If you didn't get a chance to attend our identity theft seminar, you can still get the highlights by virtue of our latest podcast. Here is the link so you can have at it: http://www.themattacolafirm.com/HighlightsofIdenityTheftSeminar.mp3
In the ever increasing category of "Laws That Cannot Keep Up With Technology", the IRS is struggling to find ways to account for employer provided cell phones for employees. They have some new proposals out that they are seeking comments for. One such proposal would simply label one fourth of an employees' use of a work cell phone as personal and treat the value of that as a fringe benefit. Employers could deduct accordingly on their end of things.
There are other proposals as well, this article sums it all up nicely: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124473141538306335.html
Currently, the law on the books requires that the value of the cell phone be included in the employee's gross income unless the employee keeps detailed records showing that it is for work only. Yet, most, and that's an understatement, are not complying with this requirement and most employers and employees alike say that this creates an unreasonable administrative burden. The new proposal is designed to make it a bit simpler. The one quarter/three quarters rule would definitely be a bit easier to oversee than the current state of affairs. Have a thought? Let the IRS know.
The entire "World is Flat" concept never ceases to amaze me. Neither does the complete proliferation of such social networking sites of Facebook and Twitter into everyday life. Last week, I watched a site called Black Cab Sessions (musicians performing live in London taxi cabs, pretty cool) gain several hundred new Twitter followers in a matter of an afternoon because skateboard pioneer Tony Hawk mentioned them on his Twitter tweet. Just amazing.
I've also been following how Facebook and Twitter has infiltrated the legal world and have monitored how many lawyers, like myself, have begun using them for networking, marketing and just plain fun. Well, apparently the guys in robes have been as well. Because a North Carolina judge just got reprimanded for being Facebook friends with a lawyer who was appearing in a case before him and they exchanged Facebook posts with each other about the case while it was still pending. That's a no-no for my non-lawyer friends. You aren't allowed to speak with a Judge about the case without the presence of the opposing lawyer while a case is pending. The Judge also got spanked for using google to research the plaintiff in the case even though that information had never been entered into evidence, even going so far as to cite a poem by the plaintiff, taken off the web site, before rendering his decision. Justice is supposed to be blind ladies and gents, not an internet sleuth. http://www.the-dispatch.com/article/20090601/ARTICLES/905319995/1005?Title=Judge-reprimanded-for-discussing-case-on-Facebook
Nonetheless, it's all pretty interesing and in case you were wondering, technology and the way we get news, market ourselves, interact with others - it's not going away and only going to keep on evolving. Balencing this new wave of information with the 'old' rules and principles of conduct is where the challenge lies. Stay tuned.
Our friends at the EEOC have been at it again and have issued some "best practices" for employers to follow when dealing with employees with caregiving responsibilities. These are not rules, per se, and are not mandates for employers but are measures that the EEOC would like to see you take when handling employees who are caregivers. In other words, if you follow their suggestions, you will make the EEOC happy and make life easier for yourself if you are ever involved in an EEOC charge. The "best practices" can be found here: http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/caregiver-best-practices.html
A 'caregiver' is someone who cares for a spouse, children, parents, elderly relatives and relatives with disabilities. The EEOC's 'best practices' are designed to help an employer avoid prejudices and stereotypes that can occur about caregivers such as assuming that female employees' caregiver responsibilities will hinder their ability to keep up in a fast paced environment or that male workers, do not or shuld not, have significant caregiver responsibilities. It is a useful document and worth a read. As I tell my employer clients, the key is to be fair and to be consistent. Expect nothing more of one class or gender of employees than you would another and when disciplining for attendance or quality issues, do so in a consistent manner that does not take into account a person's gender, age, disability, etc. So, take a look and if you have questions, we are here.
This blog is posted by Greg Mattacola of The Mattacola Law Firm, located in Rome, New York and serving clients across New York State. This blog shares our thoughts on the law, our strong promotion of a fulfilled life and a deep caring for our community.
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