Constitutional Law Authority Sujit Choudhry Attends Workshop in Ukraine

Despite the controversy that swirled around the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the transition of power unfolded smoothly on Inauguration Day. This reflects the ongoing power and resiliency of the United States Constitution, which is regarded by many to be among the finest documents of its type ever produced. In fact, it is so highly regarded that countries around the world turn to it when seeking to transition to democratic governments. That is the case regarding the Ukraine, which since the fall of communism has famously struggled to strike an even keel with the balance of power in its government. Recently, comparative constitutional law expert Sujit Choudhry attended a workshop in Kiev, Ukraine, to discuss the challenges that the country is facing.

The workshop took place in Kiev, Ukraine, on July 10. In addition to Sujit Choudhry, numerous constitutional scholars were there to assist. The main topic of interest was the semi-presidential system of government of the Ukraine and the resulting constitutional challenges that are faced by the fledgling democracy. Ultimately, the discussion revolved around finding ways to improve governmental processes in Ukraine. With so many renowned minds in one room, it is safe to say that a lot of headway was made.

The attendance list for the Kiev workshop is a veritable who’s-who of constitutional law expertise. In attendance were Sergyi Holovatyi, who is a member of the Constitutional Commission of Ukraine as well as the Venice Commission; Sumit Bisarya of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, or International IDEA; Vladimir Vasilenko, who represents Ukraine on the United Nations Human Rights council; Viktor Musiaka, who is a representative of the president in Supreme Council 1996; and Thomas Sidelius of Dalarna University. The workshop was hosted by the Center of Policy and Legal Reform, which is a major Ukraine think tank, as well as International IDEA, which supports sustainable democracy around the world.

A variety of topics were discussed during the workshop, which was regarded as being highly productive. More than anything else, discussion focused on the ongoing instability of democratization in Ukraine, which has mostly been an issue because of the concentration of power in the presidency. Unlike the U.S., then, the country doesn’t have a balanced system of checks and balances, so democratic policies are more difficult to implement.

The scholars and experts, including Sujit Choudhry, also discussed the separation of powers within the dual executive branch. The government of Ukraine does not have just a president; it has a prime minister as well, so that is another way in which the government of this country differs from that of the United States. Another issue that was discussed to a great extent was the fact that the political parties of Ukraine are very weak. As a result, it is difficult for citizens to know parties’ stances on issues, and many other problems arise. The electoral system for the legislature of the country is also a major issue, and the experts focused on this one for a while as well.

As founding director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions, Sujit Choudhry has a unique understanding of the issues that are currently being faced by the Ukraine. The Center for Constitutional Transitions is currently conducting research into semi-presidentialism and constitutional instability in Ukraine. Ever since communism fell, the country has struggled to implement an effective democratic government. The legislature has overwhelmingly been far too weak, and the president has had far too much power. The organization hopes that its research will provide much-needed guidance to the country to help it establish a strong democratic government.

Ultimately, the goal of both the Center for Constitutional Transitions and those who gathered in Kiev on July 10 is to help Ukraine to develop a strong semi-presidential system of government. The work will not be easy to achieve, however, as the process has been underway for more than two decades already and very little real progress has been made. With so many great minds working on the issue, however, it is hoped that some real progress will be made in the very near future.

Scholars and researchers who have been working on this issue, both at the workshop in Kiev and at the Center for Constitutional Transitions, which is helmed by Sujit Choudhry, have identified many potential options that could help to establish a secure semi-presidential system in the country. This is an important and even crucial goal for a number of reasons, including:

  • To produce a strong, effective legislature that can exercise oversight over the president and the government as a whole. This will help to strike a better balance of power, which will facilitate the process of building a strong democratic government.
  • To facilitate an effective sharing of power between the president and the prime minister of the country. Up until now, far too much power has been concentrated in the office of the president, and this is one of the many reasons why Ukraine has struggled so much.
  • To ensure limited presidential power. When the president has an excessive amount of power, true democracy is impossible, and the country suffers.
  • To develop a government that is strengthened by presidential leadership during crises. Otherwise, the country flounders when major catastrophes occur, and the democratization process is weakened and threatened.

Sujit Choudhry was a welcome addition to the special workshop that was held in Kiev on July 10. An expert on comparative constitutional law, Choudhry holds law degrees from the University of Toronto, Oxford University and Harvard University. He also served as law clerk to Chief Justice Antonio Lamer of the Supreme Court of Canada. As the founder of the Center for Constitutional Transitions, Sujit Choudhry has played an instrumental role in constitution building processes of countries around the world. The organization has more than 50 experts in more than 25 nations. Right now, it is co-leading three collaborative global research projects, including the one about semi-presidentialism in Ukraine.

Throughout his storied career, Sujit Choudhry has published nearly 100 book chapters, reports, articles and papers. Today, he serves as the I. Michael Heyman Professor of Law at the University of California and Berkeley School of Law. Choudhry is currently a member of the scientific advisory board of the International Journal of Constitutional Law; the executive committee of the International Society of Public Law, or ICONS; the editorial board of Constitutional Court Review; the international advisory council of the Institute for Integrated Transitions, or IFIT; and the editorial advisory board of Cambridge Studies in Constitutional Law. Without question, Choudhry will continue to play an active role in the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

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Online Law

One of the biggest issues facing the field of law today is how to deal with online harassment. Over the past few years, the number of cases in this area has increased greatly. There are many people who are struggling to understand all of the issues in this area.

If you are the victim of online harassment, it is difficult to track down the people who are responsible for harassing you. The good news is that new technology is coming out to help police in this area. For the people who work in the legal field, it is vital to understand everything that victims are going through when you are helping them with their case. Here are some of the most important aspects of online harassment for people in the legal profession.

Online Harassment

Many people go to their lawyer for legal advice in a number of areas. It is important to work on a plan with your clients that makes sense with their situation. Online harassment is growing every year, and many people do not know how to prevent it.

The first thing to do with clients is to understand their history and background. If they have an idea of who is doing the online harassment, it is vital to tell police. A lot of people who are being harassed do not want to go the police because they think it will only make the situation worse. It is hard to fight back against someone you cannot see.

Legal Advice Online

One area of opportunity for many people in the legal field is to give advice online. There are a lot of people who need legal help who would rather have their question answered online than go to someone in person.

Many lawyers are struggling to pay off their debt from school while growing their business. If you want to take your legal business to a new level, this is a great area to concentrate on. Legal issues are going to persist in the online space until more legislation is passed.

 

The Details of O.J. Simpson’s Recent Parole Hearing

Orenthal James Simpson, often shortened to O.J. Simpson, was recently granted parole at his hearing on Thursday, July 20th. Simpson has requested to be released in the state of Florida to fulfill his upcoming parole agreements’ requirements of living near a support system consisting of close friends and family to help him stay out of trouble. The state of Nevada has submitted documentation to Florida’s Department of Corrections, of which the Sunshine State has 45 days to reply. He is expected to be released as soon as October 1st, although the date isn’t set in stone.

The former football standout made headlines in 1994 for his alleged involvement in the double murder of his former wife Nicole Brown and suspected romantic partner Ron Goldman. Shortly after the murder occurred, the Los Angeles Police Department requested that Simpson turn himself in to authorities. His failure to do so resulted in one of television’s most-watched live news stories, millions of Americans watching as it unfolded. Simpson drove his infamous white Ford Bronco across California, followed by a wealth of police cruisers and helicopters. He drove until he nearly ran out of gas, finally parking at his place of residence in Brentwood, California.

Although Juice Simpson gained notorious fame from that incident, his recent parole grant was unrelated, instead linked to a 2007 incident at a Las Vegas hotel. Simpson was supposed to purchase sports memorabilia that he formerly owned from an established dealer. He brought along several associates, helping the USC Trojans, 49ers, and Bills standout forcefully take hundreds of items he used to own. O.J. Simpson was convicted of an astounding thirteen charges, the most serious of which were kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, and conspiracy.

Simpson was sentenced to 33 years of incarceration at Lovelace Correctional Center in the desert hills of Nevada for that 2007 incident. In Thursday’s parole hearing, O.J. appeared over a live video stream to a Nevada parole board consisting of four members. They inquired about what Simpson learned from his actions, why he stole the items, and what he plans to do upon release.

O.J. Simpson showed absolutely zero remorse for his actions in the hearing. However, remorse isn’t considered in Nevada for granting parole, instead looking at other criteria like past behavior during incarceration. The former athletic star exhibited a range of behaviors in his testimony, ranging from defensive to comedic, before being granted parole.

He shouted “Oh, God, oh!” as he left the hearing, excited to soon be a free man.

End Citizens United Denounces Republican Efforts to Gut The Johnson Amendment

Last week, the US House Appropriations Committee rejected a proposal to remove a controversial rider from a spending bill that restricts enforcement of the Johnson Amendment. According to End Citizens United, a political action committee that advocates for campaign finance reform, the decision gives a green light for special interest groups to, “manipulate churches and funnel secret political money through the pulpit.”

The Johnson Amendment is a provision in the US tax code that forbids 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, which include most churches, from endorsing or opposing political candidates. It was proposed in 1954 by Lyndon B. Johnson, who was a senator of Texas at the time.

The amendment has long been a sore spot for some conservatives, which is why President Donald Trump made repealing it a campaign promise. Repealing the Johnson Amendment would require an act of Congress, which is hard to come by these days, so opponents of the rule are looking for other ways to undermine its enforcement.

Rather than outright repeal, house republicans have included a rider in a spending bill that forbids the IRS from using funds to investigate churches for violations of the Johnson Amendment. Exceptions can be made by the IRS commissioner, who must report to Congress about all such investigations. Despite attempts from opponents to remove the language from the bill, the committee voted 28-24 to keep the controversial rider.

How is the Johnson Amendment Enforced?

Churches and other similar nonprofit organizations can engage in some political activities, such as voter registration drives, but the Johnson Amendment forbids endorsements of specific parties or candidates. The amendment was famously invoked in 1992 when a church had its tax-exempt status revoked for taking out a full-page ad in USA Today that implored Christians to vote against then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton.

Today, however, the IRS rarely investigates churches for political activities, and some pastors don’t shy away from voicing their political opinions from the pulpit. Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative advocacy group, sponsors a campaign called Pulpit Freedom Sunday that encourages pastors to openly flout the law in protest. Although the IRS has audited at least one of the thousands of participating churches, no penalties have been issued. Nonetheless, the new language would make it almost impossible for the IRS to penalize churches for funneling money from their congregations to political campaigns.

What do Americans Think About the Johnson Amendment?

Among American voters, there isn’t an overwhelming consensus on the issue of religion in politics. A 2016 Pew Research Center survey found that 66 percent of Americans are uncomfortable with the thought of churches endorsing candidates, but a vocal minority of conservative Christians believe that the Johnson Amendment restricts freedom of speech.

Some religious group are actually adamant about maintaining the Johnson Amendment. Dozens of nonprofit organizations including the Episcopal Church, the American Jewish Committee, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty co-signed a letter to the House Appropriations Committee voicing opposition to the measure.

“Weakening current law would allow politicians and others seeking political power to pressure churches for endorsements,” the letter states.

What do Experts say About the Johnson Amendment?

Charles Haynes, a religious freedom historian at Washington DC’s Newseum, told the Washington Post that the language, “puts a further chilling effect on any attempts by IRS staff to enforce the Johnson Amendment with respect to pulpit speech.” However, the problem doesn’t stop at speech.

“At its worst, the provision keeps IRS staff from doing its job to prevent charitable donations to flow to political campaigns,” Haynes says.

While the Johnson Amendment forbids any nonprofit group from endorsing candidates, the language in the spending bill specifically exempts religious organizations from such oversight. Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, told the Washington Post that giving religious organizations preferential treatment violates the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Tiffany Muller, who is the President and Executive Director of End Citizens United, released a statement condemning the House Appropriation Committee for restricting enforcement of the Johnson Amendment.

“The Johnson Amendment has been critical to ensuring churches and charities can carry out their missions free from manipulation of Big Money special interests and partisan politics,” said Muller. “Today, extreme House Republicans approved a rider in a must-pass bill that leaves churches vulnerable to being used as tools of political mega-donors looking to push their agenda.”

About End Citizens United

End Citizens United was founded in 2015 to counter the effects of the landmark 2010 Supreme Court case that allowed corporations to make unlimited undisclosed donations to political candidates. It uses grassroots tactics to support candidates who are committed to reforming campaign finance law. By raising awareness of the issue of money in politics, End Citizens United advocates for legislation that will limit the flow of dark money to campaigns.

Mathematics, Law, Business, and Charity: The Unique American Dream of Tony Petrello

It’s an understatement to say that Tony Petrello’s career has been one of great success. After all, in 2015, Tony Petrello was one of the highest-compensated CEOs in the U.S. Tony’s many achievements have been the products of natural gifts, consistent hard work, and creative thinking.

It’s also important to note the ways in which Tony has given back to society, particularly how he’s worked to help children with neurological disorders. For sure, his life is worthy of admiration and emulation.

A Remarkable Student

Tony grew up in Newark, N.J., where he attended public schools. When he was in high school, he was famous in his hometown for his amazing math abilities. Yale University took notice, and it awarded Tony a scholarship and the opportunity to be mentored by Serge Lang. Lang was a brilliant mathematician, author, and professor.

At Yale, from which he would receive his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, he became known for his outgoing personality and strong sense of humor. Plus, Yale changed Tony Petrello’s life in a special way. It was there that he met Cynthia, his beloved wife. Cynthia would go on to become a dancer, a movie and TV actress, and a soap opera producer.

After graduating from Yale, Tony Petrello surprised many of his professors and classmates when he decided not to become a mathematician. Rather, he enrolled in Harvard Law School.

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Law or Business?

In 1979, Tony Petrello joined Baker & McKenzie, a major American law firm. There, he specialized in business law, especially taxation and arbitration. In 1986, he became a managing partner of its New York division.

At Baker & McKenzie, Tony Petrello worked with a client by the name of Nabors Industries. Nabors drills for oil and natural gas on land, and it’s the largest such company on Earth.

Managers at Nabors were so impressed by Tony’s efforts and powers of analysis that they began trying to hire him away. Well, those lobbying efforts paid off. A budding mathematician turned corporate attorney was headed for a new career. He was to become a business executive.

Thus, after he’d lived in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York, Tony Petrello was off to make his residence in an entirely new place: Texas. The Lone Star State is his home to this day.

Life at Nabors and Beyond

In 1991, Tony Petrello began serving as Nabors’ Chief Operating Officer. The same year, he took a seat on the board of directors as well as the board’s executive committee. Then, in 1992, he became the president. His achievements in those positions were undeniably helpful in terms of building up the company. For instance, in 1993, Tony Petrello helped direct a $32 million purchase of a firm called Grace Drilling. Also, a much larger transaction in 2010 brought Superior Well Services under Nabors’ corporate umbrella.

Since October 28, 2011, Tony Petrello has been Nabors’ CEO. On top of that, in June 2012, he was named the chairman of the board as well as chairman of the board’s executive committee.

By common acclaim, Tony Petrello’s leadership at Nabors has been top-notch. During the past six years, he’s allowed the company to keep growing and thriving in an industry where the competition is intense, to say the least, at all times. Indeed, Tony Petrello is extremely adept at day-to-day management tasks as well as the creation of long-term strategic visions.

In addition to his many duties at Nabors, Tony Petrello has been a director at MediaOnDemand.com, and today, he’s a director at Hilcorp Energy Company. What’s more, since February 28, 2011, he’s served as a director at Stewart & Stevenson.

An Extraordinary Philanthropist

In the late 1990s, Tony and Cynthia Petrello had a daughter named Carena. At birth, she weighed 20 ounces, and she suffered from cerebral palsy. Carena wouldn’t be able to eat solid foods until she was about 7 years old.

Tony Petrello wanted to help other children with neurological conditions. Therefore, he donated $7 million to the Texas Children’s Hospital, and he also took a seat on its board of trustees. The hospital was able to put that money toward the construction of a complex dedicated to pediatric neurological care. It’s called the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute, and it’s a cutting-edge institution. The Institute treats children from across the country and the globe, and it’s provided hope to countless families.

Over time, Tony Petrello has used his business acumen to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in charitable donations to this cause, and those efforts are ongoing.

Finally, Tony Petrello is quick to credit luck for many of his accomplishments. However, his friends, his family members, his colleagues, and everyone who’s gotten to know Tony’s powerful work ethic and big heart realize that good fortune is only one small aspect of his amazing life story.

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Court Rules against the Slashing of Civil Servant’s Redundancy Payment

The controversial caps placed on civil servant’s redundancy payment has been considered unlawful by a recent court review. The Guardian reported that the new ruling left the government in a tough situation as many civil servants are filing for compensation.

The redundancy payment had been cut in November 2016 by the ministers in the Cabinet Office. The policy also saw the banning of early access to pensions by public sector employees.

However, the court made a review on the case and ruled that the cuts were unlawful. This is because the Cabinet Office had failed to confer with the trade union on the decision to slash off the payments.

The recent court ruling is now expected to leave the government susceptible to legal confrontations from most of the civil servants who had accepted the payment reduction terms. Theresa May’s government, for instance, is expected to receive the biggest blow since it had been under pressure for failing to remove the public sector pay cap.

After adoption of the new scheme, PCS union was rather unhappy and immediately began to battle the case in court. This uproar was fueled by a piece of advice from the CSCS, who claimed that the enforcement of the payment caps was unlawful. After this advisory, the union which consists of 160,000 members called for a judicial review in February. The appeal was heard in court on 4th through to 5th of July this year. The discussion was presided over by Lord Justice Sales and Mrs. Justice Whipple.

When asked to comment, a PCS spokesman uttered that he felt the ruling was clear, and that the caps had to be removed. He further said that the union didn’t care much on whether or not the government should begin consultation on the ruling once again.

The union claimed that the court hadn’t consulted with the employees’ representatives before ruling in favor of the redundancy pay cut bill. They also said that this ruling was illegal because it would unlawfully interfere with public sector employees’ possessions (redundancy fees). Slashing off the payments without the union’s consent was considered as going against the equality duty of the public sector.

In their defense, the Counsel of the Cabinet Office stated that even if they had consulted with the union, the ruling would have been the same. Based on the former ruling, a public worker with thirty years of service and earns an annual salary of £30,000 would receive £45,000 rather than the usual £52,500. Consequently, those with 20 years of service earning £15,000 annually would be entitled to £28,161 instead of £38,333.

Arizona’s Ban On Ethnic Studies Heads For The Courts

Immigration laws have been a source of contention for many decades. Some people argue in favor of laws that are more lax. They say the country needs more people and that all should be allowed to come here. Others argue that the country should have laws that stricter and focus primarily on skills and education rather than merely inviting any given able bodied person to America. In Arizona, this issue has been of particular concern. As a state bordering Mexico, many residents fear being swallowed up by the large neighbor just to the south. In response to this issues, efforts have been put forth to urge those settling in the state from Mexico to assimilate into the broader American culture.

A New Law

In 2010, the Arizona governor and other state officials decided to take action against the perception that perhaps more needs to be done in order to encourage unity. Jan Brewer, a highly popular governor, signed a bill called HB 2281 into law. This law mandates what can and cannot be taught in the local public schools in Arizona. The law states that all state public school districts are not allowed to offer what has been deemed ethnic studies classes to their students. The aim of the law is to prevent teachers from teaching children classes that state officials feel promotes ethnic solidarity rather than suggesting that all pupils are individuals with widely differing needs. The law is actually aimed at a specific part of the curriculum that has been in place in one specific school district.

Tucson School District

The subject of the lawsuit is one that is based on Mexican-American studies program. This program has been taught many Tucson public schools for over two decades without comments. Many of those who are in favor of this program have argued that it enables students in the area to improve their self-esteem and do far better in school. They have also argued that this program should be retained. However, in the last seven years the program has been a source of contention for legislators who feel that it does not help students or the overall goal of the state in regards to assimilation into the broader culture.

Back In The Court System

Since that time, the court system has taken the issue in question under consideration. The issue is back in the court system right now. Federal courts in Arizona have taken up this case and expected to issue a ruling soon. Many Republicans support the legislation as they feel this law is a source of problems in the Hispanic community and teaches Latinos to view those who are not Latinos as their enemies. Others feel that it helps students by linking them to a culture that many find familiar and comforting. They argue that those students who take it have better test scores and a lower high school drop out rate. They also argue that the law is not constitutional and will not stand up in court.

Job Market for Law Students

At one time, becoming a lawyer was one of the best careers that anyone could choose. However, many law students today are graduating into a market that is saturated with new graduates. This is concerning for several reasons. First of all, some people are not going to be able to land jobs in their field. In addition, this is going to prevent people from joining the field in the future as wages go down.

Law school costs a lot of money to complete. With some of the changes that are taking place in the market today, many people are struggling to get to a new level. The worst combination is a bad job market with a lot of debt. Here are some of the issues that law students are facing.

Debt

One of the biggest issues with going to law school is all of the debt that students take on. There are a lot of students today who are graduating with record levels of debt. The good thing about becoming a lawyer is that the starting salaries are usually really high. This makes the payoff process a lot easier in the future.

The problem is that many students are not getting those jobs that they did in the past. Many students cannot afford to buy a home or start a family. There is an entire generation of people who are now stuck financially because of what is going on in the job market. In the coming years, it is vital for law schools to start addressing these issues.

Finding a Job

It can be difficult to find a job in this field. However, there are several things that you can do today to stand out from other job candidates. In the coming years, the jobs problem is only going to get worse. Students should start working in an internship as soon as they can in order to have success landing a job after graduation. Getting practical experience is one of the best things that anyone can do during this time.

Future Trends

The trends in the legal job field look bleak. A lot of students who are currently in school are looking for other careers to take on. With all of the changes happening today, it is vital for students to continue looking for ways to improve their financial position by landing a great job in their chosen field.

Ref: https://www.alanet.org/career-center/career-resources-and-articles/articles-from-robert-half-legal/2017-legal-job-market

Hawaiian Federal Judge Revises Travel Ban

A Hawaiian federal judge recently revised the ‘family relationships’ clause of the President’s travel ban. Less than thirty days ago, the US Supreme Court voted unanimously that the President had the Constitutional authority to use executive orders to impose a travel ban that the administration believed was in the best interest of national security. The travel ban restricts travel from six countries: Libya, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Yemen, and Somalia. The only exceptions to the ban are travelers who have what the Supreme Court called a “bona fide relationship” with someone in the United States. The language was intentionally vague and received additional clarity from Hawaii’s Judge Derrick Watson.

The Trump administration’s initial definition of bona fide relationships included only immediate family members, such as parents or brothers and sisters. Pushing back against the administration’s definition, Watson argued that relationships such as grandparents, grandchildren, and other blood relatives like aunts and uncles, should also be exempted if those people already live in the United States.

Hawaii made headlines earlier this year by being the first to oppose travel restrictions brought on by the Trump administration. The state’s Attorney General, Doug Chin, said that the state’s tourism industry would suffer greatly if travel restrictions were levied. Not only is tourism the largest revenue generator for Hawaiian residents and business owners, it also generates huge tax revenues for the state.

Attorney General Chin released a statement following the revisions made to the travel ban that states his opposition to the administration’s scope of the previous version of the plan. “Family members have been separated and real people have suffered enough. Courts have found that this executive order has no basis in stopping terrorism.”

The revised ban will take effect immediately. While the original case addressed whether the White House had the authority to issue executive orders that it believed would protect national security, the Supreme Court will address the Constitutionality of the contents of the travel ban later this year.

Jeremy Goldstein Explains The Mystery Of Severance Pay

In today’s unpredictable and competitive employment market, one common concern among employees everywhere is severance pay. Although many people believe that professional jobs automatically come with severance pay, this is not always the case. For those who are job hunting or are concerned about being fired from a professional job, it is important to understand how severance pay works and when it is applicable.

 

 

Severance Pay And The Law

Not all companies are not required by law to provide severance pay. If an employee leaves a job voluntarily, the Fair Labor Standards Act mandates that the worker must be paid his or her wages through the date of completion. Also, the worker is entitled to be paid for any vacation accrual. A severance sum is not mandated by the FLSA. Employers may offer severance pay if they choose to do so. It may be offered to employees on a certain level or all employees of a company. If severance is paid, it is often paid through an agreement between the employee and the employer or a union.

 

In the event of a mass layoff, employers are required by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act to notify workers 60 days in advance. If the employer does not or cannot provide notice within that period, the employer is required to pay the workers their regular salary and benefits for 60 days. For example, a company that is closing in 30 days and must lay off workers would still have to pay the workers for 30 days beyond the closing date. If a company promises severance pay in its employee handbook or through an employment contract, the company is required to honor its commitment. Employees who receive a severance benefit are usually required to sign a contract from the employer that liberates the employer from any future legal claims or liabilities.

 

Another common requirement that accompanies severance release forms is an age discrimination release form. Anyone who is over the age of 40 is usually required to sign this form since some people file lawsuits under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Employees who are over the age of 40 and are presented with a severance option have 21 days to decide whether or not to accept the offer under federal law. However, employees have 45 days to consider the offer if more than one person is being laid off at the same time and at least two of the workers are over the age of 40. This is because more than one person being laid off at a time is considered a group layoff.

 

 

How Severance Is Paid

Most large companies offer severance in the form of one lump payment. In some instances, severance is calculated based on continuing salary for a certain period. When this is the case, severance may be distributed in several payments. A lump sum is the best option to accept if an employer offers multiple choices for payment. When payments are received in multiple increments, some employers provide a larger payment upfront followed by diminishing payments until there is nothing left to pay.

 

One benefit of receiving multiple payments is continuing health insurance. In some instances, an employer will pay the severed employee’s health coverage until severance pay runs out. Employees can ask about this before accepting a payment structure. Although workers are often allowed under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act to continue receiving health benefits from a former employer for up to 18 months, they are usually required to pay the premiums themselves. Many group plans have expensive individual premiums. Some workers who know that they will be laid off may be able to negotiate with an employer to have the company continue paying for health benefits for a certain period.

 

When calculating severance pay, employers usually base it on the worker’s salary and invested years. For example, many large companies that employ top-level executives offer about three weeks of severance pay for every year of work. This means that an executive who worked for a firm for 10 years may receive a severance package that includes between 25 and 30 weeks of pay. For lower-level employees, severance pay is usually equal to less than two weeks of pay for every year spent at the company. In many instances, severance pay comes with a year number cap. This varies from one company to another and may also vary based on an employee’s position.

 

Severance pay is taxed. Receiving a lump sum could put a person in a higher tax bracket. Many workers benefit from contacting a tax professional before accepting a payment option when they are presented with more than one choice. When being laid off, workers can also try to recoup reimbursement for travel expenses, sick time or unused vacation time. Additional benefits such as 401(k) contributions and others may be kept by the employee.

 

 

About Jeremy Goldstein

Jeremy Goldstein is a partner at Jeremy Goldstein, LLC. His firm serves the greater New York City area. Mr. Goldstein earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Cornell University in 1995. He earned a master’s degree in history from the University of Chicago in 1996. In 1999, he earned his law degree from the New York University School of Law. Jeremy Goldstein volunteers his time as a director at Fountain House in New York. The non-profit organization helps men and women receive treatment for mental health issues.

 

In the past, Mr. Goldstein served as a partner for 14 years with another firm. He gained valuable experience in executive compensation with a focus on issues related to mergers and acquisitions. Additionally, he has extensive experience in executive compensation in relation to corporate governance. Jeremy Goldstein is also a member of several prestigious associations related to corporate governance and executive compensation.

Jeremy has contributed before on our blog. Read his opinions on stock options for employees: http://thereisnoconsensus.com/jeremy-goldstein-explains-knockout-options-help-employers/

Learn more:

https://www.visualcv.com/jeremygoldstein

Follow Jeremy Goldstein on Facebook and @jgoldsteinlaw1

Senator Sends Letter To DOJ About Trump Administration

Senator Amy Klobuchar has sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) asking them to reject any push by the White House to get politics involved in mergers. She apparently felt the need to bring this up because there have been rumors that the White House has been considering using politics against television network CNN.

The White House has long been battling against CNN because they believe that the network has been a propaganda wing against the White House. They claim that the network makes up stores out them or otherwise creates falsehoods that need to be addressed. As such, people in the Trump Administration have considered pulling some strings in a merger between AT&T and Time Warner. This matters because Time Warner is the parent network of CNN. If the White House were to use the DOJ to reject the merger of those two companies, they could literally punish CNN for not playing ball.

The Department of Justice is the organization that reviews all potential mergers. They are supposed to consider the benefit of the public with these types of things. It is their role to try to break up monopolies and avoid having any one company become too powerful. Now, the White House is considering asking the DOJ to move forward with considerations about these mergers with politics in mind.

An interesting element in this story is that Senator Klobuchar has actually expressed concerns about the merger between AT&T and Time Warner because it is such a large deal. She is worried that it might in fact be the definition of a monopoly. That is what the DOJ is supposed to break up, so Klobuchar had her concerns to begin with. Now, she is just making the point that she does not want to see politics injected into the mix.

Both the White House and the Department Of Justice have declined to comment on the story. Trump has not made any comments to the public about this particular deal so it is unclear what his position may be. Some more Senators are sure to make a big deal out of this if nothing changes going forward, but the politics of how this all plays out is yet to be seen.

Federal Court Affirms Citizens’ Right To Film Police

A U.S. federal court recently confirmed that all U.S. residents have the right to film the police in the course of their duties. Although quite a few legal scholars already held this opinion, this is the first appeals court ruling affirming the right to film for the Third Circuit. After this significant ruling, half of all U.S. states have judicially protected police filming rights. The most recent ruling elucidates that this right is an integral part of First Amendment freedoms. This is a major victory for policing reform advocates. According to the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, police officers must accept filming because they are public officials doing their duties in the public realm.

This ruling is particular relevant during a time when relations between local communities and U.S. police departments remain fraught. This Third Circuit ruling may well inspire many departments to conduct their operations with greater transparency. The rise of handheld devices with cameras has made it increasingly common for videos of police actions to make their way online.

In its unanimous decision, the Third Circuit affirmed the positive value of filming the police. The court argued that as long as those filming do not directly interfere with the police, such filming helps ensure that the local government is held accountable for its actions and policies. The court also argued that this ruling does not create winners and losers. On the contrary, the ruling stated, the filming of police fuels a dialogue that can ultimately benefit police officers themselves. After this historic ruling, as many as 60 percent of U.S. residents live in states where the right to film police is judicially protected. Though no federal court has contradicted this right in any state, the question of filming remains unaddressed in half of the states.

The Supreme Court has not had yet its say on this specific legal issue. However, a number of legal scholars have noted that in the past decade, the Supreme Court has adopted a fairly expansive view of the First Amendment. Indeed, the Roberts Court has consistently defended the First Amendment vigorously. It remains to be seen if the Supreme Court specifically address the recording of police officers. If this does happen, legal scholars believe it could be one of the most momentous judgments in the recent history of the nation’s highest court. For now, people across the nation have been emboldened to record the police in a variety of different settings.

President and Pope Battle to Save Baby’s Life

Charlie Gard who turns 1 year old on August 3, 2017, was born with encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. Despite the fact that he is unable to move or even breathe on his own, this child who is blind and deaf has ended up at the center of a global political debate.

Courts Rule to Remove Lifesaving Medical Care

Ever since, Charlie was born, he has been hospitalized. Three courts in Europe and the European Court of Human Rights have denied his parent’s permission to bring the child to the United States where lifesaving treatment may be available. They feel that they have the right to give their child a chance to live, but the courts have determined that the hospital has the right to turn off the breathing machine. The courts have ruled that Charlie must stay in the London hospital where he is currently a patient.

Pope Francis Supports Parents

According to the Vatican, Pope Francis has been following the case with sadness and affection. Officials at the Vatican say that the pope hopes that the child can be brought to the United States as the parents’ wish. Italy’s top pediatric hospital has said that they will take the sick infant giving him a chance to continue to live. While there are only 16 children in the world believed to have this debilitating syndrome, some experts believe that nucleoside therapy could help save the infant’s life. In light of the new evidence that this therapy might help, the London hospital will return to the High Court on July 10, 2017.

Help From United States

President Trump recently tweeted that the United States was prepared to do everything possible to help this family. An online campaign has raised more than $1.7 million in hopes that the child can be brought to the United States. Members of the United States Congress have proposed that the family could receive permanent residency if it would save the child’s life. The United States has also said that they are willing to ship the medicine to London if Charlie is unable to travel.

Supreme Court Limits Where Companies Can Be Sued

There is an interesting article on the Reuters website about how the Supreme Court of the United States has made an important ruling concerning in what states plaintiffs may file injury lawsuits against corporations. The court made an 8-1 decision to put limits on where lawsuits can be filed, which is good news for companies that want to prevent plaintiffs suing them from picking the most advantageous state. More specifically, the case involved out-of-state plaintiffs suing Bristol-Myers Squibb in California although the alleged injuries by the pharmaceutical company did not all occur there and the company is based elsewhere.

The ruling was good news for the Johnson & Johnson company, which is being sued in Missouri state courts despite the corporation being headquartered in New Jersey. Furthermore, a similar ruling by the Supreme Court on May 30th regarding out-of-state plaintiffs suing Texas-based BNSF Railway Co. will likely make corporations more secure that they won’t be sued in states where they are not based. As always, however, plaintiffs retain the right to bring cases against corporations in whatever state they are located. Therefore, the ruling limits the ability of plaintiffs to “shop around,” but it is still very possible to hold corporations liable in court when they are at fault.

The lone dissenting justice was Sonia Sotomayor. Essentially, she feels that the ruling puts too much burden on people who have suffered at the hands of negligent companies. She appears to believe that, because corporations sell products all over the country and not just in the states where they are based, they should be held accountable wherever their products do harm. In the Bristol-Myers Squibb case, the company actually sold nearly one billion dollars of their drug Plavix – the drug alleged to have done harm – in the State of California, so the suit was brought in that state.

Donald Trump Jr. Under Investigation

The New York Times recently reported that the Trump administration had changed their defense against a recent accusation. The Trump legal team had been accused of meddling with Clinton’s effort to become the president of the free world. The recent change of defense agrees that some part of his legal team, his son and top campaign members had met with a well-known lawyer in Russia exactly one year ago. The Russian lawyer goes by the name Natalia Veselnitskaya while the top officials from Trump’s legal team include Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. Veselnitskaya is a Russian lawyer who had been accused of fighting the Magnitsky Act of the year 2012. This is an act that was meant to blacklist Russians who had been linked or suspected of going against human rights. In reaction to this campaign, Russian President, Vladimir Putin blocked the law and even refused Americans to adopt children from Russia.

However, few people knew about this meeting and only came to light after Jared Kushner decided to get a new security clearance. This came after Jared Kushner was accused by New York Times for refusing to talk about the contacts that he had with Russians before he was invited to work with President Trump. Donald Trump Jr. insisted that the visit to Russia was not based on his father’s campaign. He further insisted that it was focused on adopting Russian children and he had asked both Jared Kushner and Paul to drop by to help him with the issue. As for the New York Times, they reported that the meeting took place because young Trump had promised some damaging information to ruin the presidential bid of his father’s opponent Hilary Clinton. However, Donald Trump’s legal team responded to these accusations terming them as a way of undermining the campaign efforts of their boss.

The team, later on, changed their stand after the Times published another story telling about the meeting. The team said that their boss was not aware of the meeting between his son and the Russian lawyer. Reports said that Veselnitskaya had been hired by a person named as Denis Katyv. Denis, on the other hand, happens to be connected to Pyotr Katsyv who is a senior government official in Russia. Other than this position, Pyotr is connected to Prevezon which is a real estate company from Cyprus. This is a firm that has been under the radar of department of justice for laundering charges.