Accepting Social Responsibility Not Legal Liability

We recently blogged about recent gender discrimination lawsuits filed against technology industry employers. Following in the wake of these lawsuits have been news stories regarding the lack of diversity in the technology industry. The scale of the statistical disparity, (for example, 90% of Twitter’s technical employees are male), creates major litigation risks for companies seeking to remedy this disparity. Technology companies eager to accept social responsibility for correcting these discrepancies must be careful not to inadvertently invite legal liability for them as well.

Although there seems to be a consensus that lack of diversity is a problem in the technology industry that should be addressed, there is a great deal of disagreement over how to address the problem. Some groups, such as Jesse Jackson Sr.’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition have focused on publicizing employee population statistics in an effort to bring the issue out in the open. However, employers are still experimenting with possible strategies to address the problem.

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Court Removes “Ill-Mannered” Administrator, Sanctions Him With Special Costs

While BC Courts have the power to remove executors and administrators, it is rarely exercised.  Our Courts have held that “not every act of misconduct should result in removal”.  You may wonder, then, what misconduct would result in removal of an executor or administrator?  The BC Supreme Court answered this question last Friday, in the Estate of Forbes McTavish Campbell.

Mr. Campbell died intestate in 2011.  As he was divorced at the time, his three children were appointed as co-administrators in April 2012.  The estate in BC was modest, and appeared to have been reduced in size by Mr. Campbell’s caregiver.  Apparently, the caregiver absconded with $175,000 in cash, the deceased’s car, proceeds of a mortgage against real property (allegedly obtained through forgery), and certain other assets.  The administrators reported the losses to the police, and investigations were made but had not resulted in an arrest at the time of the application.

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Conclusivity of Final Certificates in JCT contracts

Sir Francis Bacon once wrote: “If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts”.

However, the decision in the recent case of Marc Gilbard v OD Developmentsconfirmed that any doubt as to the certainty afforded by a Final Certificate which a JCT or similar contract states is to be conclusive can be put aside. Parties who wish to dispute such a certificate must act quickly to protect their entitlements, or face losing them for good. More…

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IRS Issues Proposed Regulations for Publicly Traded Partnerships

On May 6, 2015, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued notable proposed regulations (REG-132634-14) clarifying the publicly traded partnership (PTP) activities, in the minerals and natural resources sectors, that will produce qualifying income for the purposes of Section 7704 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.

As a general rule, PTPs are taxed as corporations. Section 7704(c) exempts PTPs from this rule if 90% or more of their gross income is “qualifying income.” Qualifying Income is generally passive-activity income, and includes income from interest, dividends and rent. Section 7704(d)(1)(E) provides, however, that qualifying income also includes income derived from the exploration, development, mining or production, processing, refining, transportation, or marketing of minerals or natural resources (Section 7704(d)(1)(E) activities). Until now, the IRS had not issued regulations under Section 7704(d)(1)(E). The proposed regulations were issued in response to an increase in the number of requests for private letter rulings as to whether income derived from “support services” provided to businesses engaged in Section 7704(d)(1)(E) activities is qualifying income for the purposes of the 7704(c) exception. More…

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McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies Advisory: This Week in Washington — May 15, 2015

It was a wild week in the Senate on the issue of trade. On Tuesday, the Senate fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance legislation that would have granted the White House “fast track” authority to steer the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other accords through Congress by majority vote and without amendment.

Every Democrat, except Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), sided with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and others who led the coalition of labor and progressive activists who oppose the deal.

However, just one day later, Senate Democrats stood down, desperately clutching a few concessions.

With a fragile coalition, including 10 pro-trade Democratic members who huddled with the president after the vote, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Wednesday afternoon that his members had accepted the path put forward by Republicans, effectively ending the filibuster.

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David Austin interviewed by The Canadian Press

David Austin was interviewed on the potential rejection by the Lax Kw’alaam First Nation on the $1.15-billion offer for the proposed LNG terminal on Lelu Island. The article, or David’s quotes from it, appeared on CBC News, Global News, The Province and other news outlets across the country. David was also interviewed on the same subject by Keith Baldrey on the Global News Hour (May 13, 12:11).

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Dos Equis is Bucking Beer Trends by Going Mobile

UntitledThese are challenging times for major beer makers. Beer sales in the United States have fallen by about 4% since 2008, with the biggest declines being experienced by some of the largest brands. Bud, Miller High Life and Miller Lite have lost a quarter of their sales volume. Some might chalk this up to the encroachment of craft brewers, but while sales of craft beers have grown by roughly 80%, they still represent only 7.6% of beer sales nationwide. A recent article in Forbes suggests that the real reason for the decline in major brand beers sales is that the Baby Boomers who drink them are drinking less as they age, and millennials, partly because the major beer brands have failed to connect with them, are finding other things to drink. Among the exceptions is Dos Equis, which has doubled its sales volume while other major brews have been declining.

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Former Woolworths Staff Lose Compensation Claim

Thousands of workers who became unemployed following the closure of High Street store Woolworths have lose their case for compensation.

The news comes following a decision by the European court of justice (ECJ) means that 3,200 ex-employees of Woolworth.

24,000 former staff of Woolworths were awarded compensation worth 60 days’ pay because the stores had been closed without consultation as a result of the financial crisis that affected numerous companies across the UK.

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More from “dumped and confused” from Melbourne

Many of you would have seen my recent article entitled “Dumped and Confused” on the significant (and rapid) changes to the anti-dumping and countervailing regime here and overseas.  Hopefully, the title did not deter you from its content and some of you may even have read the article.

Subsequently there continues to be important developments which are discussed below. In addition to the commentary below, these issues are also the subject of my presentations to the CBFCA Regional CPD events in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne through May and June 2015. More…

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Eleventh Circuit Rules That State Whistleblower Law Is Preempted By National Bank Act

On May 5, 2015, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Wiersum v. U.S. Bank, N.A. (pdf) that the National Bank Act (“NBA”), 12 U.S.C. §24 (Fifth), preempted a bank officer’s state law whistleblower claim that he was wrongfully terminated for opposing the bank’s alleged unlawful conduct. This was a first-impression issue for the Eleventh Circuit, and the majority concluded that the state law claim was preempted because it directly conflicted with the power Congress vested in federally chartered banks to dismiss officers “at pleasure.”

Wiersum, a former Vice President and Wealth Management Consultant for U.S. Bank, claimed that the bank had wrongfully terminated him in retaliation for complaining about, and refusing to participate in, the bank’s alleged unlawful practice of conditioning credit upon asset management (i.e., illegal tying arrangements). He alleged that his termination violated the Florida Whistleblower Act (“FWA”), which prohibits an employer from taking adverse personnel action against an employee because he or she objected to an activity of the employer that violates a law, rule, or regulation. The Eleventh Circuit, however, ruled that Wiersum’s claim was preempted by the NBA, which permits the board of directors of a national banking association to appoint officers, define their duties, and “dismiss such officers or any of them at pleasure.”

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