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Legal Report Resources December 2015

​Cybersecurity. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has the statutory authority to bring enforcement actions against defendants for allegedly "unfair" data security practices, according to a federal appeals court decision. The ruling stems from a case brought by the FTC against Wyndham Worldwide Corporation after on three occasions hackers successfully accessed its computer systems and stole personal and financial information for hundreds of thousands of consumers, leading to more than $10.6 million in fraudulent charges.

Discrimination. An employer engaged in religious discrimination when it forced a longtime employee to retire because it refused to accommodate his religious beliefs that prohibited him from using a biometric hand scanner, a federal jury ruled.​ 

Data Sharing. The United States and the European Union reached an "umbrella agreement" that allows the two to exchange more data during criminal and terrorism investigations. However, Congress must still pass legislation to give EU citizens the right to sue in U.S. courts if their personal data is misused for the deal to be finalized. Bills S. 1600 and H.R. 1428 were introduced to grant this right.​ 

Cybersecurity. A bill that would allow the federal government to share classified and declassified cyberthreat indicators with private entities passed in the Senate. The bill (S. 754) would allow the director of national intelligence and the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, and Justice to share cyber threat indicators with private companies, non-federal government agencies, and state, tribal, and local governments.​ 

Refugees. Germany enacted a new policy that allows Syrian refugees to stay in the country and apply for asylum. Previously, refugees would have been deported back to where they first entered the European Union—a process known as the Dublin system.​ 

Drones. California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed legislation that places flight restrictions on unmanned aerial vehicles (drones). Under S.B. 142, drones would be prohibited from flying less than 350 feet above properties without the express permission of the property owners or legal entities.​ 

Contractors. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that companies can be held responsible for labor violations committed by their contractors. "With more than 2.87 million of the nation's workers employed through temporary agencies in August 2014, the board held that its previous joint employer standard has failed to keep pace with the changes in the workplace and economic circumstances," the board said in a press release. 

Harassment. Moreno Farms, Inc., of Florida will pay more than $17 million to five former female employees who suffered sexual harassment and retaliation, a federal jury decided in a case brought on their behalf by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. ​ 

Cybersecurity. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) introduced a bill that would require the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to create a formal cybersecurity strategy and to provide technical assistance to organizations that are breached.​ 

Defense. President Barack Obama vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act. The NDAA (H.R. 1735) sets the annual defense policy for the United States, authorizes pay and benefits for troops, and provides legal guidance for every program in the U.S. armed forces. However, it does not include provisions on a pathway to closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay. ​ 

Discrimination. A U.S. Court of Appeals ruled to allow a case brought by New Jersey Muslims to go forward against the New York City Police Department over alleged surveillance of mosques, businesses, and community centers. The court ruled that that the appellants had stated a valid claim of discrimination on the basis of their religion, and that the suit could move forward.​ 

Transportation. Lawmakers reached an agreement to push back the federal deadline for most railroads to install automated train technology from December 31, 2015, to December 2018. The change is included in the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015.