Robison, Curphey & O'Connell Feed Mar 2018firmwise Cory Tomlinson and Kyle Jazwiecki Speak at Lourdes College of Nursing About the Perils of Social Media Mar 2018News<p>On February 21, 2018, attorneys Corey Tomlinson and Kyle Jazwiecki spoke to students at the Lourdes College of Nursing about the perils of social media use in their career. The growing presence of social media in society creates new concerns for professionalism and patient privacy. Nurses and other medical professionals need to be mindful that what may seem like a harmless post may contain confidential information protected by HIPAA. Some communications, like direct messages, emails, or text messages, may also present serious HIPAA concerns when they are done in violation &nbsp;of an employer&rsquo;s policies, or outside the purpose of furthering patient care. &nbsp;For more information please contact: Kyle Jazwiecki at <a href=""></a>.</p> of Employment Agreements Mar 2018Insight<p>Several types of agreements are generally categorized as &ldquo;employment agreements&rdquo;. The first type are those agreements between organizations and those who are generally considered to be &ldquo;employees&rdquo; of the organization. &nbsp;The second category of agreements are between organizations and those who are generally considered to be &ldquo;independent contractors or consultants&rdquo; to the organization.</p> <p>The organization&rsquo;s objective in using such agreements is to define the relationship and protect the organization&rsquo;s proprietary business information, intellectual property and technology, and provide ownership and protection of the work product generated by the employee/consultant in the course of his duties for the organization.&nbsp; These objectives are addressed through one or more of the following undertakings depending upon the scope of the work to be performed and the importance of intellectual property and proprietary business practices, manufacturing and product technology, and customer and vendor information to the success of the organization&rsquo;s business.</p> <p>To accomplish these objectives, the agreement for employees/consultants usually contains one or more of the following:</p> <ol> <li>The obligation of the employee/consultant to maintain the organization&rsquo;s proprietary information in confidence and to refrain from using it for purposes other than the organization&rsquo;s business;</li> <li>The obligation of the employee/consultant to disclose and assign to the organization inventions and developments made by employee/consultant in the performance of the agreement; and</li> <li>For some agreements which are usually specific to employees, the explicit obligation of loyalty to the organization during the course of employment.</li> <li>In some cases where there is justification based on the value of the proprietary/business information, additional &ldquo;non-compete&rdquo; obligations are included which preclude employment with competing entities for a limited period of time in specified geographic locations.</li> <li>In addition to the above, employment-specific topics such as job location and duties, pay rates, term and termination of employment, dispute resolution, applicable law, etc. are often addressed.</li> </ol> <p>The foregoing are just a few of the topics to be addressed in various types of employment agreements, which are generally supplemental to the matrix of applicable state and federal laws which provide for, and in some cases limit, the scope of the rights and obligations in employment relationships.</p> <p>Many employers develop a standardized approach to agreements with employees and consultants which are tailored to meet the specific company needs for their particular business while complying with applicable federal and state laws in the states where they conduct business.</p> <p>For more details on this topic or other employment-related matters, please contact Attorney Bill Beach, <a href=""></a>, at RCO Law.</p> Jean Ann Sieler Authors Article Concerning Construction Law Published in OACTA Quarterly Review Feb 2018News<p>Attorney Jean Ann Sieler authored the article &ldquo;<i>A Dust in the Wind</i>... <i>Silica and Construction Industry Challenges: What Every Construction Lawyer Needs to Know&rdquo; </i>that was published in the Winter 2018 Volume of the OACTA Quarterly Review. To access the article, please click <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> M. Thompson Appointed Second Vice President of LCBA Jan 2018News<p>Attorney Chad M. Thompson has been appointed as Second Vice President for the Lucas County Bar Association&rsquo;s 2018 term. Mr. Thompson previously served two terms on the Bar Association&rsquo;s Executive Committee.&nbsp;</p> <p>Mr. Thompson is an Attorney in RCO Law&rsquo;s litigation practice group, where he represents clients in state and federal courts throughout the region.</p> Exemption for AG Clients Jan 2018News<p>Kathryn M. Mohr presents on <a href="/7599B1/assets/files/Documents/Estate-Tax-Exemption.pdf" target="_blank"><u>Estate Tax Exemption</u></a> to guests at the Lenawee Conservation District Crop Day in Adrian Michigan. The presentation was prepared by Attorney Garrett A. Keeton. For additional information please contact Garrett or Kathryn at our Toledo or Tecumseh office.</p> <p><a href="/7599B1/assets/files/Documents/Estate-Tax-Exemption.pdf" target="_blank"><img src="" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="437" height="582" /></a></p> Law Presented with New Member Plaque from Maumee Chamber of Commerce Jan 2018News<p>As the member representative to the Maumee Chamber of Commerce on behalf of RCO Law Attorney Jim Holzhauer shared the following remarks.</p> <p>&ldquo;Good morning. My name is Jim Holzhauer, and I am an associate attorney with Robison, Curphey &amp; O&rsquo;Connell.&nbsp; Paul Croy and I have enjoyed getting to know or renewing acquaintances with many of you at the meetings over the past few months, and look forward to connecting with more of you.&nbsp; This has been a fun group to be a part of, and I&rsquo;m excited to be involved in what the Chamber is working on in the coming year.</p> <p>RCO Law&rsquo;s history in Toledo stretches all the way back to 1874, though the firm did not become Robison, Curphey &amp; O&rsquo;Connell until 1964.&nbsp; We have a total of five offices.&nbsp; RCO Law&rsquo;s corporate office is in the Four SeaGate building in Downtown Toledo, and there also are offices in Waterville and Findlay, and Monroe and Tecumseh, Michigan.</p> <p>RCO Law is a full-service, collaborative law firm.&nbsp; Our five main practice areas are business, estate planning, healthcare, labor &amp; employment, and litigation.&nbsp; Our attorneys represent clients from one end of the spectrum to the other &ndash; from individuals to large corporations &ndash; and know the importance of drawing on the skills and experiences of other attorneys at the firm to provide reasoned advice efficiently to our clients.</p> <p>My practice primarily is focused on commercial transactions, real estate, and construction and development agreements, but I am happy to get someone in touch with anyone at the firm for any need they may have.&rdquo;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="360" height="480" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="" hspace="0" vspace="0" align="absmiddle" alt="" border="0" width="360" height="480" /></p> Law Presents 2018 Winter AG Seminar in DUNDEE, MI on January 23, 2018 Jan 2018News Law Presents 2018 Winter AG Seminar in HILLSDALE MI on January 25, 2018 Jan 2018News Employees and Title VII Jan 2018News<p>Recently, a jury awarded Dr. Rachel Tudor, a transgender woman, $1,165,000 on discrimination and retaliation claims made under Title VII. The protections of Title VII, written in the early 60&rsquo;s, must now adapt to modern society. Other anti-discrimination laws face similar issues of interpretation. Title VII presents a clear example of changing interpretation over time. With the recent award, this law deserves additional consideration from employers.</p> <p>Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forms the foundation of anti-discrimination law. It generally applies to employers having fifteen or more employees. Many states, including Ohio, have similar laws that provide expanded protections to employees of even smaller employers. Specific local ordinances may also alter an employer&rsquo;s duties. Importantly, discrimination not prohibited by Title VII, may be prohibited under an applicable state or local law.</p> <p>As the federal baseline for discrimination in employment, Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. These are commonly referred to as protected classes.</p> <p>Who is in a protected class? Everyone. What qualifies as discrimination? Any adverse treatment or categorization of an employee, which occurs because of their protected class. Importantly, Title VII protections also apply to applicants seeking employment. Common violations of Title VII include: failing to hire or promote an individual; sexual harassment; unevenly applying discipline between groups; and retaliating against employees for reporting, charging, or opposing acts of discrimination.</p> <p>The text of Title VII is over 50 years old. Now, the old text must be applied to issues unforeseen by legislators in the 60s. One question has recently come into sharp focus: does Title VII protect transgender individuals? Short answer: yes. But, getting there took some time and interpretation. The words &ldquo;gender&rdquo; or &ldquo;transgender&rdquo; do not appear in Title VII. However, the reasoning for their protection begins with <i>Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins</i>, 490 U.S. 228 (1989). There, the Court extended protections to gender because the employer failed to promote an employee based on stereotypical assumptions of the individual as a female. From this reasoning, courts extended the protection of Title VII to employees facing discrimination because they do not conform to typical presentations of male or female.</p> <p>The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which handles appeals from Federal courts in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, issued a landmark opinion on the protection of transgender employees under Title VII in <i>Smith v. City of Salem, Ohio</i>, 378 F.3d 566 (6th Cir. 2004). As a result, the precedent in our area clearly protects transgender employees under Title VII.</p> <p>The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (&ldquo;EEOC&rdquo;) enforces Title VII using a similar interpretation. Their guidance provides the following as examples of unlawful discrimination: failing to hire an applicant because they are a transgender individual; firing an employee who is planning or making a gender transition; denying an employee equal access to the restroom to which they identify; and harassment in the form of intentionally using the pronouns that do not correspond with their gender identity.</p> <p>All employers should review their compliance with Title VII and other applicable laws. Such reviews should include consideration of discrimination faced by the LGBT community. Employers generally strive to have a discrimination-free workplace for everyone. However, even with the best intentions, everyday employment interactions could result in liability or litigation. Employers considering disciplinary action or termination of any employee should take care to ensure that a discriminatory animus plays no role in the decision. Employers with any doubts regarding possible discrimination should contact an attorney to seek advice specifically tailored to the factual situation at issue.</p> Tax Changes in 2018 Dec 2017News<p>The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has been passed by Congress and is expected to be quickly signed into law. The legislation includes important changes to the estate and gift taxes. Most notably, it doubles the lifetime estate and gift tax exemption amount. Under prior law, the combined estate and gift tax exemption was $5,000.000.00, adjusted for inflation. That meant that in 2017, every individual could give away up to $5,490,000.00 through a combination of lifetime gifts and transfers upon their death without paying federal estate or gift taxes.</p> <p>The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act doubles the exemption amount to $10,000,000.00, adjusted for inflation. Therefore, in 2018, the amount that can be given away before paying estate or gift taxes is $11,200,000.00 per individual. A husband and wife who maximize both spouses&rsquo; exemptions can give away $22,400,000.00.</p> <p>The increased exemption amounts will have a significant impact on some estate plans. The changes may make some prior tax planning obsolete. As with any significant change in the law, individuals should consult with their estate planning attorney to determine the impact on their plan, and whether any changes are necessary.</p>