China 301 Tariffs Took Effect – What Happens Next?

China tariffs

Photo credit: iStock.com/ANNECORDON

By Susan Kohn Ross

The U.S. Trade Representative (“USTR”) issued a press release on July 6, 2018 in which the process companies can use to seek exclusion from the 25% tariff imposed on the same day on goods from China was announced. The timeline requires all original exclusion requests to be filed by October 9, 2018. Each will be reviewed to insure completeness and will then be posted for public review, and 14 days from the date of any posting, all objections are due. No more than 7 days later, any applicant may file its reply. All such submissions are filed through regulations.gov and must reference Docket No. USTR-2018-0025. (more…)

California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 – GDPR Lite?

By Susan Kohn Ross and Aaron Wais

In a compromise to avoid a ballot measure, at the very last moment on the very last day, just before the stroke of midnight, on June 29, 2018, the California legislature passed and Governor Brown signed into law the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (the “Act”), which takes effect on January 1, 2020. Many of its provisions are similar to the General Data Protection Regulations (“GDPR”), which took effect in Europe at the end of May, and required companies to institute new internal data privacy regimes. So, while those companies which prepared for the GDPR are well on their way to gaining compliance with this new law, there is still much to be done by them and especially those companies which were not impacted by the GDPR. (more…)

NLRB General Counsel Issues Pro-Employer Guidance Regarding Workplace Rules

By Erica Parks

On June 6, the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) Office of the General Counsel issued Memorandum 18-04, titled “Guidance on Handbook Rules Post-Boeing.”  In it, the NLRB’s General Counsel (GC), provided guidance to the NLRB’s regional offices regarding how to analyze the legality of common employer policies in light of the NLRB’s decision in The Boeing Company, 365 NLRB No. 154 (December 14, 2017).  The Boeing decision and the GC’s memo represent a pro-employer shift away from the NLRB’s decidedly more pro-employee positions during the Obama administration.

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To Tariff or Not to Tariff – That Is The Question!

By Susan Kohn Ross

In the current tit for tat environment that overhangs international trade, below is an update regarding the 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum, the 301 tariffs related to China’s intellectual property rights and other business practices, and the 232 tariffs threatened on automobiles and parts.

Steel and Aluminum Tariffs:

As everyone by now knows, effective March 23, 2018, the U.S. imposed a 25% tariff on selected steel products and a 10% tariff on selected aluminum products.  The basis for this action was a finding by the Dept. of Commerce that foreign competition had essentially undermined U.S. steel and aluminum production capabilities and so triggered national security concerns.  In this context national security equates to economic security.  The shorthand reference in this context is 232, the section of the law -The Trade Expansion Act of 1962 – under which the Administration acted. (more…)

California Court of Appeal Provides New Guidance on Meaning of “To Employ” Workers

By Samantha Becker

Recently, in Curry v. Equilon Enterprises LLC, the California Court of Appeal ruled that a wage and hour class action against Shell Oil could not proceed because the service station manager bringing the suit was not a Shell employee.  Rather, the manager was employed by ARS, the company that contracted with Shell to operate the station.

Similar to a franchisor-franchisee relationship, ARS had a contract with Shell to operate multiple gas stations.  The plaintiff managed two locations.  She was hired by ARS, trained by ARS employees, reported to ARS employees, and supervised ARS employees.  ARS paid plaintiff and made all disciplinary and promotional decisions regarding her employment.  Plaintiff brought a class-action suit against ARS and Shell, claiming she and other managers were misclassified as exempt employees, denied overtime pay and denied meal and rest breaks. The plaintiff also claimed that ARS and Shell were joint employers. (more…)

25% Tariff Imposed on Chinese Goods

port

Photo credit: iStock.com/nattanan726

By Susan Kohn Ross

The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) today issued two lists of products on which the U.S. seeks to impose tariffs on goods made in China at a 25% rate. The lists together cover 1,102 tariff lines valued at approximately $50 billion. According to the USTR’s release, the list of products settled on was intended to focus on “products from industrial sectors that contribute to or benefit from the ‘Made in China 2025’ industrial policy,” and include aerospace, information and communications technology, robotics, industrial machinery, new materials and automobiles. Cellular telephones and televisions are not included. (more…)

California Courts of Appeal Pave the Way for More PAGA Claims

By Brett Thomas

The California Court of Appeal recently issued two employee-friendly rulings regarding the California Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), which further expand PAGA’s reach.  PAGA is part of the California Labor Code and authorizes individuals to bring representative actions against employers to recover civil penalties for violations of the California Labor Code.

In the first, Huff v. Securitas Security Services USA, Inc., a California Court of Appeal addressed the issue of whether a plaintiff who brings a PAGA representative action may seek penalties not only for the Labor Code violation that affected him or her, but also for different Labor Code violations that affected other employees.  The Court held that PAGA allows a plaintiff to pursue penalties for all the Labor Code violations committed by that employer that affected any employee, provided that the plaintiff must have been affected by at least one Labor Code violation.  In other words, a plaintiff who brings a representative action under PAGA may seek penalties for violations that he or she did not even suffer.  (more…)