Last night, US Congressional leaders announced an agreement on a $900 billion COVID relief bill. While the text of the bill has not been released as of this writing, people familiar with the negotiations have indicated that the deal will extend renewable energy tax credits for wind and solar projects and the Section 45Q carbon capture tax credit, with special provisions addressing offshore wind farms.

Read more on Mayer Brown’s Tax Equity Times blog.

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Tonight I had the pleasure of participating in the Financial Times North American Innovative Lawyers Award, which were “live” online tonight, December 10, 2020.  Kudos to hosts Reena Sengupta, Managing Director of RSG Consulting, and Robert Grange and Robert Armstrong of the Financial Times, for running a flawless event.  The silver lining for not being together in New  York participating in the gala event was that we, the in house law departments and outside firms on the short list for awards, could invite our full corps.  In my case, I had the pleasure of inviting many colleagues, including the associates who worked throughout the past nine months to ensure we maintained fluid, seamless connectivity with our clients as they and we worked together to surmount the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Continue Reading Financial Times Awards Focus on Innovation During COVID-19 Pandemic

The UK Government has confirmed that it will be renewing the measures it introduced to protect tenants in the commercial property sector unable to pay their rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, commercial tenants benefit from a prohibition on landlords forfeiting commercial leases for non-payment of rent. This measure was due to end on 31 December 2020, however the Government has announced that the restriction on forfeiture will be extended until 31 March 2021.

Continue Reading this Legal Update on MayerBrown.com.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

This afternoon, the US District Court for the Northern District of California set aside two rules issued by the Trump administration pertaining to employer sponsorship of H-1B workers, both of which bypassed notice-and-comment rulemaking as required by the Administrative Procedures Act (“APA”):

  • The Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens in the United States rule, by which the Department of Labor increased the wages employers were required to pay to H-1B workers by 43 to 71% as of October 8, 2020 (the “DOL Rule”), when the rule took effect;
  • The Strengthening the H-1B Program rule, by which the Department of Homeland Security would have severely restricted the definition of who would be eligible for H-1B status and imposed limitations on duration of H-1B status for those employed by large IT staffing companies (the “DHS Rule”), had the rule taken effect on December 7, 2020 as planned.

Together, these rules represented the most substantial shift in eligibility, wage levels, and third-party worksite supervision of H-1B workers in the past 30 years.

Judge Jeffrey S. White granted partial summary judgment in Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, et al., v. US Department of Homeland Security, et al (Case No. 4:20-cv-7331-JSW), ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, which included the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the other plaintiffs from the business and academic sectors.  The court concluded that the government “failed to show there was good cause” to implement the two rules.  Echoing themes presented by the plaintiffs and amici, including amici represented by Mayer Brown, the court concluded:

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the nation’s health, and millions of Americans have been impacted financially by restrictions imposed on businesses, large and small, during the pandemic; the consequences of those restrictions has been a fiscal calamity for many individuals. However, “[t]he history of the United States is in part made of the stories, talents, and lasting contributions of those who crossed oceans and deserts to come here.  The National Government has significant power to regulate immigration. With power comes responsibility, and the sound exercise of national power over immigration depends on the Nation’s meeting its responsibility to base its laws on a political will informed by searching thoughtful, rational civic discourse.”  Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S. 387, 41 (2012).

The court’s order mandates that the relevant administrative agencies set aside the DOL Rule and DHS Rule and revert to previously established standards for reviewing H-1B eligibility and the wages required to be paid to H-1B workers.  We expect the agencies to signal their intent to appeal the court’s decision and for the DOL to confirm when it will revert to prior wage standards shortly.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

With employers across industries being impacted, recent changes to H1-B visa regulations by the Trump administration are likely to be reversed, said Liz Stern, head of Mayer Brown’s Global Mobility & Migration practice, in an October 26 HR Dive article.

Business groups—including the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, National Retail Federation, and medical and dental organizations—and several universities recently sued the Trump administration over revised regulations over the H-1B visa, which allows highly skilled international workers into the country to work for US employers.

Two changes are at issue: a revision to the US Department of Labor’s regulations, which increases the wage scale for H-1B holders by 30 to 60 percent, and the US Department of Homeland Security releasing an interim final rule that limits degree requirements for H-1B holders to work in certain jobs and restricts the terms of contractors hired through the H-1B program from three years to one.

Liz noted that both departments bypassed the typical step of allowing time for public comment on proposed changes.

“Suddenly, you’ve got the Department of Labor saying H-1B workers must be paid [more], because our own system, which we’ve been using, is obviously wrong,” Liz said. “It just has a gaping hole as to the rationale behind any change in the rule, and it definitely doesn’t address the timing.”

Employers filing for renewal of their H-1B this year may feel the impact of these policies even more, and Liz gave an example that speaks directly to the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying switch to remote work. “If someone moved from one location to another, there’s a requirement for an amended filing almost inevitably. And in that moment, that amended filing for somebody who simply just moved because they were working virtually […] can trigger the need for filing and suddenly their salary must be a completely different level.”

The article goes on to state that these regulations have driven employers to look to other countries for expansion, delay visa filings and keep job openings unfilled for longer periods of time.

“I think there is absolutely no question that all of these industries are already, first of all, taking on the fight to prevent this from becoming a reality and yet, at the same time, anticipating that there’s some vulnerability,” Liz said.

For information on other regulatory developments related to the pandemic, please visit our COVID-19 Portal.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

Economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to an unprecedented global financial crisis with no end in sight. When it comes to stabilizing the financial system, the US president and his Democratic challenger have different approaches in mind.

A second Trump administration would continue to see a loosening in financial regulation, while the Biden campaign has pledged to build on the Dodd-Frank Act, reflecting the major policy differences between Democrats and Republicans, as discussed in an October 16 Wall Street Journal article (subscription required).

Mayer Brown Government & Global Trade partner Andrew Olmem (DC), a former National Economic Council deputy director under President Trump, said the Trump administration “will continue its focus on pragmatic, pro-growth regulatory reforms that enhance the resiliency of financial markets, encourage the use of fintech, and expand access to the financial system.”

Jacob Lew, Treasury secretary in the Obama administration, says that a Biden administration could “build on the achievements of Dodd-Frank to ensure that consumers have a voice, that regulators can spot and address outsize risks, and that our system is one in which everyone plays by the rules.”

The article goes on to analyze how the outcome of the upcoming presidential election could impact money-market mutual funds, bank regulation, consumer financial protection and securities regulation.

For information on other regulatory developments related to the pandemic, please visit our COVID-19 Portal.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

Dress suits now occupy a dark corner of the closet, while sweatpants and jeans are the daily clothing choices for those of us working from home. This seismic wardrobe shift is having a profound effect across the global supply chain, impacting everyone from sheep farmers to business attire chains. 

London-based Litigation & Dispute Resolution partner James Whitaker confesses to not having purchased any office wear in 2020 in an October 15 Reuters article. “I can tell you for a fact, walking around the City, there are very few suits on display,” he said.

While casual wear has been growing in popularity for years, the COVID-19 pandemic has turbocharged that change, as described in Reuters.

For information on other regulatory developments related to the pandemic, please visit our COVID-19 Portal.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

A Kansas liberal arts college dropped a proposed class action against a national insurer, which alleged that the carrier did not cover financial losses related to COVID-19. As a result of the pandemic, Benedictine College had shut down campus activities and dorms and refunded students over $1 million in room-and-board fees. 

As detailed in an October 15 Law360 article, Zurich American Insurance Co. successfully urged the Kansas federal court to drop the suit, stating “the school was trying to stretch its property policy…and the court should follow ‘the overwhelming majority’ of rulings across the country that have dismissed such claims.”

Zurich is represented by a Mayer Brown team including Washington-based partners Evan Tager and Archis Parasharami, Chicago-based partner Debra Bogo-Ernst, and Los Angeles-based partner Bronwyn Pollock and counsel Doug Smith.

For information on other regulatory developments related to the pandemic, please visit our COVID-19 Portal.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions 

related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.

One of the top 10 issues affecting US immigration in the next 100 days will depend on the outcome of lawsuits challenging an overhaul of the eligibility, wage levels, and employment rules for the H-1B visa category, which governs the hiring of highly-skilled workers by US employers across industries. Today a leading group of business associations, including the US Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, Bay Area Council, and National Retail Federation, as well as number of educational institutions and associations, filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of California against the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Labor (DOL) challenging the Strengthening the H-1B Program rule and the Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens in the United States rule. The suit was filed in the Northern District of California. US Chamber CEO Tom Donohue issued the following statement with regard to the lawsuit:

Continue Reading Game-Changing H-1B Rules Challenged by Business and Academia

Mayer Brown Employment & Benefits partners Duncan Abate and Hong Tran (both Hong Kong) predict few employers will move forward with mass employee COVID-19 testing. According to Duncan and Hong, once employers carry out individual risk assessments, many will likely avoid making testing a requirement, outside of those in the most at-risk industries.

In an October 13 HR Magazine article, Duncan and Hong lay out several important questions for employers to consider when deciding whether or not to implement COVID-19 testing for employees:

  • Do testing benefits outweigh the negatives?
  • If you decide to test, does the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO) permit you to do so?
  • What are implications of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (PDPO)?
  • What about the Contract of Employment?
  • Who pays for testing?

For information on other regulatory developments related to the pandemic, please visit our COVID-19 Portal.

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If you wish to receive periodic updates on this or other topics related to the pandemic, you can be added to our COVID-19 “Special Interest” mailing list by subscribing here. For any other legal questions related to this pandemic, please contact the Firm’s COVID-19 Core Response Team at FW-SIG-COVID-19-Core-Response-Team@mayerbrown.com.