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Recent NLRB Social Media Report Raises New Questions

As we have detailed in this blog and elsewhere, the National Labor Relations Board (?Ç£NLRB?Ç¥ or the ?Ç£Board?Ç¥) made social media cases a priority in 2011.?á As demonstrated in a recent memorandum released by the Board?ÇÖs Acting General Counsel, this trend is set to continue in 2012.?á Memorandum OM 12-31 summarizes 14 recent social media complaints received by the Board, and details the General Counsel?ÇÖs conclusions on each case.?á While the report reiterates many of the Board?ÇÖs previous pronouncements regarding social media, it also raises new questions about employer regulation of employee social media use, as well as permissible social media policy language.   A New Standard to Evaluate Employee Social Media Comments? Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (?Ç£NLRA?Ç¥) gives employees the right, among other things, ?Ç£to engage in . . . concerted activities for the purposes of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection?Ç¥ (emphasis… Continue Reading

All A-Twitter: When Someone Else Owns the Twitter Username for Your New Brand

You?ÇÖve selected the perfect brand. Trademark counsel has cleared it. You even have the domain. Everything?ÇÖs coming along, but then you get the bad news: someone else owns the corresponding Twitter username. It happens. In September 2011, Netflix was roundly mocked for failing to secure the Twitter handle for its much-ballyhooed QWIKSTER DVD-to-mail service ?Çô a problem that was solved only when Netflix abandoned its plans for the DVD-only option. In a perfect world, companies would ensure that a new brand is available on key social media sites before launch. Otherwise, at least as far as Twitter is concerned, you might be out of luck. If the owner of the Twitter account acquired the username before you established rights in the trademark, typically there?ÇÖs no infringement claim to be made. You also can?ÇÖt simply offer to buy the username from the owner ?Çô Twitter explicitly prohibits selling or buying usernames.… Continue Reading

IRS Releases Interim Summary of its Findings from its 401(k) Questionnaires

An IRS report details the interim findings from the surveys the IRS issued to plan sponsors and provides information regarding different aspects of 401(k) plans being offered. It also indicates that many plan sponsors are not aware of the resources available to plan sponsors on its website?áand in general. The summary is available on the IRS website.

EEOC Final Rule Extends Recordkeeping Requirements to GINA

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (?Ç£EEOC?Ç¥) issued a final rule extending the recordkeeping requirements under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (?Ç£Title VII?Ç¥) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (?Ç£ADA?Ç¥) to entities covered by Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (?Ç£GINA?Ç¥). The final rule does not require the creation of any documents or impose any reporting requirements, rather it only imposes the same record retention requirements to GINA that apply under Title VII and the ADA. The final rule takes effect on April 3, 2012. The final rule is available here.

DOL Releases Final Regulations on Summary of Benefits and Coverage Requirement

The U.S. Department of Labor (?Ç£DOL?Ç¥) released final regulations and a separate guidance document on the summary of benefits and coverage (?Ç£SBC?Ç¥) and uniform glossary requirement under PPACA. The regulations require that employers provide the SBC to group health plan participants and beneficiaries who enroll or re-enroll in group health coverage during the first open enrollment period that begins on or after September 23, 2012. For participants and beneficiaries who enroll in group health plan coverage other than through an open enrollment period, the requirements apply beginning on the first day of the plan year that begins on or after September 23, 2012. The final regulations state that group health plans can provide the SBC separately in a stand-alone document or it can be combined with other plan materials such as a summary plan description as long as the SBC is at the beginning of the materials. The guidance also… Continue Reading

FAQs Clarify Upcoming Guidance Regarding Automatic Enrollment, Employer-Shared Responsibility and Waiting Periods Under Health Reform

The U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and the Treasury (the ?Ç£Departments?Ç¥) released a set of frequently asked questions addressing requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (?Ç£PPACA?Ç¥) relating to automatic enrollment, employer shared responsibility, and the 90-day limitation on waiting periods. Prior guidance indicated that the PPACA requirement to automatically enroll new full-time employees in an employer?ÇÖs health plan would not be effective until further regulations were issued. The FAQs provide that the Department of Labor (?Ç£DOL?Ç¥) has concluded that the automatic enrollment guidance will not be ready to take effect by 2014 and, therefore, until the final regulations are issued, employers will not be required to comply with the automatic enrollment requirements. Among other items, the FAQs also provide that the Departments intend to issue further regulations on issues relating to the implementation of the employer shared responsibility requirement, such as methods for determining… Continue Reading

February 2012