MSK Blog

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

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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

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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…)

2017 and 2018 EEO-1 Pay Data Reporting Requirements Due September 30th

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By Bethanie Thau

Why This Matters

In early March, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia revived an Obama-era rule that requires larger companies to report workers’ pay data broken down by gender, race, and ethnicity. Last week, the Court issued an order requiring employers to submit 2018 EEO-1 pay data by September 30, 2019. Just this morning, the EEOC announced it will also collect 2017 data. This means that employers with 100 or more employees (and federal contractors with 50 or more employees) will be required to report their employees’ 2017 and 2018 W-2 compensation information and hours worked by the September deadline. The deadline to submit all other EEO-1 data, such as race and gender information, remains May 31, 2019. (more…)

The United States Finalizes Its Welcome Notice to Israeli Investors: E-2 Visas Available in May

Global business concept.

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By John E. Exner IV and Frida P. Glucoft

Pursuant to a recent announcement by the U.S. Embassy in Israel, E-2 Investor visas will be available to Israeli citizens starting May 1, 2019.  While the bill granting Israeli citizens eligibility for the United States E-2 Treaty Investor visa was signed into law in 2012, the availability of visas was delayed by lengthy negotiations over the final terms of the reciprocal agreement between Israel and the United States.  Fortunately, the terms of the reciprocal agreement between the two countries have now been finalized, allowing for the issuance of E-2 investor visas to Israel citizens starting in May.

The E-2 investor visa is available to citizens of qualifying countries who are actively engaged in the development and direction of a United States enterprise. In order to qualify for the E-2 visa, the foreign investor must have already invested, or be in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital into the United States company. Although the list of qualifying nations for the E-2 visa includes over 70 countries, that list did not include Israel – until now. (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…)

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

Photo credit: iStock.com/thitivong

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…)

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…)