Business Litigation Group Lawyer Amanda R. Phillips was selected for inclusion as one of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly's 2021 Top Women of Law, a recognition that celebrates the achievements of exceptional women lawyers who are pioneers, educators, trailblazers and role models. Amanda was featured in a special issue of the publication and honored during an event held on November 17, 2021. Read more in the press release.
Robinson+Cole Business Litigation Group lawyer Kendra L. Berardi was elected president of the Real Estate Bar Association for Massachusetts (REBA) during the association’s Annual Meeting & Conference on November 1, 2021. Kendra will serve a one-year term beginning January 1, 2022.
For nearly 150 years, REBA’s mission has been to advance the practice of real estate law by creating and sponsoring professional standards, actively participating in the legislative process, creating educational programs and materials, and demonstrating and promoting fair dealing and good fellowship among members of the real estate bar. Kendra has served on the REBA Board of Directors since 2014 and held several leadership roles including president-elect, treasurer, clerk, co-chair of the Continuing Education Committee and chair of the New Lawyers Section. Read more in the press release.
Robinson+Cole received 40 first-tier metropolitan rankings, including 28 in the city of Hartford, in the 2022 Edition of U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms.” Law firms included in the publication are recognized for professional excellence with consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers.
Robinson+Cole also received four national rankings: Tier 1 ranking for Land Use & Zoning Law, Tier 2 rankings for Information Technology Law and Real Estate Law, and a Tier 3 ranking in Labor Law - Management. Read more in the press release.
Robinson+Cole is pleased to launch its Environmental Law + blog. The latest addition to the firm’s network of blogs is dedicated to providing a timely and thoughtful forum for discussion of developments in the environmental, health and safety (EH+S), and energy landscapes.
The Environmental Law + blog is produced by Robinson+Cole’s Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group, one of the largest and most diverse in the Northeast, with Jonathan H. Schaefer serving as editor. To receive updates from the Environmental Law + blog, please subscribe. Read more in the press release.
A total of 42 Robinson+Cole attorneys were named to Super Lawyers® lists in the States of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island for 2021. In addition, 29 attorneys at the firm were recognized as “Rising Stars.”
Bruce B. Barth and Jeffrey J. White were named to the Top 50: 2021 Connecticut Super Lawyers list. Linda L. Morkan appears on the Top 25: 2021 Women Connecticut Super Lawyers list and, similarly, Natalie D. Ramsey was included in the Top 50: 2021 Women Pennsylvania Super Lawyers list. Read more in the press release.
Robinson+Cole was again ranked as a “highly recommended” firm in Connecticut in the 2022 edition of Benchmark Litigation – the definitive guide to the world's leading litigation law firms and lawyers. The firm also received a “recommended” ranking in the area of labor & employment.
The following Robinson+Cole lawyers earned a litigation star honor: Wystan M. Ackerman, Bradford S. Babbitt, Patrick W. Begos, Joseph L. Clasen, Gerald P. Dwyer Jr., Edward J. Heath, Linda L. Morkan, Rhonda J. Tobin, Theodore J. Tucci, James A. Wade and Jeffrey J. White. This past August, Robinson+Cole Managing Partner Rhonda Tobin was also named one of Benchmark Litigation‘s Top 250 Women in Litigation for 2021 for the eighth consecutive year. She was the only female litigator chosen in the state of Connecticut for 2021. In addition, Stephen W. Aronson and Rachel V. Kushel received the “Labor & Employment Star – Northeast” recognition from the fourth edition of Benchmark Labor & Employment. Read more in the press release.
Robinson+Cole was recognized as one of The Hartford Courant’s Top Workplace 2021 winners, as published in a special section on September 26, 2021. The firm was the only law firm to receive a recognition. In addition, earlier this year the firm received a New York City Top Workplaces 2021 award by Schneps Media Top Workplaces and is listed among the top 20 businesses across New York City as published by amNY. The lists are based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by employee engagement technology company Energage, LLC.
“Robinson+Cole is truly a special law firm,” said Rhonda J. Tobin, Managing Partner, Robinson+Cole. “Our culture of collaboration, civility and inclusion ensures that every voice is heard, that people work together while developing individually, and that everyone feels they are part of something meaningful. We are highly focused on professional development and mentoring at all levels, and our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is reflected in our daily decisions. All of this enables us to provide the very best service to our clients and to our communities.” Read more in the press release.
Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group lawyer Emilee Mooney Scott was selected by the Hartford Business Journal for inclusion in its 2021 “40 Under Forty” class. The honorees were each profiled in a special section published in the August 23, 2021 edition of the Hartford Business Journal and recognized during a special event on September 21, 2021 at Pratt & Whitney Stadium/Rentschler Field commemorating the 2021 class and 40 Under Forty’s 25th anniversary.
The class showcases a diversity of up-and-coming professionals who are leading their organizations in sectors that include the legal, technology, insurance, real estate, banking and nonprofit arenas, and from organizations both small and large. They represent the promising future of the city, region, and state, and were selected from among more than 160 nominees. Read more in the press release.
For the second consecutive year, Robinson+Cole has achieved Mansfield Rule Certification after completing a year-long process that began in July 2020. Robinson+Cole is one of only 118 law firms to receive Mansfield Rule 4.0 certification. The certification is developed and facilitated by Diversity Lab in an effort to increase the representation of diverse lawyers in leadership positions by broadening the pool of women, lawyers of color, lawyers with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ lawyers who are considered for significant governance roles, partner promotions, lateral partner and senior associate hiring and inclusion in business development initiatives.
“Our Mansfield Rule 4.0 certification validates Robinson+Cole’s commitment to fostering a welcoming and inclusive work environment in which the diverse backgrounds of all our lawyers and other professionals are respected and each individual is empowered to succeed,” said Robinson+Cole Managing Partner, Rhonda J. Tobin. “Our continued participation enhances our ability to cultivate a culture in which our increasingly diverse group of lawyers and other professionals can bring their unique ideas and perspectives to the practice of law.” Read more in the press release.
Business Litigation Group lawyer, Kendra L. Berardi, was highlighted in the Law360 Pulse article, “Robinson & Cole Atty On Taking The Reins Of Mass. RE Group,” published on November 23, 2021. Kendra will begin her one-year term as President of the 150-year old Real Estate Bar Association of Massachusetts (REBA) on January 1, 2022. Her association with REBA dates back to the beginning of her legal career, when she clerked for Judge Karyn Scheier, Chief Justice of the Land Court in Massachusetts. It was Judge Scheier who urged Kendra to get involved with the organization. Kendra’s trajectory in REBA took off in 2014 when she became chair of the New Lawyers Section, which led to subsequent board, executive committee and officer positions. During her term, Kendra plans to build on REBA’s existing initiatives focusing on outreach to young lawyers and law students, and peer-to-peer mentoring. She also notes in the article “that many of the issues that might require REBA's attention in the next year haven't revealed themselves yet.” Read the full article here.
Construction Law Group member, Joseph A. Barra, was quoted in the article "From Christmas trees to refrigerators, Vermonters are facing shortages and rising costs," published in the November 14, 2021, issue of the VTDigger. The story highlights construction projects in Vermont and across the country that have been affected by labor and material shortages, delays resulting from COVID, bottlenecks in supply chains here and abroad, and other issues plaguing the construction industry. Addressing how these impacts are affecting the rising costs of construction, Joe said, "You've got certain protectionist legislation, protective tariffs that the government has imposed that makes the price of raw materials more expensive or (creates) shortages... Lack of supply to U.S. markets would be one illustration of that.” Read the full article here.
Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group lawyers Megan E. Baroni and Jonathan H. Schaefer co-authored the article “OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard Is in Flux,” published in CE This Week on November 15, 2021. The article focuses on the current status of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), halted by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit motion to stay, which ordered that no further steps to implement or enforce the ETS be taken. At this time, OSHA has suspended activities related to the ETS, pending future developments in ongoing litigation. Read the full article.
Insurance + Reinsurance Group lawyer Sharone G. Kornman was presented with L’Dor V’Dor Award during the Voices of Hope (VOH) "Evening of Hope" event on November 17, 2021. The virtual community gathering celebrated VOH's13 years as a non-profit educational organization created by descendants of Holocaust survivors across Connecticut. The organization's mission is to promote a culture of courage to stand up against hatred through Holocaust and genocide education and remembrance. Robinson+Cole, through its pro bono initiative, assisted in incorporating VOH as a 501(c)(3) entity. Sharone is the sixth recipient of the L’Dor V’Dor ("from generation to generation") Award, which is given annually to an individual who has demonstrated a commitment to ensuring that future generations never forget. Since 1990, she has worked on various Connecticut initiatives to help safeguard the remembrance and lasting legacy of her parents and other Holocaust survivors. Learn more about Voices of Hope.
Intellectual Property & Technology lawyers, Kayla C. O’Leary and John L. Cordani, co-authored the article, “Transformation or Derivation: Modern Trends in the Fair Use Doctrine from Software to Photography,” published in IPWatchdog on November 17, 2021. In the article, Kayla and John discuss how the “Fair Use” doctrine has evolved as technology and the way in which people use copyrighted works has advanced. Through their analysis of recent decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, resulting in some conflicting guidance, they concluded that “[G]iven the emerging trends in the law, it is important for defense counsel to identify and pursue potential fair-use defenses early in a copyright litigation, even outside the traditional areas of commentary, criticism, teaching, news reporting, scholarship, and research.” Read the full article.
Manufacturing Industry Team Chair Jeffrey J. White was quoted in the article “As global supply chains falter, more CT manufacturers consider reshoring operations,” published in the Hartford Business Journal on November 15, 2021. The article focuses on issues such as supply chain disruptions and transportation difficulties arising from COVID-19 challenges over the past 18 months that, combined with labor instability, tariffs and increasingly-protectionist policies in countries around the world, have caused U.S. manufacturers to rethink outsourcing as a way to lower costs and increase profitability. The end result is more companies shifting work back home – known as “reshoring” – as those complications might no longer justify their return on investment.
Jeff said he thinks most companies moving to reshore operations would have done so anyway, as both the quality of workmanship and transport issues have become concerns, and previously attractive countries for outsourcing manufacturing have tightened their labor and trade statutes and regulatory practices. “It’s possible that people overgeneralized the benefits of outsourcing, and the downsides became more apparent,” he said. “After 20 years of outsourcing, people across the board are perhaps more sophisticated about it.” Read the full article here.
Robinson+Cole’s Business Transactions Team represented SmartEquip, Inc., a multi-manufacturer technology platform that provides customers with service and diagnostic support to each asset in their fleet, as well as enabling the electronic procurement of parts from OEMs and their dealers, in connection with its sale to Ritchie Bros., a global asset management and disposition company, for a purchase price of approximately $175 million. The R+C team included Adam Anderson, Stephen E. Cooper, Jacqueline Pennino Scheib, Virginia E. McGarrity, Christopher F. Homsy, Kayla C. O’Leary, Kathleen M. Porter, Michael J. Kearney, Jr. and Eric M. Kogan. The sale closed on November 2, 2021. Read more about the transaction.
Appellate Practice Group chair Linda L. Morkan has been elected President-elect of the University of Connecticut Law School Alumni Association Board of Directors. Linda was elected during the Alumni Association’s Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner on October 26, 2021, and will serve a one-year term during the Law School’s year-long Centennial Celebration. She transitions to the new role from her previous position as Vice President. Prior to that, Linda served as Secretary and has been a member of the Association’s Board of Directors since 2018. The Alumni Association is dedicated to cultivating the spirit of community and pride among those who have attended the law school and contributes to the advancement of the law school and the legal profession.
Managed Care + Employee Benefit Litigation Group member, Milanna Datlow, authored the article “Implementing Regulations for The No Surprised Act: Part I,” published in the Fall 2021 Newsletter of the American Bar Association’s Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (ABA TIPS) Employee Benefits Committee. The article examines coverage of and cost-sharing for the services subject to the No Surprises Act (NSA), which was enacted as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 in response to the growing concerns regarding surprise (or balance) billing. Milanna shares insights on the NSA and the first set of its implementing regulations, including the differences from the current federal consumer protections against surprise medical bills, the NSA’s interaction with state surprise billing laws, and the notice and consent exception permitting balance billing for the medical services subject to the NSA in limited circumstances. Read the full article.
Congratulations to Labor and Employment Group partner, Britt-Marie Cole-Johnson, on being re-elected to serve a third two-year term as a member of the Association of Workplace Investigators, Inc. (AWI) Board of Directors. Founded in 2009, AWI’s more than 1,400 members comprise a professional association for attorneys, human resource professionals, private investigators, and many others who conduct, manage, or have a professional interest in workplace investigations. AWI’s mission is to promote and enhance the quality of impartial workplace investigations. Britt-Marie is an AWI Certificate Holder and a frequent speaker and faculty member for the Association’s training and education programs focused on conducting impartial workplace investigations.
Business Litigation Group lawyer Tasnuva Islam has been appointed to serve a two-year term on the Invictus Forever Board of Directors and will be working with its fundraising subcommittee. The nonprofit organization seeks to meet the vocational, recreational, social, educational, and therapeutic needs of children and adults with disabilities by offering meaningful activities and inclusive social initiatives catering to individuals with mild to severe disabilities (e.g., autism, developmental disabilities, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy). The primary goal of Invictus Forever is to prepare individuals for independent living by enabling them to acquire the valuable skills needed to have successful and meaningful lives. Learn more about Invictus Forever.
Real Estate + Development Group lawyer Roger A. Peters II and Business Transactions Group lawyer Rickie M. Sonpal have been recognized as “Rhode Island Go To Lawyers” by Rhode Island Lawyers Weekly (RILW) and profiled in a special section published in the October 25, 2021 edition. Roger received the designation in the area of Commercial Real Estate and Rickie was recognized in the area of Business. The “Go To Lawyers” program recognizes the top lawyers throughout Rhode Island. See the special section.
Labor and Employment Group lawyer Abby M. Warren was quoted in the article “When May an Employer Reject a Religious Accommodation Request?” published under the “Employment Law” category of the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) online resources web page. The article focuses on employers evaluating employees’ religious accommodation requests as it pertains to mandating COVID-19 vaccination. While employers must evaluate accommodation requests that are made based on sincerely-held religious beliefs, employers aren’t obligated to provide accommodations that would result in an undue hardship. However, employers evaluating whether an undue hardship exists may want to still consider measures to mitigate risks to health and safety, including “’routine COVID-19 testing, mask wearing, social distancing and working remotely,’ noted Abby Warren, an attorney with Robinson & Cole in Hartford, Conn.” Read the full article.
Intellectual Property + Technology lawyer John L. Cordani served as an intellectual property adviser for contestants during the Hartford, CT edition of Make48, the “world’s fastest invention competition." The nationwide invention documentary series gives teams exactly 48 hours to come up with an idea, build a physical prototype, sales sheet, and a one-minute marketing video based on a challenge. John assisted the competing teams with the intellectual property research for their idea at MakerspaceCT, 25,000 + sq. ft. of well-equipped working space in Hartford, on October 7 and October 9, 2021. Teams go on to present their working prototype and promotional video to a panel of judges with the winning team receiving a cash prize. Learn more about Make48.
Government Relations Group co-principal Susan J. Halpin has been selected for inclusion in the Hartford Business Journal’s (HBJ) 2021 Power 25 Health Care class. While the list identifies leaders who have had a significant impact on the industry and public health, it is not considered an awards section. HBJ’s Power 25 Health Care class was chosen and ranked by the publication’s news team. “To make the list, individuals must not only be in a position of power, they need to wield it in such a way to have an outsized impact on our community.” Susan was profiled in a special section of the HBJ published on October 18, 2021, which describes her lobbying efforts on behalf of the Connecticut Association of Health Plans (CAHP), the organization that directs the Connecticut lobbying interests of Cigna, Aetna and a handful of other major commercial health carriers operating in the state. This is the second consecutive year Susan has made the list. Read the full profile.
Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group lawyer Jonathan H. Schaefer authored the article “OSHA retaliation complaints rising – Have you checked your anti-retaliation program lately?” published in ISHN (Industrial Safety & Hygiene News) on October 14, 2021. The article acknowledges the record number of retaliation complaints filed by employees for raising workplace health and safety concerns and for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses as a result of COVID-19. Given that “employee complaints are one of the major triggers for OSHA investigations, it is likely that a whistleblower complaint will lead to an OSHA inspection and investigation. For this, and other reasons, employers should be aware of OSHA’s anti-retaliation law and how to avoid triggering retaliation claims.” Jon offers background on the enforcement of Whistleblower Protection Program OSH Act Section 11(c), steps employers can take in an effort to prevent retaliation claims and recent developments with OSHA anti-retaliation. Read the article.
Bankruptcy + Reorganizations Group lawyers Katherine M. Fix and Ryan M. Messina authored the article “Does Federal Common Law Define a Business Trust’s Eligibility for Chapter 11?” published in the October 2021 issue of the ABI Journal, the member publication of the American Bankruptcy Institute. Featured in the Journal’s “On the Edge” column, the article focuses on how courts have struggled to determine whether an entity is a “business trust” that is eligible to be a “debtor” under the Bankruptcy Code-the crux of which arises from the Code’s failure to define what a business trust is within the context of bankruptcy. Katherine and Ryan provide a history of business trusts in the bankruptcy code; examine the split of authority that exists as to which law governs: the law of the jurisdiction in which the trust resides, or federal common law; and offer insights into how a recent Delaware Bankruptcy Court decision regarding an offshore real estate investment trust may become the new standard. Read the full article.
Bankruptcy + Reorganizations Group co-chair Patrick M. Birney was part of the team recognized for “Distressed M&A Deal of the Year ($100MM to $250MM)” during The M&A Advisor’s 15th Annual Turnaround Awards hosted on September 29, 2021 in New York City. The award was presented for the sale of Rubie’s Costume Company, Inc. and its U.S. based affiliates. Headquartered in Long Island, NY, Rubie’s is the world’s largest costume provider, with a wide-ranging portfolio of licensed products including Marvel, Warner Brothers, Nickelodeon, Disney and Lucasfilm costumes, memorabilia, novelties and toys. Patrick represented TD Bank, a secured lender in the sale, which was effectuated through a Chapter 11 Section 363 process in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York. SSG Capital Advisors, LLC acted as the investment banker to Rubie’s Costume Company, Inc. The transaction closed in October 2020. The M&A Advisor’s Annual Turnaround Awards recognize those that reached the pinnacle of the distressed investing, bankruptcy, and restructuring industry over the past year. Read more about the awards.
Business Litigation Group lawyer Janet Kljyan has been elected to serve a three-year term on the Hudson River Housing, Inc. Board of Directors. Hudson River Housing provides a continuum of services that improves lives and communities through housing with compassion and development with vision. The organization creates pathways out of homelessness through empowerment, education, and advocacy and strengthens communities by developing and preserving affordable housing and creating opportunities for people and places to thrive. Learn more about Hudson River Housing.
Intellectual Property + Technology Group lawyer Kathleen M. Porter was recognized as a “Massachusetts Go To Lawyer” in the area of Intellectual Property by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (MLW) and profiled in a special section published in the September 27, 2021 edition. The “Massachusetts Go To Lawyers” feature was debuted by MLW in 2020 to showcase leaders in the Massachusetts legal community by practice area. A “Go To Lawyer” is: an expert in his or her field; a senior attorney well-versed in case law, statutes and regulations; experienced, with a record of success in cases and/or transactions; a lawyer to whom other lawyers make referrals because of his or her expertise and accomplishments; and a lawyer who can think creatively and identify all options for a client.
Real Estate + Development Group lawyers Candace M. Cunningham and Deirdre M. Robinson were among those selected by the New England Real Estate Journal to be featured in the publication’s “Women in Commercial Real Estate” spotlight, which recognizes the achievements of women across all facets of the real estate industries. The Q&A spotlight of each honoree offers key insights on “what it takes to achieve success.” Candace focuses on the benefits of being and having a mentor. Deirdre shares what led her to becoming a lawyer, a characteristic she believes every woman in commercial real estate should possess, what trends she thinks may dominate her industry in the coming months, and a project from the last year that she is most proud of.
Insurance + Reinsurance Group lawyer John F. McCarrick was quoted extensively in the article “SPAC Boom Begets A New Breed Of Insurance Coverage Spat” published in Law360 Insurance Authority on September 1, 2021. The article focuses on the risks and insurance coverage considerations faced by companies formed via special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), which raise funds to make an initial public offering before purchasing a private target company. “Also called blank-check companies, SPACs are required to obtain a target and merge within two years or return investors' money.” The article references a recent lawsuit filed by Alta Mesa Resources (AMR) seeking coverage for claims that a defunct energy company's former executives caused it to collapse to suggest that a precedent could be set for insurance disputes involving other ventures that, like AMR, were created through increasingly popular SPACs. John said the “case could be a good litmus test to determine if D&O policies are currently structured to actually address the liabilities that may arise when deSPACs are created. He also said the case will demonstrate if the prior acts exclusion represents the right approach for insurers to bar coverage.” Subscribers can read the article.
Immigration Group lawyer Jennifer L. Shanley authored the article “H-1B and Beyond: What are the Options for Hiring Foreign Nationals?” published in Industry Week on September 15, 2021. In the article, Jen discusses the extraordinary workforce gap that manufacturers are facing today, with more than 800,000 vacant jobs currently. To fill those jobs, manufacturers are turning to foreign nationals who can be sponsored through a variety of different work-authorized status categories, each with its own requirements and limitations. Read the article.
Health Law Group lawyer Danielle H. Tangorre was quoted in the article “Recent Prosecutions Give Labs Insight Into DOJ's Use of Opioid Bill's Anti-Kickback Statute,” published in 360Dx on August 19, 2021. The article examines whether the passage of the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act (EKRA) of 2018, which was meant to outlaw patient brokering in the addiction treatment industry, criminalized common lab business practices such as paying sales staff on commission or placing phlebotomists in physician offices for sample collection. Danielle noted that while EKRA was written with the opioid crisis in mind, a recent case of a New York physician who was indicted for violations of several laws including EKRA as part of a scheme in which he solicited payments in exchange for referring pharmacogenetic testing to a pair of laboratories suggests it will be used to prosecute fraud in other areas, as well — genetic testing, for instance. "We were hoping for regulations or a fix for [the law] to be made more narrow, but we haven't seen that, and, instead, the cases are showing a broader applicability of how the [US Department of Justice] is using EKRA," [she] said. Danielle added that “while some labs outside the toxicology space might have been on the fence as to whether they needed to change their practices to comply with the law, ‘we can now point to these cases and say, you're a clinical lab, you need to be concerned about EKRA and how you conduct your business, whether it is how you structure your sales and marketing or how you address your pricing models. Labs need to think about it as they would any other statute.’" Launched in 2016, 360Dx covers emerging economic and technological trends in the clinical diagnostic market. Subscribers can read the article.
Construction Group lawyer Frederick E. Hedberg authored the article “Mitigating the Risks of Materials Price Escalation: Better Now Than Never!” published in Construction Executive on September 9, 2021. Fred discusses how dramatic increases in the prices of raw building materials over the past year have jeopardized constructions projects that did not mitigate the risks of material price escalation. The article counsels construction stakeholders on the importance of considering different strategies to mitigate the risks of price escalations during all phases of a project. During the bidding phase, owners might want to require bids to be submitted pursuant to a universally accepted cost index. Conversely, contractors and downstream subcontractors and suppliers might want to define the time period during which their bids are valid and to include language in their bids to account for price increases that occur after a certain date. The article also discusses drafting and negotiating different types of contractual provisions, including threshold or delay and mutual or bilateral price escalation clauses, which fairly and equitably allocate the risks of volatile price fluctuations often driven by economic and political forces outside the control of the parties. Read the full article.
Robinson+Cole welcomes the following members of our fall class: Katherine R. Ballington (Fordham Law School), Joshua L. Coker (Cornell Law School), Katherine Dute (Temple University Beasley School of Law), Julia F. Fountain (Georgetown University Law Center) and Eric J. Rigoli (University of Notre Dame Law School), and congratulates them on their recent graduation.
Labor and Employment Group lawyer Abby M. Warren was quoted in the article “New seniority rehire law creates hurdles for companies looking to rebound from pandemic” published by the Hartford Business Journal on September 6, 2021. The article focuses on a new Connecticut law aimed at giving certain workers laid off because of COVID-19 “first crack at their old jobs when their former employers rehire.” The statute requires restaurants, food service companies and hotels with 15 or more workers to contact any employees they laid off because of COVID-19 when they rehire and offer them their former positions. It includes numerous provisions and empowers workers to sue if their former employers fail to comply – effectively setting aside at-will employment, which is standard throughout the United States. “If you told me a year ago that this would be a law in Connecticut, I would have been shocked,” Abby said. She went on to acknowledge that it may be a challenge for businesses not used to dealing with union contracts and expressed surprise that the statute allows workers to go straight to court, noting that employment laws are filed with an agency prior to a lawsuit being filed. Read the article.
Bankruptcy + Reorganizations Group Co-chair Patrick M. Birney was selected to be one of Turnaround Management Association’s (TMA) featured members for the month of September. Patrick was chosen to be highlighted by the Connecticut Turnaround Management Association (CTTMA) and will appear in the “Featured Members” section found on TMA’s homepage. According to its website, TMA “is the most professionally diverse organization in the corporate restructuring, renewal, and corporate health space.” The organization is comprised of turnaround practitioners, attorneys, accountants, advisors, liquidators, consultants, as well as academic, government employees, and members of the judiciary with nearly 10,000 members in 54 chapters worldwide. Patrick is a longtime member of TMA and CTTMA serving in several leadership roles. He has previously served as a TMA Director and Vice President of Public Relations. Visit TMA’s website to view the Featured Members section.
Labor and Employment Group lawyer Abby M. Warren was quoted in the article “Here’s why one CT employer mandated vaccines. Will others follow?” published in the Hartford Business Journal (HBJ) on September 6, 2021. A follow-up to an earlier HBJ article on Connecticut employers mandating employee COVID-19 vaccinations published on June 14, 2021, the latest article notes that the previously unpopular vaccine requirements “seem to be one of the few tools left to employers to insulate themselves from an increasingly unpredictable pandemic.” Abby acknowledges that “[f]or the most part, courts and government agencies charged with arbitrating employment matters have largely sided with employers when it comes to mandates.” She also points out that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recent decision to officially approve the Pfizer vaccine definitely weakens “[t]he argument against employer mandates because the vaccines may be unsafe...” In addition, Abby comments on exemption policies and the related nuances that need to be worked out when formulating those policies because the courts have to balance legal protections with safety concerns. Read the article.
Labor and Employment Group lawyer Emily A. Zaklukiewicz has been reappointed to serve as co-chair of the Connecticut Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section (CBA-YLS) Women in the Law Committee for the 2021-2022 bar year. The role is among those that comprise the CBA-YLS Executive Committee. The Young Lawyers Section has as its primary goals the promotion of justice, the encouragement of public service, and the promotion of diversity and education of young lawyers and newly admitted practitioners. The Section serves a valuable social and networking role in fostering connections among young lawyers and assisting them in their transition into the legal practice in Connecticut. It includes all members of the CBA who are 37 years old or younger or who have been admitted to the Bar for less than six full bar years.
The Women in the Law Committee of the Young Lawyers Section monitors the progress and works to enhance the status and opportunities available to women in the legal profession; provides women attorneys in Connecticut an opportunity to share concerns, communicate, and network with one another in a supportive forum; and promotes the participation of the CBA in substantive areas of law and legislation that present issues of particular concern to women in the profession, and to those who seek legal services.
Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group lawyer Jonathan H. Schaefer was quoted in the article “OSHA Calls on Employers to Protect Workers from COVID-19” published under the “Employment Law” category of the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) online resources web page. The article stresses the importance of employers’ remaining vigilant in their adherence to COVID-19-related safety measures under OSHA’s general-duty clause, which entitles employees to a workplace free of known health and safety hazards. Jon acknowledges that in addition to the risk of violating the general-duty clause, employers are facing citations for violation of specific OSHA regulations relative to COVID-19, such as violation of standards related to respiratory protection, bloodborne pathogens, sanitation and PPE. Jon also addresses OSHA’s liability for employee side effects from a vaccine. "This may have been a valid concern earlier in 2021 when OSHA's enforcement guidance compelled those employers requiring employees to be vaccinated as a condition of employment to record adverse reactions to the vaccine if the adverse reaction met the other recordability criteria," he said. OSHA has since indicated it will not enforce the recordability requirements as related to the effects from COVID-19 vaccination—at least through May 2022. Read the article.
Environmental, Energy + Telecommunications Group lawyer Jonathan H. Schaefer is among the honorees selected by the Environmental Business Council of New England, Inc. (EBC) to receive its 2021 EBC Ascending Leader Award. The EBC recognizes young professionals in the energy and environmental sectors demonstrating exceptional leadership and industry involvement early in their careers with the annual presentation of the EBC Ascending Leader Award. Recipients are leaders within their own organizations, often acting as mentors to junior staff, providing thought leadership on critical issues, and leading teams on difficult or large projects. They also represent their organizations through participation in industry associations and committees, supporting the growth of the environmental and energy sectors. Early career success and rapid advancement in the industry are hallmarks of award recipients, who are often involved civically as well. The award recipients will be presenting at the EBC Spotlight on Success: A Panel Discussion with the 2021 EBC Ascending Leader Award Recipients on September 22, 2021. Currently, Jon serves as Vice Chair of EBC’s Connecticut Chapter and is a member of the EBC Site Remediation and Redevelopment Committee.
Transactional Health Law Group co-chair Leslie J. Levinson was quoted in the article “How Geriatric Care Management Businesses Can Accelerate Growth for Home Care Operators” published in Home Health Care News on September 2, 2021. The article discusses the potential boost in organic growth for home care businesses achieved through their acquisition of geriatric care management companies. Despite some recent deals of this type, Les said he’s not noticing a clear uptick in care management transactions. “Honestly, it’s not something that we are hearing one way or the other from clients who have been acquisitive. And as you know, we have been handling a lot of deals,” Les told HHCN’s Robert Holly. “Thatʼs not to say that it hasnʼt gone into the mix of thinking as buyers are evaluating an acquisition opportunity.” Read the article.