In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog


How Nondisclosure Agreements Make Weinsteins Possible

The 'casting couch' was just part of the furniture in Hollywood long before Harvey Weinstein soiled the industry.

Weinstein's behaviour has been an open secret so long they joked about it at the Oscars years ago: "Congraulations to you five ladies who no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein," Seth MacFarlane said, and everybody laughed.

Of course, it's not funny anymore. Sexual harassment is not funny, and neither is keeping secrets about it.

Starting a global company may be easier than ever before thanks to the internet and the fact that just about every regulation in every country can be found online. However, navigating all those rules and regs is not for the uninitiated.

Just about any company these days can enter the global market. But to be competitive, it takes more than just a good idea, a website, and international shipping. One of the most important team members to get on board before going global is a general counsel.

GC Convicted in Payday Lending Scheme

One Learjet; an Aspen vacation home; a Ferrari race car and other sports cars. All will be available soon, with one caveat:

They are subject to forfeiture in the convictions of the general counsel and the chief executive officer in a payday loan scam. That's right, payback is a Beemer.

It is generally unheard of for an employer to have to ban employees winking at each other. Rules regarding employee misconduct usually are not that specific.

However, when employees communicate via emojis, an employer might want to make sure everyone is at least on the same page as to emoji etiquette and proper usage. After all, the last thing you want is your HR being overrun because of a kissy face emoji. And yes, emojis are everywhere now. And your younger employees might not realize that their bosses don't take them seriously because of all those silly emojis.

Attorney Jay Holland on recent episode of the Thomson Reuters podcast Legal Current explains the many pitfalls that await companies without employee emoji policies. (Disclosure: Thomson Reuters is FindLaw's parent company.)

Corporate Liability for Overseas Torts -- Finally?

It 'beggars all belief,' attorney Paul Clement told the U.S. Supreme Court.

The lawyer dragged out the medieval phrase to rail against a centuries-old law, the Alien Tort Statute. It was enacted in 1789, and Clement said it was unbelievable that his corporate client was being sued for torts abroad under the statute.

Corporations may have to become believers, however. Even though the Supreme Court has scaled back corporate liability recently, the justices listened carefully to arguments in Jesner v. Arab Bank.

According to the scholars over at the Harvard Business Review, despite what most American's may think, over the past 25 years, not much has changed when it comes to hiring discrimination for black Americans.

Shocked? You're not alone. It's safe to say that most people would have expected there to have been a drastic change particularly given that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed over 50 years ago. But a recent analysis has shown that a white applicant is more than 36 percent more likely to get a call back for an interview than a black candidate with equivalent credentials.

General Counsel Are Paid More in Stock Than Cash

For most general counsel, the pot of gold is actually filled with stock.

That's what it looks like in a new report on general counsel pay trends anyway. According to Equilar, 62 percent of GC pay at the largest companies last year was delivered in stock. At tech companies, regardless of size, about 63 percent of the compensation was in stock.

The trend confirms that the biggest paydays sometimes depend entirely on market value -- the company's, not the attorney's.

EEOC Sues Denver Company for Transgender Discrimination

If the President can discriminate against military personnel who are transgender, why not a tire company?

Because it's against the law, says the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a new lawsuit. The EEOC has sued a Denver tire company for rescinding a job offer to a transgender man.

It might shock the conscience that an employer could be so brash, but these are confusing times for companies and their general counsel.

Like any person with self-respect, companies don't like having to play the role of the embarrassed friend that "doesn't even know that person." What's worse is when that person is a founder, or just known as a public representative, of the company.

Along those lines, the Weinstein Company had to enter damage control mode after a New York Times article last week detailed a storied past of the company's co-founder, and former Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein. Allegations of sexual harassment against Harvey Weinstein that span decades were revealed. Within a few days of the news report appearing, the Weinstein Company had fired Harvey, despite his issuing an apology and promising to get the help he needs and make things right.

In an effort to prevent litigation from ever happening in the first place, many companies, on the advice of their in house or general counsel, have likely adopted arbitration clauses into all employment agreements. And as the courts have continued to uphold these clauses as valid, the extent of protection employers opted for has continued to grow.

Now, the typical employment agreement not only includes an arbitration clause, but it also has a prohibition on pursuing any collective action via arbitration. And if this seems harsh, many employers will be happy to take the next person waiting in line for your job who will be willing to accept this almost every-industry-wide standard. However, a trio of cases, recently argued before the U.S. Supreme Court may end the use of this legally lethal employment term.