In House

In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog


Last week, the United States went back to the Second Circuit to ask for a rehearing in United States v. Newman, where that court overturned the convictions of two hedge fund managers for trading on inside information.

The Second Circuit rejected Newman and Chiasson's convictions on a "tipper/tippee" theory of liability, prompting onlookers to urge Congress to clarify what the heck qualifies as insider trading.

In a two-part series in Inside Counsel, Jeff Beemer of Dickinson Wright PPLC talked about transgender discrimination as one of the an up-and-coming issues for the EEOC.

Indeed it is, and even though you might not think about it, transgender discrimination most likely falls into Title VII's prohibition on gender discrimination. The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to say so, but the EEOC and two federal circuit courts agree that it does.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in EEOC v. Abercrombie and Fitch Stores, the case about a Muslim teenager, Samantha Elauf, who interviewed for a job at an Abercrombie store while wearing a headscarf.

Abercrombie chose not to hire her explicitly because of the headscarf, assuming that she would need a religious accommodation, which it didn't want to grant, because Abercrombie's dress code policy prohibits head wear. The EEOC claimed that the employer discriminated based on its assumption that she would need an accommodation without ever asking Elauf.

While Walmart's in-house counsel may know all the rules regarding age and disability discrimination, some of Walmart's in-store employees clearly do not. The EEOC filed suit against Walmart on behalf of David Moorman, a former manager at a Walmart store in Keller, Texas, alleging age and disability discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Moorman claimed he was taunted and ridiculed by direct supervisors who called him "old man" and "old food guy." He was also allegedly denied reasonable accommodations for his diabetes (he requested a change in work duties) and was subsequently fired.

Walmart has agreed to settle the case, and to pay Moorman $150,000. Walmart also must train its employees on what conduct constitutes unlawful discrimination or harassment under the ADA and the ADEA.

Overworked as in-house counsel? Feel yourself burning out? Take a vacation! As you're no doubt already aware, even Americans who get paid vacation days still take the least amount of time off of any OECD members.

We're forfeiting $52 billion a year in paid time off, CNN reports. So we'd better use it, and this goes for you, too! The legal department will survive for a while without you, so here's why you should take that vacation:

It's sort of an open secret in Silicon Valley that the tech industry is a man's world. Data bear this out: Only 11 percent of executive positions are filled by women, reports Business Insider, compared with 16 percent in the S&P 100.

It gets worse when it comes to tech-specific jobs, where over 80 percent of Google's international tech jobs are staffed by men (non-tech jobs, on the other hand, are staffed by 52 percent staffed by men). With this huge gender disparity comes allegations of sexual harassment, as one venture capital firm is finding out.

With all the poaching Apple is accused of doing these days, you'd think it's on an African safari.

It seems like only last month (which it was) that Apple, along with three other Silicon Valley companies, settled a class action lawsuit brought by tech company employees who claimed companies colluded in anti-poaching agreements, which lowered their wages.

Now Apple's getting into trouble for allegedly poaching employees from a car battery manufacturer. These guys just can't win.

The hot business news today: Walmart is raising the pay rates for its lowest-paid workers, its full-time and part-time "associates." Hourly full-time workers will earn at least $10 an hour by February 1, 2016, while hourly-part-time workers will earn at least $9 an hour starting this April, Reuters reports.

It's great that Walmart recognizes the need to increase wages, but the average hourly wages for full-timers and part-timers is going up by only 15 and 52 cents an hour, respectively. What should GCs keep in mind about raising wages?

Remember all that money Lance Armstrong won as a Tour de France champion? Yeah, he's losing it all. Of course you'll remember that he admitted all of his wins happened thanks to performance-enhancing drugs, resulting in his titles being stripped.

Earlier this week, Armstrong found himself on the short end of an order to pay $10 million to SCA Promotions, in a sharp reversal of an arbitration agreement that everyone thought was finalized 10 years ago.

You can reverse arbitration awards? Who knew!

As more and more legal tasks move in-house, the legal department finds itself in the unenviable position of having to be master of several trades, many of which have little to do with the law.

I bet you thought when you signed up with the general counsel's office that you'd be filing lawsuits? Try again: GCs not only have to figure out new and innovative ways to put out fires, but the changing world of technology is putting some affirmative duties on them too.

Here are five subject areas that in-house lawyers are increasingly expected to know about: