In another attempt to stem sexual harassment in the workplace, legislation proposed in both the House and the Senate at the end of last month would require publicly traded companies to report information related to harassment or discrimination settlements and complaints in their SEC filings.  So far the measure lacks bipartisan support, but this latest proposed legislation is further evidence that workplace harassment and discrimination has lawmakers’ attention and will for a long time to come. 


Discrimination on the basis of an employee’s sexual orientation has long been illegal under the New York Human Rights Law, but not under federal Title VII.  However, that all changed in February 2018 when the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed its prior decisions and found that Title VII does bar sexual orientation. 


During the lifetimes of most married couples, especially when a child is involved, mutual estate planning is done so as to ensure that if one spouse passes away, the deceased spouse’s assets pass to the surviving spouse.  Generally speaking, this is a sound planning strategy; unfortunately, if a marriage ends in divorce, each person will effectively have to update and/or revise their respective estate planning strategies.

Updating Planning Documents


Earlier this month, 56 attorneys general of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands implored Congress in a letter to prohibit mandatory arbitration clauses of workplace sexual harassment claims and allow victims to have their day in court.  The letter also frowned upon the secrecy requirements of arbitration clauses, which “disserve the public interest by keeping both the harassment complaints and any settlements confidential.” 


The state and federal discrimination laws prohibiting unequal treatment based on protected categories, such as age, race, sex etc., apply only to employees, and thus not to owners, members or partners of a business. However, in several cases across the country involving law firms, this precept has become much more complicated as courts have begun to consider what type of owner or partner a person is before deciding whether he/she should be covered by the broad definition of employee within the discrimination laws.


President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (the Act) into law on December 22, 2017, extensively modifying U.S. taxation laws for individuals and business. Among other things, the Act increases the applicable exclusion amount of the Federal estate, gift and generation skipping transfer tax from $5 million per individual, indexed annually for inflation, to $10 million in 2018 (the inflation adjusted exemption amount is expected to be approximately $11.2 million or $22.4 million for married couples).


Recently, we’ve been warning employers that in order to have a legally compliant unpaid internship available, certain specific conditions had to be met.  If those conditions were not met, employers ran the risk of facing liability for unpaid wages for someone they classified as an unpaid intern.  The factors that have been in place until this month are as follows:


The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law on December 22, 2017, represents the most significant change to the U.S. Tax Code in more than three decades.  Among the changes is an increase of the federal estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax exemption limits for the years 2018 through 2025.


In another pro-business move from the Trump Administration, the United States Department of Labor announced last summer that it would resume issuing opinion letters offering interpretive guidance under the Fair Labor Standards Act, a practice that had been suspended during the Obama administration. 


As we enter the new year, the number of Americans who rely on electronic devices and online accounts in their everyday life has never been higher, and it continues to rise! Many of us own assets that exist only in electronic form or are stored on electronic devices, including online banking accounts and social media accounts. Consequently, we have to ask ourselves - what happens if we can’t access our accounts because we are incapacitated, or if we die?