency currently has primary responsibility for cybersecurity; rather, federal agencies oversee the security of their own systems as they enforce more than 40 separate statutes addressing various aspects of cybersecurity. As a result, an assortment of overlapping directives and responsibilities has multiple agencies or government bodies responsible for both the security of federal systems, as well as fulfilling the appropriate governmental role in protecting nonfederal systems.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) litigation and enforcement efforts saw mixed results in FY 2014, highlighting the evolving nature of its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) and the agency's approach to enforcement. Despite several setbacks, the agency's actions offer important insight into the kinds of cases the EEOC is pursuing and the tactics used to enforce them.
A growing number of U.S. employers are opting not to hire applicants who smoke in an effort to create a healthier workplace and reduce costs. These decisions appear justified when considering the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates smokers cost employers approximately $193 billion a year in increased health care costs and lost productivity. The CDC also names smoking as the leading cause of preventable death, illness and disability in the U.S., responsible for 443,000 premature deaths each year. Despite these statistics, privacy-rights advocates, like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), claim such employment policies not only constitute discrimination, but set a very dangerous precedent.
The Obama Administration recently announced it will undertake efforts to repair diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba and end decades of political estrangement and economic isolation of the island nation. According to the December 17, 2014 statement, this historic shift in U.S. foreign policy will ease export controls and sanctions that have effectively imposed a trade embargo on Cuba since 1961 and increase opportunities for personal and business interactions between the two countries.