Legal Report Resources February 2016
Print Issue: February 2016
Discrimination. Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) will pay $206,500 and other relief to resolve charges of pregnancy discrimination brought by female bridge and tunnel operating force officers. A federal investigation found that TBTA had engaged in a pattern or practice of unlawful sex discrimination against female BTOFOs when it "declared these officers unfit for duty solely because they were pregnant."
Food Safety. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized its first federal safety rules for produce to prevent foodborne illness under the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011. The new rules "formalize industry accountability and best practices for food importers and the produce community," according to a press release by the FDA.
Social Media. President Barack Obama signed into law legislation that instructs the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to create a social media working group to enhance the dissemination of information between DHS and stakeholders.
Privacy. The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that grants European citizens some rights under the Privacy Act of 1974. Under the bill (H.R. 1428), the U.S. Department of Justice would designate foreign countries or regional economic integration organizations whose natural citizens may bring civil actions against U.S. government agencies if they unlawfully disclose their personal information.
Privacy. Germany's Bundestag (lower house of parliament) passed a law that requires telecoms and Internet companies to store customer metadata and make it available to law enforcement agencies that are investigating "severe crimes."
Surveillance. UK Home Minister Theresa May announced a new bill that would force Internet and communications firms to help spies hack into computers. The Investigatory Powers Bill would require communication providers to assist MI5, GCHQ, and the police in hacking into suspects' phones and computers.
Searches. A federal judge dismissed a class action suit brought by retail workers against Apple, demanding compensation for the time it took to complete the company's bag-search policy. The judge sided with Apple, saying that the decision to bring a bag to work is a choice.
Solicitation. An Ohio man was arrested on charges of soliciting murder for allegedly reblogging a GIF on Tumblr—a social media blogging website—that urged viewers to kill U.S. military personnel.
Cybersecurity. U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick dismissed a class action suit accusing Toyota, Ford, and GM of leaving their vehicles' computers susceptible to hackers because the plaintiffs were unable to show they had suffered any actual injuries.
Defamation. A University of Virginia fraternity chapter filed a $25 million lawsuit against Rolling Stone magazine for publishing an inaccurate article that claimed a freshman was gang raped at the fraternity's house during a party.
Discrimination. Uniform manufacturer and supplier Cintas Corporation will pay $1.5 million to settle a sex discrimination lawsuit alleging it failed to hire females for service sales representative positions throughout Michigan from 1999 until March 31, 2005.
Piracy. Germany's Supreme Court ruled that an Internet Service Provider (ISP) can be required to block sites that infringe on copyright on two conditions. One, before copyright holders can request an order requiring an ISP to block a website, they must explore all other avenues—such as contacting the site's operators and the Web hosting company. Two, ISPs can only block sites that "on balance" have more illegal than legal content.
Smart Guns. The New Jersey Senate passed a bill that would require retailers that sell guns to sell at least one smart gun as part of their overall inventory. Smart guns, or personalized handguns, are guns that use technology—radio frequency tagging, touch memory, fingerprints, and biometrics—so they can only be fired by an authorized or recognized user.
Cybersecurity. President Barack Obama signed an omnibus spending bill into law (P.L. 114-100) that includes provisions that make it easier for private companies to share cyber threat indicators with other companies and government entities.