North America

Employers, Are You Ready for a Possible Post-Roe Workplace?

Employment issues to consider while awaiting decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization

The United States Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) will imminently release its decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and if the final ruling is consistent with the recently-leaked draft opinion (overturning Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey), employers may soon need to contend with a variety of novel employment and benefits related issues. Some employers have already begun to consider and plan for a post-Roe workplace. Those who have not would be wise to do so now, to best ensure a well-coordinated and thoughtful approach.

For example, some employers have publicly announced plans to provide expanded healthcare benefits, travel, lodging and other benefits to employees who may seek abortion-related services in states where those medical services will be prohibited or limited.  These benefits raise complex legal issues applicable to employers’ group health plans and fringe benefit plans, including conflicts between federal and state law, federal ERISA preemption and potential employer civil and/or criminal liability for providing these benefits.

Read full article

Torres Talks Trade Podcast Episode 2 on Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC)

This week’s episode (below) covers the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), which lays out the cybersecurity standards required of government contractors. Guest Dave Grey, Cybersecurity Consultant with Torres Trade Advisory, joins Olga Torres to discuss what the CMMC requires, who it covers, and what all businesses can do to keep their and their customers’ data safe.

Read full article

U.S. Supreme Court’s Viking River Cruises Decision is a Significant Victory for California Employers – At Least For Now

The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 15, 2022 decision in Viking River Cruises v. Moriana could have a tremendous impact upon pending and future litigation, as well as employment practices in the state.

For some California employers, it will impact pending Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) litigation where the named plaintiff has an arbitration agreement with a class and representative action waiver.

Read full article

New York’s Enactment of the Adult Survivors Act: What You Need to Know

Recent New York legislation will afford a class of sexual abuse victims the opportunity to sue their abusers, where they previously would have been time-barred. On May 24, 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law the Adult Survivors Act (“ASA”) (S.66A/A.648A), which creates a one-year lookback window for alleged survivors of sexual assault that occurred when they were over the age of 18 to sue their alleged abusers regardless of when the abuse occurred. The one-year window will begin six months from signing – on November 24, 2022 and will close on November 23, 2023. In 2019, New York extended the statute of limitations to 20 years for adults filing civil lawsuits for  certain enumerated sex offenses. However, that legislation only affected new cases and was not retroactive. In contrast, the ASA permits individuals who were over the age of 18 when any alleged abuse occurred to sue for civil damages regardless of the statute of limitations.

Read full article

FTC Seeks Public Comment on Updating its Guidance on Preventing Digital Deception

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is seeking public comment on proposed revisions to its Guide, entitled “.com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising” (the Dot Com Disclosure Guides). Last year the FTC announced a new enforcement policy to crack down on illegal dark patterns, such as tricking users, trapping them into signing up for subscription plans or making it impossible to cancel ongoing billing and unauthorized charges. The FTC’s updates to the Dot Com Disclosure Guides are expected to address dark patterns and other deceptive tactics on the Internet. Read more…

Read full article

Video: Federal Focus on Mental Health, FTC and Noncompetes, Gig Work Risks for Hospitals – Employment Law This Week

As featured in #WorkforceWednesdayThis week, we take a look at the federal government’s recently announced focus on mental health.

Read full article

FTC to “Crack Down” on Ed Tech’s Use of Children’s Data

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) unanimously approved a Policy Statement that focuses on the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act’s (COPPA’s) application to education technologies (Ed Tech) used in and by schools to support learning, including remote learning. This is especially significant now that the pandemic has made online learning fairly common, causing the Ed Tech industry to undergo exponential growth. A hybrid model of learning that combines in-person teaching with Ed Tech products, whether remotely or in the classroom, is likely to be the lasting outcome of the pandemic. Read more…

Read full article

Microsoft to Eliminate Noncompetes for Most Employees – A Harbinger of Things to Come?

Microsoft Corp. announced last week that it is immediately eliminating noncompetes for all employees below the partner and executive levels, including doing away with all existing noncompetes for covered employees. In a June 8, 2022 blog post, Microsoft’s Deputy General Counsel and Vice President of Human Resources said the following:

Empowering employee mobility: Microsoft believes that all employees should be empowered to work at a company they love and in a role where they thrive. We work hard to retain our world-class talent by making people the priority, and creating a culture that attracts and inspires world-class talent to unlock innovation aligned to our mission. While our existing employee agreements have noncompete obligations, we do not endorse the use of such provisions as a retention tool. We have heard concerns that the noncompetition clauses in some U.S. employee agreements, even when rarely and reasonably enforced, feel at odds with our talent principles. With these concerns in mind, we are announcing that we are removing noncompetition clauses from our U.S. employee agreements, and will not enforce existing noncompetition clauses in the U.S., with the exception of Microsoft’s most senior leadership (Partners and Executives), effective today. In practice, what this means is those U.S. employees will not be restricted by a noncompete clause in seeking employment with another company who may be considered a Microsoft competitor. All employees remain accountable to our standards of business conduct and other obligations to protect Microsoft’s confidential information. (Emphasis added).

Read full article

Chicago’s Minimum Wage Increase Set to Take Effect July 1, 2022

Chicago’s Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection recently announced that the city’s minimum wage for various employers will increase per the Minimum Wage Ordinance (Ordinance), effective July 1, 2022.

Read full article

New DOL Fact Sheet takes on rising workplace mental health issues

Recent reports from both government agencies and human resources experts confirm what employers already know: challenging times are taking a toll on employees’ mental health. With employers focused on how to properly address these issues in the workplace, the DOL has stepped in with two new guidance documents:  Fact Sheet #280: Mental Health Conditions and the FMLA and Frequently Asked Questions on the FMLA’s mental health provisions. Read more…

Read full article