Several new, highly public developments showcase prominent executives being subjected to significant financial penalties, loss of employment and reputational damage arising from allegations that they bore responsibility for corporate scandals to which they contributed, directly or indirectly.

Even though these developments are unique in their nature and scope, the sheer magnitude of the penalties asserted and the intensity of the media coverage are likely to attract significant attention in the executive community. They’ve been page-one news; people are noticing and boards may be expected to react.

McDermott’s Michael Peregrine authored an article for Forbes in which he discusses how the spotlight on individual accountability is getting a little bit brighter.

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Originally published on Forbes, February 2020

In our global economy, Coronavirus (COVID-19) raises serious concerns for employers in all industries. Workers may be on the front lines caring for patients and developing vaccines, travelling for business, or in close contact with individuals who travel or may have been affected. At this time, there is no vaccine or medication approved to prevent or treat the COVID-19 disease. Therefore, preparedness and prevention are crucial. Frontline responders must be especially vigilant as they deliver care and anticipate the challenges this uncharted territory presents.

McDermott’s Coronavirus Resource Center, brought to you by a multi-disciplinary team, will keep you informed of the latest developments and provide comprehensive insight to help you navigate this crisis with your employees, including:

  • Frequently asked questions for US and multi-national employers
  • Recent news updates
  • Podcasts
  • Upcoming events

Access the resource center.

The US Supreme Court handed workers a big win by preserving a six-year deadline to file ERISA class actions as the standard, but employers have already seized on language in Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion as a road map for how to impose a shorter deadline.

Justice Alito ended the unanimous opinion—which affirmed the Ninth Circuit’s ruling that ERISA grants workers six years to sue except under special circumstances—by listing several tactics employers can use to invoke a three-year statute of limitations.

McDermott’s Richard Pearl contributes to a Law360 article discussing the decision, including how employers should respond.

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Originally published on Law360, February 2020

See Richard Pearl’s January 2019 On the Subject on this case: Ninth Circuit Clarifies ‘Actual Knowledge’ for ERISA’s Statute of Limitations

One of the big questions for the employee ownership field is, why has the number of US employee-owned firms failed to grow significantly over the last couple of decades?

An upcoming paper from Fifty by Fifty proposes that the barrier to growth is a lack of agency. Employees don’t have the knowledge, skills or capital to pursue a buyout of their employer; and employers, knowing little about the benefits of selling to employees, are more likely to respond to an opportunity that knocks on their door, such as an offer from a private equity firm or a strategic buyer. McDermott’s Ted Becker and Erin Turley share their thoughts on the guidelines in a recent article published on Medium.

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Originally published on Fifty by Fifty, January 29, 2020

One in five job applicants say an interviewer flirted with them during a job interview, and more than half of them flirted back, according to a survey by background-screening firm JDP. Of the 1,997 people surveyed, 58% of the women flirted back and 71% of the men reciprocated. The attraction may not have been mutual, though. Many job applicants may believe they have no choice but tao flirt back in order to land the job.

McDermott’s Maria Rodriguez contributes to a SHRM article discussing the findings of the JDP survey, including what male and female interviewees worry about most. The article also addresses how job interview flirters can and should be disciplined in the workplace.

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Originally published on SHRM, February 2020

An increasing number of jurisdictions around the country, including parts of California, New Jersey and Washington, DC, are mandating that employers provide commuter benefit programs that allow employees to pay for commuting costs on a pre-tax basis. While the requirements are similar across most jurisdictions, there are specific rules for which employees are covered under the different laws and other key distinctions. When budgeting and developing these programs, employers should be mindful of the different conditions under state and local law to ensure that commuter benefits meet all applicable requirements.

Continue Reading Summary of Commuter Benefit Laws (Current as of Feb. 3, 2020)

Healthcare providers and insurers are still making tons of rookie mistakes on patient privacy, turning themselves into easy enforcement targets, according to Roger Severino, director of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Severino made headlines in 2017 for expressing interest in punishing a “big, juicy, egregious” privacy breach, and seemingly followed through with a $16 million settlement stemming from Anthem Inc.’s megabreach involving 79 million patients. But, an emphasis on smaller violations makes sense in light of the OCR’s recent acknowledgement of limits on its penalty powers, said Edward G. Zacharias, a McDermott partner.

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Originally posted on Law360, February 2020

For 2020, legislation enacted in December of 2019 dramatically increases penalties imposed by the Internal Revenue Code (the Code) for late filing of certain employee benefit plan notices and reports. In addition, a final rule published by the Department of Labor (DOL) makes inflation adjustments to a wide range of penalties. Learn the penalty amounts that apply beginning in 2020.

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Certain employers might prefer to avoid hiring nicotine users: smokers, dippers and vapers alike. U-Haul International Inc. is doing so, with a policy that went into effect on February 1. Thus, this is an opportune moment to examine why employers might consider doing likewise, the legal ramifications of such policies and the alternatives for encouraging healthier workforces.

McDermott’s Jacob M. Mattinson, Aaron Sayers and Erin Steele contribute to a Law360 article exploring the practical and legal considerations related to a workplace nicotine ban, the impact on healthcare costs, whether employers can use health plan information to fire nicotine users once hired, and how other employers are addressing the costs of nicotine usage in their workforces.

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Originally published on Law360, January 2020

The United Kingdom is no longer a member of the European Union and has entered into a transition period until December 31 2020, unless an extension of 1 or 2 years is agreed by July 1 2020 (the Brexit Long Stop Date).

During this transition period, the UK will continue to trade with the EU in much the same way as it did before its exit. Negotiations will take place throughout this year to determine the future permanent relationship between the UK and the EU.

The UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has repeatedly stated that the transition period will not be extended beyond the end of this year. This is an ambitious deadline to reach a comprehensive agreement with the EU and the possibility of a “no deal” Brexit remains an event for which companies should prepare.

Against this backdrop, this update summarises the current status of the UK’s relationship with the EU and sets out some of the key legal implications associated with a “no deal” scenario for certain areas—one of which being employment, which we examine here.

Continue Reading Brexit Update: Effects on Employment