Israelis with real estate investments in Florida are now beginning to assess the damage caused to their properties by Hurricane Irma. Lawrence Sternthal, International Real Estate Shareholder in Greenberg Traurig’s Tel Aviv office, shared with TheMarker Magazine what Israeli investors should consider when examining their home insurance coverage and the challenges foreign investors will face in repairing their properties from overseas.
A Greenberg Traurig team of attorneys in Tel Aviv, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Boston, and New York recently represented BioTelemetry Inc., a publicly traded company based in Pennsylvania, in its $280 million purchase of Switzerland’s LifeWatch AG, a health care technology company.
LifeWatch AG began its way as an Israeli entity in the 1990s and became a public Swiss company in 2001. As such, some of the company’s shareholders resided in Israel. To read more about the deal, click here to read the full article in Daily Business Review (subscription only).
The end of August was a special time for Greenberg Traurig, as we celebrated Hilarie Bass taking over as the President of the American Bar Association. Hilarie is a shareholder in our Miami office and is the Co-President of the firm. Hilarie has visited our Tel Aviv office a numbers of times since its opening in 2012, including in 2015 when the firm was a co-sponsor of the Israel Bar Association annual conference in Eilat and in 2016 when she led ACC’s Israel Chapter’s Women’s Parliament meeting. Hilarie intends to focus her presidency on a number of key initiatives including reforming legal education; advancing women in the law; establishing a legal fact check program; and addressing the legal needs of homeless youth.Click here to watch her inspiring speech to the ABA House of delegates during the ABA annual meeting in New York.
Click on the links below for a small sampling of the many media outlets that have been writing about Hilarie and her initiatives :
Miami lawyer is named president of American Bar — Miami Herald
ABA creates fact checker website for legal issues in the news — Bloomberg Big Law Business
Tokyo used to be one of the biggest global financial centers rivaling New York and London. Now, being far behind Hong Kong and Singapore, Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) aims to return as a top global financial center. In its attempt to once again become a global financial city, TMG appears to be willing to accommodate demands from foreign financial players.
In June 2017, TMG released the interim report on the “Global Financial City Tokyo” Initiatives (the Initiatives). While discussions are currently ongoing to determine specific policies or measures to be included in the Initiatives, below are key items that are proposed in the interim report. TMG widely solicits ideas on how to revitalize Tokyo’s financial city function and restore its shine as a global financial center.
For more information on the Initiatives, please read our GT Alert, “The ‘Global Financial City Tokyo’ Initiatives.”
Over the last 12 months, employment lawyers who advise companies who do business in the United States may have begun to feel some unease about guiding their clients through a changing legal environment. Even those who have been practicing for years have been at a loss as to how to predict what may be coming next. In addition to the many questions that remain for dealing with US immigration issues, we are left scratching our heads with respect to several areas where US agencies have taken great interest of late, including overtime, joint employment, the persuader rule and tip pools, just to name a few. In this environment, how should employment lawyers guide their clients forward during these uncertain times in the United States?
In summer 2016, many attorneys were busy helping companies restructure, as necessary, positions that were likely to become subject to overtime rules with major increases in the minimum salary test for exemption purposes. Raising the minimum threshold for exemption to almost $47,000, about double what it was previously, would surely impact many employees around the country. Suddenly, a federal district judge in Texas put a stop to the implementation of those rules and issued a preliminary injunction, which the U.S. Department of Justice then appealed.
Under the current administration, it is unclear what will come next. The DOJ recently filed its reply brief before the court of appeals and took the position that changes may still be made to the salary test, but that it is unlikely to be as high as the previously proposed change. The DOJ’s brief called for the Fifth Circuit to reject the notion that the U.S. Department of Labor cannot set any minimum salary test and that its previous regulations violated the 10th Amendment. But it also noted that the DOL would undertake further rulemaking to determine the correct minimum salary level, expressly stating it was not going to advocate for the previous level set by the Obama administration. If the Fifth Circuit reverses the district court, it is possible that the new rules from last year, which were supposed to start on Dec. 1, 2016, will take effect immediately.
In any event, on July 25, 2017, the DOL announced its intent to start the rulemaking process to determine the correct minimum salary for exempt employees. The agency’s goal is to lower the “regulatory burden.” In particular, the DOL is seeking responses to several important questions, which now remain uncertain, including the appropriate measure for the inflation factor; the question of using multiple levels depending on the region and position; using different levels depending on the specific exemption claimed; whether the short and long tests should be reinstated and/or updated; the importance of salary level versus the duties test; evaluating the response and impact to the 2016 final rule; and determining whether the various salary levels should automatically update based on changes to the inflation rate/consumer price index. Those desiring to submit written comments must send them to the DOL by Sept. 25, 2017.1
Additionally, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta withdrew the prior administration’s administrative interpretations (AIs) from 2015 and 2016 relating to Fair Labor Standards Act issues, but cautioned generally that employers must still obey the FLSA. This may also signal a change in practice at the DOL, which used to issue opinion letters in response to specific requests for guidance on particular questions. Opinion letters may once again become the norm.
And then there is the issue that seemed to be spreading throughout many different agencies, not just the DOL: the question of what constitutes a joint employer. Employment lawyers, with the more expansive view started first by the National Labor Relations Board, cautioned employers to review and consider changes to agreements in a variety of contexts: franchises, management services agreements and joint ventures. It seemed that the definition of joint employment would be so broad that it would cover employers far beyond what was originally imagined when using temporary staffing agencies or other types of workers to supplement their regular workforce or partnering with other entities on joint ventures or projects. On June 7, 2017, the DOL withdrew its guidance that many employers were already implementing or in the process of implementing. It remains unclear when the DOL will issue new guidance on this topic. Moving forward, employers may be dealing with different standards in DOL investigations compared to civil actions. Additionally, there are also differences among agencies that are also cause for confusion. These conflicts will continue until all relevant agencies adopt a clear, uniform statement.
Another area that garnered much attention last year is the persuader rule, which was set for expansion until those changes were enjoined from taking effect. The rule would have obligated those consultants (even attorneys) involved in union elections to disclose their relationships and payments related to such services, among other things. The proposed changes were set back further on June 12, 2017, when the DOL announced proposed rulemaking in this arena, too.
Likewise, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had proposed a rule mandating electronic reporting of certain information relating to accidents, which was supposed to go into effect on July 1, 2017. That too has been postponed, until Dec. 1, 2017, to give OSHA additional time to consider and review the rule.
The DOL also announced on July 20, 2017, that it intends to repeal the 2011 regulations that severely limited tip pooling. Some employers use tips received to offset the amount they must pay the employees to reach minimum wage requirements. The DOL required all tips to be distributed to employees even if beyond minimum wage and even if they did not take any credit. A recent federal appellate decision from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the DOL exceeded its authority when it promulgated rules that required employers who pay above minimum wage to distribute tips to employees even if they are not using the tip credit to offset payment of their employees’ wages. It now appears the DOL is reversing its position. The DOL has announced that its investigators may not enforce the Obama-era rule, which limited an employers’ ability to use tips to offset its minimum wage obligations. The DOL is expected to embark on new rulemaking in this area sometime this month.
All these changes mean that companies with operations in the United States remain in limbo on some key employment issues that had been the subject of much discussion over the past 18 months and, in many cases, had already started them on paths of change. Many states had changed their rules to track federal standards. Now that these areas have become murkier, to be safe, employers can choose to comply with the stricter prior guidelines until more definite standards are issued. Failure to do so is a riskier path forward, and more definite guidance upon which to base some fairly significant policy positions, is not likely to come in the near future.
1 For more details on the reasoning behind this request for information and its parameters, see https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=WHD-2017-0002-0001. up
For the 11th consecutive year, global law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP has more attorneys listed in Best Lawyers in America than any other law firm in the guide. The 2018 edition of Best Lawyers in America lists 366 Greenberg Traurig attorneys nationwide. (See full list here.) The guide also lists 26 of the firm’s attorneys as “Lawyers of the Year” in their respective practices and markets.
Tel Aviv office Managing Shareholder and Co-Chair of the firm’s Israel Practice, Gary Epstein, was mentioned for the 20th consecutive year in Best Lawyers in America and was recognized as part of the publication’s list of “Lawyers of the Year”.
About Greenberg Traurig’s Tel Aviv Office
Greenberg Traurig is the only major international law firm with a multidisciplinary, registered office in Tel Aviv and serves as a gateway for Israeli businesses and entrepreneurs seeking opportunities around the world. Greenberg Traurig’s Tel Aviv office provides Israeli clients with legal services in North America, Europe, South America, Asia, and other international jurisdictions and represents non-Israeli companies seeking opportunities within Israel.
Read more here.
According to a recent study conducted by Lex Machina, a leading US based legal analytics company, over the last eight and a half years Greenberg Traurig attorneys in the US have defended more commercial litigation cases than any other firm, and also filed more commercial disputes on behalf of plaintiffs. This achievement is enhanced by Lex Machina’s report according to which litigation in the US has generally been on the decline over the last 8 and a half years. As the US forms the world’s largest legal market, Greenberg Traurig is proud to be recognized as a leader in the significant field of litigation, highlighting our litigating attorneys’ achievements across a range of practice areas such as intellectual property, bankruptcy, labor & employment, tax and trusts & estates, real estate operations and governmental, as well as litigation.
Our attorneys in Tel Aviv, as well as Israel Practice members, frequently work hand in hand with Greenberg Traurig’s US offices on complex litigation matters in a wide range of industries, often representing global Israeli entities.
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Congregation Shearith Israel, represented pro bono by lead counsel Louis M. Solomon of Greenberg Traurig, LLP, won a complete reversal in the First Circuit Court of Appeals of a lower court decision that had erroneously turned Touro Synagogue over to its tenants.
Congregation Shearith Israel, the country’s oldest Jewish congregation (dating from 1654), has owned Touro Synagogue (the oldest synagogue building in America, dating from 1760) since the early 19th century. The original congregation of Newport Jews had left Newport, Rhode Island, after the turmoil of the Revolutionary War period, and many became members of Shearith Israel in New York.
In late July, the GT Tel Aviv office hosted Shurat HaDin’s 2017 Summer Interns, for a get-together and in-depth presentation on practicing foreign law in Israel as a North American educated attorney.
The head of GT Tel Aviv’s Real Estate practice, Lawrence Sternthal, delivered a presentation of GT Tel Aviv’s international practice to the rapt audience of nine North American-based interns (and their full-time Shurat HaDin Israeli counterparts). The presentation was followed by a two-person panel including Sternthal and Devora Snyder, a Senior Associate in GT Tel Aviv’s Real Estate and IP practices, who discussed their own experiences as North American expats practicing in Tel Aviv. Israeli microbrews, wine, and snacks fueled the lively Q&A discussion among the interns and the panel.
All those in attendance benefitted from the event and GT Tel Aviv is looking forward to hosting Shurat HaDin again soon!
Shurat HaDin is a legal center based in Tel Aviv and, per its website, is at the forefront of fighting terrorism and safeguarding Jewish rights worldwide [and] dedicated to the protecting to the State of Israel. By defending against lawfare suits, fighting academic and economic boycotts, and challenging those who seek to delegitimize the Jewish State, Shurat HaDin is utilizing court systems around the world to go on the legal offensive against Israel’s enemies.
On July 13, 2017, the U.S. Tax Court, in Grecian Magnesite Mining, Industrial & Shipping Co., SA v. Commissioner,1 rejected the long-standing Internal Revenue Service (IRS) position that a non-U.S. person is taxed on the sale of an interest in an entity that is a “partnership” for U.S. federal income tax purposes (hereinafter, a partnership) that is engaged in business in the United States.
Under the Tax Court’s holding in Grecian, if a non-U.S. person sells an interest in a partnership or is completely redeemed from a partnership that is engaged in a “trade or business in the United States” the non-U.S. seller is, in general, not subject to U.S. federal income tax on the gain from the sale. (As noted below, one exception to this is that the non-U.S. seller is subject to U.S. federal income tax under the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980, as amended (FIRPTA) to the extent that the gain is attributable to the non-U.S. seller’s share of United States real property interests (USRPIs) owned by the partnership.)