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Legal Report Resources May 2016

Compensation. An employer does not have to compensate employees for meal periods during the work day if the employer does not predominantly benefit from the time employees spend eating, a federal appeals court ruled in a case involving a county prison and corrections officers.

Privacy. The Senate passed legislation that would give European Union citizens the right to challenge the misuse of their personal data in U.S. court under the Privacy Act of 1974. The Judicial Redress Act (H.R. 1428) was hotlined by the Senate because it was a prerequisite of a law enforcement data-sharing umbrella agreement between the EU and the United States.

Cybersecurity. President Barack Obama signed two executive orders to create a Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity and to establish a Federal Privacy Council. The commission is charged with making detailed recommendations to strengthen cybersecurity in both the public and private sectors. The council will develop recommendations for the Office of Management and Budget on federal government privacy policies and requirements, and coordinate and share best practices for protecting privacy and implementing appropriate privacy safeguards, among other duties.

Earthquakes. President Obama signed an executive order that creates new earthquake safety requirements for federal buildings. Under the order, agencies responsible for the design and construction of a new building or an alteration to an existing building must ensure that it is designed, constructed, or altered in accordance with appropriate earthquake-resistant design and construction codes and standards.

Discrimination. Washington state senators voted to defeat a bill that would have repealed a new rule that allows transgender people to use public restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. The rule was issued by Washington’s Human Rights Commission after Washington enacted a law prohibiting discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity in 2006. 

Reporting. A New Jersey appeals court reinstated two former security officers’ convictions of official misconduct for failing to report that other security employees were stealing thousands of dollars in parking fees. A previous judge had thrown out the former New Brunswick Parking Authority security officers convictions because there was no written policy in their Security Procedures Manual—or adopted by the parking authority—that the officers were required to report other officers’ thefts to the parking authority.

Discrimination. A condominium complex in Vail, Colorado, and its management company will pay $1,020,000 to settle charges of sexual harassment, national origin discrimination, and retaliation brought in a lawsuit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The suit claimed that the complex violated federal law by allowing a housekeeping manager—Omar Quezada—to sexually harass Mexican female employees, including attempted rape.

Policing. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against the city of Ferguson, Missouri, alleging a pattern or practice of law enforcement conduct that violates the First, Fourth, and 14th Amendments and federal civil rights laws. The lawsuit follows a DOJ investigation of the city’s police department and municipal court, which was launched following the fatal shooting of an unarmed black 18-year-old, Michael Brown.