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.

US Visa Applicants Now Required To Provide Social Media Identifiers

Social media concept

Photo credit: iStock.com/Urupong

By Benjamin Lau and David Rugendorf.

On May 31, 2019, the US Department of State updated their Form DS-160 (online nonimmigrant visa application) and Form DS-260 (online immigrant visa application) to collect social media identifiers for those applying for nonimmigrant and immigrant visas. Applicants for US visas are now being asked to provide all social media identifiers they have used within the past five (5) years. This update was announced in a statement to the press by a US Department of State official on June 1, 2019.

A social media “handle” or “identifier” is any name used by the individual on social media platforms including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The updated visa application forms currently employ a drop-down menu which list the specific social media platforms for which identifiers are being requested. An example of the drop-down menu from online visa application form can be seen below: (more…)

Trade Trouble – East, West and South, but North is Settled for Now!

Container Ship Enroute to Port

Photo credit: iStock.com/Darwin Brandis

By Susan Kohn Ross

Agriculture Secretary Perdue recently stated the trade damages to be addressed in a new round of farm aid is $15 to $20 billion! The general press is replete with stories about how, as these tariffs continue, companies are making sourcing changes that will be hard to reverse. So, what is the latest news?

First, there is trade with China. It seems clear that unless there is a breakthrough at the G-20 meeting in Tokyo, or shortly thereafter, the anecdotal headaches we hear about will get far more costly. The American Chamber of Commerce in China and the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai conducted a survey before List 3 was announced. Even at that point, American companies operating in China acknowledged higher production costs, decreased demand for products, reduced staffing, reduced profits, increased inspections at importation, increased bureaucratic oversight and regulatory scrutiny, slower approval of licenses and permits, higher product rejections, and increasing plans to relocate (but not back to the U.S.). (more…)

HIT THE ROAD, JACK: UBER DRIVERS ARE INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS ACCORDING TO NLRB

Taxi navigation

Photo Credit: iStock.com / lovro77

By Jonathan Turner

Why This Matters

On May 14, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) released an advice memorandum declaring that Uber drivers are independent contractors (not employees) and are, therefore, not eligible to unionize.  The memo, dated April 16, 2019, said the drivers are independent contractors under the NLRB’s recently-adopted SuperShuttle test (see here), because they have “significant entrepreneurial opportunity” while driving for Uber.   The NLRB’s standard only applies in the labor context.  It does not apply to California wage claims and lawsuits, where the California Supreme Court has adopted the ABC Test set forth in Dynamex (see here). (more…)

Are you rEDDy for the Audit?

Incoming Financial Audit

Photo credit: iStock.com/ chaofann

By Jeffrey Davine

We regularly assist clients with worker classification audits that are conducted by both the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) and the California Employment Development Department (the “EDD”).  It appears that these types of audits may be occurring with greater frequency than in the past. Waiting until after the IRS or the EDD comes calling to review the status of these workers is not a good option.

There are two categories of workers- employees and independent contractors.  From the perspective of a business, classifying a worker as an independent contractor is usually less expensive and entails fewer administrative burdens than classifying a worker as an employee.  This is because various tax obligations (such as withholding and remitting income and employment taxes) are triggered when a worker is classified as an employee.  In addition, if a worker is an employee he or she may be eligible for certain fringe benefits such as paid vacation, health insurance, and retirement plan participation.  Moreover, labor laws impose numerous obligations on a business when it hires an employee.  These tax and administrative requirements do not need to be satisfied when engaging an independent contractor.  (more…)

Wealthy Californians (and their Children) Can Breathe a Sigh of Relief

Calculator with wooden house and coins stack and pen on wood table. Property investment and house mortgage financial concept

Photo credit: iStock.com/marchmeena29

By Joyce Feuille

Wealthy Californians, and more importantly, their children and grandchildren, can pop that champagne. The bill that would have imposed a California gift, estate, and generation skipping transfer tax appears to be dead – – at least for now. It will not get a floor vote in the California Legislature.  Absent a floor vote, the California bill will not obtain the required approval of the California Legislature to put it on the November 2020 ballot. (more…)

A Sign of the Times? Tennessee Expands Anti-Bullying Law to Private Employers

Two Male Colleagues Fighting In Office

Photo credit: iStock.com/AndreyPopov

By Jeremy Mittman and Samuel Richman

On April 23, 2019, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a bill into law extending the Healthy Workplaces Act, Tennessee’s workplace bullying prevention law, to private employers. The law went into effect immediately upon signing. Tennessee’s anti-bullying law encourages employers to adopt policies to address and prevent “abusive conduct” in the workplace. The law defines “abusive conduct” as “acts or omissions that would cause a reasonable person, based on the severity, nature, and frequency of the conduct, to believe that an employee was subject to an abusive work environment.” (more…)

Tariff Turmoil

USA and Chinese flags on mountain signpost.

Photo credit: iStock.com/Darwel

By Susan Kohn Ross

The last few days have seen some startling developments regarding trade between the U.S. and China. Perhaps none of this is remarkable given the current climate, but trying to keep track has caused untold whiplash!

On May 10, we learned from USTR the timing of the 25% tariff on List 3 was changed. It is now applicable to goods entered on or after June 1, 2019. Given that CBP originally programmed its computer and the 25% on List 3 goods applied so long as the arrival date was May 10 or later, if you get caught in the payment timing cycle of having to pay the 25%, you will want to coordinate with your customs broker to file a Post Summary Correction and seek a 15% refund. (more…)

The Ever-Expanding Dynamex Decision

Exam Answer sheet in exam room

Photo credit: iStock.com/noipornpan

By Jeremy Mittman and Danton Liang

Why This Matters

The day after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the California Supreme Court’s decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court applies retroactively (see here), California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) released an opinion letter concluding that Dynamex’s ABC test applies to both IWC Wage Order claims and certain Labor Code provisions that enforce Wage Order requirements. The California Court of Appeals has ruled that Dynamex applies only to claims brought under the IWC Wage Orders (see here) and the DLSE’s recent opinion letter seems to expand what that means.

While California state and federal courts are not bound by DLSE opinion letters (meaning they could reach a different conclusion as to exactly which California Labor Code claims fall under Dynamex), the DLSE’s opinion letter reflects the way that agency will be interpreting Dynamex moving forward. This will impact employers who face DLSE wage claims where employees contend they were improperly classified as independent contractors. (more…)

The Roller Coaster Ride Continues

Tariff, Taxes on Imported Goods

Photo credit: iStock.com/Olivier Le Moal

By Susan Kohn Ross

In yesterday’s “Talking Trade” Periscope broadcast, we made the point that the wording in the China 301 tariff notice left confusion which needed to be cleared up, and now, it has been. As is common knowledge, the 10% tariff on the goods on List 3 or Traunch 3 went up to 25% at 12:01 a.m. on May 10, 2019. How this applies is, however, a bit more nuanced. The Federal Register Notice reads: “Effective with respect to goods (i) entered for consumption, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on May 10, 2019, and (ii) exported to the United States on or after May 10, 2019…” (more…)

Dynamex Goes Back in Time

Businessman holding sign clock. Concept business time is money

Photo credit: iStock.com/marchmeena29

By Jeremy Mittman

Why This Matters

On Thursday, May 2, in Vazquez v. Jan-Pro Franchising International, Inc., a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the California Supreme Court’s ruling in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court applies retroactively. In Dynamex, the Supreme Court adopted a new standard for determining whether a California worker is an employee or independent contractor under the California Industrial Welfare Commission’s (“IWC”) wage orders. As we have previously discussed (see here, here, and here), Dynamex’s reach continues to grow and the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in Vazquez should be of particular concern to employers, who now face potential liability for their past decisions to classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees under a standard that did not exist at the time. (more…)