Legal Updates

Federal Court’s Approval of Settlement in Litigation Over Expenses Charged to Brokers Offers Guidance on Settlement of Parallel Class Actions

On September 6, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California preliminarily approved a settlement in Harvey v. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC.  The significance of the result is two-fold.  First, substantively, it is a reminder to financial services firms of potential liability under California labor law when advisors are required to pay for business expenses.  Second, procedurally, the court’s approval of the settlement is edifying on the subject of parallel class actions.

In the Harvey case, plaintiffs challenged Morgan Stanley Smith Barney’s (“MSSB”) Alternative Flexible Grid expense program on the grounds that it violated California labor law by failing to reimburse their reasonable and necessary business expenses.

Read full article

New York Paid Family Leave Benefits and Employee Contributions Set to Increase January 1, 2020

As we enter the last quarter of 2019 and the business community begins to plan ahead for 2020, New York employers should be aware of the changes coming to the New York Paid Family Leave (“NYPFL”) program. On January 1, 2020, both the amount of employee contributions and weekly benefits allowed under the program are scheduled to increase. This will be the second of three annual increases in weekly benefits.

The NYPFL program, which took effect in 2018, provides partially-paid, job-protected leave for bonding with a new baby, caring for a seriously ill family member, and matters related to a family member who is deployed abroad on active military duty. The length of permissible leave began at eight weeks, is currently at 10 weeks, and will increase to 12 weeks in 2021.

Read full article

SEC Sanctions Broker-Dealer and Its CEO for Failing to Supervise an Employee Who Committed Securities Fraud

On August 20, 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) charged Mosaic Capital, LLC, formerly known as AOC Securities, LLC (“AOC”), and its CEO with failing to adequately supervise an employee who engaged in securities fraud.  Pursuant to the SEC Orders, AOC and its CEO were ordered to pay penalties of $250,000 and $40,000, respectively.  The SEC’s actions serve as a reminder to broker-dealers—and members of firm management—of the potential for liability based on the actions of a self-dealing employee, and the need to guard against such activities.

Read full article

NJ Division on Civil Rights Issues Guidance on Illegal Discrimination Based on Hair

In September 2019, the New Jersey Division of Rights (“DCR”) issued enforcement guidance (“Guidance”) clarifying and explaining how the DCR applies the state’s Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”) to discrimination based on hairstyles, particularly with respect to those “closely associated with Black people.”  The Guidance states that the LAD’s prohibition on discrimination based on race encompasses discrimination that is ostensibly based on hairstyles that are inextricably intertwined with or closely associated with race and therefore prohibits employers from refusing to hire or otherwise treating “a Black person differently because they wear their hair in a style that is closely associated with being Black.”

Read full article

DOL Advises: FMLA Leave Should Not Be Delayed, No Exception for Collective Bargaining Agreements

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) recently issued an opinion letter regarding the designation of FMLA leave in the context of employees covered by collective bargaining agreements (“CBA”) with a union.  This opinion letter provides helpful clarification on an issue that is often a source of confusion for employers (as well as for unions).

Read full article

Home-grown cannabis any time soon?

By Benoît Chartier, from our Insurance Law Practice Group.

On September 3, 2019, approximately one year after the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada, the Quebec Superior Court declared the provisions of the Quebec law governing cannabis that prohibited possession and production of cannabis plants in the province, unconstitutional (Murray Hall c. Procureure générale du Québec, 2019 QCCS 3664). This decision could have serious impact for insurers or landlords, among others.

Click here to read more (PDF).

Read full article

OSHA Update: Record keeping and required postings

Updates on OSHA’s requirements for posting OSHA’s Form 300A (which summarizes job-related injuries and illnesses logged during 2018) and on record keeping requirements. READ MORE

Read full article

Ohio’s Habitual Offenders Program can have devastating effects for businesses that fail to comply with sales tax filing and payment requirements

In Ohio, a consistent failure to comply with sales tax filing and payment requirements may result in a business’ tax account being placed in the Habitual Offenders Program (HOP), a statutory mandated tax delinquency program that can have devastating effects on any business. READ MORE

Read full article

Compliance with the New DOL Salary Thresholds May Create Unexpected Challenges for Employers (Redux)

In the fall of 2016, before the Obama administration increases to the minimum salary were set to go into effect (spoiler alert – they didn’t!), we wrote in this space about the challenges facing employers in addressing those expected changes: “Compliance with the New DOL Overtime Exemption Rule May Create Unexpected Challenges for Employers.

As we wrote earlier this week, the current administration’s changes are set to go into effect on January 1, 2020: “U.S. Department of Labor Issues Long-Awaited Final Rule Updating the Compensation Requirements for the FLSA’s Executive, Administrative, and Professional Exemptions.”

Read full article

Recommendations for proper back charges on commercial construction projects

Back charges are commonplace on commercial construction projects. Whether you are a general contractor or subcontractor assessing back charges against a lower tier contractor or a lower tier subcontractor arguing against back charges that have been assessed against you, these four tips will provide insight into best practices for proper back charges to help you in your business.  READ MORE

Read full article