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How Businesses Are Adapting to Overtime Rule Uncertainty

Sometimes you just have to laugh about life's twists and turns. Especially since Donald Trump became president and started rolling back Barack Obama's initiatives, like the proposed rule on overtime wages.

The proposed overtime increases are long overdue and now appear to be overdone. That's because the changes were to take effect in December 2016, but a judge granted a preliminary injunction to stop them in November, and then Trump put a freeze on the regulations in January.

Nearly four months after the judge ruled, there is no appealing the injunction and the reality is setting in: overtime increases are not coming anytime soon.

President Trump campaigned on reducing government regulations and he didn't wait long to start moving in that direction. On January 30th, Trump signed an executive order that would require federal agencies to identify two regulations for elimination for every one new regulation they promulgate. Consider it a "buy one, lose two" deal.

Now, a coalition of consumer, labor, and environmental groups has filed the first suit challenging that order, claiming it oversteps the president's authority and violates administrative law.

Data Security Stressing Health Care Counsel

When thieves stole a laptop from a medical worker's car, who knew that it would become a big stressor for general counsel across the country?

According to a national survey of health care attorneys, more than 75 percent of the general counsel say that data security is the issue they worry about the most. The $5.5 million penalty against an Illinois-based health care group must have still been on their minds.

Advocate Health Care System agreed last August to pay $5.5 million to federal regulators for computer thefts from a doctors' office and a staff member's car. The group was also penalized for failing to protect records that somebody hacked at a company handling the hospital's billing.

In an age when cyber-insecurity has spread like a disease, health care providers have it bad. Because of heightened privacy requirements in the industry, their lawyers are on the forefront of the problem.

President Trump met with Wall Street executives on Friday, then emerged to sign an executive order that could be used to roll back Dodd-Frank regulations. The president also signed a memorandum instructing the Treasury Department to reexamine the new retirement broker fiduciary rule.

Taken together, the two directives could mark the beginning of the end for some signature Obama-era financial reforms. But they are just the beginning, the start of a process that could take months or longer to play out.

This morning, President Trump signed an executive order designed to radically slash federal regulations: for each new regulation put forward, the EO demands, federal agencies must propose two for elimination. Even more, the EO sets a yearly budget for regulatory costs. In 2017, the amount allowed for new regulations is zero dollars and zero cents.

The coming year, it seems, could see a major regulatory shift.

Government lawyers seem to be in a rush to wrap up high-profile cases before the new administration takes over. In December, Deutsche Bank settled a federal investigation into its mortgage securities, for $7.2 billion. Then came Volkswagen, laying out almost $15 billion in what might be the most expensive corporate scandal ever. Last week, Takata agreed to settle an investigation into its cover up of airbag defects for $1 billion, a relative steal. Credit Suisse followed, agreeing to pay $5.3 billion for violations involving mortgage-backed securities.

Today, JPMorgan Chase joined the ranks, agreeing to pay $55 million to settle a Justice Department lawsuit that accused it of discriminatory mortgage lending practices targeted at African-American and Hispanic homebuyers.

Fiat Chrysler installed 'engine management' software on more than 100,000 of its diesel vehicles, allowing them to release increased pollutants, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The software was installed on 2014, 2015, and 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks, the EPA says, and resulted in extra emissions of nitrogen oxide, a toxic pollutant and one of the main contributors to smog.

The accusations harken back to Volkswagen's emissions fraud, which was discovered in September 2015. There, Volkswagen used "defeat devices" to evade emissions test, allowing its "clean diesel" cars to otherwise emit illegal levels of pollution.

Global Cybersecurity Threats Are Coming

In a world connected through the internet, satellites, cell zones, and wireless networks, cybersecurity threats can come from virtually anywhere and affect almost anybody.

This is especially true in the United States, where even the recent presidential election was affected by email hacks and security breaches. Cyber-espionage has become the weapon of choice for some governments.

In the breach, lawyers and their clients may want to consider cybersecurity laws taking shape in many parts of the world. Winston and Strawn partner Lisa Thomas lays out a global roadmap for the coming years:

The federal regulatory environment is primed for some significant changes. With a new Congress beginning its first session today, and a new presidential administration beginning in just a few weeks, there's a lot of regulatory shifts coming -- even if those changes don't come immediately.

Yet, if change is certain, the shape that it will come in isn't. We don't know, for example, how Dodd-Frank will mutate in the new political climate, or what a company's legal obligations will be under a post-Obamacare regime. But that doesn't mean you're completely rudderless. Thomson Reuters has a handy map for managing regulatory change and its ensuing risks. (Alright, it's an infographic, not a map.) Here's a brief overview of the steps.

The election of Donald Trump in November means that government regulatory programs could undergo a massive shift in the near future, as industries are deregulated, government enforcement priorities are shifted, and federal rules are rolled back.

But don't expect things to change instantly come Inauguration Day. When it comes to your compliance regime, the best strategy is to stay the course, according to experts.