We appear to be in the midst of a new fitness renaissance. Trendy fitness programs such as CrossFit, Zumba and SoulCycle dominate social media mentions, while many others stick with tried and true exercise favorites such as running, swimming, biking, yoga, or a gym membership. Workouts and personal records are celebrated on people’s blogs, Facebook pages, and Instagram accounts. The apparent surge in fitness enthusiasm has brought with it a flood of new products designed to take advantage of the market; perhaps none more ubiquitous than wearable fitness trackers, such as those made by FitBit, Nike, Garmin and Samsung. These devices – which can track an astounding array of data, from heart rate to blood sugar to steps taken in a day – are an excellent resource for any fitness enthusiast, or anyone looking to create a healthier lifestyle. However, the demand for wearable tech designed to track our vital information may also prove crucially important to the manner in which we collect information to be used in litigation.
Professional have become increasingly reliant on digital technology to run their practices. This digital revolution has reshaped the way that many professionals operate and has allowed professionals to better service their clients. At the same time, reliance on technology has created new areas of exposure for professionals.
The duty to communicate is essential to every aspect of the fiduciary duty a lawyer owes to the client. Proper communication ensures that we are identifying and serving our clients’ interests. It’s possible today to be technically “available” to clients 24-7. But how much availability is required, and where is the line? That’s the subject of a recent ethics case against a Texas attorney, resulting in sanctions for unreasonably ignoring a client.
Retaliation claims account for almost half of all EEOC claims filed nationwide. The 2014 EEOC Enforcement and Litigation data reflects that 42.8% of all EEOC charges are retaliation claims. Therefore, the crucial question when assessing the legal landscape for employers may be: what is enough to trigger liability for retaliation? The question of whether a threat to reduce pay constitutes an adverse employment action is before the Fifth Circuit. The underlying claim was dismissed at the trial level. A reversal of this decision could lead to a significant expansion of the scope of actionable retaliation in the Fifth Circuit and likely beyond.
The attorney-client privilege, the oldest of the common law evidentiary privileges, seeks to encourage thorough and truthful communication between attorney and client. Attorneys know, however, that the privilege is not absolute. One such exception is known as the “at issue” exception, a form of implied waiver of the attorney-client and work product privileges. This form of waiver is unique because it is one which the parties, by commencing litigation that may implicate legal advice, bring on themselves. Let's take a closer look at this often misunderstood exception to the rule.
Professionals maintain professional liability insurance to protect their assets. Provided that the insured and insurer comply with the obligations set forth in the insurance contract, the exposure arising from a malpractice claim shifts from insured to insurer. Yet, about the only thing worse than getting slapped with a malpractice suit is learning that your firm is not covered despite the professional's belief that insurance was in place. Consider the possibility that the actions of one of your colleagues could result in a firm-wide declination of coverage. A scary thought. A recent decision demonstrates how the actions of one colleague could result in a denial of coverage for everyone.
Innovations in technology have blurred the lines between work and private life. Many professionals regularly utilize personal devices, such as smart phones and tablets, while in the office, and can likewise access company files electronically through work-issued computers while at home. Given the lack of a bright-line distinction between that which is work and that which is private, employees may be tempted to engage in conduct on personal accounts or devices that would otherwise be clearly prohibited in the office.
Employers will implement various tools to increase productivity and efficiency, to generate profit and to create a comfortable office environment. Some employers are utilizing new surveillance systems in the office to achieve these goals; an issue that was recently addressed in the New York Times. Today, the run-of-the-mill security camera is passé; instead, new technologies track seemingly unlimited data about employees, including the amount and nature of employee interaction with co-workers, clients and customers. This is particularly popular in restaurants, retail stores, and other businesses where customer-service is a key to profitability. But is it legal? Is it appropriate for your office? Read on to find out.
Some of the critical ingredients to professional “success” include some combination of skill and marketability. Either, on their own, are insufficient for professional’s to meet their goals. Today, marketing takes many forms - whether through social media, television, or traditional print. Developing an effective message and reaching the right audience are just as important as developing the skills of your trade. Many professionals have turned to blogs and other forms of social media as a form of marketing. However, these avenues of communication are not free of risk, especially with respect to the ethical limitations of attorney advertising. One attorney in Virginia learned this lesson the hard way.
While most countries allow employers to dismiss employees only for cause, employment relationships are presumed to be “at-will” in all U.S. states except Montana. As a result, most employers are well aware that employment relationships in the States may be terminated at any time, for any legal reason. But, the at-will presumption is a default rule that can me modified by contract whereby the employee may hold a reasonable expectation of continued employment. The modification of employment terms by way of contract was recently put to the test in New York. Victory for the employer.
You may be surprised to learn that some professional malpractice policies do not cover fee disputes. Professional liability insurance is an essential component of every professional’s practice, helping to mitigate risk in malpractice actions. But many professional liability policies may leave professionals to fend for themselves in one of the most fundamental aspects of the practice: collecting fees for services rendered. This limitation was recently highlighted by Louisiana’s Western District Court in Pias v. Cont’l Cas. Co., No. 2:13-cv-00182 (W.D. La. Aug. 6, 2013).…
Parties are free to pay fact witnesses exorbitant fees, according to New York’s highest court, so long as the jury is alerted to the potential for bias. In a recent decision before the New York Appellate Division, an orthopedic surgeon received $10,000 to testify against a woman he treated after she allegedly fell while walking her dog in Peekskill, New York. Notably, the surgeon did not provide expert advice, rather he received the hefty sum to merely recount for the jury his conversations with the plaintiff during his examination. This raises some concerns regarding ethical treatment of witnesses.