In House

In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog


The U.S. Department of Labor has settled allegations that a Silicon Valley company, Electronics for Imaging, paid temp workers from India as little as $1.21 an hour to install networking infrastructure at its new headquarters in Fremont, California.

EFI, which makes digital printing software and hardware, apparently flew network technicians from Bangalore, India, to the San Francisco Bay Area in late 2013, working them as many as 122 hours a week and paying them in Indian rupees.

We covered the train wreck that was the launch of Battlefield 4 by gaming company Electronic Arts last year: Despite loads of hype and a ton of pre-release awards at the E3 industry tradeshow, the game's release was an unmitigated disaster. Servers crashed, the game was plagued with glitches, online play was nearly unplayable. The issues weren't sorted out for months, other projects were delayed as a result, and sales across the board suffered.

A lawsuit was unsurprising, but the issue wasn't the glitchy game (at least not directly). Instead, stockholders sued over the company's allegedly misleading statements, claiming that EA defrauded investors while insiders sold off their shares of company stock. Unfortunately for the current plaintiffs, their case was as inadequate as Battlefield 4 was.

However, it's not game over yet: An amended complaint could revive some of the claims.

Robert Half Legal is known for a lot of things, including an interesting survey on what lawyers think about our declining wardrobe standards. (Hint: Stuffy lawyers want to dress like they're stuffy.) But this survey might be even more interesting, at least for in-house counselors: It talks about compensation forecasts for 2015.

The Robert Half Legal 2015 Salary Guide was just released earlier this month (H/T to Bloomberg) and it has nothing but good news all around. Here's the key finding: Robert Half projects that salaries for in-house positions will increase in 2015 for attorneys at all sizes of companies and of all experience levels. Everybody's getting paid!

National Flex Day: It has (nearly) nothing to do with fitness.

What is National Flex Day? It's a day meant to encourage employers to recognize and consider flexible working arrangements, such as telecommuting, flex time (instead of 9-to-5, employees choose their own start and end times), or compressed work weeks (more hours per day, but fewer days).

Why is flex important? And why should your company encourage it?

When the story of the guy who was fired from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) after complaining about his Comcast service first broke, his finger-pointing at the cable company sounded to me like insane rambling paranoia. It might be, but not only has Conal O'Rourke provided a lot of documentation to the media to back his claims, but he's now filed suit against Comcast.

True or false, we may know soon: The conversations seem to have been recorded, reports Ars Technica, and while Comcast is keeping them under wraps because of the ongoing litigation, this should be a fun case to watch.

What's the weirdest employee perk you can think of? Tech companies are known for them: keg parties, entire cafeterias, day trips to wineries, on-site laundry, and more. But freezing a female employee's eggs for purposes of future fertility is a new one. According to NBC News, Apple and Facebook are the first two major employers to offer this perk for non-medical reasons.

But the perk isn't without controversy. While some might see companies doing what they can to empower women to choose to have a high-powered career now, and a family later than what otherwise might be possible naturally, others see an ulterior motive: squeezing more work out of women now, while providing a fertility treatment that may or may not work down the line.

You remember the circular patch with the star, the canvas, the white rubber, the white stitching? They're Chuck Taylors, right? Except when they're not -- and that's the problem. Nike, which owns Converse, is suing companies like Walmart, Kmart, and Sketchers, alleging infringement on the trademarks it claims in Converse's iconic Chuck Taylor All Star shoes.

How bad could it be? The Huffington Post provided screen shots of Walmart and H&M websites selling "sneakers" or "canvas lace" shoes that look eerily (maybe illegally) similar to Chucks. In all, 31 companies are being accused of trademark infringement in the United States and globally in a separate complaint with the International Trade Commission.

You may want to eat at Jimmy John's, but would you want to work there? The Huffington Post recently reported on a Jimmy John's franchisee's "oppressive" noncompetition agreement, which was disclosed as part of a lawsuit by employees. (For the uninitiated, Jimmy John's is a national chain of bro-tastic sub sandwich shops, usually found in college towns.)

The Content of the Noncompete Clause

The Jimmy John's franchisee's noncompetition agreement purports to bind the employee for two years after his termination "for any reason," and forbids the employee from having any interest or providing any services for any business that derives more than 10 percent of its revenues from sub sandwiches within 3 miles of any Jimmy John's sandwich shop. It also prevents an employee from being affiliated with any other Jimmy John's for a year after termination "for any reason."

According to Kathleen Chavez, who's representing the plaintiffs in the class action suit, "the effective blackout area for a former Jimmy John's worker would cover 6,000 square miles in 44 states and the District of Columbia."

FedEx is quickly becoming the go-to company when a labor law complaint absolutely, positively has to be written about overnight. Great for those of us who have to write about it, not so good for FedEx.

This time, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is going after FedEx for "discriminating against a large class of deaf and hard-of-hearing package handlers and job applicants for years," according to an EEOC press release.

Here's an interesting statistic: According to a 2013 study by the Open Technology Institute, 75 percent of VCs and 20 percent of venture-backed startups had been affected by patent trolls. In the biotech/pharmacy/medical device industries, only 13 percent were affected.

But according to a recent article by Inside Counsel, that may be changing: Patent trolling against the medical device industry is on the rise, spurred in part by the higher royalties, damages awards, and nuisance settlements.