Blowing the Whistle Internally Is Not Enough to Be Covered by the Anti-Retaliation Provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act

Yelena Barychev and Brooke T. Iley

On February 21, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a much anticipated decision in Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Paul Somers that the anti-retaliation protections of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (the “Dodd-Frank Act”) do not extend to an individual who reports alleged company misconduct only internally without submitting this information to the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”).

Paul Somers worked at Digital Realty Trust, Inc. as a vice president of portfolio management. While employed, he reported possible securities law violations to senior management but never reported this information to the SEC. Mr. Somers’ employment was subsequently terminated. He then sued Digital Realty in federal court accusing the company of violating the Dodd-Frank Act by firing him for complaining internally about alleged violations of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (the “Sarbanes-Oxley Act”). Mr. Sommers never sought relief directly under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The district court, and then the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, supported Mr. Somers reliance on the SEC’s broad interpretation of the definition of the term “whistleblower” under the Dodd-Frank Act. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with its opinion. Continue reading “Blowing the Whistle Internally Is Not Enough to Be Covered by the Anti-Retaliation Provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act”

Employers Should Encourage Their Employees to Revisit Their Tax Withholding Elections in Light of the New Tax Law

Daniel L. Morgan

Since January 1, 2018, the date changes to the tax law passed by Congress at the end of December (the “Tax Act”) became effective and provided new individual marginal tax rates and modified deductions, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) has been scrambling to provide guidance as to how those changes are to be taken into account for income withholding tax purposes.

Yesterday, February 28, 2018, the IRS introduced an online calculator to help employees determine the correct amount of income taxes that they should have withheld from their 2018 wages. The IRS has also issued a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. Continue reading “Employers Should Encourage Their Employees to Revisit Their Tax Withholding Elections in Light of the New Tax Law”

Additional Protections for Temporary Schedule Changes for Employees under New York City’s Paid Sick Time Law

Valerie D. Ringel and Anna Svensson

Recently, the New York City Council passed a bill amending New York City’s Paid Sick Time Law (the “Act”), aiming to protect employees seeking temporary changes to their work schedules in certain circumstances. The Act was previously amended, effective May 5, 2018, and allows employees to take “safe time” off in connection with family offense matters (such as disorderly conduct between members of the same family or household and other criminal offenses), sexual offenses, stalking and human trafficking. The bill is an expansion of the Act and permits employees to make two temporary schedule changes per calendar year, such as paid time off, working remotely, swapping or shifting work hours and unpaid leave when personal circumstances arise that would constitute a basis for permissible use of safe time or sick time. Continue reading “Additional Protections for Temporary Schedule Changes for Employees under New York City’s Paid Sick Time Law”

DOL Adopts Employer-Friendly Standard to Assess If Workers Are Interns or Employees

Stephanie Gantman Kaplan

In recent years, employers have used unpaid interns to perform many duties otherwise completed by paid employees. Determining whether to classify a worker as an unpaid intern or employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) can be tricky for employers—and getting it wrong can have, and has had, serious consequences. With the recent boom in class action litigation by interns claiming misclassification, employers have to be careful.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced the adoption of a new standard to determine who is an “intern” under the FLSA, opting to utilize the “primary beneficiary” analysis already used by several federal appellate courts. Continue reading “DOL Adopts Employer-Friendly Standard to Assess If Workers Are Interns or Employees”

Maryland Jumps on Bandwagon—Adopts Paid Sick and Safe Leave Law

Mark Blondman

Joining Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, the Maryland Legislature enacted legislation requiring employers in Maryland to provide paid sick and safe leave to employees by overriding Governor Hogan’s veto of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (“MD HWFA”). Unless the date for implementation is delayed by the Legislature, the requirements of the Act go into effect on February 12, 2018. Continue reading “Maryland Jumps on Bandwagon—Adopts Paid Sick and Safe Leave Law”

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back in the Water: PA Takes Charge—Raising White Collar Exemption Salary Threshold

Jason E. Reisman

Proclaiming it an effort to strengthen the middle class in Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf announced this week a proposal to modernize the Commonwealth’s outdated overtime rules to increase pay for nearly a half million workers—he’s instructed the Department of Labor & Industry (“DOLI”) to update the white collar exemption overtime regulations and more than double the salary threshold necessary to be exempt from overtime. Sound familiar? Continue reading “Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back in the Water: PA Takes Charge—Raising White Collar Exemption Salary Threshold”