Legal Updates

NLRB GC outlines federal protections for employee social media activity

Report addresses what employers can and can’t do when an employee goes all @normarae

By George AsimouVictor Geraci and Todd Sarver

The Office of General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) issued a sprawling Report of the General Counsel (“Report”) on the interaction of employee social media activity and the National Labor Relations Act yesterday.   The Report summarizes the Office of General Counsel’s findings in a wide array of cases submitted for its review and provides some useful guidance for employers grappling with employee social media activity.  As a reminder, the NLRB has jurisdiction over union and non-union workplaces.

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Ohio Statehouse Update: Week in review: August 19, 2011 — Our top "5" subjects you should know

Week in review

August 19, 2011 — Our top “5” subjects you should know

1. GOP leaders approach public union leaders for compromise

Governor John Kasich, House Speaker William Batchelder (R-Medina), and Senate President Tom Niehaus (R-New Richmond) held a press conference Wednesday, August 17, 2011, asking for union leaders to come to the table to negotiate a compromise on Issue 2– the referendum on Senate Bill 5, the controversial collective bargaining law. During the press conference Governor Kasich confirmed having knowledge of meetings that took place with his confidants and union leadership focused on the potential for a compromise.

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Alleged employee theft highlights continued need for employers to protect themselves

As reported in Employment Law360 just recently (www.law360.com/articles/264657), allegations of employee theft of confidential and trade secret data require that employers ensure that adequate safeguards (i.e., restrictive covenants, confidentiality agreements, technology controls) are in place to prevent the loss of this valuable property.TradeSecretLock.jpg

For example, Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. just sued its former Vice President in New York, claiming that she sent at least 11 emails to her personal e-mail account that contained the company’s strategic initiatives, financial projections for projects, and details of marketing strategies and campaigns.  These e-mails, according to the filing, were sent just days before the Vice President’s resignation from the company.

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Managing Certifications & Intermittent Leave – Todd Sarver

Managing Certifications & Intermittent Leave – Todd Sarver (Webinar)
Date: Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Are workplace absences affecting your business?
Best practices for FMLA Administration.

The management of workplace absences is an important aspect of bottomline business for employers. The cost of absenteeism is greater than the direct payment of wages and benefits paid during an absence. Indirect costs of staffng replacement, re-training, lost productivity and diminished employee morale often exceed the direct costs of absenteeism.

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A troll is at your PR doorstep with a patent-infringement claim – Michael Lasky

There are two reasons for the sharp uptick in the number of patent claims against PR firms. First, there has been a significantly increased amount of digital-based work that PR firms are doing for their clients. Second, there has been an increase in the number of companies aggressively using patents in the digital age. If an infringement claim has yet to happen to your firm, consider yourself lucky. In fact, this author has handled no fewer than 10 such claims for PR firms in the last six months alone.

A patent typically protects a new invention and grants a 20-year monopoly to its owner, preventing others from using or exploiting it. There are also business method and software patents. These protect methods of doing business or software processes. Sometimes such patents extend to what PR agencies consider basic website functionalities.In many cases, PR firms have been targeted because their communications work typically includes building digital channels for clients, such as websites and social media platforms. PR firms may unwittingly be infringing on one or more software or businessmethod patents when they perform these digital services for clients.

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Proposed Regulations Released Relating to Health Insurance Premium Tax Credits under Affordable Care Act while Eleventh Circuit Finds Individual Mandate Unconstitutional

On August 12, 2011, the Departments of Treasury and Health and Human Services released Proposed Regulations to provide guidance to individuals who enroll in qualified health plans through State-based Exchanges, as envisioned under the Affordable Care Act, and to provide guidance to Exchanges that make qualified health plans available to individuals and employers.  The Exchanges will be one-stop marketplaces where consumers can buy private health insurance plans.  The premium tax credit is designed to help individuals and families with incomes between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level (approximately $22,350 to $89,400 for a family of four in 2011) afford health insurance where they are not otherwise eligible for other coverage such as Medicare, Medicaid or affordable employer-sponsored coverage (i.e., the employee only premium exceeds 9.5% of household income or fails to cover 60% of total allowed costs).  These Proposed Regulations provide that the credit may be advanced by the Department of Treasury directly to the insurance company.   Under related employer mandate rules, applicable large employers will be liable for excise taxes effective in 2014 if they have any full-time employees that are certified to receive a premium tax credit or cost-sharing reduction in connection with enrollment in health insurance through a State Exchange and either the employer fails to offer to its full-time employees (and their dependents) the opportunity to enroll in an employer sponsored plan that provides “minimum essential coverage” or offers such a plan that is unaffordable.  The Proposed Regulations relating to the premium tax credits indicate that it is anticipated that future guidance will provide a safe harbor permitting employers to base the affordability calculation on wages they pay their employees rather than on a household income basis. 

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BC Government Report on its BC Hydro Review

Today, the British Columbia government released its report on its review of BC Hydro. The comprehensive report is written by a government appointed review panel which was devised in response to a proposed 32% electricity rate increase over three years.

The report provides 56 recommendations to BC Hydro and mostly addresses the internal operations of BC Hydro, but also touches on current and past BC energy policy and its impact on BC Hydro operations.

The report does not directly address the future of the BC clean energy industry, but if you read between the lines, the report does offer some nuggets of information that impacts independent power producers and clean energy enthusiasts (the self-sufficiency review and reliance on imported power is an example on pages 92-93).

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Wisconsin recall results and what it means for S.B. 5

As we recently reported, opponents of changes to Ohio’s Public Employees’ Collective Bargaining Law (popularly known as S.B. 5) recently succeeded in collecting the signatures necessary to place the issue of overturning S.B. 5 on the 2011 November ballot.  We also noted that polling from the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute indicated that 56% of respondents favor repeal, while 32% support keeping the law in place.

Tuesday night, Wisconsin voters in six state senate districts went to the polls to vote on the proposed recall of six Republican state senators who voted in favor of similar (arguably, more aggressive) public bargaining reform proposed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and passed by the Wisconsin State Assembly amid much partisan rancor.  Republicans retained four of the six seats contested, narrowly averting the loss of a third seat that would have tipped the Wisconsin Senate majority in favor of the Democrats. 

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Keren Weiss was featured in "Sound Corporate Housekeeping: How to Protect Your Entity’s Independent Status," published by RBMA

Keren Weiss was featured in “Sound Corporate Housekeeping: How to Protect Your Entity’s Independent Status,” published by RBMA

Sound Corporate Housekeeping: How to Protect Your Entity’s Independent Status
By: Keren Weiss

With the growing scrutiny of business operations and corporate liability, radiology and imaging practices must diligently work to maintain certain corporate formalities, thereby minimizing the risks and exposure to the business and its owners. Although often overlooked, medical practices of all sizes should recognize the value of operating the business entity as a limited liability entity or corporation. By utilizing a corporate structure such as a corporation, limited liability company (LLC), limited liability partnership (LLP) or limited partnership (LP), officers, directors and partners gain invaluable protection against personal liability for acts of the practice, including shielding personal assets from judgments or debt collectors.

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Rachel Yaffe was featured in "Teleradiology: You May Be Breaking the Law," published by RBMA

Rachel Yaffe was featured in “Teleradiology: You May Be Breaking the Law,” published by RBMA

Teleradiology: You May Be Breaking the Law
By: Rachel Yaffe

As technology advances and demand for high-quality, efficient healthcare increases, teleradiology continues to be a bustling field of medicine and a fertile territory for laws. Teleradiology is a branch of telemedicine that involves the electronic transmission of radiological patient images (i.e., x-rays, MRIs, CTs) from one location to another location for the purpose of interpretation and consultation by radiologists who are not physically present at the transmitting location.

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