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Hartford Business & Commercial Law Blog

Non-Profits in Connecticut and Beyond Face Unique Choice When Choosing to Be a "Reimbursing Employee" for Unemployment Compensation

Work with Connecticut employer clients reveals that many non-profits and their administrators are not fully aware of their treatment under the law when it comes to unemployment insurance.

In Connecticut, Fair is Fair: Construing Fair Value and Other Considerations in Minority Shareholder Buyouts

There is perhaps nothing more disruptive to a closely held corporation or limited liability company than a disaffected minority shareholder. Irrespective of the merits of any complaints that an individual owner or shareholder may have, such an individual who believes that he or she has been locked out of decisions or oppressed can grind the workings of a company to a halt. However, in situations where issues of shareholder oppression advance to litigation, the law provides for resolutions allowing the parties to part ways short of full litigation. In exploring these remedies it is essential to consider that the protections afforded minority shareholders by the state of Connecticut are uniquely broad and substantial.

Security Risks: Smartphone Apps and Sensitive Data

As discussed in an earlier post, the release of Pokemon Go raised speculation about app security failures, including reports that the app's standard permissions released user's Google data and emails to the game's developers. While investigation did not reveal Pokemon Go to be more dangerous than other apps, it would be foolish to end the conversation about app security on that sigh of relief. Mobile Apps do not come without security risks to individuals, businesses, or even governments, and risks vary widely on different platforms and between different apps. If an employee's smartphone contains sensitive company data alongside gaming or productivity apps, there are very real risks to be aware of when trying to prevent security breaches.

Expanded Video Game Liability Post-Pokémon Go?

Pokémon Go, a free iPhone and Android gaming app, was released recently and promptly followed by a media frenzy. The app is built on Niantic Inc.'s "Real World Gaming Platform" and uses GPS technology to track users' locations and allow interaction between the virtual components of the app and real-world locations. Its initial release raised both safety and also privacy concerns about the use of users' Google data, including speculation that app developers could access the personal emails of players, but the concerns were shown to be overblown. Of course, any app that collects user data can carry security risks and may raise privacy concerns, but Pokémon Go does not appear to carry any unique risks.

Connecticut Department of Labor Provides a Tool for Businesses During Economic Downturns

To prevent layoffs and allow businesses to spring back from economic downturns, the Connecticut Department of Labor's Shared Work program allows workers to be kept on board part-time while the state pays them partial unemployment benefits. Talent is retained until business improves, saving the business recruitment and training costs as well as the systemic challenges of on-boarding a new team. Workers also benefit, receiving a higher income than they would with unemployment benefits alone and exemption from unemployment work-search requirements.

NY Company's Contract Terms Draw Fire from Connecticut AG

In Connecticut, businesses may have their contracts "undone" and be forced to pay restitution if the contract contains unfair or deceptive terms and provisions. In a recent settlement, Ferrandino & Son, Inc. (F&S), a New York business, agreed to pay damages based on alleged unfair trade practices in a snow removal contract with Connecticut subcontractors. The contract laid out a payment arrangement involving a flat rate for snow removal services and a tiered bonus structure for snow removal amounts above a 30-year "average annual snowfall." The contract signed by each subcontractor included an exhibit listing the snowfall averages that would be used to calculate bonuses, however the express language of the contract required that bonuses be calculated based on 30-year "historic snowfall averages." According to the CT Attorney General (AG)'s office, the actual benchmark used for calculating the bonus structure "was not based on any industry standard or verifiable mathematical calculations of site specific historic snowfall data, and thus was not a valid 30 year snowfall average for that site." The snowfall averages listed in the contract were much higher than actual historic snowfall averages, and as a result, even when snowfall was higher than average, the subcontractors received lower compensation than if historic data had been used to calculate the bonuses.

Switching to Biometrics May Increase Data Exposure

Passwords and PINs require ever more complexity and become difficult to recall.  As a result, many people take actions that could give rise to a data security concern:  they write them down on a paper near their computer.  Thus, there has been a call from many to switch to biometric data, e.g., fingerprints.  Apple iPhones, for example, have the capacity to let one log in without entering a PIN, by using a fingerprint, and then that fingerprint can also authenticate apps.  [There is a caveat that the PIN must be entered the first time after the phone is restarted.]

L+M Medical Office Building Employees Not Permitted to Join L+M Hospital Union

On October 6, 2014, the NLRB Region 1 Director issued a decision in a matter involving employees of Lawrence & Memorial Hospital and Lawrence & Memorial Medical Group in New London, Connecticut.  See 01-RC-134298.  AFT Connecticut had been seeking to add a group of LPNs and a group of Medical Assistants employed at the nearby L+M Medical Office Building to exiting bargaining units at the hospital.  The Regional Director found that there were sufficient distinctions, including separate human resources departments, different scheduling requirements, separate supervision and little overlap to warrant these groups joining the hospital units.  This is notwithstanding the fact that certain functions, such as payroll administration, were shared or that both entities have a common owner.

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