July 2012 Client Alerts

August 4, 2012

Authored by: Bryan Cave

Two Key Rulings of the Supreme Court

A “Common Sense” Approach to Overtime Exemptions.  The Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., DBA GlaxoSmithKline established that when classifying employees as exempt or nonexempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers should not abandon common sense and industry practice.  The Christopher case puts the Department of Labor and potential plaintiffs on notice that unreasoned and overly narrow interpretations of the exemptions should be rejected by courts, especially when such interpretations would subject business to unfair surprise.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Much of Arizona Immigration Law.  Arizona enacted the Support our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act in 2010 in an attempt to address immigration concerns within its borders.  In a 5-3 decision, the Supreme Court struck down a significant part of the Arizona law.

For summaries of these two important rulings of the Supreme Court, please click here for the Labor and Employment Client Service Group’s Alert published July 16, 201.

New York Appeals Court Decision Highlights Defenses for Financial Institution Defendants Against Structured Product Claims.

A recent decision from the New York Court of Appeals highlights some of the winning arguments financial-institution defendants can make in state-court litigation brought by investors in structured financial products.  In Oddo Asset Management v. Barclays Bank PLC, the Court of Appeals affirmed the dismission of claims for aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty and tortious interference with contract.  Although the Court did not define any new legal principles, its decision illustrates the ways existing law can be applied to defeat claims against defendants alleged to have played an important role in the distribution of failed investments.  To learn more about the decision in this case, please click here to read the Securities Litigation and Enforcement Client Service Group’s Alert published July 9, 2012.

Employee Testimonials Can be Risky Business

Online retailers often permit (and encourage) consumers to review their products.  Reviews — whether done on the retailer’s website or on a third-party website — serve a dual purpose of engaging consumers to interact with the retailer and providing a ready source of testimonials that can be used in future marketing.  Over the past several years the FTC has warned that consumers can be deceived when a testimonial is written by a person that has a material connection with the retailer.  The FTC has launched at least a half-dozen investigations involving deceptive testimonials, and, in early July, the FTC announced its largest testimonial related settlement to date — $800,000.  To read more about how retailers can avoid liability, please click here to read the Alert published by the Retailer & Consumer Products Group on July 10, 2012.

NLRB Guidance Suggest Standard or Common Personnel Policies May Violate Federal Labor Law

Developments within the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in recent months demonstrate that the agency may be determined to rid the workplace of very common employer policies.  An Administrative Law Judge held that an employer’s requirement that employees sign an at-will acknowledgment stating that the employee’s at-will status could not “be amended, modified or altered in any way “violated the National Labor Relations Act (Act). . . ”  Then on May 30th, the NLRB’s Acting General Counsel issued the latest in a series of three memoranda addressing the impact of the Act on employers’ social media policies.  This latest memoranda demonstrates that the Acting General Counsel has taken aim at much more than just social media policies and is using the Act to invalidate personnel policies that are commonplace for many employers.  To learn more, please click here to read the Alert published by the Labor and Employment Client Service Group on July 18, 2012.

Seventh Circuit Bankruptcy Decision is a Victory for Trademark Licensees

Trademark licensees won a victory on July 9, 2012, when the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit issued its decision in Sunbeam Products, Inc. v. Chicago American Manufacturing, LLC.  The opinion holds that the rights of a trademark licensee do not automatically terminate when its license agreement is rejected by a trademark owner in bankruptcy.  To read more about the significance of the decision and the issues still to be addressed, please click here for the Alert published by the Bankruptcy, Restructuring and Creditors’ Rights and Intellectual Property groups on July 20, 2012.

What To Do with the Plan Level Fee Disclosures

Now that July 1, 2012 has come and gone, the administrators or other fiduciaries of most retirement plans should have received the plan level disclosures from each of the plan’s covered service providers.  These disclosures must describe, among other things, the types of services being provided, the type and amount of compensation the covered service provider receives from the plan and the manner of receipt of compensation.  Plan fiduciaries (including plan administrators) have certain duties with respect to the receipt of this information and with respect to the possible failure to have a covered service provider disclose the information.  To learn more about the obligations of plan fiduciaries, please click here to read the Alert published by the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Client Service Group on July 26, 2012.

New Entry-Exit Law Targets Illegal Foreigners in China

In June, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress passed the Entry and Exit Administration Law of the People’s Republic of China.  The Law replaces previous laws governing the entry and exit administration for foreigners and Chinese nationals.  For a summary of several key provisions related to foreigners provided by the Law, please click here to read the Alert published by the Asia Labor and Employment Client Service Group on July 11, 2012.

Employer Access to Employee Emails and Files:  New French Case Law

In France, the employer’s right to monitor the use by employees of company IT tools is subject to certain rules or the employer will not be able to use the files and/or emails to take disciplinary measures against the employee.  To learn more about the applicable rules governing employer monitoring and use by its employees of email and the internet, please click here to read the Briefing published by the Labor & Employment Client Service Group Data Privacy and Security Team on July 25, 2012.

New French Export/Import System for Military Items

As of June 30, 2012, two key modifications have been made to France’s system of export controls on military and defence products.   The modifications make key distinctions between import and export within the EU, and import and export to non-EU nations.  To learn more, please click here to read International Regulatory Bulletin No. 500 published by the International Trade Group on July 26, 2012.

Relaxation of U.S. Sanctions Against Burma

In July, the U.S. Treasury Department issued two general licenses that, for the most part, repeal existing restrictions in the Burmese Sanctions Regulations on the provision of financial services to or making investments in Burma.  The change in policy came in response to reform efforts in Burma.   To learn more about the changed policy and the restrictions remaining, please click here to read International Regulatory Bulletin No. 499 published by the International Trade Group on July 13, 2012.

Yearlong Crackdown on Economic Crimes in China’s Guangdong Province Underscores Need for Corporate Compliance

Chinese media sources report that more than 1,000 officials across Guangdong province in southern China have been investigated for corruption as part of a yearlong crackdown on economic crimes, including commercial bribery.  In Shenzhen, across the border from Hong Kong, from February to June of this year authorities arrested 146 party officials and civil servants for corrupt activities involving RMB 150 million (more than US $30 million).  To read about the crackdown on economic crimes, please click here to read the International Regulatory Bulletin No. 498 published by the International Trade Group on July 3, 2012.