Bell Nunnally & Martin LLP RSS Feed Aug 2020 00:00:00 -0800firmwise Turman to Present Litigation Webinar for the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers<p><b>Event Details:<br /> <br /> </b>Senior Associate Brent Turman is presenting a litigation webinar for the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers.<br /> <b><br /> Date/Location:</b></p> <p>Wednesday, August 12, 2020<br /> 12:00 PM<b><br /> <br /> Overview:<br /> <br /> </b>This webinar seamlessly weaves trial tips and ethics into the story about an unlikely source of knowledge. Through the story of the rise and fall (and rise again) of a Billboard regular, Turman highlights important lessons litigators can learn and apply to their practices. The lessons include how to properly structure questions during a cross-examination, details attorneys should pay attention to in the courtroom and the different strategies litigators can use when communicating with a jury.<br /> <br /> For more information and to register for the webinar, please click <u><a href="">here</a></u>.<br /> <br /> This has been approved for 1 hour CLE credit.</p>Events12 Aug 2020 00:00:00 -0800 Impact on Cannabis: Industry Insights and Expectations<strong>Event Details:</strong><br /> <br /> Partner Karen Hart is a panelist for the CLE webinar &quot;COVID-19 Impact on Cannabis: Industry Insights and Expectations&quot; for the American Bar Association.<br /> <br /> <strong>Date/Time:</strong><br /> <br /> Wednesday, August 5, 2020<br /> 12:00 PM<br /> <br /> <strong>Overview:</strong><br /> <br /> Hear from industry insiders and their attorneys on the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on the cannabis industry and the associated legal landscape. Our experts will explore the opportunities presented by the anticipated distressed asset market, including options for struggling operators, as well as the newly created barriers to entry (e.g., licensing delays, supply shortages, distribution chain closures). <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The exciting topics to consider and explore will include the distressed asset market, anticipated market consolidation (increased M&amp;A activity, joint ventures and acquisitions), the active investor market and barriers to entry (e.g., licensing and application delays, credit-crunch, suspension of legalization efforts). Our experts will also focus on options for struggling operators (bankruptcy is not a viable option) and the advantages to existing companies and larger entities. Do we see a downturn in this nascent industry or expansion as states seek new revenue streams? What is the status of the SAFE Banking Act and how does one navigate current banking restrictions? Lastly, we will explore insurance problems and implications for marijuana-related business, especially tenants and building owners.<br /> <br /> For more information and to register, please click <a href="">here</a>.</p> <br /> <br /> <br />Events05 Aug 2020 00:00:00 -0800 the U.S. Supreme Court Turned the Proof Standard in Title VII and Other Federal Employment on its Head?<p><strong>Posted: August 4 at 12:00 PM</strong><br /> <br /> On June 15, the U.S. Supreme created a new class of employees protected by Title VII &ndash; &ldquo;homosexual and transgender&rdquo; &ndash; in <i>Bostock v. Clayton County Georgia</i>, which is the subject of a previous <a href="">client alert</a>. In addition to extending the protection of Title VII to this class of employees, the court may have significantly altered the causation standard required for an employee to show gender discrimination. Historically, employees needed to prove the employer was &ldquo;motivated by&rdquo; an employee&rsquo;s gender when making employment decisions on behalf of that employee. The Supreme Court&rsquo;s decision in <i>Bostock,</i> however, changed that standard to &ldquo;but for,&rdquo; and offered detailed commentary about what that new standard means. The laws potentially implicated by this new standard include: portions of Title VII; the Americans With Disabilities Act; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; 42 U.S.C, Section 1981 (race discrimination); and other acts.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"><b><i>Bostock </i></b><b>Changes the Standard of Proof for Gender Discrimination Claims</b></p> <p>Until the <i>Bostock</i> decision, the &ldquo;but for&rdquo; causation standard required a plaintiff to show that his/her/their injury would not have occurred but for the unlawful conduct of the defendant. In fact in March, the Supreme Court said just that, in <i>Comcast Corp. v. National Association of African American Media</i> (holding that the causation standard for race discrimination cases under 42 U.S.C. Section 1981 is &ldquo;but for&rdquo; and observing that few legal principles are better established than the &ldquo;but for&rdquo; causation standard in tort cases) in an opinion written by Justice Gorsuch who also wrote the majority opinion in <i>Bostock</i>. Yet due to language in <i>Bostock</i>, it will be argued that even if other factors played a role in an employer&rsquo;s decision, even ones of a more important role than the employee&rsquo;s sex, the other factors are of no significance. So long as an employee&rsquo;s sex was one &ldquo;but for&rdquo; cause of that decision, then Title VII protection is triggered.</p> <p>Interestingly, the causation standard under Title VII was not an issue to be decided in <i>Bostock</i> and therefore may not be binding on lower courts. Nonetheless, the plaintiffs&rsquo; bar can argue that the court lowered the plaintiff&rsquo;s burden of proof on &ldquo;but for&rdquo; causation not only under certain causes of action under Title VII cases, but also under the ADA, ADEA, 42 U.S.C. Section 1981 and others that utilize the standard. It could take years for courts to figure out if this language is binding, and if it is, how to apply it.<br /> <br /> <b>How do Employer&rsquo;s Respond to the <i>Bostock </i>Decision&rsquo;s More Lenient Proof of Standard?</b></p> <p>In the meantime, employers need to be thorough in their investigations of employee conduct, make carefully reasoned decisions on the action to be taken as a result of those investigations and consult with their attorneys if there is any question about how to proceed.<br /> <br /> If you have questions or would like to discuss further, please contact <a href="">Jay Wallace</a> or <a href="">Tom Case</a>.</p>Newsletters & Client Alerts04 Aug 2020 00:00:00 -0800, the Workplace and Covid-19: Tracking Employees to Safeguard Against Spread of Virus<p><strong>Posted: August 4 at 12:00 PM</strong><br /> <br /> As businesses reopen, employers are exploring ways to operate while safeguarding against the spread of the coronavirus. In addition to the standard safeguards of masks, cleaning surfaces and limiting the number of employees and customers who can access a facility, businesses are using tracking technology to protect their employees and customers. The technology includes smartphones, GPS, laptops, microchips, microphones and cameras and has traditionally been used to track employee and vehicle movement, employee productivity, limit access to information, encourage safety and prevent theft and violence in the workplace.</p> <p><b>Virus Tracking Meets Employee Privacy Rights</b></p> <p>The public and workplace initiatives for tracking the COVID virus have presented unprecedented workplace privacy issues. The same technology can be used to track social distancing, mask wearing, sneezing, coughing, hand washing and more. Amazon tries to assure social distancing by having its employees wear bracelets that buzz if a co-worker comes within six feet. Another employer has developed an app that tracks how close employees get to each other by measuring their smartphones&rsquo; Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signals. This allows the employer to do contact tracing to identify employees who may have been exposed to the virus. GPS technology used to track movement of vehicles can identify people with whom an infected driver comes into contact. Hospitals utilize sensors in identification badges and location hubs in patient rooms to track whether employees clean their hands within 60 seconds of entering a patient&rsquo;s room. Existing security cameras are being used to monitor social distancing and mask wearing; and, some employers are contemplating integration of artificial intelligence into security cameras to detect sneezing and coughing.</p> <p><b>COVID Presents Different Risks in Different Workplaces</b></p> <p>Facilities where the virus presents a greater risk of infection and spread justify more invasive monitoring steps. For example, employers need to be more vigilant in health care facilities than in manufacturing plants. As with any other workplace device that infringes upon employee privacy, it is incumbent on employers to: (1) provide full disclosure to their employees about the steps being taken; (2) balance these steps with the public health emergency the virus presents in their workplace; and (3) obtain written (or other verifiable consent) from employees about the steps being taken.</p> <p><b>Employee Tracking Via Smartphone. What Could Go Wrong?</b></p> <p>While technology is constantly advancing, employers utilizing it must guard against violating the rights of employees under state and federal laws; and, the use of employee smart phones and laptops to track the movements of employees outside of work can be problematic. Up to 70% of the workforce in the United States utilizes personal smartphones or laptops for their employer&rsquo;s business. If an employer utilizes technology in an employee&rsquo;s smart phone or laptop to track their activities outside of business hours, that employer runs the risk of invading the privacy of its employees. For example, many states have laws that prohibit employers from firing employees for activities outside of the workplace.</p> <p>The tracking of activities outside of work hours can also reveal information such as churches or political events attended, alternative lifestyle bars frequented or meetings at union halls. If an employer fires an employee or takes another adverse employment action against an employee after learning about any of those activities, the employee can sue for religious or sex discrimination under state and federal laws and for violation of rights to engage in organizational activities under the National Labor Relations Act, irrespective of whether the employer is unionized.</p> <p>An employer can also inadvertently violate the rights of employees by tracking some activities in the workplace. For instance, cameras placed near restrooms, locker rooms and other areas where privacy is expected would violate employees&rsquo; right of privacy; and, information regarding the health of employees must be kept confidential.</p> <p>Employers must also consider employee morale in using technology to track their movements and activities. Emails and phone calls have been monitored for years. Now technology has the ability to monitor movements, interaction with other employees and conversations. Some employers are using thermal imaging to track employee temperatures. Thermal imaging also allows employers to determine if an employee is at her desk, how often she moves around and where that movement takes her. Too much technology smacks of intrusion to employees and over time can decrease morale and productivity.</p> <p><b>Where Does This Tracking Technology Versus Privacy Dilemma Leave Employers?</b></p> Technology presents some useful tools to help American businesses control the spread of COVID. As employers begin to use or consider using technology to reduce the spread of the virus, now is a good time to review those policies to make sure the purpose and method of tracking, the activities monitored and the use of the information obtained is clearly explained to employees. As mentioned above, the key is that employers balance the steps they want to take with the risk the virus presents in their workplace. If an employer does not have a policy on the tracking of employee activities, now is a good time to implement one. If you need any help or guidance with your existing policies, or want to create one, we will be glad to help you.<br /> <br /> If you have questions or would like to discuss further, please contact <a href="">Jay Wallace</a> or <a href="">Tom Case</a>.Newsletters & Client Alerts04 Aug 2020 00:00:00 -0800 Ross Williams Featured on Attorney at Law Ross Angus Williams was featured on <a href=""><em>Attorney at Law</em></a> magazine for being recognized among the &ldquo;40 Under 40&rdquo; in 2020 by the <em>Dallas Business Journal</em>.&nbsp; <br />News31 Jul 2020 00:00:00 -0800 Burns Featured on NPR Regarding Pro Bono Representation of Tenant Infected by COVID-19 Now Facing Eviction, Loss of Extra Unemployment Benefits<p>Bell Nunnally Associate <a href="" target="_blank"><span>Parker A. Burns</span></a>&nbsp;is featured in the NPR story &ldquo;'Tsunami' Of Evictions Feared As Extra $600 Unemployment Payments End.&rdquo; The piece explores the impact of the sun setting on an extra $600 a week in unemployment benefits on July 31. These benefits were initiated as part of the federal government&rsquo;s initial relief response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Burns represents pro-bono a Dallas resident who lost her job as a home health aide shortly after the pandemic was declared and then went on to contract the illness. A single mom caring for a disabled teenage son (who also contracted COVID-19), she is currently recovering while facing eviction proceedings.&nbsp;</p> <p>Burns comments on the confusion surrounding COVID-19 and evictions, as different cities and states have different rules, &ldquo;It has left many tenants in the dark about their rights. Tenants should contact local attorneys, tenants' association, and check their local government websites if they are facing an eviction.&quot;</p> <p>To read and listen to the story, please click&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><span>here</span></a>.</p>News29 Jul 2020 00:00:00 -0800 Syed Accepted Into DAYL's 2020 "Leadership Class"<p>Bell Nunnally Associate <a href="">Saba F. Syed</a> has been accepted into the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers&rsquo; (DAYL) 2020 &ldquo;Leadership Class.&rdquo; The program, started in 1997, is designed to bring together young attorneys from across North Texas who want to make a difference in their community and at the bar. Limited to 40 participants, members learn more about Dallas; have opportunities for involvement with non-profits, the bar association and city politics; and complete a class project benefiting the community. The &ldquo;Leadership Class&rdquo; is an initiative of the DAYL, an organization comprised of approximately 3,000 young attorneys across the region &ldquo;dedicated exclusively to the needs of young lawyers and the community service projects about which they are most passionate.&rdquo;</p> <p>Bell Nunnally has a long history of participation in and support of the DAYL Leadership Class. Since the program&rsquo;s inception, partners <a href="">R. Heath Cheek</a> and <a href="">Ross Angus Williams</a>, along with associates <a href="">Perrin B. Fourmy</a>, <a href="">Peter J. Kosydar, III</a>, <a href="">David G. Webster</a> and <a href="">Sydnie A. Shimkus</a> have participated.</p> <p>To learn more about this leadership opportunity, please click <a href="">here</a>.</p>News28 Jul 2020 00:00:00 -0800 Jeffrey Cash Featured on Texas Lawyer J. Jeffrey Cash is featured in the &quot;Newsmakers&quot; section on <a href=""><em>Texas Lawyer</em></a> for joining the firm's&nbsp;corporate and securities and mergers and acquisitions practice areas.News23 Jul 2020 00:00:00 -0800 Ansley, Arianna Goodman and Katherine Devlin on D Magazine Look at COVID-19 Health Care Regulatory Waivers Nationally and in Texas<p>Bell Nunnally Partner Jeffrey J. Ansley and associates Arianna G. Goodman and Katherine M. Devlin authored the <i>D Magazine</i> article &ldquo;How Federal and State Waivers May Impact Care in Texas.&rdquo; The piece looks at how state and federal health care laws and regulatory waivers administered during the COVID-19 emergency are changing the way care is delivered. The Trump administration in April issued COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers (Blanket Waivers), which are in effect until the end of the coronavirus emergency and have empowered the Centers for Medicare &amp; Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand health care efforts. In Texas, the state Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) was granted a waiver by CMS allowing various regulatory flexibilities such as: provisionally and temporarily enrolling an out-of-state provider not enrolled in Medicare or another state&rsquo;s Medicaid program; allowing out-of-state providers to be reimbursed in some instances; and extending prior authorization approvals. Governor Greg Abbott also waived certain regulations in an effort to expand the health care workforce. The group comments, &ldquo;The healthcare arena is rapidly evolving during the crisis, and that means that the waivers, flexibilities, enforcement actions and guidelines are constantly changing as well. Although patient care should be the No. 1 priority, providers, facilities and the like should do their best to stay up to date on the governing laws and regulations to remain compliant.&rdquo;</p> <p>To read the full article, please click <a href="">here</a>.</p>News21 Jul 2020 00:00:00 -0800 Nunnally Partner Ross Williams Recognized Among Dallas Business Journal's "40 Under 40" in 2020<p>Bell Nunnally Partner Ross Angus Williams has been named among the &ldquo;40 Under 40&rdquo; in 2020 by the <i>Dallas Business Journal.</i> He was <a href="">profiled</a> in an online Q+A, is set to be honored during a live broadcast by the publication on July 23 and will be featured in the July 24 print edition.</p> <p>&ldquo;Ross&rsquo;s dedication to the city of Dallas and the broader North Texas business community is exceptional. In addition, he has been an indispensable member of Bell Nunnally, working adeptly across different practices, helping clients find innovative solutions and remaining highly visible as a published thought-leader. We congratulate him on this well-deserved honor,&rdquo; said Christopher Trowbridge, Bell Nunnally managing partner.</p> <p>In his Q+A, Williams was asked about the &ldquo;biggest challenge&rdquo; over the next 12 months:</p> <p><i>Challenges are often opportunities in disguise. &hellip; With initiatives designed to overcome long-term, systemic barriers to entry and success in the law, and a focus on underrepresented communities &hellip; I&rsquo;m confident that we are doing the work needed to grow the firm and mirror the diverse communities we represent.</i></p> <p>Williams was selected after the review of several hundred nominations by a judging panel comprised of past winners from a wide swath of industries and roles in the private, public and non-profit sectors. He joins past Bell Nunnally honorees Trowbridge (2012), R. Heath Cheek (2013) and Alana K. Ackels (2019).</p> <p><a href=""><b>Williams</b></a> is a member of Bell Nunnally&rsquo;s Litigation; Intellectual Property; Labor, Employment and Benefits; and Entertainment, Advertising and New Media practices. He routinely tackles complex business disputes involving trade secrets, cryptocurrency and blockchain, non-competes and other restrictive covenants, unfair competition, contracts, torts, real estate and internet defamation. Williams has briefed appellate matters before state and federal appellate courts, including the Texas Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court, the latter twice <i>at certiorari</i>.</p> <p>Active in his community, Williams served for approximately four years (through March 2020) as a city official on the Community Development Commission for the City of Dallas, as the Commissioner for District 14. The commission meets at City Hall once a month to discuss and advise the City Council on the budgetary process regarding all community development federal funding received and distributed in the City of Dallas.</p> <p>In 2019, Williams was elected to the Board of 100 Men of Dallas &ndash; a 501(c)(3) community organization in the Dallas area (whose 501(c)(3) status Ross played a key role in securing), composed of men and women who &ldquo;give a damn&rdquo; about Dallas and its charitable causes. The charity holds quarterly events where three charities make presentations, the members vote and then each member writes a $100 check to the selected organization, which receives 100% of the proceeds.</p> <p>Williams also serves as the current Chairman of the Friends of Fair Park, and has been the elected Legal Counsel of the Greater East Dallas Chamber of Commerce each year since 2016.</p> <p>Honored by his industry peers, Williams has been named to <i>D Magazine</i>&rsquo;s &ldquo;Best Lawyers Under 40 in Dallas&rdquo; since 2018 (the first year the list was published, when Williams was also selected to the first-ever nominating committee for the list), has been voted a &quot;Texas Rising Star&quot; for six consecutive years and has been named &quot;One to Watch&quot; by the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers. A longtime Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation himself, in 2018, Ross was selected to serve as a nominating committee member for the group.</p> <p>Williams is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law (J.D., with honors, 2008) and Tulane University (B.A., <i>summa cum laude</i>, 2005).<br /> <br /> <strong>Media Contact:</strong><br /> Brittany Lewis<br /> Marketing Manager<br /> 214-880-6661<br /></p>Press Releases20 Jul 2020 00:00:00 -0800