COVID-related securities claims continue to rattle the marketplace. On December 7, a leading plaintiffs firm announced an investigation on behalf of shareholders of The Cheesecake Factory Inc., just days after the SEC announced it was settling charges against the company for making misleading disclosures about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its business operations and financial condition. The SEC’s action was its first charging a public company for actions tied to the worldwide pandemic. In SEC filings in March and April, The Cheesecake Factory disclosed that its restaurants were “operating sustainably” during the pandemic. The SEC order, however, states…
Price gouging enforcement and litigation is front and center for company counsel and business managers nationwide. Our weekly round up highlights some of the most relevant news and information for our clients and friends. Santa Monica Woman Pleads Guilty Under the Defense Production Act to Hoarding and Price Gouging A Santa Monica woman recently pled guilty to hoarding and price gouging face masks in violation of the Defense Production Act of 1950 (“DPA”).  The DPA prohibits the accumulation of materials “in excess of the reasonable demands of business, personal, or home consumption,” as well as the accumulation of materials for…
Originally published on April 14, 2020. Last updated as of January 10, 2021. This client alert has been updated to reflect the recent changes and updates to the Paycheck Protection Program (the “PPP”), scheduled to re-open on January 11, 2021. On December 27, 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the “CAA”), which provides $900 billion in new COVID-19 relief funding, was signed into law. Title III of the CAA, the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act, renews and extends the PPP until March 31, 2021, providing up to $284.45 billion of emergency lending for eligible small…
On January 7, 2021, President-elect Joe Biden announced Boston Mayor Marty Walsh as his nominee for Secretary of Labor. If confirmed, Mayor Walsh would represent a stark contrast to incumbent Labor Secretary, longtime management attorney Eugene Scalia. Walsh served as the president of Laborers’ Union Local 223 prior to being elected Mayor. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka publicly endorsed Walsh for the position of Labor Secretary and praised the selection, underscoring Walsh’s background in organized labor. As Secretary of Labor, Walsh will presumably be tasked with helping to implement a number of Biden administration policy changes, including with respect to…
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The roll-out of vaccine approvals has led to some confusion over what charges consumers might be asked to cover. This echoes the confusion previously discussed with respect to COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody test pricing. But consumers, providers, and others that will have any involvement with vaccine production, distribution, or administration should be aware that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides different rules for treatment (including testing) than it does for preventative care, like the recently approved vaccines.   …
As recently reported by the Los Angeles Times, People, and a slew of other national and local media outlets, famed Beverly Hills restaurant, La Scala, recently faced significant public backlash after sending out invitations to a Prohibition-themed, indoor New Year’s Eve celebration.  The invitation, which was distributed to select customers, read: “We are considering taking reservations for New Year’s Eve Dinner.  Inside.”  It went on to instruct recipients to “Please keep this discreet, but tell all your friends.” Although the restaurant’s management has since apologized and the previously-announced fête is not going forward, the public backlash serves as…
Summary of Key Changes and Expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 On December 27, 2020 the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 – containing a new $900 billion COVID-19 relief stimulus package – was signed into law.  The Act includes significant modifications and extensions of the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) including: (i) extending the original program until March 31, 2021; (ii) increasing the list of eligible borrowers and the permitted uses of PPP loans; (iii) creating a new “second draw” loan program aimed at providing additional assistance of up to $2 million to PPP borrowers that…
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the “CAA”), which provides $900 billion in new COVID-19 relief funding, was signed into law on December 27, 2020.  Section 324 of Title III of the CAA, the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act (the “Hard Hit Act”), introduces a new $15 billion grant program through which the U.S. Small Business Administration (the “SBA”) will provide aid to struggling live venue operators and related businesses.  This program offers a critical lifeline from the Federal government for the nation’s performing arts venues, movie theatres and museums.  Grants made under such program are…
The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), which requires that employers with fewer than 500 employees provide sick and family leave benefits for certain COVID-19 related reasons, is due to sunset on December 31, 2020. Many believed that the FFCRA’s sick and family leave provisions would be extended into 2021 as part of the pandemic relief package that was signed by the President on December 27. However, these provisions were ultimately not extended, meaning that employers will not be required to provide paid leave under the FFCRA after December 31, 2020. Despite that the FFCRA’s leave provisions were not…
As part of the COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress earlier this week, which has not yet been signed into law by President Trump, the federal government expands on earlier relief issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for health and dependent care flexible spending account benefits (FSAs). Under these temporary rules, plan sponsors may give their employees additional time to use their FSA account balances and to make changes to their FSA elections. These changes are optional and require plan amendments. Read below for more details about this relief, including the deadlines to make plan amendments. No Limit on…
For Massachusetts employers, or employers with Massachusetts-based employees, Paid Family and Medical Leave (“PFML”) has been on the horizon for nearly two years. By now, you have notified your workforce about benefits and contributions, displayed a poster informing them of the same, determined the size of your workforce and who is a “covered individual,” begun making deductions on behalf of eligible employees or applied for a private plan exemption, and more. Next, on January 1st, 2021, employees will become eligible to take leave under the PFML. Employers can prepare by consulting with counsel regarding your obligations, updating employee…
In this episode of The Proskauer Brief, partners Harris Mufson and Evandro Gigante discuss the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s recent guidance for employers regarding mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations. On December 16th, 2020, the EEOC issued updated guidance for employers in light of the FDA’s recent authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. Widespread vaccinations have been largely perceived as critical in returning all employees to the workplace in a safe manner and allowing employers to resume normal business operations. Tune in as we discuss what many employers should consider regarding requiring employees to be vaccinated before returning to the…
Facing a government shutdown and the expiration of many of the relief programs included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”) enacted in March 2020, on December 21, 2020, Congress passed a $900 billion pandemic relief package as part of a broader $1.4 trillion government funding bill.  Along with other relief measures, the new legislation includes additional funding for unemployment benefit programs that had previously been funded in the CARES Act. Unemployment Benefits under the CARES Act The CARES Act expanded unemployment insurance benefits available to workers, including through the following three programs: (1) Federal…