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Legal Report Resources August 2015

Intellectual property. In the first conviction of its kind, a foreign hacker was sentenced to prison for his role in stealing more than $100 million worth of trade secrets from U.S. companies. David Pokora, 22, of Ontario, Canada, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release for leading a hacker group to steal information from Microsoft to build its own Xbox One gaming system prior to its release.​

Reference checks. A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by plaintiffs who alleged they were not hired because potential employers used a social media search tool to obtain background information about them.​

Data retrieval. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) introduced legislation that limits data retrieval from vehicle event data recorders by making the data the property of the vehicle's owner or lessee. The bill (S. 766) also places restrictions on when others can access the data, such as under a court order.​

Surveillance. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced a bill that would extend some rights under the U.S. Privacy Act to European citizens and other designated allies. The Judicial Redress Act (H.R. 1428) would authorize the U.S. Department of Justice—with the agreement of the U.S. Departments of State, Treasury, and Homeland Security—to designate countries or organizations whose citizens may pursue civil remedies if their country or organization has appropriate privacy protections for sharing information with the United States to prevent, investigate, detect, or prosecute criminal offenses.

Surveillance. France's lower house of Parliament overwhelmingly passed legislation that gives authorities more intrusive domestic spying abilities with very little judicial oversight. The bill would allow French intelligence services to tap cell phones and read e-mails. The measure would also require Internet providers to comply with government requests to comb through subscribers' communications.

Sick Leave. Massachusetts enacted a voter initiative that requires all private sector employers to provide employees with up to 40 hours of sick leave per calendar year. Employers with more than 10 employees must provide paid sick leave, but employers with 10 or fewer employees must provide at least unpaid sick leave to workers. However, employees are not eligible for sick leave until they have been employed for 90 days.​

Whistleblowers. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) awarded a compliance professional approximately $1.5 million for providing information that led to an enforcement action against the individual's company. The compliance officer "reported misconduct after responsible management at the entity became aware of potentially impending harm to investors and failed to take steps to prevent it," said Andrew Ceresney, chief of the SEC Enforcement Division, in a statement.

Retaliation. A federal appeals court upheld a jury fine of more than $1.5 million in a lawsuit that found a logistics services provider guilty of sexual harassment and retaliation. High Point was convicted of subjecting three temporary female employees to sexual harassment and retaliation against them for complaining, as well as against a male employee who supported the women's claims. High Point then appealed the decision, which was upheld by a federal appeals court.​

Discrimination. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) settled with a private career college accused of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it did not admit an applicant who has HIV. The college will pay $30,000 in damages to the applicant, $5,000 in civil penalties, implement a nondiscrimination policy for persons with HIV, and prohibit questioning applicants about their HIV status, among other actions.