Tag Archives: Fennemore Craig

google-glass-macro

Google Glass Revolutionizes Practice of Law

Fennemore Craig, a leading Mountain West regional law firm, is changing the way lawyers interact with clients by lending them Google Glass. With the use of Google Glass, firsthand, live-action experiences are shared in real time between clients and Fennemore Craig attorneys, creating new mechanisms to convey evidence to juries, judges and mediators.

The pilot program, called “Glass Action,” was launched in January 2014 when Fennemore Craig personal injury attorneys James Goodnow and Marc Lamber equipped several business and personal injury clients with the new Google Glass technology, not currently available to the public.

Double-amputee Gary Verrazono is one of those clients and has been using the firm-provided Google Glass for the past three months. Verrazono lost his right arm and leg in a tragic accident in 2012 while working at a racetrack. Google Glass is a game changer for Verrazano, allowing him to share the challenges of his daily life with his Fennemore Craig attorneys, Goodnow and Lamber. He can stream his life as it unfolds, send a text or email, record video, teleconference with his attorneys and photograph, exchange and distribute legal documents — all with a simple voice command or blink of an eye.

“Before I had the glasses, it could take me days to get documents to my attorneys because of the physical challenges I face,” says Verrazono, who lives in Las Vegas but works with the firm’s Phoenix-based counsel. “Now, with just one device, I can communicate easily through various multimedia platforms.”

“It’s the experience of the client unfiltered,” says Goodnow. “Jurors will now be able to see the nuances of a victim’s daily challenges firsthand.”

Having access to his case documents anytime and anywhere is another benefit Verrazono appreciates through Google Glass. “My lawyers are able to talk me through what I am reading while I am reading it, which helps me better understand what’s going on with my case.”

“The legal process is often intimidating for clients,” explains Lamber. “This technology gets us the information instantly, lightening the burden on the client and allowing for more frequent communication. Knowing more about our clients helps us build the strongest case possible.”

When Verrazono struggles to wash his dishes with one hand or to move a grocery cart through the store while pushing his wheelchair, the technology streams those first-person accounts directly to Fennemore Craig attorneys or pushes them to the cloud for later retrieval. Lamber and Goodnow can then use the material in court or other legal proceedings.

“Glass Action” comes on the heels of the firm’s innovative use of the Apple iPad, which Lamber and Goodnow used to elevate client communication and invent new workflow processes for the firm. Their novel use of the iPad caught the attention of Apple, which profiled them in a case study.

Lamber believes that Fennemore Craig has just scratched the surface of what Google Glass can do for its practice. The firm is now testing the technology with expert witnesses and in mock trials. “We can put Google Glass on jurors during trial simulations to see what’s catching their attention,” says Lamber.

Goodnow and Lamber have been widely recognized by the media for their use of technology. The ABA Journal named the attorneys to its list of “America’s Techiest Lawyers.”

aerospace

Schuknecht Appointed to Aerospace Commission

Fennemore Craig, a leading Mountain West regional firm, announced Seth Schuknecht, an attorney in the firm’s Phoenix office, has been appointed to the Aerospace and Defense Commission by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. Schuknecht is one of 9 Commission members from the private sector appointed to the commission.

The Aerospace and Defense Commission is the state’s sole entity overseeing all aerospace an d defense related commercial partnerships. With more than 1,200 aerospace and defense companies in Arizona, the Commission is tasked with advancing aerospace and defense activity in the state. The Commission works with Arizona Commerce Authority to enhance and support the industry and has the power to adopt rules, establish goals, objectives and guidelines as well as, recommend legislation, manage contracts and provide general direction regarding the state’s interests in aerospace and defense.

Schuknecht practices in the areas of commercial litigation, intellectual property, and aviation, aerospace, and autonomous systems. “This is a great opportunity for Seth and Fennemore Craig, to showcase the firm’s knowledge and insight in the emerging and evolving legal issues relating to the integration of autonomous aerial systems,” says Doug Northup, chair of the firm’s Commercial Litigation practice.

Prior to law school, Schuknecht served as a Naval Aviator for 9 years on active duty in the U.S. Navy. His various assignments included selection and service as an instructor pilot at every operational squadron he was assigned. Schuknecht holds a civilian Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate with type ratings in five different aircraft. He received his B.A. with merit from the United States Naval Academy and his J.D., cum laude, from Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

red-header-2014

RED AWARDS 2014: Best Tenant Improvement Project

On Feb. 26, AZRE hosted the 9th Annual RED Awards reception at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix to recognize the most notable commercial real estate projects of 2013 and the construction teams involved. AZRE held an open call for nominations and more than 100 projects were submitted by architects, contractors, developers and brokerage firms in Arizona. Click here to view all 2014 RED Awards Winners.‎


Fennemore Craig
Developer: Fennemore Craig
Contractor: Ryan Companies
Architect: Gensler
Brokerage: CBRE
Size: 120,000 SF
Location: 2394 E. Camelback Rd., Ste. 600, Phoenix
Completed: February 2013

fennemore-craigAfter 12 years as a midtown Phoenix law firm, favorable market conditions encouraged Fennemore Craig to make a move to the dynamic and amenity-rich Camelback Corridor, taking the opportunity optimize space by decreasing its overall square footage by approximately 20 percent. The reduction in square footage was accomplished through careful curtailment of file storage and secretary-to-attorney ratios, and the design of destination locations with dual uses in client-facing areas. Given the size and atypical floor plate of the building selected, the project became a planning and efficiency challenge. Rather than segregating the angularity of the exterior glass wall, the client chose instead to celebrate it. Navigating shifting budget priorities and constraints, the team utilized lower-cost systems furniture in secretary stations, reused attorney office furniture from the firm’s existing location, and simplified attorney wall elevations. The end result of this challenging project is a flexible space home to Fennemore Craig’s clients and colleagues, as well as an inviting location for community, social and charitable events.

Michelle Jager

Jager Elected to Fresh Start Foundation Board

Fennemore Craig, a leading Mountain West regional firm, announced Michelle Jager, a director in the firm’s Phoenix office, was elected to the Auxiliary Board for Fresh Start Women’s Foundation.

In her practice, Jager assists healthcare providers in defending against medical negligence lawsuits. She also assists small and large companies in the areas of personal injury, product liability, and commercial litigation. In addition to her commitment to Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, Jager volunteers for the Institutional Review Board for St. Joseph’s Hospital reviewing biomedical and behavioral research protocols. Jager earned her J.D. cum laude from Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law and her B.A. magna cum laude from Arizona State University.

Fresh Start Women’s Foundation was formed in 1992 to help women transform their lives though engagement and education. The Jewell McFarland Lewis Fresh Start Women’s Resource Center offers counseling, mentoring, education, career services, legal services, child watch, an E-Learning center and personal development services.

Fennemore Craig Elects New Directors in Phoenix

Fennemore Craig, a leading Mountain West regional firm, has announced the promotion of Michelle Jager and Patrick Irvine as directors in the firm’s Phoenix office.

“It is an honor to congratulate Michelle and Pat on their dedication to our clients, the community and their continued commitment to excellence,” said Tim Berg, managing partner of Fennemore Craig. “As directors, Michelle and Patrick will continue to enhance the firm’s legal footprint addressing our clients’ needs with innovative and cost effective solutions.”

In her practice, Jager assists healthcare providers in defending against medical negligence lawsuits.  She also assists small and large companies in the areas of personal injury, product liability, and commercial litigation.  Jager devotes her free time to Fresh Start Women’s Foundation as an auxiliary board member and to the Institutional Review Board for St. Joseph’s Hospital reviewing biomedical and behavioral research protocols.

Irvine is a former Judge of the Arizona Court of Appeals and practices in the areas of business law and litigation, with particular emphasis on taxation, appellate practice, Indian law and arbitration/mediation. He was recently appointed by the Arizona Supreme Court to serve on its Committee on Character and Fitness and also serves on the State Bar of Arizona’s Civil Practice and Procedure Committee. Irvine has previously been a member of the City of Phoenix Judicial Selection Advisory board, the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee, and the Arizona State-Tribal-Federal Court Forum. He is active in Kiwanis and is currently president of the Capitol Gateway Kiwanis Club.

Jager earned her J.D. cum laude from Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law and her B.A. magna cum laude from Arizona State University. Irvine earned his J.D. and B.S. from Arizona State University and received his LL.M. in Taxation from the University of San Diego.

legal

Irvine Appointed to Committee on Character and Fitness

Fennemore Craig, a leading Mountain West regional law firm, announced that Patrick Irvine, a shareholder in the firm’s Business and Litigation practice groups, has been appointed by the Arizona Supreme Court to serve on its Committee on Character and Fitness.

Irvine is a former Judge of the Arizona Court of Appeals who now practices in the areas of business law and litigation, with particular emphasis on taxation, appellate practice, Indian law and arbitration/mediation. He also serves on the State Bar of Arizona’s Civil Practice and Procedure Committee, and has previously been a member of the City of Phoenix Judicial Selection Advisory board, the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee, and the Arizona State-Tribal-Federal Court Forum. He is active in Kiwanis and is currently president of the Capitol Gateway Kiwanis Club.

The Committee on Character and Fitness consists of 18 members appointed by the Supreme Court to review applications to practice law in the State of Arizona and recommend to the Court for admission individuals who are deemed qualifies on the basis of character and fitness. If required, the Committee holds formal or informal hearings to enable the Committee to pass upon an applicant’s qualifications.

ballet

Lee Elected to Ballet Arizona's Board of Directors

Fennemore Craig, one of the largest law firms in the Southwest, announced that T. James Lee, a shareholder and director at Fennemore Craig in the firm’s Phoenix office, has been elected to the Board of Directors for Ballet Arizona.

Lee focuses his practice in the areas of estate planning, charitable giving, and business formation and structuring. He counsels clients on wealth transfer strategies, including the use of revocable trusts, irrevocable life insurance and gifting trusts, family limited partnerships and LLCs, qualified personal residence trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, installment sales to grantor trusts, and other sophisticated planning techniques. Lee received his J.D. and his B.S. from Brigham Young University.

Ballet Arizona is an innovative and provocative professional ballet company that creates, performs, and teaches outstanding classical and contemporary ballet. The company is dedicated to preserving and celebrating classical dance while creating and commissioning new innovative works.

ballet

Lee Elected to Ballet Arizona’s Board of Directors

Fennemore Craig, one of the largest law firms in the Southwest, announced that T. James Lee, a shareholder and director at Fennemore Craig in the firm’s Phoenix office, has been elected to the Board of Directors for Ballet Arizona.

Lee focuses his practice in the areas of estate planning, charitable giving, and business formation and structuring. He counsels clients on wealth transfer strategies, including the use of revocable trusts, irrevocable life insurance and gifting trusts, family limited partnerships and LLCs, qualified personal residence trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts, installment sales to grantor trusts, and other sophisticated planning techniques. Lee received his J.D. and his B.S. from Brigham Young University.

Ballet Arizona is an innovative and provocative professional ballet company that creates, performs, and teaches outstanding classical and contemporary ballet. The company is dedicated to preserving and celebrating classical dance while creating and commissioning new innovative works.

014_bob_parsons

Parsons Acquires Scottsdale-based Martz Agency

Valley entrepreneur and philanthropist Bob Parsons today announced the acquisition of Martz Agency by MP Agency, L.L.C., an organization owned by Parsons. The award-winning Scottsdale based marketing and public relations firm, which will be renamed Martz Parsons, will bring creative firepower to Parsons’ growing portfolio of businesses.

Parsons has said that by looking at and structuring their marketing as a revenue generator that makes money rather than an expense item, businesses are able to not only bring attention to their brand but also increase their revenue streams. Parsons’ numerous Valley based entities, including Harley-Davidson of Scottsdale, Go AZ Motorcycles, Spooky Fast Parts & Engineering, YAM Properties, The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation and Scottsdale National Golf Club, will be using Martz Parsons as their agency of record. The agency will immediately add talent to keep pace with the growth.

Martz Agency, founded by Carrie Martz in 1980, is among the most highly regarded agencies in Arizona. Moving forward, Carrie Martz will assume the title of CEO and the agency will continue to serve its existing clients. Existing and future accounts, including Parsons personal enterprises, will be able to leverage the Agency’s unparalleled talent and newly expanded resources to further develop and empower their brands.

“I am thrilled that someone I consider to be a marketing genius has purchased the Agency,” said Carrie Martz.  “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our agency and for our clients. With Bob Parsons behind us, I believe our Agency will become even more value to the clients we serve.”

Bob Parsons, like Carrie Martz, is well-known for his intense focus on providing an excellent customer experience. Moving forward, clients can expect their accounts to be managed with the same level of personalized care that Martz Agency has delivered for the last 33 years.

“It’s no secret that I am passionate about marketing,” said Bob Parsons. “The formula is simple … great brands that deliver an uncontested customer experience thrive. Martz Agency brings years of experience, professionalism and enthusiasm to the table. Together, we should knock it out of the park.”

Martz Agency’s current client roster includes Yurbuds, Arizona Commerce Authority, Toronto based Pacific Links International, Valley of the Sun YMCA, Fennemore Craig, RLC Labs, One Neck, Mirabel, The Reef Residences at Atlantis, Estrella by Newland Communities, and Olympia Group.

3333_E_Camelback-Bldg

Colliers International Closes 92,200 SF, $12M Office Building Sale in Phoenix

Colliers International in Greater Phoenix recently negotiated the sale of a 92,233 square-foot Class-A office building located at 3333 E. Camelback Road in Phoenix for $12 million, or $130/square foot.

Fenway Properties of San Diego acquired the property. Fenway plans to upgrade the common areas and develop new, spec suites to accommodate tenants of various square footage requirements.

The seller was Noffsinger Manufacturing Company of Greely, Colo.

Todd Noel, senior vice president; Keith Lambeth, senior vice president; and Ryan Timpani, senior associate; served as the Colliers International in Greater Phoenix brokers for both parties.

“The office building represents a strong investment for Fenway due to the building’s strategic location within the prestigious Camelback Corridor submarket, quality construction and timeless finishes,” Noel said.

Built in 1984, the two-story building comprises multiple suites ranging from 1,214 to 17,930 square feet.

privacy

How Personal Employment Information Is Shared And Sold

In today’s competitive business world, employers constantly are seeking ways to increase efficiency and reduce cost.  One obvious option in this effort is outsourcing, and employers certainly should be free to delegate functions to third-party vendors when it makes sense to do so.  But what are the implications when outsourcing requires an employer to share with a vendor private information about the employer’s workforce?

For attorneys who counsel either businesses or individuals, it’s important to know what rules and limitations apply to the increasingly popular trend of outsourcing employee verification services.  The issues associated with this trend are far-reaching and beg the question:  How can we better regulate and improve this beneficial type of outsourcing, for employers and employees alike?

The key to answering these questions begins with an understanding of the dual role credit reporting agencies play as database sponsors in the employee verification industry.  For example, in addition to compiling consumer credit scores, credit reporting giant Equifax also is in the business of compiling other information that is equally personal; namely, confidential details about workers’ current and former employment.  In fact, Equifax might even be selling information as personal as your compensation level, the name of your healthcare provider, whether you’ve ever filed for unemployment benefits, and your paystub history.

What is “The Work Number”

The Work Number, a subsidiary of Equifax, provides various financial and employment verification services.  The Work Number uses its ever-expanding database to confirm employment and income information for commercial verifiers, social service verifiers, and potential future employers.  The Work Number’s database currently contains the employment and salary records of over one-third of U.S. adults, and it includes detailed employee information about weekly paystubs, healthcare providers, medical and dental insurance, and unemployment compensation claims.

The Work Number built its database with the cooperation of thousands of U.S. businesses.  The Work Number markets itself to these willing participants as a means for busy human resource departments to outsource the time consuming task of verifying a range of information on former and current employees.  This service is so attractive that participating businesses actually pay for the ability to send The Work Number all employee information typically needed in the verification process.  The Work Number fields verification inquiries on the employer’s behalf, freeing up employer staff time for other tasks.

While providing employers with a valuable service, The Work Number simultaneously funnels this information it receives from its clients to its parent company, Equifax.  In turn, Equifax sells the information to third parties such as debt collectors, student loan issuers, and financial institutions.

Although Equifax’s sharing of the personal information garnered by The Work Number under in its role as a verification service provider is indisputable, the extent of such sharing is in question.  In an interview with NBC News, Equifax spokesman Timothy Klein denied that salary information is sold to debt collectors.[i]  Klein’s statement is in conflict, however, with Equifax CEO Richard Smith’s 2009 NYSE Magazine interview, in which he stated “[W]e can provide information about a debtor’s location, income, and employment.  That can help prioritize which accounts to pursue first.”[ii]

Because employer use of The Work Number has become so prevalent, the District of Columbia has issued new guidelines for low-income housing compliance, which include a provision governing the treatment of applicants whose employment and earnings can be verified only via The Work Number.[iii]  Likewise, the current Code of Mississippi Rules actually includes The Work Number’s email address, phone number, and website address in a statutory provision that instructs applicants for State-funded childcare on how to provide income and employment verification.[iv]  Considering The Work Number’s fast-paced growth and the privacy concerns it poses for consumers, it makes sense to consider what safeguards, if any, are in place to protect us.

Fair Credit Reporting Act

The most obvious consumer protection tool implicated by Equifax’s practices is The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).  The FCRA regulates instances in which “consumer reports” or “investigative consumer reports” are requested from a “consumer reporting agency.”[v]  For purposes of the FCRA, a “consumer reporting agency” includes any entity that regularly assembles credit or other information about consumers and furnishes that information to third parties via any means of interstate commerce.[vi]  Thus, Equifax and The Work Number are considered consumer reporting agencies for purposes of the FCRA.  “Consumer reports” include any communication of a consumer’s personal characteristics which will serve as a factor establishing the consumer’s eligibility for credit or insurance or for employment purposes.[vii]  By contrast, “investigative consumer reports” include reports regarding the consumer’s personal characteristics gathered during personal interviews, but do not include specific factual information about the consumer’s credit record.[viii]  Due to the more personal nature of information contained in an investigative consumer report, stricter guidelines are in place regarding disclosure of investigative consumer reports compared to ordinary consumer reports.  To the extent Equifax and The Work Number provide third parties with consumers’ personal and financial information, Equifax and The Work Number furnish consumer reports.

There are three types of recipients of the information provided by Equifax and The Work Number: prospective employers, financial institutions and creditors, and third party purchasers.  The FCRA applies differently to each recipient type.

Prospective Employers

The Work Number markets itself as a means for prospective employers to verify employment information of job applicants.  Thus, as its core business, The Work Number provides sensitive information to prospective employers.  Because the FCRA applies whenever employers request consumer reports from a consumer reporting agency like The Work Number, the FCRA is implicated by The Work Number’s information transfers to prospective employers.

The FCRA addresses issues such as what types of employers can obtain consumer reports, how they must obtain the report, what they must do before taking adverse action in response to the report, and what they must do after taking adverse action.[ix]  The Work Number contends that FCRA guidelines are met when it provides prospective employers with employment information.  Such guidelines include providing job applicants with written notice that information obtained from a consumer report may be used when making decisions concerning their employment.[x]  This notice must appear in a document containing only this disclosure.[xi]  Additionally, the consumer must provide written authorization of the procurement of the report.[xii]  To the extent The Work Number provides employment verification to prospective employers and meets these guidelines, it is within its rights to do so.  What the FCRA fails to address, however, is how other information in The Work Number’s database, such as salary and insurance information, is used for non-employment purposes.

Financial Institutions and Creditors

In addition to providing potential employers with consumers’ employment information, The Work Number also concedes to providing creditors and financial institutions with employment information from its database.  In an interview with NBC News, Equifax spokesman Timothy Klein admitted that pay rate information is shared with third parties.[xiii]  These third parties typically include mortgage, auto, and financial services credit grantors.  Klein said The Work Number provides such information to financial institutions and credit grantors in compliance with the FCRA, but denied that salary information is sold to debt collectors.[xiv]  The Work Number asserts that consumers give such third parties the right to access this information at the time the consumer applies for credit.

Section 1681 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act states that generally, a consumer reporting agency, like Equifax or The Work Number, may only furnish a consumer report to such third parties when the consumer reporting agency has reason to believe the third party “intends to use the information in connection with a credit transaction involving the consumer … and involving the extension of credit to, or review or collection of an account of, the consumer.”[xv]  Even assuming Klein’s assertion is true that consumers grant these third parties access to such information, other provisions in the FCRA raise the question of whether this authorization is sufficient.  Subsection (c)(1)(A) of the FCRA requires that “the consumer authorize[e] the agency to provide such report to such person.”[xvi]  This language suggests that a much more personalized authorization transaction may be required than Klein alluded to in his statement.  Namely, it appears that the consumer must furnish the specific consumer reporting agency in question with authorization to provide the report to the specific financial institution or creditor requesting the report.  Interestingly, although in certain circumstances a consumer may authorize all reporting agencies to give all creditors this information by executing a general waiver at the time he or she applies for credit, another subsection of the FCRA indicates the consumer may have an additional line of defense.  Pursuant to subsection (c)(1)(B)(iii), a consumer may elect to have his name and address excluded from lists provided by consumer reporting agencies in connection with credit transactions not initiated by the consumer.[xvii]

Unfortunately, the rules delineating when reporting agencies like Equifax and The Work Number can give creditors and financial institutions other information from The Work Number’s database are unclear.  It is not clear when, how, and with regard to whom the consumer must provide authorization for a reporting agency to share this information.  However, given that consumers must be clearly notified in writing and provide authorization prior to issuance of a consumer report when such report will be used for employment purposes, a strong argument can be made that this same proactive and consumer oriented approach should apply to all sections of the FCRA.

Equifax Information Sold to Third Parties

In addition to providing information to prospective employers, financial institutions, and creditors, Equifax also sells some of this information to interested third parties.  For example, Equifax heavily markets The Work Number’s services to student loan issurers.  Thanks to The Work Number’s information, student loan issuers have seen a 5.5% increase in Right Party Contact and a 7.3% increase in Collections Resolution.[xviii]  Additionally, Equifax provides information from The Work Number to financial firms.  In these transactions, the information is packaged as a “portfolio monitoring” service which allows financial firms to market their products to a specially selected group of consumers.  The Work Number’s information is also marketed to these firms as “proactive managing of risk.”  In this context, the firms analyze information from The Work Number for early warning signs about when someone might soon run into financial trouble.  The marketing campaign for these services touts “Using The Work Number to stay abreast of employment changes can expand your ability to mitigate risk while maximizing product and service potential.”[xix]

Strangely, the FCRA seemingly fails to address this type of information transfer at all.  While the FCRA provides guidelines for when a consumer reporting agency may furnish a consumer report, how and when a consumer report may be furnished for employment purposes, how and when a consumer report may be furnished in connection with credit or insurance transactions, and what added protections are afforded medical information, there is a lack of guidance regarding the sale of such information.  Nowhere does the FCRA expressly prohibit the sale of consumer information to third parties with a business interest in the information.  This is further complicated by the fact that Equifax owns The Work Number.  As a credit bureau, Equifax proceeds under the comparatively lax rules governing credit reporting agencies, which are distinct from those governing data brokers.  Thus, by virtue of Equifax’s affiliation with The Work Number, it can behave as a credit bureau, selling credit information to lenders.  The problem, however, is Equifax has access to a much greater wealth of consumer information than a credit bureau otherwise would, thanks to its affiliation with The Work Number.

The good news, however, is that the FCRA actually may address the problematic affiliation between Equifax and The Work Number.  Section 1681s-3 of the FCRA relates to affiliate sharing.[xx]  This section prohibits an entity that receives information which would be a consumer report from another entity under common ownership from using that information to make a solicitation for marketing purposes, unless the consumer is provided an opportunity to prohibit such solicitations after a clear disclosure has been made to the consumer explaining that information may be communicated amongst such entities for purposes of solicitation.[xxi]  However, even this provision of the FCRA might not be as helpful as it seems.  Although it may prohibit Equifax from using information it obtains from The Work Number to solicit business, that is only half the battle.  Equifax still could continue to sell the information it gathers by its own efforts to third parties.  The information might simply be less comprehensive.

Possible Solutions

In light of these revelations, the first question on many consumers’ minds is how to address this sharing or sale of private information, which appears to be lawful under the guidelines currently in place.

From an individual’s perspective, preventing sensitive information from ending up in The Work Number database seems like a futile proposition.  A job applicant, for example, could attempt to condition a prospective employment relationship on the employer’s agreement not to share any of the applicant’s personal or employment information.  However, given the current job market, most employees would have very little negotiating power, and most employers are unlikely to oblige, especially given the economy gained by utilizing The Work Number.  If an individual is unsuccessful in this negotiation, he or she can always turn down a job offer.  While doing so will keep the employee’s personal information safe for now, the applicant has cut off his nose to spite his face and remains unemployed.  It seems then that the only plausible way to regulate these information transfers is to address them before the consumer even gets involved.

Congress Should Revisit the Fair Credit Reporting Act

The most effective means by which to provide much-needed regulatory reform is to take legislative action.  Specifically, Congress should revisit the FCRA, taking into consideration the flaws and gaps that Equifax is exploiting.  One approach could include amending the FCRA to require a consumer’s written authorization before such information is sold.  Specifically, implementing the same comprehensive authorization guidelines currently in place regarding consumer reports used for employment purposes could serve as a model.  Under this approach, the consumer reporting agency would need to provide consumers with clear, conspicuous written notice of the possible sale of their information prior to the information being sold.  Such notice would need to be in a stand-alone document, and the consumer’s response, either authorizing the sale or not authorizing the sale, would also need to be in writing.

Another possible approach includes implementing stricter rules governing the flow of consumer reports out of credit bureaus, perhaps mirroring the already stricter guidelines governing disclosure of investigative consumer reports.  Additionally, Congress could amend the FCRA to clearly delineate exactly what information can be included in consumer reports.  Part of the current problem appears to involve the crossover between the personal and employment related information contained in The Work Number’s database with the credit information expected to be in the hands of a credit bureau, like Equifax.

John Balitis is a director and attorney with the law firm of Fennemore Craig in Phoenix where he co-chairs the firm’s Labor Relations and Employment Practice Group.  He represents businesses in all aspects of employment law. Kristin Penunuri is a student at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.  She is a legal writing intern at Fennemore Craig in Phoenix.


[i] Bob Sullivan, Your Employer May Share Your Salary, and Equifax Might Sell That Data, The Red Tape Chronicles on NBC News.com (Jan. 30, 2013, 4:44 AM), available at http://redtape.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/30/16762661-exclusive-your-employer-may-share-your-salary-and-equifax-might-sell-that-data?lite.

[ii] Id.

[iii] D.C. Mun. Regs., Title 14 § 5402 (2012).

[iv] Miss. Admin. Code, Title 18, Subtitle 7, Rule 2 § 102 (2012).

[v] Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 (2006).

[vi] Id. at § 1681a (2006).

[vii] Id.

[viii] Id.

[ix] Bob Sullivan, Your Employer May Share Your Salary, and Equifax Might Sell That Data, The Red Tape Chronicles on NBC News.com (Jan. 30, 2013, 4:44 AM), available at http://redtape.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/30/16762661-exclusive-your-employer-may-share-your-salary-and-equifax-might-sell-that-data?lite.

[x] 15 U.S.C. § 1681b (2006).

[xi] Id.

[xii] Id.

[xiii] Sullivan, supra note 9.

[xiv] Id.

[xv] 15 U.S.C. § 1681b (2006).

[xvi] Id.

[xvii] Id.

[xviii] Bob Sullivan, Your Employer May Share Your Salary, and Equifax Might Sell That Data, The Red Tape Chronicles on NBC News.com (Jan. 30, 2013, 4:44 AM), available at http://redtape.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/30/16762661-exclusive-your-employer-may-share-your-salary-and-equifax-might-sell-that-data?lite.

[xix] Id.

[xx] 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-3 (2006).

[xxi] Id.

 

 

How To Learn More About Your Work Number

Consumers who want to know what, if any, information about them resides with The Work Number may do so by visiting The Work Number website (www.theworknumber.com) and requesting an Employment Data Report (“EDR”).  Processing this request involves logging in and completing an EDR request form that is available in .pdf format.  Alternatively, interested consumers may contact The Work Number by telephone at (866) 604-6570.

If an EDR contains information that is inaccurate or objectionable to the consumer, he or she may submit online comments via The Work Number website.  The website suggests that The Work Number will embed the comments so that they are visible to subscribers that obtain the consumer’s other information from The Work Number.

 

amkor - legal

Fennemore Craig Attorneys Are 2014 Benchmark Litigation Stars

Fennemore Craig, one of the largest law firms in the Southwest, announced that five attorneys in the firm’s Phoenix office have been named 2014 Benchmark Litigation Local Stars in Arizona. The attorneys being recognized are Christopher L. Callahan, Andrew M. Federhar, Doug C. Northup, Cathy L. Reece, and William L. Thorpe.

The areas of practice in which each of these attorneys handles matters ranges from bankrupty, commercial litigation, and business and personal injury torts. The 2014 Benchmark Litigation recognition solidifies the knowledge and reputation of the firm’s legal experience across various industries reaffirms the firm’s dedication to resolve client matters and issues efficiently and effectively.

“The firm’s reputation has been built on our attorneys’ continued commitment to excellence,” said Tim Berg, managing partner of Fennemore Craig. “We are honored to be recognized by our legal community and to be included in Benchmark Litigation.”

Benchmark Litigation is a legal resource that identifies firms and attorneys who continually display the ability to consistently moderate complex litigation issues and matters in multiple jurisdictions. The annual ranking is determined by independent researchers who conduct extensive interviews over a six month period to identify the leading litigators and firms throughout the United States. This guide focuses exclusively on the US litigation market and ranks firms and leading national attorneys in the areas of appellate, antitrust, bankruptcy, general commercial, insurance, intellectual property, international arbitration, products liability, securities and white-collar crime.

child.hospital

Ronald McDonald House board adds Pixler Ryerson

Carrie Pixler Ryerson, an attorney at Fennemore Craig in Phoenix, has been elected to the Board of Directors for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Phoenix.

Ryerson practices in the area of labor and employment. She regularly represents employers before administrative agencies and courts, defending against discrimination and harassment claims, wrongful termination and wage and hour issues as well as enforcing restrictive covenants against employees. She received her J.D. from William & Mary School of Law and her B.A. from the University of Arizona.

iPhone Business Apps

‘Bring Your Own Device’ trend a growing concern

The rise in popularity of smart phones, tablets and laptops has blurred the increasingly thin line between professional and personal life, between work time and personal time. But it’s is also creating security concerns for business owners who let their employees use those tech toys for work.

“Employers need to address the question of how to react to the inevitable or current use of personal or shared devices by their employees,” said Cheri Vandergrift, a staff attorney for Mountain States Employers Council, a leader in human resource and employment law services for the business community. “From IT issues to privacy and litigation concerns, companies that ignore the rising ‘Bring Your Own Device’ tide may find that BYOD brought nothing but disaster.”

While an AccelOps Cloud Security Survey of IT security personnel ranked BYOD as the top source for fear of incurring data loss, there are also concerns regarding employee privacy should litigation ensue and the question of using personal devices goes into the courtroom. The use of personal devices in the workplace stirs questions within the IT, legal and human resources departments of companies.

“Data access and ownership are significant legal issues that surround the BYOD trend,” said John Balitis, director at Fennemore Craig. “Employees accessing employer systems with personal devices can create major network security risks and employer IT staff accessing the devices to support them can infringe on employee privacy. Further, how to define who owns what information on the devices is challenging.”

Laurent Badoux, a shareholder in Greenberg Traurig’s Phoenix office, said there are a number of legal issues that could arise from the BYOD trend. Among them:

* Breach of confidentiality — especially with medical or financial data.
* Commercial espionage or unfair competition.
* Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) claims of unreported or unpaid time.
* Dispute as to ownership of data stored on personal devices.
* Claims of harassment, defamation, invasion of privacy, etc. from improper social media posting of workplace conduct.
* Negligence torts if an exployee tries to answer a work text or email while driving and causes an accident.

“The most glaring risk (an employer takes) is that sensitive confidential corporate data becomes compromised, either because an outsider is able to access that data through an employee’s device or to copy data stored on that device,” Badoux said. “When their sensitive data becomes compromised, companies face damage to the bottom lines and public image.”

According to Travis Williams, senior counsel at the Frutkin Law Firm, if a company believes information is jeopardized, or upon termination of an employee’s employment, the employer may have the right to seize the device for a short time to ensure proper protection or removal of company’s sensitive information.

“Employees need to understand that business information on their device is the property of the employer,” Williams said. “The employer has the right to protect the information. The protection may allow the employer to seize or force ‘wipe’ the device to ensure proper removal of the information.”

While there is no doubt that the BYOD trend has given tech-savvy employees the opportunity to create a more flexible schedule and therefore increase their productivity, experts said it’s imperative that companies find a balance between protecting sensitive work data, while still providing employees flexibility and independence.

“Have a policy that specifically addresses what employees can and cannot do with PEDs (personal electronic devices) used for work-related purposes and enforce that policy,” said Tibor Nagy, Jr., a shareholder at the Tucson office of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart. “Be sure the policy addresses what happens to employer data when the employee leaves employment.”

Experts said companies who worry about issues related to the BYOD trend should look to impose tighter security constraints, develop technology guidelines and policies or employ mobile-device management tools, services and systems.

“An employer absolutely should implement a BYOD policy if the employer allows or encourages employees to use personal devices for work,” Balitis said.

Badoux said an effective BYOD program should include:

1. Mandatory Mobile Device Management software
2. Clarification of expectations on ownership of data, privacy and access to dual-use devices.
3. “Acceptable Use” procedures harmonized with the employee handbook or agreement).
4. A well-crafted social media policy.

“Do not allow highly sensitive employer, personnel, health information, or customer data to be stored on an employee’s PED, unless you are certain that device will be used and protected to the same degree as an employer-owned device,” Nagy said. “Only allow PEDs that are ‘enterprise; enabled. Enterprise requirements include encryption of storage media; the ability to remotely wipe or clean a device; the ability to enforce password changes and password complexity; the ability to apply upgrades and patches; and the ability to revoke rights to data or corporate network access.”

homeless

Key Muscheid Elected to the UMOM New Day Centers Board

Fennemore Craig, one of the largest law firms in the Southwest, announced that Kendis Key Muscheid, a director at Fennemore Craig in the firm’s Phoenix office, has been elected to the Board of Directors for UMOM New Day Centers.

Muscheid focuses her legal practice in the areas of nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations, charitable trusts, and state and local taxation. Muscheid represents a wide array of non-profit organizations, those exempt under Section 501(c)(3) and other sections, advising them on matters including organizational structure, qualification for tax exemption, maintaining tax exempt status, charitable solicitations and registrations, endowment building and management, governance issues, and unrelated business income taxes. Muscheid also represents organizations in audits and appeals before the IRS and state and local governmental agencies. She is rated AV® Preeminent ™ (the highest rating available) by Martindale-Hubbell and listed in both Best Lawyers in America®, Nonprofit/Charities Law, and Southwest Super Lawyers®, Nonprofit Law.

UMOM is the largest homeless shelter for families in the state of Arizona which provides safe shelter and supportive services for over 170 families each night. They also offer over 350 units of affordable housing across Metropolitan Phoenix.

legal

Tindall Joins Fennemore Craig's Phoenix Office

Fennemore Craig, one of the largest law firms in the Southwest, announced that Craig D. Tindall has joined the firm as Of Counsel. In his new role, Tindall will practice in the areas of municipal law, commercial transactions, public private partnerships, public financing, real estate development, and election law.

Prior to joining Fennemore Craig, Tindall served as the city attorney for Glendale, Arizona and was instrumental in its transformation into a destination for local and national cultural events. As the city’s chief legal officer, he directed the legal aspects of the city’s development of its sports and entertainment district, including construction of the University of Phoenix Stadium, Jobing.com Arena, and Camelback Ranch Spring Training Facility.

Tindall received his J.D. from Southern Methodist University and his B.S. from Arizona State University.

legal

Tindall Joins Fennemore Craig’s Phoenix Office

Fennemore Craig, one of the largest law firms in the Southwest, announced that Craig D. Tindall has joined the firm as Of Counsel. In his new role, Tindall will practice in the areas of municipal law, commercial transactions, public private partnerships, public financing, real estate development, and election law.

Prior to joining Fennemore Craig, Tindall served as the city attorney for Glendale, Arizona and was instrumental in its transformation into a destination for local and national cultural events. As the city’s chief legal officer, he directed the legal aspects of the city’s development of its sports and entertainment district, including construction of the University of Phoenix Stadium, Jobing.com Arena, and Camelback Ranch Spring Training Facility.

Tindall received his J.D. from Southern Methodist University and his B.S. from Arizona State University.

Lori Higuera

Higuera elected to Women's Leadership Council

Lori A. Higuera, a partner at Fennemore Craig and co-chair of the firm’s Employment and Labor Relations practice, has been appointed to the Steering Committee of the Women’s Leadership Council for the Valley of the Sun United Way.

Higuera’s practice focuses on training managers, human resource professionals, and employees in all areas of employment law, including harassment prevention, lawful and effective investigations, effective hiring, performance management, the ADA and FMLA. She frequently conducts workplace investigations and advises clients on the implementation and maintenance of proactive employment practices. She is an employment law expert for CareerBuilder’s popular “Ask the Expert” column and often speaks on a variety of work-related topics before a wide range of professional organizations.

The Women’s Leadership Council’s mission is to build a powerful network of women who support the work of the Valley of the Sun United Way by giving, advocating, volunteering, and inspiring others to join and creating lasting change in the community.

Lori Higuera

Higuera elected to Women’s Leadership Council

Lori A. Higuera, a partner at Fennemore Craig and co-chair of the firm’s Employment and Labor Relations practice, has been appointed to the Steering Committee of the Women’s Leadership Council for the Valley of the Sun United Way.

Higuera’s practice focuses on training managers, human resource professionals, and employees in all areas of employment law, including harassment prevention, lawful and effective investigations, effective hiring, performance management, the ADA and FMLA. She frequently conducts workplace investigations and advises clients on the implementation and maintenance of proactive employment practices. She is an employment law expert for CareerBuilder’s popular “Ask the Expert” column and often speaks on a variety of work-related topics before a wide range of professional organizations.

The Women’s Leadership Council’s mission is to build a powerful network of women who support the work of the Valley of the Sun United Way by giving, advocating, volunteering, and inspiring others to join and creating lasting change in the community.

Kathy Hancock - 50 Most Influential Women in AZ Business

Kathy Hancock – 50 Most Influential Women in Arizona Business

Kathy Hancock – Executive director, Fennemore Craig

Hancock manages Fennemore’s administration across its offices in Arizona, Colorado and Nevada. Her experience includes complex government relations and issues management projects for business and industry, including mines, energy companies, development companies and manufacturers.

Surprising fact: “I asked my husband and he said, ‘You’re a pretty straight shooter. I don’t think much would surprise people.’”

Biggest challenge: “The multi-year process that started about 10 years ago involving a diagnosis of lymphoma for my husband, who went through chemotherapy, relapsed and then underwent a successful bone marrow transplant. He has done well in the 7 years since … Ultimately, we hung in there together, took baby steps when anything more was too much to contemplate and kept on marching.”

Fifty Most Influential Women in Arizona Business – Every year in its July/August issue Arizona Business Magazine features 50 women who make an impact on Arizona business. To see the full list, read the digital issue >>

97995886

17 Fennemore Craig Attorneys Recognized for Excellence

Fennemore Craig, one of the largest law firms in the Southwest, announces 17 of its attorneys were named to the prominent Chambers USA 2013: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business for 2013.

“The firm’s reputation has been built on our attorney’s continued commitment to excellence,” states Tim Berg, managing partner of Fennemore Craig. “We are honored to be recognized by the prestigious Chambers USA, an esteemed legal resource.”

Chambers USA is an annual ranking of law firms and attorneys comprising multiple practice areas. Fennemore Craig was also was recognized in band one, the highest ranking possible, for both Environment (including water rights) and Real Estate practice areas.

Fennemore Craig attorneys recognized by Chambers USA include:

Robert Anderson, Environment: Water Rights, Arizona
Lauren James Caster, Environment (including water rights), Arizona
Phillip F. Fargotstein, Environment (including water rights), Arizona
Andrew M. Federhar, Litigation: General Commercial, Arizona
Maggie Gallogly, Environment: Water Rights, Arizona
Donald R. Gilbert, Labor & Employment, Arizona
Gregg Hanks, Real Estate, Arizona
Norman D. James, Environment (including water rights), Arizona
Charles M. King, Real Estate, Arizona
Jay S. Kramer, Real Estate, Arizona
Erwin D. Kratz, Labor & Employment, Arizona
Douglas C. Northup, Litigation: General Commercial, Arizona
Michael Phalen, Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use, Arizona
Robert P. Robinson, Real Estate, Arizona
Ronald J. Stolkin, Labor & Employment, Arizona
Sarah A. Strunk, Corporate/M&A, Arizona
Susan M. Wissink, Corporate/M&A, Arizona

avnet express - donate car for chances for children

Wissink Elected to Childplay’s Board of Trustees

Susan Wissink, a shareholder at Fennemore Craig in Phoenix, has been elected to Childsplay’s Board of Trustees.

Wissink chairs the firm’s business and finance practice group and provides legal counsel in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, securities, general corporate law and commercial real estate leasing. She received her J.D. from Arizona State University and her B.A. in English from Northwestern University.

Founded in 1977, Childsplay is a nationally and internationally respected professional theatre company whose chosen audience is children. Over the past 36 years, Childsplay had educated and inspired more than four million young people and families.

Whitney Murray

Fennemore Craig Hires Legal Marketing Professional

Fennemore Craig, a full-service law firm based in Phoenix, is expanding its marketing team hiring Whitney Murray. As Marketing Manager, Murray will oversee the firm’s advertising and public relations efforts for Fennemore Craig’s offices in Phoenix, Tucson, Denver, Las Vegas, Reno and Nogales.

Relocating from Boston, Murray led marketing and new business efforts for Prince Lobel Tye LLP law firm. Murray’s areas of expertise, include marketing, business development, public relations, event management and corporate communications. Murray holds a Master of Science in Communications Management from Simmons College.

minorities

Language issues become workplace legal issues

Two Whole Foods grocery store employees in Albuquerque were recently suspended after getting in a dispute with their manager over speaking Spanish in the workplace.

That incident raises an employment law question that leaves many Arizona employers scratching their heads: Can employers require their employees to only speak English in the workplace?

The answer to that question, like the gray area that surrounds many legal questions, is “it depends.”

“While there is no specific law that requires a specific language in the workplace, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Arizona Civil Rights Act prohibit discrimination based upon national origin and language is closely tied to national origin,” said Stephanie Quincy, a partner with Steptoe & Johnson LLP in Phoenix. “The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal agency that enforces Title VII and the Arizona Civil Rights Division of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office enforces the Arizona Civil Rights Act.  Both agencies are very concerned that employers will enact language requirements not because of business necessity, but as a way of excluding certain nationalities from the workplace. The Phoenix office of the EEOC sued a restaurant located on the Navajo Nation for enacting an English-only policy, resulting in years of protracted litigation for the employer.”

That restaurant is not alone. The EEOC recently released figures on what kinds of employment discrimination cases are being brought to the agency and complaints of discrimination based on national origin, including those involving perceived problems with language ability or accent, have increased  77 percent since 1997. The EEOC has suggested that it might be the increasing diversity of the American workforce, but civil rights advocates think it’s more likely due to a climate of fear, particularly in states like Arizona that have been enacting laws hostile to immigrants, both legal and undocumented.

“Generally speaking, English-only rules are not in and of themselves unlawful,” said John Balitis, a director at Fennemore Craig who practices in the labor and employment area. “They are permissible when needed to promote the safe and efficient operation of the employer’s business.”

According to Joseph T. Clees, shareholder, and Alexandra J. Gill, associate, of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, there are some circumstances where an English-only rule may be necessary to further a safety, efficiency or other legitimate business concern. The EEOC has provided examples of such circumstances including, communication with customers, employees or supervisors who only speak English; emergency situations; cooperative work assignments where the English-only rule is necessary for efficiency purposes; and to assist supervisors with monitoring of performance.

“This is an extremely high standard and very difficult to meet,” Quincy said. “Furthermore, some of these categories would only permit an English-only rule where the business necessity is present and would not support a rule completely prohibiting non-English languages completely.”
This is where that gray area comes into play when it comes to language in the workplace, experts said.

“If the employer cannot demonstrate that (speaking English) is a ‘business necessity,’ it cannot justify such a rule and could be subject to legal action by any employee who is affected by the policy,” Quincy said. “A policy does not have to be a formal written policy. A rogue supervisor can create a policy by simply telling employees speaking Spanish to quit doing so. Such a policy can almost never be supported when enforced on employee breaks or when employees are having non-work related discussions.”

Because the EEOC has taken the position that English-only policies can violate Title VII, Clees and Gill said employers adopting these policies can face a range of penalties under Title VII if the policy is found to be discriminatory.

“An individual alleging a violation of Title VII may seek to recover damages including back pay, front pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees,” they said. “Individuals may also request injunctive relief.”

Because of the potential backplash, Clees said employers should carefully analyze their reasoning for instituting an English-only policy prior to doing so.

“Employers should consider whether the policy has important safety justifications and/or business justifications, and whether instituting the policy would be effective in advancing the desired business purpose,” he said. “Employers should also consider whether there are any alternatives to an English-only policy that would accomplish the same goals. If an employer decides to an English-only policy is necessary, it should ensure that employees are clearly informed of the policy, including when and where it applies.”

While there is no precise test for weighing or evaluating the business reasons for a language policy in the workplace, Quincy said the EEOC suggests considering:
· Evidence of safety justifications for the rule.
· Evidence of other business justifications for the rule, such as supervision or effective communication with customers.
· Likely effectiveness of the rule in carrying out obectives.
· English proficiency of workers affected by the rule.

“Employers should only (implemented policies that either completely or partially prohibit the use of any language other than English) if they can articulate a business necessity for such policies,” said Charitie L. Hartsig, an associate at Ryley Carlock & Applewhite. “They should also clearly inform employees of the circumstances under which they will be required to speak only English and the consequences of violating the policy. Limited English-only policies have been allowed under Title VII where the policies are in place to ensure clear communications regarding the performance of dangerous and safety-sensitive tasks. The EEOC presumes that an employer that completely prohibits employees from speaking their native language disadvantages the employee’s employment opportunities on the basis of national origin under Title VII. However, the Ninth Circuit rejected the EEOC’s per se rule. Nevertheless, Arizona employers should be cautious about implementing English-only policies and do so only when there is a business necessity for doing so.”

Despite an employer’s best business intentions, experts said instituting a language policy in the workplace is most likely a powderkeg ready to explode.
“The EEOC presumes that English-only rules applied at all times are discriminatory,” Balitis said. “Because the EEOC looks with disfavor on English-only rules, an employer may be forced to litigate even the most carefully crafted rule.”