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Hot off the Press

December 4, 2014

Ever since I began litigating employment discrimination cases, I have routinely been asked about the unfairness of getting fired for sleeping on the job when everyone else at the company sleeps on the job too.  At first I thought it went without saying that unless your...

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News

Have an IRA or 401(k)? The SECURE Act Would Change Your Estate Planning

August 6, 2019

By Leon LaBrecque

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act of 2019, which passed the House in a 417-3 vote and will now likely pass the Senate by unanimous consent, will probably change your estate planning.  Under the previous rules, we could ‘stretch’ IRA distributions to non-spouse beneficiaries, which allowed for a potentially significant income tax savings to the children of IRA owners. For example, under the old rules, if Millicent is the owner of a $1 million IRA and leaves it to her 25-year-old granddaughter Halsey, Halsey could have stretched the distributions over her life expectancy of 57.2 years. 

 

Coupled with the fact that inherited IRAs are subject to the claims of the beneficiary’s creditors, many IRA owners created ‘IRA Conduit Trusts’ or other mechanisms to make sure beneficiaries could take only the Required Minimum Distributions and assets in the IRA would be protected.

 

SECURE changes that paradigm.

Can an Employer Call You Stupid?

(as reported on Chron.com)

by Holly McGurgan

When your supervisor calls you stupid or other derogatory names, it can be difficult to keep your composure. While resorting to name calling and verbal abuse is hardly the most professional approach, it’s one that some supervisors rely on instead of constructive criticism. If your boss is a name caller, it’s important to develop a plan to deal with the behavior.

Biglaw Partner Suspended After Accusing Small-Firm Litigator of Using Pregnancy to Delay Trial

July 26, 2018

By Debra Cassens Weiss

A Miami lawyer with Shook, Hardy & Bacon objected when a pregnant opposing lawyer sought a continuance because her due date coincided with a trial date. Paul Reid argued his client had been injured five years ago and “parental leave is not a compelling circumstance justifying the severe prejudice” that will be caused by delaying the trial, the Daily Business Review reports. Reid suggested that the opposing lawyer, Christen Luikart of Murphy Anderson in Jacksonville, Florida, should give the case to another lawyer or try the case early.

In a motion opposing the continuance, Reid said the continuance motion was “a reaction” to his prior motion to strike the opinions of expert witnesses because the defense had failed to comply with an order to disclose their opinions. Reid, who lost his attempt to avoid a trial delay, is at the center of a debate on accommodations for pregnant lawyers, according to the Daily Business Review article.

Malpractice Suit Takes Aim At 2 Biglaw Firms

May 8, 2018

By KATHRYN RUBINO

The complaint alleges two firms screwed the pooch in drafting a contract.  

Not one, but two different Biglaw firms are facing a malpractice suit alleging that they failed to properly advise their mutual client. Perkins Coie and Bracewell were attorneys for Electron Trading LLC in the negotiations of a technology licensing agreement with Morgan Stanley. And according to Electron Trading, things didn’t go as planned.

Electron Trading wanted to license its technology for spread trading — which allows investors to simultaneously buy and sell securities in an effort to capture price difference between financial instruments — to Morgan Stanley. Electron alleges two key parts of the proposed deal were limiting Electron’s liability for third-party intellectual property claims and maintaining their right to sue Morgan Stanley in the event of a contract breach. Unfortunately, neither of those terms were in the agreement they actually signed.

EEOC Clutch in Car Parts dispute

February 16, 2018

Decostar sells car parts, and it certainly didn't mind applying the brakes to religious freedom in 2014. Thanks to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the company is almost certainly having second thoughts about that intolerance now that it's on the losing side of an important settlement.

The controversy started in 2014, when the Georgia-based business refused to give one of its employees the Sabbath off. Dina Lucas Velasquez asked repeatedly for an accommodation between Friday and Saturday nights, when her faith bars her from working. The manufacturer agreed until a new supervisor was hired and demanded that she violate her beliefs and work. When she refused, they fired her.

$1.16 million awarded in transgender employment discrimination jury trial

December 4, 2017

By Eric Bachman for The National Law Review

 

An Oklahoma federal jury recently returned a verdict in favor of professor Dr. Rachel Tudor in her lawsuit claiming that Southeastern Oklahoma State University discriminated against her based on her gender and gender identity.  In particular, the jury found that the school denied Dr. Tudor tenure because of her gender identity and also retaliated against her.

As a result, the jury awarded Dr. Tudor $1.16 million in damages.

Dr. Tudor is represented by Ezra Young of the Law Office of Ezra Young, Brittany Novotny of the National Litigation Law Group and Marie E. Galindo of The Galindo Law Firm.

Law Firm Salaries Jump for the First Time in Nearly a Decade

June 6, 2016

By Elizabeth Olsen for The New York Times

 

In a move sure to bring cheer to junior associates at major law firms, one of the industry’s most elite, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, on Monday said it had increased the annual salary for its first-year lawyers to $180,000, from $160,000.

Salaries for other associates have also been increased by $20,000 to $35,000 annually, up to $315,000 for associates in their eighth year. The news, which came in a memo from the firm’s partners, is a signal to other big law firms to fall in line or potentially lose the best new law school recruits.

Supreme Court reverses Alabama court that denied lesbian woman's adoption

March 7, 2016

Richard Wolf, USA TODAY

 

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously reversed an Alabama court's refusal to recognize a same-sex adoption. The justices upheld a challenge brought by an Alabama woman after her state's highest court refused to recognize the adoption she and her former lesbian partner were granted in Georgia.

 

The couple never married and have since split up. But the case presented a test of an issue that crops up occasionally in state and federal courts since the Supreme Court struck down state bans on same-sex marriage: Can gays and lesbians be denied adoption rights?

Gene Locke appointed to finish El Franco Lee's term as Harris County Commissioner

January 22, 2016

By Olivia Pulsinelli, Houston Business Journal

 

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett has appointed and sworn in Gene Locke as Precinct 1 Harris County commissioner, Emmett announced Jan. 22.

Locke replaces El Franco Lee, who died unexpectedly on Jan. 3 at the age of 66. Lee was in his seventh term and was the county’s first African-American commissioner when he took the post in 1985.

Joe Jamail Revised Will Six Months Before Death

January 13, 2016

By Miriam Rozen, Texas Lawyer

 

Six months prior to his death Dec. 23, 2015, the legendary Texas plaintiff lawyer Joe Jamail revised his will. At the same time, he revised documents governing a trust to which he asked to have poured all his outstanding assets.

As early as this week, Harris County probate court may act upon an application for probate of Jamail's will and testament, filed by his three sons, whom he named as co-independent executors of his estate. The sons filed their application Dec. 29, 2015.

In his will, however, Jamail, whom Forbes ranked as one of the world's billionaires, neither specified his assets or identified ultimately where they would go.

 

Loretta Lynch's Tenure as Attorney General Is Off to a Dramatic Start

August 20, 2015

By Emily Bazelon

 

The atmosphere in the room is wary, and it’s Lynch who has to break the silence. “OK, let me ask you a few questions,” she says, looking an officer seated before her in the eye. “How long have you been a police officer? Why did you want this job?” For a couple of beats, it’s not clear whether he’ll answer. Lynch holds the cop’s gaze, and it’s the quality of her attention, its patience and respect, that seems to move him to speak.

Senate Confirms Loretta Lynch as next U.S. Attorney General

April 23, 2015

WASHINGTON, April 23 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate voted on Thursday,ul 23, 2015 to approve Loretta Lynch as President Barack Obama's next attorney general, ending a five-month deadlock that made Lynch wait longer for confirmation than the last seven attorneys general combined.

 

The first black woman to become the top U.S. law enforcement official, Lynch, 55, was approved by a 56-43 vote. Ten Republicans voted for Lynch, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. She is expected to take over as head of the U.S. Justice Department on Monday, replacing Eric Holder.

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So what's the Federal Estate Tax again?

January 23, 2015

The federal estate tax is a 40% tax assessed against the fair market value of your estate, if your estate is large enough to qualify, at your death.  Proper estate planning can help reduce the amount of, or eliminate, your taxable estate.  To read the IRS's definition of the estate tax click below. 

Two Law School Deans, One Proud Family

January 5, 2015

The Dean of Thurgood Marshall School of Law at TSU right here in Houston, Texas, Dean Dannye Holley, pauses for a piece on how both he and his daughter, Dean Danielle Holley-Walker of Howard University School of Law, both ended up as law school deans. 

BREAKING EMPLOYMENT LAW NEWS… You can use your work email for non-work related communication (well…kind of).

December 17, 2014

On December 10th, in a 18 page decision, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in the Purple Communications, Inc. and Communications Workers of America, AFL–CIO case ruled that an employer MUST permit the use of its email system by its employees, during non-work hours, for non-work related employee communication protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. 

Madoff operations chief gets 10 years in $20B swindle; judge says he was not 'evil at heart'

December 8, 2014

Federal sentencing guidelines had called for 67-year-old Daniel Bonventre to spend the rest of his life in prison, and the prosecution and the probation department had sought a sentence of 20 years or more.

But on Monday, U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain gave him only 10 years.

EEOC lawsuit alleges that less than 2 percent of Texas Roadhouse front-of-house employees [are] over 40

October 1, 2014

In a lawsuit filed by the EEOC back in 2011 against Texas Roadhouse alleging unlawful age discrimination, the EEOC claims that Texas Roadhouse's hiring practices "deprive a class of potential employees in the protected age group of equal employment opportunities." Read as Caitlin Bowling of the Louisville Business First journal reports.  

"In the U.S., the gap between rich and poor has today reached "spectacular" heights..." Thomas Piketty

June 5, 2014

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