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Legal Report Resources January 2015

Security Guards: A federal jury convicted four former Blackwater Worldwide security guards in October for their roles in a 2007 shooting that injured 17 Iraqis and killed 14 in Baghdad. Despite the defense's claims, the jury found that the deaths were not the result of a battlefield tragedy, but a criminal act.

Religion. A man does not have to answer questions in a sworn testimony as part of a labor investigation because answering the questions violates his religious beliefs, a federal district court has ruled. The ruling stems from an investigation into potential child labor violations by Paragon Contractors when hundreds of children from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints were seen harvesting pecans at a ranch in Hurricane, Utah.

Injury. A new U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule went into effect on January 1, requiring companies to notify the agency whenever an employee is hospitalized for an on-the-job injury or suffers an amputation or loss of an eye at work. The rule affects all employers covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Privacy. California has enacted a new law that creates personal information protections affecting all businesses that "own, license, or maintain personal information about Californians." The law (formerly A.B. 1710) requires a person or business that was the source of a security breach to provide appropriate identity theft prevention and mitigation services to all affected individuals for at least 12 months free of charge.

Digital assets. Delaware enacted a new law (previously H.B. 345) on January 1 that grants access and authorization for digital assets of an incapacitated person to personal representatives, guardians, agents under a durable personal power of attorney, and trustees. The law, the Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, grants access to individuals' digital accounts, including e-mail, social network, social media, health insurance, and financial management accounts.

Corruption. Ukraine has enacted a new law that will allow for the removal of government officials and screening of approximately one million civil servants in an effort to root out corrupt practices from the past. The law, referred to as the Lustration Law, will specifically focus on those who worked under former President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted from power following mass protests in the country.

Intelligence. Australia's Parliament has passed legislation that amends the framework that governs the activities of the Australian Intelligence Community to allow agencies to better respond to current and emerging threats to Australia's national security. Bill No. 1 increases the intelligence community's collection powers by allowing it to obtain intelligence from numerous computers—including computer networks—under a single warrant. It also authorizes intelligence gathering on an Australian person who is, or is likely to be, involved in activities that pose a risk to the operational security of the country.

Bribery. A Chinese court has fined British pharmaceutical company GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) $487 million for bribery after the company pleaded guilty to charges. The case was tried in secrecy, but accused GSK of using criminal bribery to persuade hospitals and doctors to administer or sell its pharmaceuticals to their patients.

Liability. Arab Bank, one of the largest financial institutions in the Middle East, has been found liable for knowingly supporting terrorist efforts connected to 24 attacks in the region. The civil case was brought by 297 victims of attacks in and around Israel who said the acts were carried out by Hamas, which Arab Bank handled financial transfers and payments for.

Discrimination. DSW Inc. will pay $900,000 to settle an age discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In its suit, the EEOC charged that DSW discriminated against former employees by firing workers more than 40 years old during a "reduction in force." These employees were terminated, according to the EEOC, because of their age and additional employees were retaliated against when they opposed orders to discriminate against older workers.