In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

December 2015 Archives

Data Theft by Employees Is Rampant

According to a survey by Biscom, a secure communications solutions business, a huge percentage of employees take employer proprietary data when they leave a job, whether they were asked to leave or not.

Surprised to see that you're not alone, right?

With the new year comes a renewed focus on criminal prosecutions for violations of worker safety laws. In mid-December, the Departments of Justice and Labor released a new memorandum of understanding that should lead to increased prosecutions in 2016.

The move came shortly after the criminal conviction of Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship following the death of 29 miners and indicates that the federal government will double down on such prosecutions in the future. Here's what you need to know.

In-House Lawyers: Know These Recent NYC Employment Laws

The legal landscape of New York City employment law has been changing recently and in-house would do well to take the time to become apprised of the more important (and potentially dangerous) laws.

It's all part of a push to reduce unfair discrimination while at the same time getting the "unemployable" back to work. Still, it can be a killer for employers who aren't careful.

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.

Drones at Your Next Company Meeting? Tips for In-House Counsel

A lot of attention has been paid recently to the topic of emerging electronic consumables. Between hover-boards and drones, the latter are clearly cooler.

Drones are not only cooler, they also have greater potential for commercial application. But lawyers should know better than to let company employees fly these things across board rooms. We've tried to put together a quick list of things in-house counsel should keep in mind when advising about the latest in drone concerns.

While you're slaving away in the legal department, reviewing corporate contracts, company greeting cards, and H.R. policies, half of the company is streaming cat videos and shopping on Amazon. That is, if they're anything like the average American. A new survey shows that half of all Americans use work Internet for personal use.

But does it matter?

When the holiday season rolls around, America's employment rolls swell. Delivery and retail companies are expected to add over 755,000 new jobs in the holiday months. Amazon alone will hire 100,000 seasonal employees.

Those seasonal workers can be a boon for employers, providing quick, temporary labor during the busiest part of the year. But seasonal work also brings with it some major risks that corporate counsel should be aware of and guard against.

IRS Has a New Program to Help Employers Stay on Top of Payroll Taxes

Few people or companies jump at the chance to interact with the IRS. But the latest initiative by the tax-levying agency actually sounds like it has some promise.

On December 8, the IRS announced the launch of Early Interaction Initiative, a program designed to notify employers who may be falling behind on payments of their employment taxes.

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.

3 Things In-House Counsel Should Know About Insurance

In-house attorneys need to be able to handle insurance issues in order to help their company avoid unnecessary litigation. Here's a short list of things you should definitely know if you're working in-house.

Advertising Laws and Regulations In-House Lawyers Should Know

In-house counsel may be tempted simply to apply a common sense approach to marketing and advertising issues you may encounter. After all, operating on good-faith and honest disclosure works well-enough for general law practice, right?

Well, you'd be wrong. Advertising and marketing are actually subject to numerous federal, state, and local laws and regulations. Keeping track of which laws govern which industries can be quite a chore. But it must be done.

A new year is just around the corner, so it’s time to start putting together your resolutions. Hit the gym, spend more time with family, read some good books, and learn a new language.

Oh, and start adopting corporate hiring policies that will help you attract talent and avoid litigation. Here are our suggestions for 2016.

General Counsel: Know These Federal Employment Laws

Being an employer is hard. With an increase of clients suing in-house lawyers, being an employer's lawyer isn't so great these days either.

Navigating employment law is tricky, dangerous business. For example, companies can get in trouble for the tests they employ to assess applicants and employees. The EEOC has released a general sheet covering the most common issues regarding federal laws. We'll go over some of the highlights here.

Easy Tips to Protect In-House Confidentiality

It cannot be stressed how important it is to cover yourself and to conduct due diligence with regards to client confidences, even when you're working in-house. A breach of confidentiality could end up costing you your license.

In-house lawyers, however, walk a tight-rope of potential malpractice suits every day, though. Because of the enveloping nature in-house counsel may have with her client -- the company -- she must make sure that she does everything in her power to abide by the ABA rules covering client confidences and attorney-client privilege.

The Internet has made consumer engagement easier than ever before. Consumers can tweet about your products, connect with your company on Facebook, or follow the brand on Instagram. Many companies also allow for users to generate content directly on the company website. Apple's Support Communities are a good example of this, as are FindLaw Answers.

But before you add user-generated content to your website, you'll want to make sure you're up to speed on legal protections and risks. Here are the laws to know before you start opening your corporate website to user-generated content.