Defend Trade Secrets Act Provides New Remedies – With a Few Catches

On May 11, 2016, the Defend Trade Secrets Act (the “DTSA”) was signed by President Obama and became effective immediately.  The new Federal law provides for a civil action in the United States District Courts, with remedies that include compensatory damages and, in certain “extraordinary circumstances,” seizure of misappropriated trade secrets.  Where a trade secret is “willfully and maliciously misappropriated,” the DTSA permits exemplary damages in an amount up to twice the compensatory damages awarded, as well as reimbursement of attorneys’ fees.  The DTSA does not preempt additional claims or rights available under State law.

There are limitations worth noting.  First, the DTSA does not permit an injunction preventing an individual from entering into an employment relationship.  Any injunction that would place conditions on employment must be based on “evidence of threatened misappropriation and not merely on the information the person knows.”  Further, crucially, an injunction under the DTSA may not “conflict with applicable State law prohibiting restraints on the practice of a lawful profession, trade, or business.”

Moreover, an employer cannot recover exemplary damages or attorneys’ fees if, in an agreement entered into with an employee that governs the use of a trade secret or confidential information, the employer fails to include notice of certain whistleblower provisions contained in the DTSA.  An employer may comply with the notice requirement by a cross-reference to a policy document provided to the employee that sets forth the employer’s reporting policy for a suspected violation of law.  The notice requirement applies to agreements entered into on or after the effective date of the DTSA.

IRS Extends Deadlines for 2015 Health Plan Coverage Reporting

At the end of December 2015, IRS announced extended due dates for 2015 Affordable Care Act reporting.

(1) Form 1095-B, Health Coverage
(2) Form 1095-C, Employer Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage.

Deadline for filing forms with IRS changed from February 29, 2016, to May 31, 2016, if not filing electronically, and from March 31, 2016, to June 30, 2016 if filing electronically:
(3) Form 1094-B, Transmittal of Health Coverage Information Returns
(4) Form 1095-B, Health Coverage
(5) Form 1094-C, Transmittal of Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Information Returns
(6) Form 1095-C, Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage.

Affordable Care Act Transition Rules for 2015 Provide Relief for Some Large Employers

For 2015 plan years, “large employers” with fewer than 100 full-time employees can qualify for a waiver of the employer mandate penalties by filing a certification of eligibility for the waiver with IRS.  This means that, if you have between 50 and 99 full-time employees (as defined under the Affordable Care Act), you will not owe penalties for failure to provide essential minimum coverage to your full-time employees during the 2015 plan year.If you have between 50 and 99 employees and wish to qualify for the 2015 waiver, you must meet other conditions.  These include maintaining coverage you offered as of February 9, 2014, and not having reduced your workforce or aggregate work hours for purposes of qualifying for this waiver.  Further, in order to qualify, an employer must not exceed specified limitations on reducing employer contributions toward the cost of coverage. Beginning in 2016, all large employers are susceptible to the penalties.