Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Settlements

In seeking to provide American companies with an equal opportunity to compete in international dealings with overseas businesses, the United States government is cracking down on the bribery of foreign officials through continued efforts to enforce the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  Since enacted in 1977, the law has expanded its definition of “American” to include foreign companies that list themselves on the U.S. stock exchanges, sell securities in the country or do business here.  “Facilitation payments” and other forms of dealings often violate the act because of cultural differences or companies’ failure to recognize the extent of the law’s application, which is broader in scope than the laws of many other countries.  Settlements with companies found to have violated the law exceed $3 billion USD.

Source: “Foreign Firms Most Affected by a U.S. Law Barring Bribes,” Leslie Wayne.

Illegal Workforce Punishment

Those convicted of harboring illegal aliens and using them for commercial gain are increasingly facing charges and even jail time.  In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2011, defendants were charged in an illegal worker scheme involving aliens from mostly former Soviet countries who were supplied to hotels as housekeeping personnel.  The defendants received prison sentences ranging from three to five years each for their participation, which included receiving $1.50 kickbacks from each employee’s hourly wage and collecting rent and fees for the illegals’ residence and transportation to and from the hotels.

If you are facing an Immigration issue, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to help!

Source: http://www.irs.gov/uac/International-Investigations—Criminal-Investigation-(CI)-Overview

Social Media Discovery

While many people are now conscious of what they say in emails, the same does not always remain true for other forms of social media including status updates, tweets and instant messages.  As these methods of communication become more useful in today’s business world, courts have also recognized their importance to the discovery process.

As of September 1, 2012, such messages from social media and any type of Electronically Stored Information, or “ESI”, will be discoverable during the course of litigation in Florida state courts.  With this change the Florida Rules more closely reflects the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  This rule now opens the possibilities of obtaining admissions or agreements of parties, while also providing limits on costs, so courts may address the reasonableness of such practices.

Source: “In Florida, Twitter and Facebook Updates are Discoverable,” Wendy Polit and Jose Ferrer.

Non-English Speaking Pro Se Litigants

Recently in some states, challenges facing non-English speakers are increasing in number as lawmakers are enacting English-only laws, justifying them by citing the expense of providing services to non-English speakers.  These laws affect areas as diverse as document production, proof of permanent resident status, housing codes (regarding the number of permitted inhabitants) and the search for valid employment.

One area in particular where this may be felt is legal representation, especially for pro se litigants, or those persons who decide to represent themselves.  Nearly 50% of non-English speaking pro se litigants do not have a translator.  Such litigants are forced to complete complex paperwork under strict deadlines, file motions with the court and understand complex legal jargon without the proper instruction or required understanding of the language.

At Boyer Law Firm, our firms attorneys and staff speak numerous different languages and may be able to help you in these situations, please contact us to see if we can help.

Florida’s Diversified Economy: A Way out of its Unemployment

The most recent unemployment rate ndistressed real estate in floridaationwide figures obtained from the Labor Department  between July,2011 and July, 2012 suggest that Florida has probably a better chance to overcome its unemployment problem compared to states like California and Nevada. According to The Wall Street Journal, not only Florida’s unemployment rate of 9.2% is lower, but its underemployment rate of 17.0%, which represents the number of people who are unemployed and have not looked for a job in the past four weeks, is lower as well.

Florida’s diversified economy is a factor that determines why the sunshine state is most likely to grow out of its unemployment sooner than other economies. Florida is not only a good place to work at but also a good place to invest.

At Boyer Law Firm, our attorneys can assist you with questions regarding employment, investment, real estate and business in the State of Florida.