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Legal Report Resources October 2015

Marijuana. Colorado employers can lawfully fire employees who use medical marijuana, even though it is legal in the state. Colorado’s Supreme Court found that the federal prohibition on pot makes the drug unlawful, even if it’s legal to use in the state, and prevents employees from being protected for using it.

Disabilities. United Airlines will pay more than $1 million and implement changes to settle a federal disability lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The suit charged that United’s competitive transfer policy violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by requiring workers with disabilities to compete for vacant positions that they were qualified for and that they needed to continue working for the airline.

Discrimination. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued an update to its Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination and Related Issues. The guidance is designed to address the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Young v. UPS earlier this year, which found that women may be able to prove unlawful pregnancy discrimination if their employer accommodated some workers, but refused to accommodate pregnant women.

Cybersecurity. ​Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE) introduced legislation (S. 1869) that would require all federal agencies to adopt certain cybersecurity best practices and accelerate implementation of the government's anti-hacking shield (Einstein).

Communications. President Barack Obama signed legislation into law that requires the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to achieve and maintain interoperable communications among its components. The law requires a DHS under secretary to submit a strategy to Congress to achieve and maintain communications, including for daily operations, planned events, and emergencies.

Information Technology. ​President Barack Obama signed legislation into law that requires the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to audit its IT systems and to create a strategy to reduce duplication or fragmentation within the department.

Intelligence. The House of Representatives passed an annual intelligence policy bill with several controversial provisions, including limits on transfers of detainees from Guantanamo Bay. The bill (H.R. 2596) provides a policy guide for the 16 U.S. federal intelligence agencies, including the CIA, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence. 

Drones. The House of Representatives passed the first bill of its kind to address security implications of drones. The bill (H.R. 1646) requires the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to assess the security risks associated with commercially available small and medium unmanned aerial systems. 

Data breaches. Canada enacted a new law that requires organizations to maintain a record of all privacy breaches and to send breach notifications. The Digital Privacy Act (S-4) defines personal information as information about an identifiable individual, and requires organizations to report any breach of security safeguards involving personal information under its control if it is reasonable to believe that the “breach creates a real risk of significant harm to an individual.”

Terrorism. ​Egypt enacted a new law that gives state security officers greater immunity from prosecution, expands the government's surveillance powers, and penalizes journalists for coverage that contradicts official accounts of military actions.

Deadly force. ​California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a measure that bans secret grand jury deliberations in criminal cases where police stand accused of using excessive or deadly force.

Paid leave. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed into law a measure that mandates paid sick leave for the state’s workers. Under the new law (formerly S.B. 454), employers with more than 10 workers must offer up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each year at a rate of at least one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked.

Searches. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Los Angeles ordinance that allowed police to routinely inspect hotel guest records on demand without a warrant. The Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the ordinance was unconstitutional because it penalized hotel owners if they did not comply.

Cybersecurity. ​The Federal Trade Commission has the authority to sue companies for failing​ to maintain adequate cybersecurity, a U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in FTC v. Wyndham Worldwide Corporation.

Harassment. Food processor Zoria Farms settled a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, agreeing to pay $330,000 to 10 Latino farmworkers. Zoria also agreed to injunctive remedies should it reopen, including hiring an outside equal employment opportunity monitor to ensure implementation of effective policies, procedures, and training for all employees to prevent discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

Discrimination. ​Target will pay $2.8 million to resolve charges of using assessments to disproportionately screen out applicants for exempt-level professional positions based on race and sex.