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Salaries and compensation used to be highly-guarded information. Employees generally didn't know what their colleagues were making or how much they earned relative to the cubicle next door.

But pay secrecy's days are numbered, given new state and federal laws, NLRB rulings, and the anonymity of the Internet.

Merck Settles Investor Lawsuit, Will Pay $830 Million

The giant pharma company Merck just settled an investor suit with a figure of $830 million. Although Merck admitted no wrongdoing, it was faced with allegations that it failed to inform its investors about less than encouraging data from early company-funded trials of its famous drug, Vioxx.

The $830 million number is large, but it's not the biggest pill that Merck & Co. has had to swallow. In 2008, it settled a plethora of suits related to drug to the tune of $4.85 billion.

Samsung Tries to Push Its Wins Against Apple, Reduce $120M Award

Remember the lawsuit brought by Apple against Samsung a year ago? Suing over allegations that the Korean technology company infringed on Apple's patents, the sum at issue was a rather modest $120 million.

Now, in a twist of the knife against Apple, Samsung is attempting to press that number down even lower. After Samsung's success against Apple over the last few years, this would be a real cherry on top. This is the latest development in what can only be described as a very confusing and very expensive journey through the IP courts. In-house lawyers, if you're overwhelmed, join the club.

In-House Job Outlook for 2016

According to information compiled by Robert Half Legal, the legal staffing and consulting firm, many legal departments don't' plan to hire or fire in the coming year.

Looking a little more closely at the data, it appears that in-house lawyers can rejoice: legal departments don't plan on reducing their spend too much. Only 1 percent of in-house lawyers report that their legal departments plan to eliminate jobs in the new year. Not bad!

Last week in Paris, 195 nations reached a landmark agreement to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Paris climate accords marked the culmination of COP21, the semi-regular meeting of signatories to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It also marked the first time ever that all countries have agreed to reduce emissions.

In order to meet its new commitments, the U.S. and other nations will need to make significant changes to achieve "a low-carbon future." Much of that work will fall to the private sector.

Add this to the list of reasons to take sexual harassment seriously: not only is it illegal and unethical, but it can sink the whole company.

That's just what happened to FitzGibbon Media, the Washington, D.C., public relations firm that folded just days after claims about widespread sexual harassment were revealed.

Maybe you heard the news yesterday. Yahoo, one of the world's largest Internet companies, announced that it will be spinning off its core businesses in order to hang on to its $32 billion stake in Alibaba, the massive Chinese e-commerce company. The decision is the exact opposite of the plan proposed by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer almost a year ago.

Why is Yahoo ditching its main businesses in order to retain Alibaba stock? What caused the unexpected about face? The IRS, of course.

A third of all in-house counsel report that their companies have suffered a data breach, according to a new survey released by the Association of Corporate Counsel. The larger the company was, the more likely it was to experience a breach. The most common causes were employee error and "inside jobs."

But, perhaps because of the high rate of data breaches, many companies are now taking greater steps to protect themselves and their data, though gaps in protection remain.

Marriot to Buy Starwood, Creating World's Biggest Hotel Company

Marriott International has just agreed to purchase Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide for $12.2 billion in cash and stock, a move that will create the largest hotel company on the planet.

The merger is likely to come as great relief to Starwood, whose stock has suffered over the last few years due to the changing of CEOs and talk of sale.

SEC Announces $325,000 Whistleblowing Award

The SEC just announced a $325,000 award given to a former investment firm employee who blew the whistle to the SEC with specific information that allowed the federal agency to begin an investigation that later uncovered extensive fraudulent activity at the tipster's ex-employer.