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- Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) and House Minority Leader Rep. Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) announced House committee leadership positions this week for the new two-year session.
- Whistleblower Defense Alert: Fourth Circuit’s Opinion Shows Influence of Government’s Decision to Intervene on Court’s Determination of MaterialityOn January 8, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reinstated the government’s False Claims Act (FCA) claims in United States v. Triple Canopy, Inc., No. 13-2190. In reversing the district court’s dismissal of the government’s case, the Fourth Circuit highlighted, both explicitly and implicitly, the importance of the government’s decision to intervene in the case.
- Earlier this week, President Obama gave a speech at the FTC laying out an agenda on privacy and data security issues, and indicating that the topic is important enough to the administration that it will be included in his upcoming State of the Union address. Generally, the initiative’s goals include tackling identity theft, protecting the privacy of student data and working toward a general privacy “bill of rights” to provide comprehensive data and privacy protections.
- It is once again time for public companies to march into proxy season. While the SEC has not adopted any significant new rules or amendments effective for the 2015 proxy season, you should keep the following items in mind as you prepare.
- The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued a decision regarding whether interruptions of an employee’s meal period automatically render that time compensable under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
- Whistleblower Defense Alert: District Court Imposes $1.6 Million Sanction Against Relators for Violating the FCA SealEarlier this week, Judge Amy Totenberg of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia imposed significant monetary sanctions against a pair of relators who blatantly and repeatedly violated the seal order in a pending qui tam action, United States ex rel. Bibby v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Case No. 1:06-CV-0547-AT.
- On December 19, 2014 Governor Kasich signed Am. Sub. H.B. 5 (the Bill) into law thus concluding three years of contentious lobbying between selected trade associations on one side of the debate (primarily The Ohio Chamber of Commerce, The Ohio Society of CPAs and The National Federation of Independent Business) and Ohio’s roughly 600 municipalities on the other side of the debate.
- Oil and Gas Alert: Supreme Court Holds That Evidence of Amount in Controversy Not Required to Remove Class Action to Federal CourtOn December 15, 2014, the United States Supreme Court decided that a party seeking to remove a class action to federal court need not include evidence of the amount in controversy as part of its petition for removal. Instead, the party seeking removal need only plausibly state that the amount at stake exceeds $5 million. The case is Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co. LLC v. Owens, 574 U.S. ---, 2014 U.S. LEXIS 8435 (2014).
- Ohio Statehouse Update: Ohio General Assembly Concludes Work – Passes Flurry of Legislation in Lame DuckMembers of the 130th Ohio General Assembly officially finished their business and headed home after the conclusion of a lengthy Ohio House floor session December 17. The hectic final days were notable both for the legislation that passed as well as for some high profile bills that did not pass.
- Labor and Employment Alert: OSHA Updates Recordkeeping Rule for Reporting Fatalities and Severe InjuriesEffective January 1, 2015, employers with facilities located in states subject to federal OSHA jurisdiction will have new reporting requirements. Previously, employers were required to report all work related fatalities and work related hospitalizations of three or more employees within eight hours of the event.
- Both the West Coast (led by San Francisco) and the East Coast (led by Philadelphia) recently illustrated growing pro-employee trends in defining employee work schedules and in ensuring paid sick leave for employees.
- In several previous blog posts, we have mentioned obtaining court orders with the aim of getting links to harmful content, such as Ripoff Report posts, de-indexed from search engines. What we have not written about, to date, is how to use a court order to get links removed from Google.
- Last Friday, the NLRB issued its long-anticipated “ambush election” or “quickie election” rules. The rulemaking, which followed a long and tortured procedural path, is a major overhaul of the procedures used to conduct secret ballot, union elections. These elections are an important path to union representation, and they will now occur more quickly after the election petition is filed.
- Labor and Employment Alert: Employers Must Allow Employees to Use Employer Owned and Operated Email Systems for Union Organizing ActivitySince 2007, as a result of the NLRB’s Register Guard decision, an employer could lawfully limit the use of its email system by employees for certain non-business related activities, assuming that it applied the rule non-discriminatorily. On December 10, 2014, in a 3-2 decision, the NLRB reversed the old rule established in Register Guard and established a new rule. Now, employees must be permitted to use employer email for statutorily protected communications during nonworking time if they have access to employer computer systems for work.
- People today love sharing photographs of themselves and their whereabouts. And today’s technology makes it so easy. While there are numerous websites and apps that make this possible, among the most popular are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This trio ranks second, eighth, and twenty-fourth, respectively on Alexa.com’s rankings of top websites in the United States.
- Labor and Employment Alert: The Wait is Over: U.S. Supreme Court Unanimously Holds That Waiting in Line for Security Checks is Not CompensableAs we reported in October, the case of Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk, U.S. No. 13-433, has been closely watched by companies that screen their workers to prevent employee theft. Integrity Staffing required its employees to pass through a security check at the end of each shift and did not compensate them for the 25 minutes the employees claimed the process took.
- Labor and Employment Alert: It’s Final: The Department of Labor’s Final Rule on LGBT Protections in Federal ContractsEighteen states and the District of Columbia currently protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees (LGBT). In July 2014, President Obama issued Executive Order 13672, which extended this protection by prohibiting discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity in federal contracts.
- Whistleblower Defense Alert: Department of Justice Announces Third Straight Year of Record-Breaking False Claims Act RecoveriesAccording to a recent Department of Justice press release regarding annual False Claims Act (FCA) recoveries, FCA recoveries continue to skyrocket, in keeping with the trend in recent years. 2014 marks the third straight year in which the Department of Justice has announced a record-setting annual recovery.
- The use of independent contractors in the oil and gas industry is typical and its advantages are obvious. However, decisions about when and how to use independent contractors might be made without full consideration of potential problems or the ever-looming and potentially significant risks of misclassification.
- Labor and Employment Alert: Expanding Title VII: Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Transgender DiscriminationLed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), federal agencies are beginning to focus on sexual orientation, gender identity and transgender discrimination. While the proposed federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which has been introduced in every Congress since 1994, is unlikely to gain traction in the new Republican-controlled Congress, the EEOC and Department of Labor (DOL) have made lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues an enforcement priority.
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