U.S. life sciences companies with ties overseas can be encouraged by a recent federal ruling that denied the request of foreign companies to conduct discovery in the United States in aid of a foreign-seated arbitration. On Jan. 14, 2020, Judge Maryellen Noreika for the District Court of Delaware denied an ex parte application for discovery in aid of arbitration that was based on section 1782 of the U.S. Code. This provision of the U.S. Code allows courts to order discovery “for use in a proceeding in a foreign or international tribunal.”
Earlier this month, Joey Shabot, Managing Shareholder of Greenberg Traurig’s Tel Aviv office was invited to speak at the LegalWeek 2020 event in New York.
Legalweek is one week each year where thousands of legal professionals gather to network with their peers, dive deeper into their professional development, and explore a variety of topics and strategies related to the future of the legal profession. The Legaltech track in which Joey participated is among the largest and most important legal technology events of the year, providing an in-depth look at what the technological world has in store for lawyers, law firms and legal practice. In addition, Legaltech offered an exhibit floor with an extensive gathering of innovative products and services for the legal profession’s current and future technology needs.
Joey took part in a panel discussion focused on LegalTech where they examined the state of automation in contract drafting and reviewed the reliability and accuracy of different tools available. Also participating in the panel were: Kevin Fumai (Senior Managing Counsel, Oracle), Kim Maney (Assistant General Counsel, Head Global Contracting Organization, GSK), Oliver Round (Managing Counsel & Director, BNY Mellon), and Charles Dimov (VP Marketing, ContractPodAI). The panel focused on the current limitations of machine learning and whether it can really interpret and understand contractual provisions like a trained lawyer.
Joey ended the week over a spectacular cocktail party at the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center hosted by EY, where he was joined by other GT shareholders including Paul Ferak, Kyle Freeney and Dan Filor.
Recruiters and managers should be prepared to answer questions about the new H-1B cap registration process. With this seemingly easier process, which initially requires only a $10 registration fee and minimal information, companies should consider the important elements covered in this GT Alert.
For the Hebrew version of this article please click here.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated the rapid international spread of the deadly coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, (the “Coronavirus”) a global health emergency. The virus, which can cause respiratory symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties, started in Wuhan, China, and can be life-threatening. The United States similarly recently declared a public health emergency, and companies employing U.S. employees should be aware of new legal obligations triggered by the Coronavirus epidemic.
1. The Workplace.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) imposes a legal obligation on companies to ensure a safe workplace for all workers. In light of the Coronavirus outbreak, OSHA has published guidelines for employers to follow in the workplace, in the event that an employer has reason to believe its employees are at risk for contracting the virus. Based on protective measures issued by the WHO, as well as directives publicized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the OSHA guidelines focus primarily on maintaining as germ-free a work environment as possible. Given the current OSHA guidelines, employers who have reason to believe their employees may be at risk for contracting the Coronavirus should take steps to make sure that all restrooms and washing stations have liquid soap and disposable paper towels, consider placing alcohol gel dispensers in various office locations, and keep tissues well-stocked. Employees should be monitored for signs of illness, and anyone exhibiting respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, or breathing difficulties, should be encouraged to seek medical attention, and may be required to provide medical authorization as a condition of returning to the company’s premises.
Companies should regularly monitor OSHA guidelines, WHO advisories and CDC directives for updates that may affect employer obligations to maintain a safe workplace for employees. Employers who fail to abide by OSHA guidelines may be subject to monetary fines and penalties.
2. Infected and/or Exposed Employees.
In light of an employer’s responsibility under OSHA to ensure a safe workplace, as well as current CDC directives, employees who are actively infected with the Coronavirus should clearly be restricted from all work premises, as well as from any physical interaction with company employees and/or business partners. Employees who refuse to work in the presence of an infected individual are protected by law, and it is illegal to retaliate against such employees in any manner.
Company sick leave and other paid time off policies should be reviewed for purposes of giving an infected employee as much paid time off as possible. Depending on the employee’s circumstances, federal, state and/or local law may require the company to provide a certain amount of paid or unpaid time off, and/or to hold the employee’s job for a certain period of time. Moreover, some employees may be entitled to take paid or unpaid time off to take care of a relative infected with the Coronavirus. An employee who becomes disabled on account of the effects of the Coronavirus may be entitled to reasonable accommodation on the part of the employer when the employee is no longer contagious and ready to return to work.
A bit less straightforward is how to handle an employee who has been exposed to the Coronavirus, but is not actively displaying symptoms of the virus. The CDC has issued comprehensive standards for purposes of assessing the risk posed by such an individual, including recommended steps for isolating the individual, depending on the circumstances. Companies should keep up-to-date and comply with all such CDC standards as they evolve in this respect, as there is currently no clear consensus as to the point at which an individual exposed to the Coronavirus actually becomes contagious. In general, employees considered at-risk for developing the Coronavirus can be required to work from home (if compatible with the employee’s position and job duties), and companies should consider modifying their work-from-home policies until the Coronavirus epidemic passes.
Whether an employee has been diagnosed with the Coronavirus, or considered to be at-risk for contracting the virus, employers should be careful about the extent to which such information is shared and/or announced to third parties. Although employers are obligated to officially report the existence of an infected individual to OSHA, information regarding an employee’s health status may be subject to federal and/or state regulations governing protected health information (PHI), and companies should therefore proceed cautiously with respect to the dissemination of such information. Moreover, sharing suspicions that an employee is infected with the Coronavirus, when the employee is in fact not infected, could subject an employer to libel and/or defamation claims.
3. Employee Travel.
In addition to taking steps to make an employee’s physical workspace safe, employers should be sure to follow and abide by CDC travel advisories, which may affect employee travel to certain geographical locations. As of Feb. 2, 2020, the U.S. has issued a travel advisory warning against all travel to China. In addition, strict restrictions are being imposed on individuals entering the U.S. from areas considered to be high-risk for the presence of the Coronavirus, and such individuals may be subject to medical screening and quarantine.
During any period of travel restrictions, employees should be encouraged to use video-conferencing, Skype and other technological tools available in lieu of actual “face to face” meetings.
4. Insurance Coverage.
Companies should review their workers compensation insurance policies to make sure that in the event an employee does actually contract the Coronavirus in a work-related context, such as via an infected co-worker, business partner, or travel to a high-risk area for business reasons, such insurance will cover (or at least contribute towards) compensation lost on account of time taken off from work, related medical expenses and ensuing rehabilitative therapy. Most workers compensation policies are designed to address scenarios in which an employee falls and becomes injured in the workplace, rather than an employee who contracts a contagious disease. Purchasing supplemental coverage may be appropriate, depending on the circumstances. In general, any policy covering an employee who contracts the Coronavirus will require clear medical documentation that the virus was contracted in a work-related context. Note that an employee sent for purposes of business-related travel to an area designated by the CDC as a no-travel zone may not be covered by the company’s insurance policy, and the company could be subject to separate legal claims by the employee due to the company’s negligence and/or recklessness in sending the employee to such a region.
An employee who contracts the Coronavirus under circumstances not related to work may be covered by state-provided disability insurance (in some, but not all U.S. states) and/or a company’s private disability insurance. These policies can be reviewed for purposes of determining employee eligibility for coverage, as well.
Companies with U.S. employees should be aware of their obligations and duties triggered by the Coronavirus outbreak, and should be attentive to any updates issued by OSHA, WHO, and CDC which may in turn cause new and/or enhanced obligations on the part of employers.
For further information regarding legal obligations with respect to U.S. employees, please contact Meira Ferziger, Esq. at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article is not meant to provide legal guidance with respect to a specific matter, nor is it meant to be a solicitation for legal services.
On Friday 24 January, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed, on behalf of the UK, the Withdrawal Agreement – the agreement setting out the terms of the UK’s exit from the European Union (“Brexit”). This followed the successful passing of the UK domestic legislation necessary to implement the Withdrawal Agreement, the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020, on 23 January.
All that now remains is for the Withdrawal Agreement to be ratified by the European Parliament (expected to occur on Wednesday 29 January) and for the European Council, which represents the governments of the EU’s member states, to approve the agreement (expected to occur on Thursday 30 January).
Michael Schaengold, Melissa Prusock, and Danielle Muenzfeld co-authored an article in The Government Contractor titled “FEATURE COMMENT: The FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act’s Substantial Impact On Federal Procurement Law.” The article comprehensively examines the significant Federal procurement law changes in the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, many of which apply to Federal civilian agencies, and is available on Westlaw.
The Dutch government is updating its legislation and policy on both online gambling and land-based gambling. In GT Alert, we briefly describe the most relevant legal developments of 2019 in this area, and also look forward to 2020.
Online gambling’s illegality in the Netherlands notwithstanding, the number of people in the Netherlands who participate in online gambling has increased steadily over the last few years. According to research of Motivaction (link in Dutch), 1.8 million Dutch people admitted to having participated in an online gambling game (at least) once. Most gambling websites operate in other countries (such as Isle of Man, Gibraltar, Malta) and are accessible to Dutch gamblers from these locations. To regulate and control online gambling, the Dutch Senate (Eerste Kamer) approved the Remote Gambling Act (Wet kansspelen op afstand) in February 2019. This new legislation legalizes online gambling for providers that have obtained a permit.
At the request of the Guberman Group, which provides accounting and financial management services to Israeli companies, including those operating in the United States, attorney Meira Ferziger has prepared an article addressing the commonly considered question of whether United States-based employees should have written employment agreements.
Advanced Communications Services (ACS) that are available in video games, such as instant messaging, enable players to interact with other players and offer an enhanced gaming experience. The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) updated accessibility laws to ensure that persons with disabilities have access to modern technologies used in communications. In 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules implementing CVAA that required ACS services and equipment used for ACS to be accessible to persons with disabilities.
To learn more about the accessibility objectives that must be met by video games, read the full GT Alert “Federal Communications Commission Rules Require Communications in Video Games to Be Accessible and Usable.”