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Supreme Court to Review SEC Authority in Enforcement Actionsment

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.

Virtual Influencers Leave Unanswered Questions on FTC Act Compliance

Thanks to the continued prominence of social media in people’s daily lives, it is no surprise that more familiar marketing strategies such as celebrity product endorsements would update for the current era. Recently, social media advertising has practically entered the realm of science fiction with the introduction of computer-generated influencers. These avatars are created to sell, but who is responsible if they fail to comply with advertising laws?

Leasing Agents And The Fair Housing Act

At first glance, the Fair Housing Act is fairly straightforward: one must not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. These classes are protected by federal law and applicable universally in the United States of America. In practice, however, the fine line complying with FHA anti-discrimination laws and complying with internal leasing policies – aimed at protecting the company from high-risk renters — can be difficult to discern for apartment leasing agents.

Managing Human Resources and Compliance in the #MeToo Era

In October of 2017, the downfall of disgraced sexual harasser Harvey Weinstein made national news and started what is now popularized as the #MeToo movement. Since then, numerous people have come forward to share their stories of workplace harassment in various industries. This leaves those in the human resources and/or compliance departments with a two-fold task: (1) protecting their employees, and (2) protecting the organization from legal liability regarding sexual (and other forms of) harassment in the workplace.

The Shift from Sectoral to Comprehensive Data Protection in Thailand

Ever since the enactment of the General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union, data privacy and data protection have become a hot topic for businesses and countries around the world. In the digital age where personal data is constantly collected, processed, and used, the need for strong data collection regulations has never been more important. Many countries have begun to enact data protection laws, and the most recent addition to a comprehensive data protection act is seen in Thailand. On February 28th, 2019 Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly approved the very first comprehensive data protection law in the country, the Thailand Personal Data Protection Act, which will be effective after a one-year transition period to help ensure compliance.

The Many Ethical Questions Arising from the Conduct of Michael Avenatti

By now, Michael Avenatti is a household name. He shot to fame in 2018 while relentlessly representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her pursuit of the invalidation of a 2016 non-disclosure agreement regarding an alleged affair with President Donald Trump. Avenatti is famously brash and confrontational, and since his rapid rise to fame, numerous allegations of professional misconduct have come to the public’s attention. While he has avoided formal discipline thus far, it seems like only a matter of time until Avenatti faces some consequences for his actions.

Charitable Solicitation: Do Threatened Penalties and Sanctions Ever Actually Reach the Non-Profit Organizations Misappropriating Funds?

In order to operate, non-profit organizations rely heavily on the ability to fundraise. The government leaves the regulation of that “charitable solicitation” to individual states, with most requiring formal registration to engage in such activities. With firms vying for organizations’ business to hire consultants to obtain funds, and ethics and oversight firms highlighting the careful approaches that must be utilized to appropriately raise funds for non-profit operations, charitable organizations may find themselves confused and threatened in the space between needing charitable solicitation to survive and maintaining regulatory compliance to engage in the activity itself. While the threats of penalties and sanctions are large and imposing, it appears that few organizations ever face their true weight. Charitable organizations must, of course, comply with each state of registration, but is the fear instilled equal to the reality of the consequences of non-compliance?

The Issue with Attorney Conflicts of Interest in the Entertainment Industry

All attorneys, in every jurisdiction in which they are admitted to the bar and in every area of practice, have an obligation to comply with that jurisdiction’s Rules of Professional Conduct.  However, the past few decades have shed light on the unusual practices of attorneys in the entertainment industry, particularly on how they handle conflicts of interest.  Generally, these attorneys encourage clients to waive conflicts of interest, and those clients are all too happy to do so.  This practice only serves to further blur the lines in an already complicated area of legal ethics. 

Tax Compliance During the Partial Government Shutdown

On December 22, 2018, for the third time in a year, the United States government shut down. Almost two years into his presidency, President Trump, feeling pressure to accomplish one of his many promises from the campaign trail, requested $5.7 billionfrom Congress to fund his proposed wall at the border of the United States and Mexico. Following negotiation efforts by Senate Democrats, the standoff between the President and the Senate ended in a financial default, triggering a partial shutdown. The shutdown became the longest in U.S. history on January 19, 2019, beating the previous 21-day recordset by the 1995-1996 shutdown. The shutdown left an estimated 380,000 government employeeslocked out of work without pay and an even greater 420,000 employees working for no compensation at all, including employees of the IRS. With one of the United States’ most important governmental bodies being almost completely stalled by a lapse in funding, it begs the question: what happens to taxes during a shutdown?