California Court Of Appeal Says Unlimited Vacation Policies Fly

Written by Jeremy Mittman

Why This Matters

Over the last several years, some employers have chosen to adopt unlimited vacation time policies for their employees.  Unlike more traditional vacation policies, under unlimited vacation policies, vacation time does not vest.  Rather, employees can take as much vacation time as they’d like (generally within reason and subject to business needs).  One of the benefits of these policies for employers is that, while vested vacation time is considered wages and must be paid out upon termination of employment, because unlimited vacation time does not vest, there is nothing to pay out when employment ends.

Recently, in McPherson v. EF Intercultural Foundation, Inc., the California Court of Appeal ruled that, while under the facts of the particular case, the employer’s “unlimited” vacation time policy was not valid (and so the actual vacation days taken by plaintiffs should be accrued and paid out upon termination), employers may have “truly unlimited time off policies” if they are provided to employees in writing and meet certain criteria set forth below.

Continue reading “California Court Of Appeal Says Unlimited Vacation Policies Fly”

COVID Conversion

Written by Allan B. Cutrow

Unfortunately, the current health and economic crises have significantly and negatively affected asset values. However, these depressed asset values create significant planning opportunities to consider. One is the conversion of a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA.

Many investors often consider converting their traditional IRA into a Roth IRA as part of their overall retirement planning. Investments in a Roth IRA have the potential to not only grow tax-free (in the same manner as a traditional IRA), but also do not have required minimum distributions during the lifetime of the original owner and his or her spouse. Continue reading “COVID Conversion”

Public Spaces = Covered Faces

Written by Susan Kohn Ross

On Friday, April 2, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) came out with a recommendation that anyone who goes out in public should wear a face covering.  The CDC took action based on recent studies which are said to show that “a significant portion” of individuals have the COVID-19 virus but are displaying no symptoms, and so are unknowingly infecting others. Speaking is cited as one of the situations by which asymptomatic individuals are spreading the virus. Therefore, CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public settings, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, where social distancing may be difficult to maintain. Continue reading “Public Spaces = Covered Faces”

COVID-19 Relief for Music Industry Workers

Written by Eleanor M. Lackman and Craig C. Bradley

Music industry associations and trade groups, working alongside organizations spanning the creative industries, scored a major victory in securing financial help under the CARES Act (the “Act”) for musicians, music producers, and other music industry workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This relief falls into two categories: (1) unemployment compensation expanded from traditional employees to include benefits previously unavailable to independent contractors, “gig” workers, and the self-employed, and (2) newly-available loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), including loan advances of up to $10,000, which are now also available to sole proprietors, independent contractors, and the self-employed. Continue reading “COVID-19 Relief for Music Industry Workers”

Privacy Takes Many Forms

Written by Susan Kohn Ross and Timothy Carter

Amazon’s Alexa, Google devices such as Google Assistant and Google Home, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana are now commonplace in many homes. These devices and other lesser-known counterparts allow users to control nearly everything in their homes with only their voice. That convenience, however, comes at the cost of some degree of privacy. While seldom viewed as presenting a live microphone inside one’s home or office, these otherwise passive listening devices begin recording upon initiation of a verbal cue. While the use (or even presence) of such voice assistants may present privacy concerns when used in consumers’ homes, with millions of people working remotely across the world due to COVID-19, these potential privacy concerns can quickly escalate to a much broader concern, especially for attorneys, who, as we discussed earlier, are bound to maintain confidentiality regarding information concerning the representation of their clients. But this concern extends far beyond “just” attorneys, because so many business dealings involve the exchange of confidential information. What one thinks of as a private or confidential discussion with a business partner is now taking place at home, perhaps with others around, but all too frequently in close proximity to these devices. Continue reading “Privacy Takes Many Forms”

New FFCRA Regulations Provide Clarity

Top 15 Practical Takeaways From the New Sick and Family Leave DOL Regulations

Written by Jeremy Mittman and Stephen Franz 

On the same day the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) took effect, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (”DOL”) Wage and Hour Division (“WHD”) posted a temporary rule issuing regulations to the FFCRA on April 1, 2020.  The rule, which expires on December 31, 2020, provides much-needed clarity to the expanded family and medical leave and emergency paid sick leave provisions of the FFCRA.  This is the latest guidance on the FFCRA from the DOL, which previously published and updated a series of “Questions and Answers” related to the law’s paid leave provisions after its enactment.  Our prior analysis of the FFCRA and how it affects employers is available here.

Because the rule answers previously unaddressed questions and clarifies the DOL’s prior guidance, Employers may need to adjust their FFCRA policies and practices accordingly.  Fortunately, the WHD will not start enforcing the FFCRA until April 18, 2020, so Employers have time to react to these new rules.

Here are the top 15 new takeaways for Employers from the rule. Continue reading “New FFCRA Regulations Provide Clarity”

Bay Area Narrows SIP Orders

Written by Susan Kohn Ross and Matthew S. Beasley

On March 31, 2020, six Bay Area counties in Northern California adopted amended “shelter in place” orders in response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). These orders are important to all businesses in the Bay Area, but also to everyone else as they could be a preview of what is to come.

Like the prior orders adopted during the week of March 16, 2020, the March 31, 2020 orders each generally require that residents stay home unless they are engaged in work which the orders define as “essential.” Importantly, the March 31, 2020 orders significantly restrict and reduce the definitions of “essential” work. For instance, under the San Francisco order, most construction is now prohibited. Exceptions are made for healthcare facility construction directly related to the COVID-19 response, affordable housing; public works projects when designated as essential by the lead governmental agency, shelters and temporary housing, projects necessary to provide critical services to certain vulnerable individuals, construction necessary to secure an existing construction site, and limited essential residential or business repairs. In other words, the March 31, 2020 orders ban most residential and commercial construction. As another example, businesses that supply products needed to work from home are no longer “essential,” and must cease operations. Continue reading “Bay Area Narrows SIP Orders”