North America

Supershuttle Loses Rebuttal – Canadian Registration Scuttled

In a recent Federal Court of Canada (the “FC”) decision, 2015 FC 1259, the FC dismissed an appeal by Supershuttle International, Inc. (“Supershuttle”) to overturn a decision of the Registrar of Trade-marks (the “Registrar”), expunging its Canadian trade-mark registration for SUPERSHUTTLE (the “Mark”) for non-use.

Supershuttle provides ground transportation services to and from airports in cities that are all located outside of Canada.  Canadians wanting to utilize Supershuttle’s services can and do book tickets and make reservations through their website, which is accessible to persons who are physically in Canada.  In December 2003, Supershuttle registered the Mark in Canada for use with “airport passenger ground transportation services” (the “Registered Services”).

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Maryland Expands State Equal Pay Act and Broadens Employees’ Right to Discuss Wages

Maryland has now joined New York and several other states that have recently passed legislation expanding state equal pay laws and/or broadening the right of employees to discuss their wages with each other (often called “wage transparency”). The Equal Pay for Equal Work Act of 2016 (“Act”), signed by Governor Hogan on May 19, 2016 and set to take effect October 1, 2016, amends Maryland’s existing Equal Pay law (Md. Code, Labor and Employment, §3-301, et seq.), which applies to employers of any size, in several significant aspects.

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New State Legislation Seeks to Curb “Drive By” Lawsuits and Service Animal Fraud

Service DogDespite the noble purpose for Title III of the ADA, businesses have long been frustrated by the ease in which Title III and its state and local equivalents can be exploited by serial plaintiffs/attorneys looking to make money instead of enforce the law.  Similar feelings arise from the inability of businesses to combat fraud tied to accessibility.   In an effort to address these concerns, recent developments at the state law level are ushering in a welcome change in the way certain accessibility issues are addressed.  California is strengthening its existing limitations on the ability of a plaintiff to file a “drive by” litigation alleging inaccessible structural elements under state law.  Colorado may soon adopt criminal penalties for individuals found to have fraudulently misrepresented an animal as a service dog.  While both of these measures are relatively modest in scope, they reflect a positive trend in legislation to try and limit accessibility litigations to legitimate claims.  Businesses can only hope these initiatives (and ones with even greater scope) gain traction in other states across the country and, ultimately, at the federal level.

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Employers Face Significant Increase in Required Salary Level for Overtime-Exempt Employees

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued its Final Rule addressing the minimum salary requirements for employees who are classified as exempt from overtime pay.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees who are exempt from overtime under the commonly utilized executive, administrative and professional exemptions must: (1) be paid a predetermined and fixed salary that cannot be reduced based on variations in the quantity or quality of work performed; (2) be paid at a specified minimum salary level; and (3) perform primarily executive, administrative or professional duties, as defined in the FLSA regulations.

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BMP partner Forrest Wynn nominated as Philanthropic Volunteer of the Year

BMP Partner Forrest Wynn has been nominated Philanthropic Volunteer of the Year by Volunteer Houston for his work with Vita-Living, Inc. He and his fellow finalists will be honored at the Volunteer Greater Houston Service Awards on May 13th at Minute Maid Park, Houston.

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DOL Announces Final FLSA Overtime Regulations

E. Jason Tremblay

E. Jason Tremblay

On Wednesday, May 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division released its final updated FLSA overtime regulations. While some of the changes were expected, there are a number of surprises.

First, the new salary threshold for exempt executive, administrative and professional employees will be $47,476.00 per year (or $913.00 per week). That is more than double the current $455.00 per week but less than the original proposal, which would have boosted the minimum annual salary threshold to over $50,000.00 per year.

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Employers: DOL Final White Collar Exemption Rule Takes Effect on December 1, 2016

Our colleagues Jeffrey Ruzal and Michael Kun at Epstein Becker Green have a post on the Wage & Hour Defense Blog that will be of interest to many of our readers in the hospitality industry: “DOL Final White Collar Exemption Rule to Take Effect on December 1, 2016.”

Following is an excerpt:

Nearly a year after the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to address an increase in the minimum salary for white collar exemptions, the DOL has announced its final rule, to take effect on December 1, 2016.

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DOL Final White Collar Exemption Rule to Take Effect on December 1, 2016

Nearly a year after the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to address an increase in the the minimum salary for white collar exemptions, the DOL has announced its final rule, to take effect on December 1, 2016.

While the earlier notice had indicated that the salary threshold for the executive, administrative, and professional exemption would be increased from $23,660 ($455 per week) to $50,440 ($970 per week), the final rule will not raise the threshold that far.  Instead, it will raise it to $47,476 ($913 per week).

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Four PR and legal strategies and tactics to battle online defamation

With the ever-expanding role of social media and the Internet, negative reviews can spread virtually unchecked. Some negative reviews are limited to statements of opinion, which generally are legally protected. However, companies and individuals increasingly are subject to attacks that include false statements constituting online defamation. The best strategies for combating online defamation involve both savvy legal and PR counsel, working in tandem, to provide effective relief.

The legal avenues for addressing defamatory comments and obtaining their removal from websites can be difficult to navigate. Generally speaking, the Communications Decency Act of 1996 protects websites where reviews may appear, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Glassdoor, and Yelp, from liability for content posted by their users. This significant limitation of liability on the “publishers” of the defamation creates little incentive — and, arguably, a disincentive — for these entities to self-police their sites. Because of this, many sites require a court order or judgment before removing allegedly defamatory comments.

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Shutts makes Law360’s Top 10 and Top 100 Best Law Firms for Hispanic Attorneys

For the second year in a row, Shutts & Bowen ranks among the 10 Best Law Firms for Hispanic Attorneys and the Top 100 Firms for Minority Attorneys following a national survey of more than 300 U.S. firms by Law360, a LexisNexis legal news service.

Shutts & Bowen ranked second in the 10 Best Law Firms for Hispanic Attorneys and 13th in the Top 100 Firms for Minority Attorneys. According to Law360, most of these firms have at least 15% of minority partners as opposed to the 8.4% national average. At Shutts, Hispanics make up 13% of the firm’s partners and 19% of associates.

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