North America

Catherine Cloutier’s Involvement for the Welfare of Jurists

August 5, 2021 — The practice of law can be a source of stress for many a professional. The Canadian Bar Association is well aware of this situation: its Board of Directors has created a CBA Well-Being Subcommittee, whose mission is to provide assistance to professionals facing mental health problems.

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FTC Dings Coloring Book App for Drawing Outside COPPA Privacy Lines

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently announced a settlement with Kuuhuub Inc., the operator of an online coloring book app, along with its Finnish subsidiaries Kuu Hubb Oy and Recolor Oy, for violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The FTC alleged that the app collected personal information from children who used the app without notifying their parents and obtaining their consent as required by COPPA. Read more…

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The Impact of the New Pay Equity Act on Employers Under Federal Jurisdiction

By Dimka Markova, from our Labour and Employment Law Group

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August 4, 2021 — Although the Canadian Human Rights Act recognizes the right to pay equity, wage differences between men and women still exist. Such was the focus of the Pay Equity Act [the Act], adopted by the federal Parliament on December 13, 2018, and the accompanying Pay Equity Regulations, which will implement a proactive pay equity regime applicable to both public and private sector employers under federal jurisdiction and with at least 10 employees. As of August 31, 2021, when the Act becomes effective, employers will be held to a careful appraisal of their compensation practices and to award the pay increases required to compensate the differences between salaries paid to men and women for work of equal value.

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Video: COVID-19 Restrictions Tighten, NYC Fair Chance Act, Biden’s Budget – Employment Law This Week

As featured in #WorkforceWednesday:  This week, we look at how COVID-19 restrictions are tightening to curb the spread of the Delta variant, how NYC is ramping up enforcement of its ban-the-box law, and how Biden’s budget could impact employers.

COVID-19 Restrictions Tighten

The rapid spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant has many in the United States talking about the potential of a second lockdown. The Biden administration is now mandating vaccines or strict testing for federal workers, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that vaccinated people in high-risk areas wear masks indoors. Learn more.

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President Biden’s Proposed Budget: Boon to Enforcement, Oversight, and Worker Protection

President Biden’s $6 trillion 2022 budget proposal focuses on worker protections—including the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan. Both of these plans contain labor and numerous employment initiatives. The budget proposes increased funding for the Department of Labor (“DOL”), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”), and the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”).

The 2022 budget calls for $2.1 billion, an increase of $304 million, in DOL’s worker protection agencies. Over the past four years, those agencies have lost approximately 14 percent of their staff, limiting DOL’s ability to perform inspections and conduct investigations.

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Highlights of the 2020 CFIUS Annual Report to Congress

On July 29, 2021, CFIUS published its 2020 Annual Report summarizing CFIUS-covered transaction declarations and notices, outlining mitigation measures and conditions, demonstrating credible evidence of coordinated strategies by foreign actors to acquire critical U.S. technology companies, and reporting on foreign direct investment in the U.S. by countries that boycott Israel or do not ban terrorist organizations.

To access the full article, click here.

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Into the Weeds on Sen. Schumer’s Cannabis Bill

The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act was introduced in the Senate earlier this month by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The bill would remove federal prohibitions on the manufacture, sale and possession of marijuana, and would also dramatically alter the current regulatory scheme for cannabidiol (CBD).

Although recreational marijuana is now legal in 19 states and Washington, D.C., marijuana is still a Schedule 1 controlled substance under the United States Controlled Substances Act (CSA), no different than cocaine, and it is therefore a federal crime to sell and possess marijuana even where legal under state law. Read more…

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Back in the Saddle: SEC’s Whistleblower Program Is in Full Swing Under the Biden Administration

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Whistleblower Program under the Biden administration has picked up where it left off under President Obama, aggressively enforcing Rule 21F-17(a) against employers whose policies may impede employees from communicating with the SEC.  On June 23, 2021, the SEC fined Guggenheim Securities, LLC (“Guggenheim”) for maintaining a policy that it contended impeded potential whistleblowers from communicating with the SEC by requiring employees to obtain permission before reporting securities violations. Even though the SEC was unaware of any instances in which a Guggenheim employee was prevented from reporting a potential securities law violation or in which Guggenheim acted to enforce the policy, the SEC nevertheless found that the company had violated Rule 21F-17(a).

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Good News for Retirement Plan Sponsors: IRS Issues Updated Guidance Enhancing Plan Correction Programs

On July 15, 2021, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) updated its Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (“EPCRS”) by issuing Revenue Procedure 2021-30 (PDF). The EPCRS changes and revisions, which generally became effective on July 16, 2021, are beneficial to plan sponsors, participants and the retirement plan community.

The IRS has long provided a basic structure for the EPCRS and its underlying programs consisting of: (a) the Self Correction Program (“SCP”) – which allows plan sponsors to self-correct certain failures using pre-approved methods without making a submission to the IRS; (b) the Voluntary Compliance Program (“VCP”) – which requires a submission to the IRS; and (c) the Audit Closing Agreement Program (“Audit CAP”). When the IRS periodically publishes an update to EPCRS, such as Rev. Proc. 2021-30, the revisions are of interest to plan sponsors as they are mostly improvements and expansion of the programs to reflect changes in existing practices.

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Biden’s Executive Order encourages review of the use of noncompete clauses but stops short of proposing a ban

This article is part of a new McDonald Hopkins series on developments in restrictive covenant law that will dive deeper into how employers can protect their business interests in light of state – and potentially federal – limitations, strategies for revising employers’ non-compete and non-solicitation agreements, and other topics that will help businesses navigate the changing landscape of employee restrictive covenants. Read more…

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