Legal Updates

Labor Department Backs Away From Permitting Unions At OSHA Safety Inspections

As we reported last week, the U.S. District Court refused to dismiss a challenge to OSHA’s controversial 2013 Fairfax Memorandum, which allowed for the participation of union representatives in OSHA safety inspections at workplaces where the union did not represent the workers. We asked at the time whether the Trump Administration would continue to defend that change in policy. This week, we saw the first concrete evidence suggesting that OSHA is at least reconsidering and may at a minimum drop its defense of the practice.

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Court Refuses To Dismiss Challenge To OSHA Practice Allowing Unions To Accompany OSHA Workplace Investigations

A United States District Court in Texas has refused to dismiss a law suit challenging OSHA’s practice of allowing union representatives and organizers to serve as “employee representatives” in inspections of non-union worksites. If the Court ultimately sustains the plaintiff’s claims, unions will lose another often valuable organizing tool that has provided them with visibility and access to employees in connection with organizing campaigns.

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New mandatory data breach notification legislation

The long awaited Privacy Amendment (Notifiable Data Breaches) Bill 2016 (Bill) was passed in the Australian Parliament on 13 February 2017. The Bill amends the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) to introduce a mandatory data breach notification regime (notification regime). The notification regime is a significant change to the data breach notification obligations of organisations holding personal information.

The Bill is likely to commence 12 months after it receives Royal Assent (which is expected to occur shortly).

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Talking Tax – Issue 65

Legislation

Next stage for Diverted Profits Tax

In the next stage of implementing the Diverted Profits Tax (DPT) for large multinational corporations, the Diverted Profits Tax Bill 2017 and the Treasury Laws Amendment (Combating Multinational Tax Avoidance) Bill 2017 (Bills), have been introduced into Parliament.

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Employers: How to Handle F17, Mass Strikes, and Political Activity in the Workplace

Our colleagues Jeremy M. Brown, Steven M. Swirsky and Laura C. Monaco, at Epstein Becker Green, have a post on the Management Memo blog that will be of interest to many of our readers in the retail industry: “F17 and the General Strike Movement – Best Practices for Addressing Political Activity in the Workplace.”

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Prince v. Sears: A Reminder About the Benefits of Complete Preemption

In Prince v. Sears Holding Corp., the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (the “Fourth Circuit” or the “court”) sets forth a test that should assist sponsors of employee benefit plans covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (“ERISA”) in identifying when participants’ state law claims may be removed to the federal courts.  The Fourth Circuit offers a clear explanation of complete preemption under Section 502(a) of ERISA and the test to determine if Section 502(a) completely preempts a state law claim.

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European Commission opens investigations into practices in the electronic commerce sector

On 2 February, the European Commission launched three separate investigations into suspected anticompetitive practices of companies in the electronic commerce sector.

These actions of the Commission are a direct result of the large-scale e-commerce sector inquiry, which the Commission has been conducting since 2015. The e-commerce sector inquiry as part of the Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe should help the Commission to answer the questions what hinders to benefit from the potential of the EU e-commerce market and prevents its growth.

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Could Employee Choice End Labor Unions’ Influence?

In 2016 private sector union membership dropped to its lowest level in history – a dismal 6.4%. Given the laws and systems in place related to union membership, this means that at least 94.6% of all American private sector workers currently choose not to be union members. The drop, recently reported in a routine annual report issued by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, also was the largest year over year percentage drop in recent years, dropping 0.3%, from 6.7% in 2015.

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Rules relating to controlled foreign corporations set to change

As part of the usual year-end tax law amendments, but approved in a separate procedure, the corporate tax and personal income tax rules relating to controlled foreign corporations have changed with effect from 1 January 2017. This summary covers the most important changes. About the rules in general The Personal Income Tax Act and the Corporate Tax Act contain special rules for Hungarian taxable persons who are in an ownership relationship with what are officially defined as “controlled foreign corporations” (CFCs), but commonly referred to simply as “offshore companies”. The gist of the regulations is that the so-called capital income (dividend, capital gains, earnings withdrawn from the business) received from such foreign companies by Hungarian-domiciled private individuals and companies is liable for taxation at a higher rate than normal.

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F17 and the General Strike Movement – Best Practices For Addressing Political Activity In The Workplace

This week, an activist group calling itself “Strike4Democracy” has called for a day of “coordinated national actions” – purportedly including more than 100 “strike actions” across the country – on February 17, 2017. The group envisions the February 17th strike as the first in “a series of mass strikes,” including planned mass strikes on March 8 (organized by International Women’s Day and The Women’s March) and May Day, and a general “heightening resistance throughout the summer.” The organizers are encouraging people not to work or shop that day.

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