Monthly Archives: August 2020

Leveraging Your Referral Network for More Value…During a Pandemic

It’s true – running an organization that is built on in-person personal relationships has it’s challenges. But what doesn’t have its challenges in 2020, right?

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post about how lawyers and law firms can leverage their referral networks to achieve more value, whether these networks are formal or informal (I happen to run a formal one). There’s no reason that this has to stop because in-person events have been put on pause; in fact, many of our members have said they’ve never felt their membership has been more valuable than it has been this year. In part, that’s due to the historical relationships that they’ve built over many years. But we’re welcoming new firms too. And it’s possible to forge new relationships and create new business – it simply takes a little creativity.

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August 2020 Immigration Alert

USCIS Will Increase Filing Fees as of October 2, 2020

On July 31, 2020, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) announced it will increase filing fees effective October 2, 2020. The fee increases will impact U.S. employers that hire foreign national workers by adding to the cost of sponsoring employment. The increases most applicable to U.S. employers are:

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Philadelphia Enacts Protections for COVID-19 Whistleblowers

Philadelphia is making sure employers err on the side of caution when it comes to COVID-19.  As of June 26, 2020, Philadelphia-based employees have additional protections from retaliation through the  unanimously passed the Essential Workers Protection Act (“EWPA” or “Act”), which prohibits retaliation against any employee who speaks out about, or refuses to work due to, the employer’s non-compliance with Pennsylvania and Philadelphia COVID-19 public health orders.  The EWPA applies to all Philadelphia employers, regardless of their size.

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U.S. DOL: Employees Who Refuse to Work Under Unsafe Conditions May Be Eligible for CARES Act Unemployment Benefits

While much attention is currently focused on whether Congress will extend, in whole or in part, the emergency $600 increase in unemployment insurance benefits (“UI”) that, until July 31, 2020, had been provided by the CARES Act (“Act”), the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) is continuing to address questions about the other expansions of UI benefits under the Act, most recently, in an advisory letter issued on July 21, 2020 by the DOL’s Employment and Training Administration office (“ETA”). Of particular note, the latest ETA advisory letter instructs that an employee who refuses to work because of COVID-19 health or safety concerns nevertheless may be eligible under state law for UI benefits authorized under another provision of the Act—the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (“PUA”).

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New York City Proposes Rule to Clarify That, in Addition to Race, “Hair Discrimination” Could Implicate Religion and Creed … and Maybe Gender, Age, and Other Protected Classes

As we previously reported, in 2019, the New York City Commission on Human Rights (“Commission”) provided legal enforcement guidance (“Enforcement Guidance”) advising that workplace grooming and appearance policies “that ban, limit, or otherwise restrict natural hair or hairstyles” are a form of race discrimination under the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”). Now, the Commission is proposing to amend its rules (“Proposed Rule”) to formalize the Enforcement Guidance. The Proposed Rule states that discrimination based on hair “can function as a proxy for discrimination” based on race, creed, or religion and “constitute a form of unlawful stereotyping.” Of note, in its “Statement of Basis and Purpose of Proposed Rule,” the Commission further suggests that “claims for hair-based discrimination on the basis of disability, gender, age or other protected status” under the NYCHRL may be viable as well.

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Illinois Trade Secret Laws: Q&A Guide for Employers

Thomson Reuters Practical Law has released the 2020 update to “Trade Secret Laws: Illinois,” a Q&A guide to state law on trade secrets and confidentiality for private employers, authored by our colleague David J. Clark at Epstein Becker Green.

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Landlords Should Reconsider Mitigating Damages with COVID-19 Relief Programs

By Sydney Warshaw, from our Business Law Practice Group

August 7, 2020 — A series of recent Superior Court decisions demonstrate that participation in the federal government’s financial relief programs to help tenants and landlords in the wake of COVID-19 may not be as discretionary as landlords initially thought.

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Video: California Employer Playbook, Federal COVID-19 Updates, DOL’s FFCRA Rule Vacated in Part – Employment Law This Week

As featured in #WorkforceWednesday: California provides a detailed COVID-19 employer playbook, and a federal judge vacated parts of the Department of Labor’s Families First Coronavirus Response Act rule.

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Trisha Hall Contributes Article to Wealth Management.com on Bringing Charitable Fiduciaries Up to Speed

Somewhere along the way, director and officers of charitable foundations have started to view their fiduciary responsibility as standing guard over their organizations’ investment funds by stridently focusing on capital growth and preservation.  While well-meaning, standing guard has also meant standing in the way of the very missions – the good works – these organizations are entrusted to do for our communities.

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San Francisco Ordinance Imposes New ‘Cleaning and Disease Prevention Standards’ and an Employee Training Mandate on Hotels and Large Office Buildings

Seeking to prevent San Francisco’s return-to-work program from reigniting a surge of COVID-19 cases, the city’s Board of Supervisors (“Board”) has passed the “Healthy Buildings Ordinance” (“Ordinance”). This temporary emergency measure, which Mayor London Breed signed on July 17, 2020, and which is effective immediately, (i) establishes cleaning and disease prevention standards in tourist hotels and large commercial office buildings; (ii) mandates employee training on these standards and various protections employers must provide for workers as they perform their duties, and (iii) prohibits retaliation against employees “for refusing to perform work under conditions they believe may be unsafe or for reporting such conditions or exercising rights protected by the ordinance.” The Ordinance will expire 61 days from its enactment unless reenacted.

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