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As the largest labor and employment law firm in the United States—with more than 750 attorneys, 49 locations, and a practice that extends into every area and sub-area of workplace law—Littler Mendelson has the ability to provide rapid, integrated solutions for any labor, employment, benefits or global migration issue.

Littler’s international experience is long-standing and diverse, positioning us to effectively assist employers with the significant challenges of managing employees in multiple countries. Our international employment law practice consists of 100+ lawyers who have worked on projects involving the employment laws of nations across the globe. Our attorneys are fluent in 20+ languages and are actively involved in various international associations, such as the U.S. Council on International Business and the International Bar Association.

Supporting Littler's international employment law practice is a well-established network of working relationships with pre-eminent employment lawyers around the world. Littler is the U.S. member of the Ius Laboris global alliance of leading human resources law practitioners, with member firms in 45 countries and coverage in more than 100 countries.

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Legislative Update for the Week of March 22

Leg Roundup Image 132 by 140.jpgHouse Passes Bill Extending Certain USERRA Right to Members of the National Guard
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved by a vote of 416-1 the National Guard Employment Protection Act of 2010 (H.R. 1879), legislation that would extend certain employment and reemployment rights to members of the National Guard who are ordered to report for full-time duty. Read the full post here. (March 26)

Health Care Reform Law Presents Unique Considerations for Collectively Bargained Plans
The new health care reform legislation has dramatic implications for all employers. While full implementation of the law is still years away, employers should begin evaluating and preparing for its impact on collective bargaining agreements today. Read the full post here. (March 26)

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HIRE Act Provides Tax Benefits to Employers that Hire and Retain Unemployed Workers

Incentive Street Sign.jpgOn March 18, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act, a measure that provides certain "qualified" employers with limited tax breaks and financial incentives for hiring unemployed workers.  The highlight of this law is a provision exempting certain employers from paying their share of 2010 OASDI (Social Security) taxes on any new hire who has been without full-time employment for at least 60 days.  The maximum tax break an employer could gain per employee under this provision would be $6,621, or 6.2% of total wages paid in 2010 up to the $106,800 FICA wage cap.  This tax "holiday" does not apply to the component of FICA tax covering the Medicare Hospital Insurance (HI) contribution, or other state and federal tax obligations.

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Legislative Update for the Week of March 15

Leg Roundup Image 132 by 140.jpgProposed Rule Would Implement Executive Order Affecting Service Contractors
The Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking that seeks to implement Executive Order 13495, Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers Under Service Contracts. The rule would require that any federal service contracts and solicitations for such contracts include a clause requiring contractors and their subcontractors to offer existing employees the right of first refusal to take positions for which they are qualified under the new contract. Read the full post here. (March 19)

Senators Unveil "Blueprint" for Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released a framework for comprehensive immigration reform. Although a bill has yet to be introduced, the Senators outlined their "four pillar" reform strategy (1) "requiring biometric Social Security cards to ensure that illegal workers cannot get jobs; (2) fulfilling and strengthening our commitments on border security and interior enforcement; (3) creating a process for admitting temporary workers; and (4) implementing a tough but fair path to legalization for those already here." Read the full post here. (March 19)

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Compensation Trend: Semiannual Bonuses

Many U.S. companies, particularly those in the retail and high-tech industries, are replacing their annual incentive structure with semiannual bonuses, The Wall Street Journal reports.  Changing to a semiannual bonus structure is intended to help retain key employees, decrease turnover, and increase morale as the economic climate has led some companies to cancel 401(k) contributions, freeze pay or cut salaries.

Those who argue against the wisdom of semiannual bonuses contend that under this structure employees are rewarded for short-term achievements that might not produce long-term results.  However, business leaders who have instituted semiannual bonuses argue that shortened performance periods allow them to set more realistic goals for their employees.

Legislative Update for the Week of March 8

Leg Roundup Image 132 by 140.jpgLabor Secretary Discusses Plans for Worker Misclassification, Enforcement Initiatives During Committee Hearing
Testifying before a House subcommittee hearing, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis explained how the agency would use the $116.5 billion in proposed funds and 17,800 full-time equivalent employees outlined in the Department of Labor's fiscal year 2011 budget. Read the full post here. (March 12)

Senate Approves Bill Extending COBRA Subsidies, Unemployment Insurance Benefits, Pension Relief Measures
The Senate passed by a 62 to 36 margin the Tax Extender Act of 2009 (H.R. 4213), legislation that would extend until December 31, 2010, the 65% COBRA premium subsidies and emergency unemployment insurance benefits, both programs that are set to expire in the coming weeks. Read the full post here. (March 11)

Supreme Court to Decide Constitutionality of Certain Background Check Questions for Federal Contractors
The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether the government violates a federal contract employee's constitutional right to informational privacy when it: (1) asks in the course of a background investigation whether the employee has received counseling or treatment for illegal drug use within the past year; and (2) asks the employee's designated references for any adverse information that may have a bearing on the employee's suitability for employment at a federal facility, when the information obtained in both scenarios is to be used for employment purposes only and is protected under the Privacy Act. Read the full post here. (March 9)

Google Execs Convicted of Violating Italian Privacy Law

On February 24, 2010, a Milan court convicted Google's Chief Legal Officer, Global Privacy Counsel, and a former member of Google Italy's board of directors for violating Italian privacy law and imposed a six-month, suspended jail sentence.  The case stemmed from a posting on Google Video® - a YouTube® predecessor - of a video depicting several teenagers bullying a classmate with Down's Syndrome.  Although the Google executives had no involvement in either the posting or in the decision whether and when to remove it, Italian law imposes criminal liability on senior executives for the actions of the corporation.  Prosecutors alleged that Google should be held responsible not only for permitting the video to be posted in the first instance, but also for allegedly not having acted quickly enough to remove the video after receiving a complaint.

For more information on this case and its implications for employers, continue reading What Does the Criminal Conviction for Privacy Law Violations of Three Google Executives in Italy Mean for Multi-National Employers in the U.S.? by Phillip L. Gordon at Littler's Workplace Privacy Blog.

U.S. Appellate Court Permits Practice of Tip-Pooling

Tip III.jpgIn a decision that will be well-received by hospitality and tourism employers, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has held that employers that do not take a tip credit against the federal minimum wage when paying their employees can lawfully implement tip-pooling arrangements.  In Cumbie v. Woody Woo, Inc. (pdf), No. 08-25718 (Feb. 23, 2010), the appellate court rejected the argument that a restaurant's use of a tip pool that redistributed a portion of its wait staffs' tips to kitchen employees violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  The FLSA requires an employer to pay its employees a certain minimum wage, but recognizes in its definition of "wage" that under certain circumstances, employers of "tipped employees" may include part of such employees' tips as wage payments.  An employer must pay a tipped employee a cash wage of at least $2.13 per hour, but if the cash wage is less than the federal minimum wage (currently $7.25), the employer can make up the difference with the amount an employee receives as tips, often referred to as the "tip credit."

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Legislative Update for the Week of March 1

Leg Roundup Image 132 by 140.jpgHouse Advances Jobs Bill
The House of Representatives voted 217 to 201 in favor of the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act, the $15 billion jobs bill introduced by Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) as an amendment (S. Amt. 3310) to H.R. 2847, the more expansive jobs bill that the House passed in December. Read the full post here. (March 4)

Obama Makes Final Push for Health Care Reform; Endorses Reconciliation
Telling Congress to "finish its work," President Obama urged both chambers to schedule a vote on final health care overhaul legislation in the coming weeks. While Obama did not outline a specific roadmap for reform, it is widely believed that the plan for going forward involves first having the House of Representatives vote on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590), the bill that the Senate approved in December, and then passing via budget reconciliation a package of changes to that bill reflected in the estimated $950 billion proposal Obama unveiled on February 22. Read the full post here. (March 3)

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Legislative Update for the Week of February 22

Leg Roundup Image 132 by 140.jpgBill Would Strengthen Worker Benefits, Limit Executive Pay in the Event of Bankruptcy
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Representative John Conyers (D-MI) introduced the Protecting Employees and Retirees in Business Bankruptcies Act (S. 3033, H.R. 4677), legislation that would strengthen employees' ability to recover wages and benefits and restrict the awarding of bonuses in the event of their employer's bankruptcy. Read the full post here. (February 26)

White House Health Care Summit Fails to Resolve Differences
The White House bipartisan health care summit produced no final legislation or agreement about how to proceed with health care reform. Democrats took the position that they would not start from scratch, and Republicans claimed they would not support the proposals that have already been put forth. Read the full post here. (February 26)

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Supreme Court Clarifies Where Multi-State Employers Can Be Sued

In what could be hailed as a victory for employers, the U.S. Supreme Court has made it less likely that a company can be sued in state court just because it conducts business in that state.  Under federal statute, a corporation is to be considered a citizen of any state in which it has been incorporated and the state where it has its principal place of business.  If sued in state court, a corporation can seek to have the case moved to federal court - a move often deemed advantageous for employers - if the parties are from different states.

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