Client Alerts, News Articles & Blog Posts

Everything you need to know about BMD and the industry.

CLIENT ALERT: Update on Discrimination

The “#metoo” presence and the recent Kavanaugh confirmation hearings have brought sexual discrimination issues to the forefront of the American mind.  Always an incendiary and confusing topic, it also includes various permutations of issues involving sex, sex stereotyping, sexual orientation, and  transgender  situations.  Employment issues abound, including proper use of restrooms and disciplinary matters. “LBGTQ” are more than mere letters strung together.

Cuyahoga County passed an ordinance recently which applies to all Cuyahoga County cities and townships, making it unlawful for any business to discriminate against any person based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.  A Commission on Human Rights was designated to investigate and rule on complaints.

Similarly, the City of Akron passed an ordinance expanding equal employment for employees working in the city.  Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees located in the city, as well as businesses that take contracts from the City but are located elsewhere.  Employers with 4 or more individuals are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of the “traditional” bases (such as race, color, religion, etc.), but also on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.  The ordinance also created the Akron Civil Rights Commission to receive and investigate complaints.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has taken the position that discrimination on the basis of sex includes transgender, sexual identity, and sexual orientation.  The Ohio Civil Rights Commission is the state investigative arm that similarly investigates such complaints (which they often term as a “Charge”).

Ohio is located in the Federal Sixth Circuit.  The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided a case involving transgender issues, and also discussed whether a religious belief may play a part in an employer’s decision to terminate an employee.  That case is now on appeal to the United States Supreme Court and, no matter how the Supreme Court rules (and whether or not the Court decides to take the case for review), employer-employee relations will be affected.

Given the currently charged atmosphere, employers should consider a review of their employment practices and handbooks.  In addition, management training should be considered to stay ahead of the trends in this important area. 

If you would like more information, please contact Richard L. Williger at (330) 253-3770 or rlwilliger@bmdllc.com.

 

CLIENT ALERT: Ohio Incentivizes Cybersecurity Measures

On November 2, 2018, Ohio’s Data Protection Act (“DPA”) went into effect. The DPA incentivizes Ohio businesses to proactively address cybersecurity and data protection by providing an affirmative defense/safe harbor for claims related to data breach. However, the safe harbor is only applicable if the organization can prove “reasonable compliance” to the DPA.

CLIENT ALERT: Ohio Supreme Court Rules that a Subcontractor's Construction Defects are Not a Covered "Occurrence" Under a CGL Policy

Although a growing number of states have held that CGL policies provide coverage for damages caused by the defective work of subcontractors, the Ohio Supreme Court has refused to join the national trend. In Ohio N. Univ. v. Charles Constr. Servs., Inc., 2018-Ohio-4057, the Ohio Supreme Court recently ruled that a subcontractor’s faulty workmanship is not a covered “occurrence” under a typical CGL policy.

CLIENT ALERT: Taxpayer Passport Application will be Denied Due to Unpaid Taxes

In late 2015, Congress passed The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST) into law. This law allows the IRS and State Department to refuse to issue a Passport if the taxpayer has a seriously delinquent tax debt. The law also permits the IRS and State Department to revoke a taxpayer’s Passport for these same delinquent tax debts. To be considered a seriously delinquent tax debt, the tax debt must total more than $51,000.

CLIENT ALERT: New Opportunity Zone Incentives Promise to Spur Economic Development

Created as part of the recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, “Opportunity Zones” are designed to encourage long-term investments in underserved communities. By offering tax benefits to private investors who choose to invest their capital at the nexus of need and opportunity, the program supports a broad array of investments and offers opportunity for creative problem-solving strategies to address community needs. The program offers investors tiered tax benefits depending on the term of the investment, including a temporary deferral and partial reduction of unrealized capital gains, as well as the potential to exclude all future appreciation on the investment. The program is designed to tap into the estimated $6T+ of unrealized capital gains held by U.S. individuals and companies by incentivizing investors to re-invest that capital in low-income communities to spur economic development and job creation.

CLIENT ALERT: Medicare Trust Fund to Run Out of Funding Beginning in 2026, Likely to See an Increase in Audits, Overpayment Demands and Extrapolations

Pursuant to a Medicare Trustee Report released on June 5, 2018, the Medicare trust fund will run out of funding beginning in 2026, which is three years earlier than previously expected. Although the Trustee’s report requests that Congress and the President act with urgency to remedy this problem, in the short term, we expect to see an increase in government payer audits, overpayment demands, and extrapolations.