Happy New Year from the National Law Review! We hope that the holiday season has been restful and rejuvenating for you and your family. Here at the NLR, we are wrapping up the second season of our legal news podcast, Legal News Reach. Check out episode seven here: Creating A Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive Work Environment with Stacey Sublett Halliday of Beveridge & Diamond! A few weeks ago, we also announced the winners of our 2022 Go-To Thought Leadership Awards! Each year, around 75 recipients are selected for their timely and high-quality contributions to the National Law Review. This year’s slate of winners was particularly competitive – to see the full list, check out our 2022 National Law Review Thought Leadership Awards page.
As we look forward to a bright and busy 2023 for the legal industry, it is more prudent than ever to review the previous year and all that came with it. 2022 was a chaotic and monumental year for not only the legal profession, but for the world at large. The invasion of Ukraine, global supply chain issues, and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic were only some of the many challenges all industries and sectors faced. In the United States, companies and employers dealt with enormous changes at every level, including but not limited to the reversal of Roe v. Wade, shifting attitudes toward cannabis legalization, and ever-changing standards for COVID-19 vaccinations.
Read on below for some thought leadership highlights from this past year, and for a reminder of all that we’ve passed through in 2022:
Most prominently in 2022, the US Supreme Court handed down substantial rulings for coronavirus vaccine mandates, which affected not only healthcare workers but all employers across the country. With a 6-3 majority, SCOTUS stayed the Biden Administration’s OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard that applied to all private employers, but simultaneously ruled in a 5-4 majority that issued a 5–4 unsigned majority that vaccine mandates for medical facilities and medical workers can remain.
January also saw noteworthy changes to labor law in the United States, inviting a handful of significant standard changes for all employers. At the end of 2021 and early in 2022, the NLRB considered cases that altered the standard for determining independent contractor status, as well as the standard that established whether a facially neutral work rule violates Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act. These changes also paved the way for briefings on determining appropriate bargaining units.
Read January 2022’s thought leadership focusing on Labor and Employment law and the related Supreme Court rulings below for more information:
Supreme Court Stays Private Vaccine Mandate; Upholds Requirement for Certain Healthcare Workers
On Again, Off Again Vaccine Mandates: What Should Employers Do Now?
NLRB Rings in the New Year by Inviting Briefing on Multiple, Far-Reaching Standards Impacting Employers
On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a large-scale ground invasion of Ukraine, leading to considerable damage and loss of life and throwing the geopolitical landscape into chaos. Both in February and in the months since, the Russia-Ukraine war has placed an extraordinary strain on the global supply chain and businesses around the world, as the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States have continued to enforce sanctions and trade regulations. Companies must be careful to comply with these orders as the political landscape continues to change and learn how to juggle the dual headaches of the lingering COVID crisis and evolving Ukrainian war
Domestically, President Biden nominated Ketanji Brown Jackson to the US Supreme Court. Succeeding Justice Stephen Breyer, Judge Jackson graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1992 and cum laude from Harvard Law in 1996 and has since served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She is the first African American woman to serve on the United States’ highest court of law.
Read select thought leadership articles below for more information:
President Biden Nominates D.C. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to U.S. Supreme Court
Russian Invasion of Ukraine Triggers Global Sanctions: What Businesses Need to Know
Consequences from the Ukrainian Conflict
March of 2022 saw the long term impacts from the military conflict in Ukraine emerge locally and around the world. Sanctions continued to affect businesses, leading to global supply chain slowdowns and difficulties in manufacturing and shipping and new immigration changes and challenges. In the US, the Securities and Exchange Commission “SEC” issued new and noteworthy regulations regarding Environmental, Social & Corporate Governance “ESG” and climate change disclosures for public companies. The Supreme Court also heard oral argument for a large slate of cases, perhaps most notably in ZF Auto. US v. Luxshare, Ltd. and AlixPartners v. The Fund for Prot. of Inv. Rights in Foreign States, which interpreted provisions of Title 28 of the US Code’s (“Section 1782”) reach in seeking US-style discovery from a interested party to a foreign proceeding and whether or not ection 1782 can be used to obtain key information for private international arbitrations.
Read key thought leadership articles published in March for more details:
SEC Issues Long-Awaited Proposed Rule on Climate Disclosures
U.S. Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument on Circuit Split Over Scope of 28 U.S.C. § 1782 for Obtaining Discovery in International Arbitrations
The Effects of the Military Conflict in Ukraine on Supply Contracts
In April of 2022, the Biden Administration made notable changes to the National Environmental Policy Act, better known as NEPA, which had been substantially altered under the Trump Administration. A number of key provisions were returned to their pre-Trump state in order to better center the administration’s larger focus on environmental justice. Also of note, a US court for the first time contested the Center for Disease Control’s “CDC’s” travel mask mandate, on the grounds that it exceeded the CDC’s Statutory Authority under the Administrative Procedure Act “the federal APA”. This ultimately led to a vacating of the COVID travel mask mandate on a nationwide basis.
Elon Musk announced his intention to purchase Twitter in April of 2022, as well. Twitter ultimately adopted a shareholder rights plan, known as a poison pill, in hopes of preventingMusk’s hostile takeover. Poison pills are widely regarded as the an effective but a draconian anti-takeover defense available.
Read select thought leadership articles below for more information:
Biden Administration Walks Back Key Trump Era NEPA Regulation Changes
Twitter Board of Directors Adopts a Poison Pill
Administrative Law Takeaways from the Federal Travel Mask Mandate Decision
On May 17th, the first case of Monkeypox in the United States was reported in Massachusetts. In response, the Environmental Protection Agency “EPA” and the federal government implemented a number of policy changes in hopes of preventing a wider spread, including the speedy authorization of anti-Monkeypox claims for certain registered pesticides and disinfectant products.
The SEC and administrative law at large received a considerable blow after the Fifth Circuit’s ruling in Jarkesy v. SEC. The Fifth Circuit Court held that the SEC in-house courts violated a series of constitutional protections, which may result in far-reaching impacts for how administrative bodies are used to regulate in the future. Additionally in May, the Senate confirmed Commissioner Alvaro Bedoya for the Federal Trade Commission “FTC”, shifting the balance of power back at the Commission in favor of the Democratic Party.
Read the following highlighted thought leadership articles published in May for more information:
EPA Authorizes Anti-Monkeypox Claims for Pre-Designated Disinfectant Products
Fifth Circuit Holds That SEC Administrative Law Courts Are Unconstitutional
Big News at The FTC: Democrats Finally Get the Majority Back
In June of 2022, the Supreme Court released its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, reversing Roe v. Wade’s 50-year precedent of ensuring abortion as a protected right. Dobb’s is a momentous decision and has resulted in a myriad of complex issues for employers, healthcare providers and individuals, including the updating of employee policies, healthcare provisions, ethical and criminal considerations for healthcare providers and the protection of personal data, and ultimately represents a massive shift away from women’s bodily autonomy in the United States. And the partial advance leak of the Dobb’s ruling, added to the myriad of concerns about the stability and public perception of the Supreme Court.
Other notable litigation and legislation in June included the passing of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, subjecting the importers of raw materials from China to new enforcement provisions. The Supreme Court also ruled in West Virginia v. EPA, limiting the SEC’s ability to enforce ESG requirements on public companies. The West Virginia v. EPA ruling presents a considerable obstacle for the Biden Administration’s ongoing climate goals.
Read select legal news articles below for more information:
Employment Law This Week: SCOTUS Overturns Roe v. Wade – What Employers Should Consider [VIDEO]
Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act Enforcement Starts on Imports from China and on Imports with China Origin Inputs
Implications of West Virginia v. EPA on Proposed SEC Climate Rules
July of 2022 saw a great deal of changes for the Equal Opportunity Commission’s “EEOC’s” COVID testing guidance for employers. The largest change is determining if testing is needed to prevent workplace transmission and interpreting the business necessity standard under the American with Disabilities Act “ADA”.. The labor law landscape around the country also saw an increased focus on pay transparency laws – most notably, New York state passed a bill requiring employers to post salary or wage ranges on all job listings. Notably, this law is quite similar to one already in effect in New York City and Washington state, Colorado, and Jersey City.
Beginning most prominently in July, the cryptocurrency world also found itself under increased scrutiny by the federal government. Of note this month, the SEC filed a complaint against certain Coinbase employees, alleging insider trading and claiming that these employees had tipped off others regarding Coinbase’s listing announcements. This move was one of the more aggressive moves made by the SEC toward the digital asset industry.
Read select legal thought leadership articles published in July for more information:
EEOC Revises COVID-19 Testing Guidance for Employers
SEC v. Wahi: An Enforcement Action that Could Impact the Broader Crypto / Digital Assets Industry
Pay Transparency Laws Are All The Rage: Looks Like New York State Is Joining the Party
On August 12, 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act (“IRA”) was passed by Congress, representing enormous changes for industries across the country. Perhaps most notably, the landmark legislation contained new government incentives for the clean energy sector, creating tax incentives for renewable energy projects that previously did not exist. The Act also included 15% alternative minimum corporate tax and a 1% excise tax on stock buybacks to raise government revenue.
The Inflation Reduction Act also provided significant funding for tribal communities, including but not limited to the reduction of drug prices, the lowering of energy costs, and additional federal infrastructure investments. While the funding is not as significant as COVID relief from previous years and there are still some remaining hurdles, the IRA provides groundbreaking new opportunities for Native communities, including those in Alaska and Hawaii.
Read the select legal articles published in August for more information:
The Inflation Reduction Act: How Do Tribal Communities Benefit?
The Inflation Reduction Act: A Tax Overview
Relief Arrives for Renewable Energy Industry – Inflation Reduction Act of 202
In September of 2022, Hurricane Ian made landfall in the United States, caused substaintial property damage and loss of life despite preparations ahead of time. After addressing safety concerns, policyholders began reviewing their insurance policies, collecting documentation and filing claims. In addition to filing claims for property damage, corporate policyholders also filed claims for business interruption and loss of business income.
Lawsuits opposing the remaining COVID-19 vaccine mandates also continued throughout the month of September, exceeding 1,000 complaints nationally. Previously, lawsuits had largely targeted the Biden Administration, but additional focus was also directed toward large employers with vaccine mandates.
Of global significance, Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s longest reigning monarch, passed away at 96 years old. Her funeral was held September 19, 2022, and was a national holiday in the United Kingdom marking the last day of public mourning.
Read following key thought leadership articles on Hurrican Ian, UK Bank Holiday due to the Sovereign’s passing and Employer’s COVID Mandate headaches for more information:
Hurricane Ian – Navigating Insurance Coverage
Bank Holiday Announced for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s State Funeral
Challenges Against Employer COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates Show No Sign of Slowing
October saw forward movement in environmental justice, cannabis decriminalization, and Artificial Intelligence “AI” regulation. The EPA launched their new Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights, to work with state, local, and tribal partners providing financial and technical support to underserved communities disproportionately impacted by the ill effects of climate change. The EPA’s new office has 200 staff members across 10 regions and is expected to provide a unifying focus on civil rights and environmental justice for the EPA and federal government as a whole.
President Biden’s pardon of federal marijuana charges and mandate to review the plant’s Schedule I status signaled a shift in cannabis regulation, with the president urging state officials to follow his example and consider the contrast between wealthy cannabis business owners and those imprisoned for possession in the recent past.
Later in the month, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy addressed the swell of artificial intelligence technology with their Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights, which provides guidelines to prevent privacy violations, implicit bias, and other forms of foreseeable harm.
Read selected thought leadership articles below for more information:
EPA Launches Their New Office: What Does the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights Mean for Companies and ESG in the United States?
“Up in Smoke?” President Biden Announces Pardons and Orders Review of Cannabis Classification
The White House’s AI Bill of Rights: Not for the Robots
November was dominated by a nail-biting midterm election season, a cryptocurrency catastrophe, and NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) reform. While the midterms did not result in a Red Wave as expected, Republicans were able to regain a small majority in the House of Representatives, with the Senate remaining in Democratic control.
The digital finance world was considerably less stable, with the second largest cryptocurrency trading platform, FTX, filing for bankruptcy three days after its lawyers and compliance staff abruptly resigned. The collapse brought into stark relief the importance of solidifying the cryptocurrency custody and insurance landscape.
Also of note, President Biden signed the Speak Out Act, rendering unenforceable nondisclosure and nondisparagement agreements signed prior to incidents of sexual harassment or assault. The law’s passage offers employers the opportunity to review their states’ more robust laws in this area and ensure clauses meant to protect trade secrets and proprietary information don’t inadvertently create issues for sexual misconduct claimants.
Read select thought leadership articles below fora deeper dive:
2022 Midterm Election Guide
The Spectacular Fall of FTX: Considerations about Crypto Custody and Insurance
Nondisclosure and Nondisparagement Agreements in Sexual Harassment and Assault Cases: Speak Out Act Heads to President’s Desk
In December, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released their hotly anticipated “Green Guides” amendment proposals, intended to combat greenwashing amidst growing demand for environmentally friendly products. The amended Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims would impose stricter standards for the use of terms such as “recyclable,” “compostable,” “organic,” and “sustainable” in advertising and on packaging.
Meanwhile, Congress narrowly avoided a railroad worker strike by passing Railway Labor Act legislation affirming all tentative agreements between rail carriers and unions. The contracts included a roughly 24% increase in wages over 4-5 years, along with an extra day of leave. Biden promised to address paid leave further in the near future.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) closed out 2022 with a number of impactful decisions favoring workers. Employees have expanded remedies for National Labor Relations Act violations and protection during Section 7 questioning, while employers have the burden of proof when seeking to expand micro-units or deny union protestors.
Read select legal thought leadership pieces below for moredetails:
Congress Votes to Impose Bargaining Agreement to Avoid Nationwide Railroad Strike
FTC Starts Long-Awaited Green Guides Review
NLRB Issues Flurry of Blockbuster End-of-Year Decisions (With More to Come?) (US)
Thank you to our dedicated readers and as always to our highly regarded contributing authors and our talented NLR editorial staff for working day in and day out to produce one of the most well read and reputable business law publications in the US. Have a happy 2023!
Copyright ©2023 National Law Forum, LLCNational Law Review, Volume XIII, Number 6