Monthly Archives: February 2012

The (Sort Of) Hired Help: Wage and Hour Implications of Hiring Unpaid Interns

By:  Amy Traub

On February 1, 2012, a former intern of the Hearst Corporations’ Harper’s Bazaar filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of herself and others similarly situated. The lawsuit alleges that the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and applicable state laws by failing to pay minimum wage and overtime to interns. The use of unpaid interns is a widespread practice, especially in the retail, publication, and real estate industries, as well as in Hollywood. In fact, in September 2011, a similar lawsuit was filed against Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc., claiming that the company used unpaid interns so it could make the film “Black Swan” more cheaply.  As reported in the book Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy, internships save firms roughly $600 million every year. 

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Wisconsin Legislature passes law affecting damages available in Wisconsin for discrimination claims

Arnstein & Lehr attorney Jesse Dill

Jesse Dill

Arnstein & Lehr attorney Charles Pautsch

Charles Pautsch

On February 21, 2012, the Wisconsin Assembly completed the final legislative steps in eliminating the availability of compensatory and punitive damages for violations of the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act. The bill, passed last November by the Wisconsin Senate as Senate Bill 202, repeals a law from 2009 that created the availability of such damages for discrimination, unfair honesty testing, or unfair genetic testing claims. The Wisconsin Assembly concurred with Senate Bill 202 on party lines, moving the bill to the Governor’s desk for approval. Governor Scott Walker is expected to sign the bill into law.

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ILN Marketing Roundtable: Connecting with Clients and Prospects

Recently, we’ve been looking more in-depth at the ILN Marketing Specialty Group roundtable, which focuses on what mid-sized firms are doing in social media.  Today, we look at question four, which asks “How do you and your firm connect with your firm’s top clients and top prospects via social media?”

Do Kim Dung: Leadco, as a firm, does not have connection to our firm’s top clients and top prospects via social media. Certain partners and associates within the firm do use Facebook and LinkedIn in their professional capacities to connect and communicate with clients and colleagues.

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Steven M. Harris and Richard N. Kessler of McDonald Hopkins law firm named Illinois Super Lawyers, five attorneys named Illinois Rising Stars

Chicago, Illinois (February 28, 2012) – Steven M. Harris and Richard N. Kessler, who are Members at the law firm of McDonald Hopkins, have been named to the Illinois Super Lawyers list as among the top attorneys in Illinois for 2012. No more than five percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. In addition, five of the firm’s attorneys have been named to the Illinois Rising Stars list as among the top up-and-coming attorneys in Illinois for 2012. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state receive this honor. 

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18 attorneys at McDonald Hopkins law firm named Ohio Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

Cleveland, Ohio (February 28, 2012) – Twelve attorneys at McDonald Hopkins have been named to the Ohio Super Lawyers list as among the top attorneys in Ohio for 2012. No more than five percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. In addition, six of the firm’s attorneys have been named to the Ohio Rising Stars list as among the top up-and-coming attorneys in Ohio for 2012. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state receive this honor. 

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2013 budget approves special funding for the DOL to “Detect and Deter” the misclassification of workers as independent contractors

Arnstein & Lehr attorney Lori Adelson

Lori Adelson

On February 13, 2012, President Obama announced The Fiscal Year 2013 Budget. Notably, the 2013 Budget once again includes special funding for the Department of Labor to “detect and deter” companies from misclassifying employees as independent contractors. Specifically, 14 million is budgeted for misclassification, including $10 million for grants to States to identify misclassification and recover unpaid taxes, and $4 million for DOL personnel to investigate misclassification.

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Handling defamation and reverse discrimination claims when investigating harassment

Arnstein & Lehr attorney E. Jason Tremblay

E. Jason Tremblay

Arnstein & Lehr Chicago Partner Jason Tremblay authored the article titled “How to avoid defamation and reverse discrimination claims when investigating harassment,” which appeared in the February 22 edition of Inside Counsel. In the article, Mr. Tremblay explains that an employer must conduct its investigation in the most confidential manner possible and be extremely careful about how it characterizes the harassing employee to reduce their potential liability. Also, an employer’s disciplinary measures of its harassing employee should always be uniformly administered and readily justifiable.

To read the article in full, please click here.

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Computers Replacing Lawyers In Reviewing Documents?

For those of us who work on document-intensive litigations, take note of Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck’s (SDNY.) opinion released on February 24, 2012 in Monique Da Silva Moore, et al. v. Publicis Groupe and MSL Group, Case 11 Civ. 1279 (ALC)(AJP). Judge Peck’s decision may be the first federal court opinion approving the use of computer-assisted review in place of  “eyes on” document review. Citing recent studies, Judge Peck states “while some lawyers still consider manual review to be the ‘gold standard,’  that is a myth, as statistics clearly show that computerized searches are at least as accurate, if not more so, than manual review….While this Court recognizes that computer-assisted review is not perfect, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not require perfection.”

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Forum Non Conveniens: Be Careful What You Ask For

In defending a United States defendant in an action involving a foreign accident and foreign claimants, it is almost a knee jerk reaction to file a motion to dismiss on forum non conveniens grounds. In a thought provoking article, “Be Careful What You Ask For – the Forum Non Conveniens Dilemma,” Cozen O’Connor lawyersRichard Dunn and Raquel Fernandez bring this practice into question. Mr. Dunn and Ms. Fernandez urge a different standard for analyzing whether to file the motion. The question that should be asked is whether it is beneficial for the U.S. defendant company to be subject to the laws and procedures in the foreign jurisdiction.

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Data Privacy and Network Security: In a rare move, SEC issues guidance on cybersecurity risks

The Securities and Exchange Commission has put public companies on notice of the significant risks relating to cybersecurity and has indicated that unmitigated exposure to cyber incidents should not be ignored in public disclosures. The SEC’s Division of Corporate Finance issued a Disclosure Guidance (Guidance) addressing disclosure obligations related to cybersecurity risks and cyber incidents.

The SEC does not often target such a specific area of corporate vulnerability for disclosure, but the move is not all that surprising in light of the increased frequency and severity of cyber incidents resulting in extraordinary costs to public companies and their shareholders. Although not a rule or a regulation, the Guidance clearly states the SEC’s position that several existing disclosure requirements already impose an obligation on public companies to disclose certain cybersecurity risks and cyber incidents, just as a company would need to with any other significant operational or financial risk.

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