Regions

Howard & Howard Names Class of 2021 Shareholders

ROYAL OAK, Mich., January 19, 2021 – Following the end of a uniquely challenging year, our commitment to our clients, the firm, and each other has remained of utmost importance. As such, Howard & Howard is pleased to recognize a group of attorneys who have exemplified that commitment through and through—the 2021 class of shareholders. “We are delighted to welcome this group of exceptionally talented young attorneys to our partnership and the next level of their careers,” said Mark A. Davis, president and CEO. “Our new partners practice in a wide range of areas and share our firm’s commitment to helping our clients succeed.”

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WEEKDAY UPDATE: MORATORIUMS ON EVICTIONS AND DISTRAINT PROCEEDINGS AGAINST COMMERCIAL TENANTS

In a bid to assist commercial tenants, there are currently two moratoria in place on the exercise of eviction and distress rights against commercial tenants, one which relates to the now defunct Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (“CECRA“) program and the other which is tied to the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (“CERS“) program. A summary of each is contained below:

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California Supreme Court Concludes That Dynamex Applies Retroactively

As we have previously written here, the California Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court dramatically changed the standard for determining whether workers in California were properly classified as independent contractors, creating a new “ABC” test that has subsequently been codified as AB 5. A significant question left open was whether Dynamex would apply retroactively.

In Vasquez v. Jan-Pro Franchising International, Inc., the California Supreme Court has concluded that Dynamex indeed applies retroactively.  Rejecting an argument that the “ABC” test created new law and therefore should not be applied retroactively, the California Supreme Court determined that the decision did nothing more than provide an authoritative definition of what it means to “suffer or permit to work.”

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PRC Court Issued Interim Injunction in a Case Involving Determination of Royalty Rates Globally

On 25 December 2020, the Wuhan Intermediate Court of Hubei Province (the Wuhan Court) issued an Interim Injunction (the Injunction”) in a case (the Case) where the applicants Samsung Electronic Co. Ltd. and Samsung (China) Investment Co. Ltd. (collectively, Samsung) sued Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (Ericsson) for determination of royalty rates for using Ericssons standard and essential patents (the SEPs).  The Injunction prohibits Ericsson from seeking injunction or awards from courts in or outside of China to prohibit Samsung from using the SEPs or on matters otherwise relating to the license of the SEPs. Read more…

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Our Insurance Law Practice Group Welcomes Jean-François Germain

January 18, 2021 — RSS is pleased to welcome Jean-François Germain into our Insurance Law Practice Group. Jean-François has 25 years of experience with litigation matters, particularly insurance cases. He has significant experience with construction law, product liability, professional liability, and general insurance law cases.

Jean-François is also accredited by the Quebec Bar as a mediator in civil matters.

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A Snapshot of our Recent Activity — Insurance Law

January 18, 2021 — First and foremost, we would like to wish you all a very happy and prosperous 2021 in both your personal and professional lives. We look forward to sharing with you a snapshot of our activities over the course of the year.

Since our previous six-month review, the firm has been very busy. In fact RSS has been quite active for a century, tracing its origins to 1921. It is thanks to the trust and loyalty of our clients that we are proudly celebrating an important milestone: our 100th!! Past achievements are the steppingstones to consistently providing continued reliable advice to businesses and individuals.

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Mayor Bowser Signs Non-Compete Ban, Congressional Review Underway

The District of Columbia is bracing for a transition.  But while employers across the country wait to see what changes the Biden Administration may bring, Washington, D.C. employers should prepare for a drastic and imminent change in their own backyard.

As we previously reported, last month the District of Columbia Council passed the Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Act 23-563) (the “Act”).  On January 11, 2021, Mayor Bowser signed the legislation. It will now be sent to Congress for the congressional review period set forth by the Home Rule Act.  Absent Congress passing and the President signing a joint resolution of disapproval, which is unlikely to happen, the law will take effect after 30 legislative session days and publication in the D.C. Register, and apply upon inclusion of its fiscal affect in an approved budget and financial plan.

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Less Than a Month After DOJ Brings Its First Wage-Fixing Indictment, DOJ Brings Its First “No-Poach” Indictment

In the past month, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has made good on its 2016 threat, contained in its Antitrust Guidance for Human Resource Professionals (“Antitrust Guidance”) to bring criminal charges against people or corporations who enter into naked wage-fixing agreements or naked no-poach agreements.   First, as reported here, on December 9, 2020, DOJ obtained an indictment against the president of a staffing company who allegedly violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act by conspiring with competitors to “fix wages” paid to physical therapists (PT) and physical therapist assistants (PTA).  Although not mentioned in the indictment, a related Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complaint alleged that the defendant agreed with competing staffing companies to lower wages after a client unilaterally lowered the rates paid to the defendant for PT and PTA services.  On January 7, 2021, DOJ announced a second indictment, which alleged that two corporations operating outpatient medical care facilities violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act by reaching “naked no poach agreements” with two competitors, pursuant to which they agreed not to solicit each other’s “senior-level employees.”

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Under the Heroes Act, Employers can Help Pay your Student Loans

On December 27, 2020, President Donald Trump signed into law a $900 billion pandemic relief bill that provides extended relief for qualified student loan borrowers. Known as the “Heroes Act,” the stimulus package is a win for borrowers seeking student loan repayment from their employers.

The initial $2.2 trillion stimulus package that Congress passed in March 2020 – the “Cares Act” –temporarily expanded Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code (the “IRC”) to permit employers to make tax-free payments of up to $5,250 during calendar year 2020 towards employees’ qualified federal and private student loans. Prior to the Cares Act, employers were permitted under IRC Section 127 to make tax-free payments of up to $5,250 per year under an education assistance program towards an employee’s qualified educational expenses, which included, for example, tuition and books, but not student loan repayments.

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DON’T SMILE AT THE CAMERA — NEW BIOMETRIC DATA LAWS

Biometric data is seen as a preferred means of identification by many businesses. Unlocking a smartphone using facial recognition and other biometric identifiers, for example, gives users the feeling as if they are more protected (e.g., less risk of identity theft). However, similar to the boom in privacy developments and legislation related to the collection and use of more traditional personal information, the growth of biometric data use by businesses, law enforcement, employers and other organizations has given rise to renewed privacy concerns and legal developments.

While there is no uniform federal biometric data privacy law, several states either have existing laws or are in the process of drafting or ratifying new laws. Although it remains to be seen how such legislation will change the industry’s use of and reliance upon biometric data, that it is increasingly the subject of analysis and discussion indicates a demand and a need for reasonable security and privacy practices around the collection and processing of biometric data, whether required by law or not. Read more…

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