On Tuesday October 4, 2022, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (“OSTP”) released a document entitled “Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights: Making Automated Systems Work for the American People” (the “Blueprint”) together with a companion document “From Principles to Practice: A Technical Companion to the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights” (the “Technical Companion”).
The White House Releases “Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights: Making Automated Systems Work for the American People”
DOJ Further Revises Corporate Criminal Enforcement Policies: Focusing on Individual Accountability, Corporate Responsibility, and Additional Demands on Chief Compliance Officers
Building on attempts in recent years to strengthen the Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) white collar criminal enforcement, on September 15, 2022, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced revisions to DOJ’s corporate criminal enforcement policies. The new policies, and those that are in development, further attempt to put pressure on companies to implement effective compliance policies and to self-report if there are problems. Notably, the new DOJ policies set forth changes to existing DOJ policies through a “combination of carrots and sticks – with a mix of incentives and deterrence,” with the goal of “giving general counsels and chief compliance officers the tools they need to make a business case for responsible corporate behavior” through seven key areas:
NLRB Offers New Guidance on When It Will Hold an In-Person Election – Replaces Positivity Metric with CDC Tracker
The National Labor Relations Board (“Board”) isn’t giving up on pandemic-related mail ballots in representation elections any time soon. On September 29, 2022, in a decision concerning an election at a Seattle area Starbucks, the Board passed on an opportunity to cast aside its COVID-Era six-factor test articulated in Aspirus Keweenaw, 370 NLRB No. 45 (2020), which has been used for the past two years to determine if a Board-conducted representation election should be conducted by mail or in person (called a “manual” election in Board parlance). Instead of jettisoning the Aspirus test entirely, the Board replaced just one of the tests factors, now relying on the CDC Community Level Tracker rather than test positivity trends or rates in this analysis.
Neither Snow nor Rain nor Heat nor Gloom of Night . . . Will Stop the U.S. Postal Service from Stealing Its Contractor’s Trade Secrets?
It’s no secret that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has been struggling financially for well over a decade. One means of combatting its struggles has been to contract with third-party resellers to market USPS services and drive customers to it. Indeed, just one of those resellers, Express One, delivered over $3 billion in revenue to the USPS in the past 12 months alone. Although the annual operating budget of the USPS is $77 billion, $3 billion is still real money—especially since the USPS suffered losses of $6.9 billion last year.
Over the spring and summer, I did a series of posts on extracting quality information from FDA enforcement initiatives like warning letters, recalls, and inspections. But obviously FDA enforcement actions are not the only potential sources of quality data that FDA maintains. FDA has what is now a massive data set on Medical Device Reports (or “MDRs”) that can be mined for quality data. Medical device companies can, in effect, learn from the experiences of their competitors about what types of things can go wrong with medical devices.
The problem, of course, is that the interesting data in MDRs is in what a data scientist would call unstructured data, in this case English language text describing a product problem, where the information or insights cannot be easily extracted given the sheer volume of the reports. In calendar year 2021, for example, FDA received almost 2 million MDRs. It just isn’t feasible for a human to read all of them.
Pennywise and Pound Foolish: Default Judgment Entered Against Trade Secret Defendants as a Sanction for Inadequate E-Discovery
“The law is not a game, and . . . civil discovery is not a game of hide and seek. The decision in this case should encourage litigants to understand that it is risky business to recklessly or deliberately fail to produce documents, and perilous to disobey court orders to review and, if necessary, supplement prior productions. It is in the interests of the administration of justice to default [defendants] to send those messages.”
So said United States District Judge Mark L. Wolf in a 72-page decision in which he entered a default judgment as a sanction in a trade secret case against the defendants for what he referred to as “extreme misconduct.” Memorandum and Order on Plaintiff’s Motion for Sanctions, Red Wolf Energy Trading, LLC v. BIA Capital Mgmt., LLC, et al., C.A. No. 19-10119-MLW (D. Mass. Sept. 8, 2022).
On July 13, 2022, the Massachusetts Appeals Court signaled a victory for Massachusetts employers who rely upon independent contractors. In Tiger Home Inspection, Inc. v. Dir. of the Dep’t of Unemployment, the Appeals Court reversed decisions from the Department of Unemployment (“DUA”) and trial court, concluding that the inspectors were independent contractors under Massachusetts’s Unemployment Insurance statute (“Unemployment Law”) and, thus, ineligible for unemployment benefits. Focusing on Prongs A and C of the Unemployment Law’s “ABC” test for classifying independent contractors, the Appeals Court provided employers with excellent precedent and concrete guidance for navigating those elements of the test. Notably, the Unemployment Law’s ABC language largely tracks the Massachusetts Wage Act’s “ABC” test, with Prongs A and C using identical language. As a result, Tiger Home Inspection arguably provides employers with much-needed clarity for navigating both statutes.
No Vax? No Problem. NYC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for Private Employers Will End as of November 1st, 2022
On September 20, 2022, Mayor Eric Adams announced that New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private employers is ending. The City’s mandate for municipal employees, however, will remain in effect.
With the final quarter of 2022 approaching, New York employers should be aware of the changes to the New York Paid Family Leave (“Paid Family Leave”) program set to take effect in 2023. Employers can expect an increase on the weekly benefits cap, as well as a decrease in the employee contribution rate.
Beginning in 2018 and increasing in benefits over the past few years, the Paid Family Leave program provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected, partially-paid time off to bond with a new child, care for a family member with a serious health condition, or to provide assistance when a family member is deployed abroad on active military service. As we previously reported, New York expanded the program’s definition of “family member” to include “siblings,” which will take effect on January 1, 2023. “Sibling” includes biological or adopted siblings, half-siblings, and step-siblings.
The Federal Trade Commission’s Five-Year Strategic Plan Unsurprisingly Includes a Focus on Noncompetes
As our antitrust colleagues explained recently, on August 26, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published its “Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2022–2026,” as required under the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010. Readers of this blog will be interested in two small, but important, items in the Strategic Plan related to noncompete agreements.
First, under “Objective 2.1: Identify, investigate, and take actions against anticompetitive mergers and business practices,” the FTC opines that “[a]nticompetitive mergers and business practices harm Americans through higher prices, lower wages, or reduced quality, choice, and innovation. Enforcement of antitrust laws provides substantial benefits to the public by helping to ensure that markets are open and competitive.” It then identifies certain “[s]trategies” that the FTC intends to pursue over the next five years, including “[i]ncreas[ing] use of provisions to improve worker mobility including restricting the use of non-compete provisions.” It’s unclear exactly what provisions it intends to increase its use of, but nonetheless the FTC will be focused on the issue.