Social Media and the National Labor Relations Act: A Trap for Unwary Employers
The use of social media has become one of the most rapidly-changing areas in employment law today. What most employers do not realize is that the National Labor Relations Board has become very active in policing both the substance of social media policies and the actions of employers in addressing social media concerns. Please click here to read an overview of NLRB activity in the area of employee use of social media published by the Labor & Employment and Internet & New Media Client Service Groups on September 23, 2011.
Check It Out and Check It Off: 2012 Group Health Plan Checklist
While the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended (“PPACA”), required significant design changes for group health plans in 2010 or 2011, some additional requirements must be implemented for 2012. Please click here to read the Alert published by the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Client Service Group on September 7, 2011.
IRS Establishes a Voluntary Classification Settlement Program
The IRS recently announced a new settlement program for employers with misclassified workers. Under the new program, employers can get a significant reduction in their federal employment tax liability associated with past nonemployment treatment by agreeing to properly classify their workers for future tax period. The announcement came on the heels of recent announcements that the IRS, Department of Labor and various state agencies are collaborating on examining worker misclassification issues. To learn more about the new program, please click here to read the Alert published by the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Client Service Group on September 30, 2011.
Department of Labor Issues Final Rule Requiring Follow-On Contractors to Hire Their Predecessor’s Employees
The Department of Labor issued a final rule just before Labor Day that, in effect, will given certain employees now performing under Federal government service contracts employment for life or at least for as long as the government continues to contract for those services. Although the rule does not take effect until the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council issues its complementary regulations, matters are sufficiently final that contractors should begin planning for how they are going to comply. To learn more about this new regulation, click here to read the Alert published by the Government Contracts Team on September 8, 2011.
U.S. House Panel Hears Divergent Opinions on SRO Oversight of Investment Advisers
Fund managers and other investment advisers should be aware that Congress is now considering legislation that would significantly alter regulation of the nation’s registered investment advisers. A key House subcommittee has heard widely divergent views on the proposed legislation entitled the “Investment Adviser Oversight Act of 2011.” To learn more about the draft legislation, click here to read the Alert published by the White Collar Defense and Investigations Securities Litigation and Enforcement Client Service Groups on September 20, 2011.
New Patent Reform Bill Poised to Significantly Change U.S. Patent Law
On September 8, 2011, Congress approved the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011. The Act materially alters a long history of patent law in the United States. Among the provisions addressed by the Act are who is entitled to a patent (“first to file” versus ”first to invent”) and who may file a “false marking” lawsuit. To read more about how the Act alters patent law, please click here to read the Bulletin published by the Intellectual Property Client Service Group on September 12, 2011.
FinCEN Issues Final Rule on Prepaid Access; Extends Compliance Date for Many Aspects of the Final Rule
New anti-money laundering regulations that directly impact retail business that issue or sell gift cards or other prepaid cards were issued by the Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), The regulations require the collection and verification of customer information when certain prepaid cards are sold or reloaded. To read an overview of the Final Rule, please click here for the Alert published by the Financial Institutions Client Service Group on September 6, 2011. The Final Rule was set to go into effect on September 27, but FinCEN announced that it has extended the compliance date for most aspects of the regulations. For information on how the compliance dates changed, please click here to read the Alert published on September 12, 2011.
New Dual/Third Country National Rule Continues to Present Challenges
A new rule took effect in August which amended the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to include a new license exemption for the transfer of defense articles to dual/third country national employees of approved non-U.S. licensees under ITAR agreements. To read about the new rule, please click here for International Regulatory Bulletin published September 28, 2011.
DDTC Updates its “Guidelines for Preparing Electronic Agreements” to Implement New Dual/Third Country National Rule
In August, DDTC updated its “Guidelines for Preparing Electronic Agreements” (the “Guidelines”) to reflect implementation of the new rule and provide guidance to exporters preparing ITAR agreements. To learn more, please click here to read the International Regulatory Bulletin published September 28, 2011.
Electronic Payment of Registration Fees
The Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) issued an amendment to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) that requires a change in the method of payment for registration fees. Effective September 26, 2011, all registration fees must be paid electronically via Automated Clearing House. To read about the amendment, please click here for the International Regulatory Bulletin published September 15, 2011.
French Working Time for Executives: Lump-Sum Remuneration Agreements Based on a Fixed Number of Working Days Per Year (so-called Forfaits-Jours)
The legal duration of work for employees in France is 35 hours per week, meaning that any hours required to be worked above this limit would normally be considered overtime. Executives are, however, most often not subject to this limit. For an outline of how the French Labor Code distinguishes between three types of executives, please click here to read the September 2011 Briefing published by the Paris Labor & Employment Client Service Group.
The Agency Workers Regulations 2010
UK’s new Agency Workers Regulations come into force on 1 October 2011. The regulations are intended to give agency workers the same basic employment rights and conditions as permanent staff employed directly by the relevant company. To learn about the new regulations, please click here for the September 2011 Briefing published by the London Labour and Employment Client Service Group.
China Announces Legal Changes That May Broaden Power to Investigate Bribery
In August the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China released the draft Criminal Procedure Law Amendment to the public for comment. If passed, the amendment is expected to provide additional protection to the civil rights of accused parties. However, critics say that the amendment would also provide authorities legal cover to utilize secret locations to detain subjects suspected of engaging in acts involving national security, terrorism, or other serious crimes which may include serious bribery. To read about the amendment, please click here for the International Regulatory Bulletin published September 27, 2011.
The Implications for FCPA Enforcement of the SEC’s New Whistleblower Rules
The SEC’s recent adoption of rules to implement the whistleblower program mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act has particular significance for enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. For a discussion of the overall SEC enforcement context for the new whistleblower rules, a summary of the rules, and a discussion of the key issues for FCPA enforcement, including recommendations that companies should take now, please click here to read the Alert published by the Global Anti-Corruption Team of the Securities Litigation and Enforcement and International Trade Groups on June 22, 2011.
Supreme Court De-Certifies Largest Employment Discrimination Class Action In History
In Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, the Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s decision to certify a nationwide class pursuing employment discrimination claims against the nation’s largest employer. A 5-4 majority of the Court concluded that the class of 1.5 million current and former female employees could not satisfy the commonality requirement. For a discussion of the decision, please click here to read the Alert published by the Class and Derivative Actions section of the Labor & Employment Client Service Group on June 21, 2011.
Supreme Court Draws Bright Line Barring Securities Fraud Claims Against Advisers to Companies Who Do Not “Make” Statements At Issue
In June the U.S. Supreme Court issued a significant decision restricting the ability of plaintiffs to bring securities fraud actions against adviser defendants who play a role in preparing statements actually made by companies they are advising. In Janus Group, et al. v. First Derivative Traders, the court held that an investment adviser to a mutual fund could not be sued in a private securities fraud action for false statements made in mutual fund prospectuses. To read more, please click here for the Alert published by the Securities Litigation and Enforcement practice group on June 16, 2011.
Department of Labor Extends Non-Enforcement Period for Certain Internal Claims and Appeals Requirements Applicable to Non-Grandfathered Plans Under the Affordable Care Act
On March 18, 2011, the Department of Labor issued Technical Release 2011-01 extending, with some modifications, the enforcement grace period established under DOL Technical Release 2010-02 until plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2012. To learn more the extension of the enforcement grace period, please click here to read the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Client Service Group’s Alert published March 21, 2011.
Reporting for Participants with Deferred Vested Benefits – IRS Replaces Schedule SSA
Plan administrators are required to report certain information regarding participants who separate from service with the right to a deferred vested retirement benefit. In Announcement 2011-21, the IRS designated Form 8955-SSA to be used to satisfy this reporting requirement, replacing Schedule SSA. To learn more about the filing requirements for the new form, please click here to read the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Client Service Group’s Alert published March 28, 2011.
Supreme Court Says Two Exemptions are Unavailable to Companies Trying to Protect Their Information from Disclosure under FOIA
Companies frequently find that information they submit to the Federal government is sought by others — perhaps competitors — under the Freedom of Information Act. The submitting company may be able to block the disclosure if the information falls within one of the exemptions in FOIA. On March 1 the Supreme Court made two of those exemptions unavailable to companies. To read more about the Court’s decision in FCC v. AT&T Inc. please click here to read the Government Contracts Team Alert published March 3, 2011
FTC Takes a Bite Out of Cookie-Based Behavioral Advertising
On March 14, 2011, the Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement with a behavioral advertising company that places cookies in consumers’ internet browsers to track online activities. This settlement marks one of the agency’s first enforcement actions against a behavioral advertising company and signals that the FTC has begun to act on its repeated warnings about scrutinizing behavioral advertising more closely. To learn more about the settlement, please click here to read the Consumer Protection Group’s Alert published March 17, 2011.
Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (“Code Section 409A”) is spectacular in scope and notoriously difficult for even the most well-intentioned employers to satisfy. Any employer which maintains non-qualified deferred compensation plans for its employees has struggled with Code Section 409A, and may have concerns that some of its plans might not satisfy the attention to minutiae that Code Section 409A demands. On January 4, the IRS published its long-awaited program for correcting documentation failures under Code Section 409A.
For more information, please read the client alert published by Bryan Cave LLP’s Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Practice on January 22, 2010.
The Supreme Court yesterday handed down a landmark ruling in the Citizens United v. FEC case which could significantly transform the campaign finance system at the federal level. In Citizens United, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling struck down the decades-old prohibition on corporate expenditures in connection with federal elections as unconstitutional under the First Amendment.
For more information, please read the client alert published by Bryan Cave LLP’s Election Law and Government Ethics Practice on January 22, 2010.