Do You Know Who is Working for You?

The business of doing business is complicated. Whether you have corporate, regulatory, immigration or other issues, our firm advises clients on exposure and compliance matters and works to find smart solutions. Good corporate governance means solutions are put in place before a problem occurs. For employers, knowing who is working for you goes a long way to protecting proprietary information and profit.

Following disclosure of sensitive data and information by government contractor Edward Snowden, attention shifted to his access to top-secret government files. In addition to perturbing the National Security Administration (NSA), Mr. Snowden has also started a national conversation about the practices of a government spying on its own people without their knowledge.

Because of their highly sensitive nature, the serious disclosures by Mr. Snowden raise concerns for employers who must protect sensitive and secret information from competitors and foreign interests.

When hiring or considering an employee for an assignment, the government pairs a background check process with the level of confidentiality associated with the position. Types of security clearances include:

  • Confidential
  • Secret
  • Top-secret

The epic failure of the background check on Edward Snowden includes a warning from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 2009 that Mr. Snowden was attempting to access unauthorized computer files and was released from his position as a result.

If the NSA can be led astray by a poorly performed background check, so can you. Protect your company and trade secrets with properly structured and rigorous background checks on personnel with access to vulnerable and sensitive company data.

Make sure your business is protected from within. Speak with a risk management attorney with our firm if you have questions in New York.

Department of Labor Offers Guidance After Supreme Court Decision

In June of this year, the United States Supreme Court ruled in a landmark case that found Section Three of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional and in violation of the liberties provided under the Fifth Amendment. In September, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued guidance concerning employee benefit plans as they are affected by the decision.

The Supreme Court decision in United States v Windsor affects interpretation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) by plan sponsors, beneficiaries and other parties. In guidance provided by the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), the following points are made:

  • The terms spouse and marriage as defined in Title I of ERISA refer to couples of the same or opposite sex that were legally married in any state or jurisdiction.
  • These terms, under ERISA, do not apply to same-sex or other couples who have undertaken civil union or domestic partnerships in a state or jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage.
  • The benefits of same-sex couples who are legally married in a state or jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage are protected regardless of whether they currently reside in a state or jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Under ERISA, those definitions now flow with the legally married couple, regardless of their geographic location. Notes Assistant Secretary for Employee Benefits Security Phyllis C. Borzi, [b]y providing greater clarity on how the Supreme Court’s decision affects one of the laws we enforce, we are contributing to greater equality and greater protection for America’s working families. 

When you have questions about employee benefits, speak with an experienced ERISA attorney in New York.