MSK Blog

CA Employers Hungry for Time-Rounding Meal Breaks

time to eatBy Jeremy Mittman and Stephen Rossi

Why This Matters

On November 21st, the California Court of Appeals ruled in Donohue v. AMN Services, LLC regarding meal breaks and how they get tracked. Overall, Donohue is a positive wage and hour development for California employers. The case is also helpful in providing a roadmap for a design of an exceptionally good (and now, court approved) electronic meal break recording system (further described in the explanation of the decision), which enables an employer to track the reason for a noncompliant meal period and obtain notification with minimal administrative burden. California employers would be well-served to consider adopting a similar meal break monitoring system, which—considering the cost of defending against meal break claims, a perennial favorite of plaintiffs’ attorneys—would be money well spent. The Court’s decision and the intricacies of the case are further described below. (more…)

H-1B Visas: Employers Be Aware of Potential Changes

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services envelope, white folder for naturalization certificate on table with American flag

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By David S. Rugendorf

Changes are in the works related to the processing of H-1B visa petitions, and employers intending to file such petitions should be aware. On Monday, December 3, 2018, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a proposal to change the annual cap-subject H-1B visa petition filing system in two significant ways: (1) the establishment of an online H-1B registration system; and (2) a major change in the procedures related to the annual H-1B visa cap lottery.

By law, the number of new H-1B visa petitions for professional worker beneficiaries is capped at 65,000 annually, with an additional 20,000 set aside for individuals with advanced degrees from U.S. universities. Advanced degrees are considered to be master’s degrees or higher. Certain employers, such as hospitals, non-profit research institutions and universities are exempt from this annual cap. As a result of this limitation on H-1B filings, the USCIS receives well in excess of the allowable number of petitions at the beginning of each year’s filing season, April 1. Accordingly, a random lottery has taken place in early April of each year. Employers are notified over the next few months if their petitions are among the lucky 85,000 selected. The numbers are daunting – approximately 198,000 petitions where received in fiscal year 2017, and approximately 236,000 in fiscal year 2016. (more…)

Customers Now Jointly Liable with Port Trucking Companies for Certain Labor Violations

Truck in port

Photo credit: iStock.com/nightman1965

By Susan Kohn Ross

One of the bills signed into law by California Governor Edmund G. Brown from the most recent legislative session aims to hold customers accountable when hiring trucking companies that have a record of Labor Code violations. Under SB 1402, customers who utilize trucking companies to deliver goods from California’s ports may be held jointly and severally liable for certain Labor Code violations committed by those trucking companies. Here is the explanation for the need for this new law: “Holding customers of trucking companies jointly liable for future labor law violations by port drayage motor carriers who they engage, where the customer has received advance notice of their record of unsatisfied judgments for labor law violations, will exert pressure across the supply chain to protect drayage drivers from further exploitation.” And “Customers have the market power to exert meaningful change in the port drayage industry that has eluded California drivers for more than a decade.” (more…)

NLRB Proposes Rule Changing Joint-Employer Standard

By Anthony J. Amendola

Recently, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) published its “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking; request for comments” in the Federal Register setting forth a proposed new standard for establishing a joint-employer relationship.  The joint-employer analysis is significant because entities found to be joint employers may be jointly liable for alleged unfair labor practices or under collective bargaining agreements.  In various circumstances, parent/subsidiary companies, franchisers/franchisees and client/temporary services providers have been argued to be joint employers. (more…)

China Tariffs – List 3 Finalized and Taking Effect

Economic trade war between USA and China

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In this video blog, MSK Partner & International Trade Practice Chair Susan Kohn Ross covers the latest developments with the 301 tariffs. 

At the end of the day on September 17, 2018, the U.S. Trade Representative issued notice that List 3 of the China tariffs has been finalized and takes effect with a 10% tariff on September 24, 2018. If “sufficient” progress is not made with the Chinese as defined by the Trump Administration, that tariff rate will rise to 25% on January 1, 2019. List 3 is the list containing products worth $200 billion.

The USTR announcement can be found here. The original list of products was 6,031. The final list was reduced to 5,745 and can be found here.

To no one’s surprise, the Chinese immediately announced their own retaliatory action and those details can be found here. (more…)

USCIS Extends (and Expands) Premium Processing Ban

World map created with passport stamps, travel concept

Photo credit: iStock.com/Delpixart

By David S. Rugendorf

The USCIS announced today that it is extending its ban on premium processing on certain H-1B petitions. Premium Processing allows an employer to seek an adjudication of a visa petition within 15 days upon payment of an additional filing fee, currently $1,225 (increasing to $1,410 on October 1, 2018). Employers should review their current and upcoming H-1B visa needs to determine how the ban will impact their matters, so they can plan accordingly.

To be specific, USCIS estimated earlier this year it would reinstate Premium Processing for H-1B cap cases in September 2018 (in roughly two weeks from now). The suspension of Premium Processing for Fiscal Year 2019 H-1B Cap Petitions is now expected to be extended through at least February 19, 2019. USCIS expects this suspension will help reduce the processing time for H-1Bs by allowing it to process long-pending petitions. In addition, USCIS states that the temporary suspension will allow them to be more responsive to petitions with time-sensitive start dates, as well as to prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing their 240-day work authorization limit dates. (more…)

Will Semiannual Reporting Soon Be a Reality for Public Companies?

Adult banking analyst in eyeglasses working at sunny office on laptop while sitting at wooden table.Businessman analyze document in his hands.Graphs and diagramm on notebook screen.Blurred background.

Photo credit: iStock.com/Pinkypills

By Blake Baron & David Gordon

Last week, the President said that in his discussions with the business community on ways to improve the business ecosystem, one particular idea was raised as a means to bolster business: move to a six-month financial reporting calendar from the current quarterly one.

Now, there is an argument to be made for such a move. One could say this would help deter “short-termism,” seeing as how companies would no longer need to focus on meeting analyst expectations on a quarterly basis at the expense of longer term thinking (not to mention this would save businesses time and money). In addition, some executives view quarterly reporting as one of the hindrances to going public and/or maintaining public company status and, as a result, have already been advocating for changes to be made to the current reporting schedule. (more…)

China 301 List 2 – Effective August 23, 2018

USA and Chinese flags on mountain signpost.

Photo credit: iStock.com/Darwel

By Susan Kohn Ross

USTR Lighthizer yesterday published notice that the 25% tariff on goods appearing on List 2 will become effective on August 23, 2018. For those who wonder if filing comments makes a difference, the answer is yes! In his announcement, USTR Lighthizer made the point the list dropped from 284 to 279 tariff items based on testimony and comments which had been received. None of this, of course, helps those companies which are taking a serious financial hit from these tariffs, but then once the official notice is published in the Federal Register, an exclusion request will be included, and so companies should be gearing up to do two things: (more…)

Brief Updates on China 301 List 3

By Susan Kohn Ross

On August 1, 2018, USTR Lighthizer issued a press release indicating he was following through with President Trump’s direction and will consider raising the rate of duty from 10% to 25% on those products on China 301 List 3. A formal notice in the Federal Register is expected soon.

Mr. Lighthizer also announced the written comment period is being extended to September 5, 2018, while the deadline to request to appear at the public hearing is changed to August 13, 2018. The hearing itself is still scheduled for August 20 to 23, 2018.

There is a new publication which appeared on the USTR website on August 2, 2018. In it, USTR clarifies the August 17, 2018 deadline for comments regarding products on the China 301 List 3 has also been extended to September 5, 2018.

8/7/18 UPDATE:

In the August 7, 2018 Federal Register, U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer published the latest official timeline for those planning to participate in the China 301 List 3 proceedings. The relevant dates are:

  • August 13, 2018 – due date for filing requests to be a witness and a summary of expected testimony;
  • August 20-23, 2018 – public hearing dates;
  • September 6, 2018 – due date of submission of comments and post-hearing rebuttal comments – this deadline was previously announced as September 5, 2018.

For those planning to participate in this part of the 301 case, these are the dates by which to be governed.

My H-1B Was Rejected In The Lottery! What Now?

Close-up detail of American VISA

Photo credit: iStock.com/AlxeyPnferov

By Benjamin Lau and John E. Exner IV

You did everything right. You got into the best school, you got the necessary work experience, you found an employer willing to sponsor you for an H-1B visa, and you filed on April 1. However, despite all your work, your case was not selected as part of this year’s H-1B lottery. Through forces beyond your control, you are now back to square one, wondering whether you must now leave the United States.

But wait! There may still be an alternative visa option available to you within the alphabet soup of U.S. work visas. So, before throwing in the towel and packing your bags, you may want to consider the list of alternative U.S. work visa categories below. One of these alternative visas may offer you the best chance for future employment in the United States – and while the list is not conclusive, it represents the most likely options for you to secure U.S. work authorization. (more…)