Author: mskllp

Since 1908, Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP (MSK) has proven its ability to understand the complex, demystify the mysterious, and define the unknown. With more than 130 lawyers and offices in Los Angeles, New York, and Washington D.C., MSK is often distinguished as a “go-to” firm by industry and legal insiders, and has extensive experience in a variety of practice areas, including Entertainment & IP Litigation, Labor & Employment, Motion Picture, Television & Music Transactions, Immigration, Corporate Securities, Regulatory, Tax, Trusts & Estates, Real Estate and International Trade. Relentlessly innovative, our lawyers have developed groundbreaking legislation, established influential precedents, and shaped the legal landscape. For more information, visit www.msk.com.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

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Employee Must Arbitrate Employment Dispute Once Employer Declares that Continued Employment Manifests Assent to Arbitration Policy

By Jonathan Turner and Irina Constantin

Late last week, the California Court of Appeals ruled in Diaz v. Sohnen Enterprises that an employee must arbitrate her discrimination suit against her employer because she consented to an arbitration agreement by continuing to work.  The split, three-judge panel sent the employee’s claims to arbitration even though she never signed the written arbitration agreement and verbally rejected it.

In short, the Court held that “California law in this area is settled: when an employee continues his or her employment after notification that an agreement to arbitration is a condition of continued employment, that employee has impliedly consented to the arbitration agreement.” (more…)

Warning to Employers When Staffing Special Projects

Quality control certification, checked guarantee of standard.

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By Susan Kohn Ross and Frida P. Glucoft

There are many ways employers may run afoul of the anti-discrimination provisions in U.S. immigration law. As a very clear starting point, the general rule for a long time has been and remains an employer may not make hiring, firing, or recruitment / referral decisions based on a worker’s citizenship status. However, there are notable exceptions and the one relevant here relates to controlled goods.

For these purposes, the definition of controlled goods includes their documentation – typically referred to as technical data – and means those goods which are subject to either the International Traffic in Arms (ITAR) or Export Administration Regulations (EAR) laws and regulations. ITAR is the export license restrictions which regulate military and defense articles, whereas BIS controls other higher tech exports which are subject to export license restrictions. As part of their regulatory regimes, both agencies (and some others of more limited scope) regulate when and how non-U.S. persons may gain access to either the actual good, the technical data or both, and require some form of notice to and pre-approval by the agency. (more…)

SEC Issues First Cryptocurrency No-Action Letter – Where’s the Action?

Diagonal chain, a blockchain concept, gray closeup

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By Mark Hiraide

On April 2, 2019, the Division of Corporation Finance of the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a no-action letter to TurnKey Jet, Inc. in connection with a proposed sale of tokens in the United States. It was the first no-action letter relating to cryptocurrencies and was widely heralded as a watershed event (e.g., “SEC Issues First ‘No-Action’ Letter Clearing ICO to Sell Tokens in US”) (see here).

But what does the SEC’s no-action letter really mean? First, a no-action letter is the SEC’s staff response to a request that the SEC not take enforcement action against the requestor based on the specific facts and circumstances set forth in the request. In most cases, the staff will not permit parties other than the requester to rely on the no-action letter. As was the case here, the staff’s response often is based in part on the legal opinion rendered by the requester’s lawyer that the proposed conduct is not a violation of the federal securities laws. (more…)

California Estate Tax: Gone Today, Here Tomorrow?

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By Joyce Feuille

California has no estate tax, but that could change in the near future. California State Senator Scott Wiener recently introduced a bill which would impose gift, estate, and generation-skipping transfer tax on transfers during life and at death after December 31, 2020.

California law requires that any law imposing transfer taxes must be approved by the voters. This means that, if the California Legislature approves the California bill, it will be put before the voters at the November 2020 election. (more…)

Opportunity Zones Overview

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Part One: Section 1031 vs. QOF

By Andrew Park

Historically, a like-kind exchange under Internal Revenue Code Section 1031 was the preferred mechanism for the deferral of gain from the sale of certain types of assets. As a result of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”), 1031 exchange treatment is now limited to exchanges of real property. If executed properly, a 1031 exchange allows investors to defer paying capital gains tax – potentially indefinitely – on the sale of property by reinvesting the sales proceeds into a new property. However, an investor is taxable on any capital gains realized on the sale to the extent that any sales proceeds are not reinvested. (more…)

OFAC Brings the Hammer

Logistics and transportation of Container Cargo ship and Cargo plane with working crane bridge in shipyard at sunrise, logistic import export and transport industry background

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By Susan Kohn Ross

In March, there was a good deal of consternation in the general press trying to understand news that President Trump had overruled the actions of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) to impose additional sanctions on North Korea. Beside the oddity of a President overruling actions by a part of the Executive branch after they had been taken, it remains a mystery what the President was seeking to overrule. Not being deterred, OFAC marched on, and in so doing, it provided multiple examples again how compliance programs need to not be just written, but also followed and enforced, and cost at least one American company $1,869,144 plus significant compliance upgrade costs. (more…)

Dynamex Strikes the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

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By Jonathan Turner

Why This Matters

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently remanded a case, Haitayan v. 7-Eleven, Inc., to the federal district court to reconsider its ruling in light of the California Supreme Court’s decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court. The Dynamex Court adopted a new standard to determine whether workers are employees or independent contractors. This standard presumes that workers are employees unless they meet all three factors of what the Court called the ABC test. While Haitayan is an unpublished decision, meaning it is not precedential, it does demonstrate Dynamex’s continuing reach, this time all the way up to the Ninth Circuit. Given Dynamex’s broad impact on employers (see our previous discussions here and here), its trajectory is notable. (more…)

A Movable Feast

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State Taxation of CRT Distributions for Beneficiaries Who Move from California to Another State

By David Wheeler Newman

MSK private clients sometimes move from California, the state with the highest maximum individual income tax rate in the US – 13.3%! — to states like Nevada and Wyoming that have no income tax at all.  Some of these clients are income beneficiaries of large charitable remainder trusts. How are distributions from those CRTs taxed once the income beneficiaries are no longer California residents?

First things first: remember how CRT distributions are characterized for tax purposes. Under Internal Revenue Code §664, distributions are treated as coming first, from the current and accumulated ordinary income of the trust (Tier One); second, from capital gains (Tier Two); third, from tax-exempt interest (Tier Three); and fourth, from corpus (Tier Four). Within each tier, distributions are treated as coming first from income taxed at a higher rate – for example, gain from the sale of collectibles, taxable at 28% before gain from the sale of stock, taxable at 20%. This requires careful record keeping by the trustee, to track the various types of trust receipts in the various sub-tiers, especially for NIMCRUTs that may make no distributions for several years. (more…)

CA Consumer Privacy Act Gets a Rewrite

Cybersecurity of network of connected devices and personal data security

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By Susan Kohn Ross

When the law was signed by then Governor Brown (see our prior Alert here), the expectation was that Attorney General Becerra would issue the enabling regulations by July of this year, which would allow a phase-in period. Then by January 1, 2020, the requirements would be clear and companies would be able to properly formulate and implement their compliance policies. Regretfully, things are not going as expected.

First, in accordance with the law, General Becerra organized a series of public meetings: (more…)

CA IoT Law: Devices at Risk?

Men dress up lifestyle hold smartphone screen shows the key in the Security online world. the display and technology advances in communications. The concept of advancement in living in the future.

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By Susan Kohn Ross

In the last week, both the Dept. of Homeland Security and the Food and Drug Administration have issued a consumer alert about the potential hacking risk regarding cardiac devices, specifically because those devices have no encryption on their software. The devices in question are implantable cardiac devices, clinic programmers and home monitors which are used to regulate one’s heartbeat rate – to speed it up or slow it down, as needed. The focus this time is on the Medtronic Conexus Radio Frequency Telemetry Protocol. Given this latest notice, one has to wonder what will be the impact of the California IoT law.

What both federal agencies had to say is short range access allows interference with, generation, modification or interception of communications. There is also the ability to read/write any valid memory location on the implanted device and, therefore, impact its intended functionality. (more…)