In September, the Department of Labor announced a final revised “Overtime Rule” set to take effect on January 1, 2020, that raises the “standard-salary level” from $455 to $684 weekly to an annual total of $35,568. This will entitle anyone making less than this standard salary to receive fifty percent more in hourly wages for any hours worked in excess of forty in one week because they are no longer “exempted” from the overtime pay requirement in the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Rule is expected to allow 1.3 million previously-exempt workers access to overtime pay. Workers who make more than this threshold can still receive overtime pay if their roles do not include substantial decision making such as administrative, professional, or executive jobs.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) the organic food market is experiencing double-digit growth in recent years. Despite the list of reasons that bump up the cost of organic foods, consumers are increasingly willing to pay a premium. Unfortunately for consumers, the weak, unclear, and sometimes non-existent labeling regulations imposed on organic products means that they may not be getting what they think they are paying for.
As the holiday season fast approaches, many Americans are busy planning celebrations with friends and family and shopping for the perfect gift for their loved ones. We often stress about holiday parties and travel arrangements. For many of us, however, our impact on the environment during this time is not of great importance. Unfortunately, during this time, both household and commercial waste increases at often due to online shipments. The convenience of internet shopping, especially around the holidays, packs an environmental punch. As consumers, we must be cognizant of this impact when we decide to purchase online. Not only must we be aware of our own consumption, we must also consider the awareness and efforts of e-commerce platforms to address environmental concerns during this busy time.
The rapid evolution of electronic health records has dramatically changed the healthcare system in the past two decades. Healthcare organizations, both large and small, have transitioned from paper records to hybrid records, and then finally, for many organizations, to completely electronic data. In 2009, the American Reinvestment & Recovery Act (ARRA) created the federal “Meaningful Use” program. This program essentially amounted to a significant government subsidy for practices transitioning to electronic health records and provided funding for organizations to purchase electronic health records subscriptions from health information technology companies in exchange for complete adoption, implementation, and the regular development of quality reporting measures using the new software.
If you are a law student, lawyer, or have any association with lawyers, you have likely heard of the American Bar Association (ABA). The ABA has a great deal of influence in the legal profession, politics, the corporate world, and beyond. Recently, the ABA made headlines after a judicial nominee cried to the Senate during his Senate Committee hearing. This was, in part, due to the ABA’s influence. An ABA evaluator sent a scathing letter to the committee, putting into question the nominee’s character. This letter came under attack by Republicans for its alleged biased and untruthful nature. Despite the dividing nature of the letter, the ABA’s impact is undeniable.
The use of facial recognition technology in the commercial context generates numerous consumer privacy concerns. As technology becomes increasingly present in many aspects of our life, regulations on states and federal level are struggling to catch up. Currently, only three states (Illinois, Washington, and Texas) implemented biometric privacy laws, and only Illinois grants individuals with a private right of action.
On October 25, 2019, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) unanimously voted to begin changing the rule to allow colleges athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness. This progressive move is a big deal for the organization, which has previously kept an extremely firm line between amateurism and professionalism for their athletes. Despite opposition by some to change the current model, public opinion is strongly in favor of these types of changes.
The Supreme Court has granted certiorari to consider whether the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has the authority to obtain disgorgement in district court actions. Disgorgement is the repayment of “ill-gotten gains” imposed as a court sanction to recover funds that were received through illegal or unethical business transactions. These recovered or disgorged funds are paid back with interest to those who the practice affected. Each year, the SEC obtains billions of dollars in disgorgement, so an adverse ruling by the Supreme Court could eliminate one of the SEC’s most important remedies for securities violations. In 2018, for example, the agency returned $794 million to harmed investors.
Earlier in 2019, a lawsuit was filed against University of Chicago Medicine, University of Chicago Medical Center, and Google. The suit claims that patient information was shared with google as part of a study aimed to advance the use of Artificial Intelligence, however, patient authorization was not obtained and the data used was not properly de-identified. In 2017, University of Chicago (UChicago) Medicine started sending patient data to Google as part of a project to look to see if historical health record data could be used to predict future medical events.
The annual Illinois School Report Cards under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) were released on October 30. The report cards are now focused on student growth under ESSA which was signed into law four years ago. This will be the second Report Card released in Illinois under the new reporting guidelines under ESSA that requires states to evaluate schools on a variety of indicators of success, rather than just by student achievement. These report cards will rank schools from “Exemplary” to “Lowest-Performing” and report school spending this year as well as student performance data.