Tag Archives: Jennings Strouss & Salmon

vaping

How Does ‘Vaping’ Fit Into Workplace Smoking Bans?

In 2006, Arizonans made their voices heard by passing the Smoke-Free Act, which prohibits smoking tobacco products in places of employment, but where do electronic cigarettes and “vaping” — the act of inhaling water vapor through a personal vaporizer or electronic cigarette — fit into the equation?

In the past 8 years e-cigarettes have become nearly an $8 billion industry. As vaping increases, so do the conversations about workplace policy. Many companies have adopted a vaping policy that echoes language in the Arizona’s Smoke-Free Act. However, it is potentially problematic because the Smoke-Free Act prohibits the use of lighted tobacco products and the statue does not address electronic cigarettes. The American Lung Association has expressed concerns about e-cigarettes after a 2009 Food and Drug Administration study found they released toxic cancer-causing chemicals. However, the FDA has yet to release rules on the e-cigarettes. With no firm federal and sates guidelines, companies are in limbo in terms of workplace policies regarding vaping.

John Egbert, a labor and employment attorney with Jennings, Strauss & Salmon,said the question is whether vaping legally fits into the already established law. Even though the federal government is still working on its policy, the situation is still fluid and employers need to decide how to handle the increase in the number of e-cigarette users before legal complication arise.

“Employers should consider revising their existing smoking polices to address the new issues associated with e-cigarettes in the workplace,” said Pavneet Singh Uppal, regional managing partner at Fisher & Phillip.

It benefits the employer to take a position while the government figures it out, experts said. When revising a smoking policy, companies need to address whether e-cigarettes are allowed in the workplace, in separate areas, in certain social situations and the grievance process or ramifications when the rules are broken and infringed upon.

“Because the exact effects of e-cigarettes are still unknown, it is best to err on the side of caution and designate a specific area where e-cigarettes are allowed, but is separate from traditional smoking areas,” Uppal said.

Many of the possible negatives of vaping are widely known — like air quality concerns and concerns about the amount of pollutants in the vapor. “But even though we all know that smoking is bad for you, employers should take time to understand how e-cigarettes work and that they may have some benefits,” Uppal said.

Gregory Conley, an attorney and president of the American Vaping Association, a nonprofit organization established primarily for the purpose of positive media advocacy regarding vaping and e-cigarettes, believes “permitting vaping in the workplace, or even just setting up areas in the office where vaping in permitted, can foster a healthier workplace by providing great incentive for smokers to quit.”

Advocates to fostering a work environment that permits vaping believe productivity could increase among vapers. Smokers often spend time not working on a “smoke break,” while vapers could be allowed to remain at their desk. Due to the lack of smoke, e-cigarettes have been marketed as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes. Additionally, a vaping office could serve as a more congenial atmosphere because e-cigarettes do not have a distinctive odor that is unpleasant to non-smokers.

“If vaping is better than smoking, getting smoking employers to vape is a step in the right direction,” Egbert said.

socialmedia_icons

Social Media Prenups Trending In Valley

First comes love, then comes marriage, the baby carriage, and, for many Americans, divorce. Even if a couple doesn’t have an estate to divvy, family matter lawyers are reporting emerging trends that may have couples wishing they had signed prenup.

As the director of family law at Rose Law Group, Kaine Fisher has prepared many high-profile pre- and post-nuptial agreements. Some have had unusual provisions, such as what happens if a spouse transmits a sexually transmitted disease or a clause that liquidates damages for infidelity. However, there’s a new trend he and other local lawyers are touting — social media clauses.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the first places millions of people turn to share their thoughts, photos and lives. It’s where professional and personal relationships grow, thrive and, sometimes, end. And, when the inevitable happens, there’s a chance the scorned and burned feelings will turn up on social media platforms in the form of private or unflattering information or photos about the other person. This is where the expertise and intervention of attorneys is rapidly required.

“Over the past couple of years, I have noticed an explosion of requests by clients wanting to include what is more affectionately known as a ‘social media clause’ in their pre- and post-nuptial agreements,” Fisher says. “At the onset of a marriage, such provisions are effective in setting relationship boundaries. However, at the end of one, these provisions are are typically used as swords to achieve greater financial gain.” 

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported more than 80 percent of U.S. divorce attorneys say social networking is a rising topic in divorce proceedings. Social media has been a staple in divorce proceedings since MySpace was introduced in 2003, but Norma Izzo Milner, a litigator focusing in the areas of alternative dispute resolution, family law and domestic relations with Jennings, Strouss and Salmon Law Firm in Phoenix, is still surprised by how few clients still aren’t considering social media prenups.

“Once I provide some basic legal information about how social media can play a part in or impact either a relationship or the ending of one, they tend to take precautions and limit their social media activity,” she says.

People just can’t seem to help themselves, Fisher says, adding that they also don’t always have control over what hits the web.

“A jaded ex-girlfriend or a careless spouse can expose, either intentionally or intentionally, private photographs or videos of you that you  never wanted anyone to see,” he says.

“The reality is, most people connect through cyber space and report daily activities from what they are eating to how they are feeling. This can be a dangerous outlet for people facing the emotional challenges of a divorce or legal separation,” Milner says.

The amount of couples who enter into prenuptial agreements, despite a divorce rate of 3.6 per 1,000 people, is surprisingly low, says Milner. The two leading causes of getting a prenup, she says, is to protect an estate or to prevent the difficulty and costs of a divorce, based on previous experience.
“I find it surprising that the majority of people spend a large percentage of their daily time engaged in some form of social media, but do not think about how it might impact their lives long-term,” she says. “I generally have to bring the topic up for discussion with my clients.”

Social media prenups can be drafted as inclusive of existing and future platforms. In the event of being blocked from an ex’s social media pages, Milner says couples can include an term that enables access to personalized web content for a period of time after separation.

The family law group at Burch & Cracchiolo hasn’t used a social media clause in any of the prenups it has drafted, but recognizes it as something that’s on the horizon, says Marketing and Client Development Manager Chris Long.

Chris Ingle, an attorney at Rose Law Group who specializes in online defamation and protection of intellectual property, has not encountered a social media prenuptial case outside of the new articles and online buzz.

“I have to say that if somebody approached me with that idea, I’d recommend against that very strongly,” he says.

It’s a matter of a dispute escalating into a court battle that becomes public record and costs “a small fortune,” he says, adding, “It takes what started out as a disagreement and turns it into a full-fledged litigation war. I don’t think that’s in everyone’s best interest.”

Ingle recommends couples who are going their separate ways to write a non-disparagement clause, which promises couples won’t go out of their way to say anything bad about the other person or have anyone do that on their behalf.

It’s not necessarily the words that have many people preoccupied — there are images and the revenge porn industry to consider.

“If you’re going to let somebody take those photos and videos, you have to trust them implicitly,” says Ingle. “Once it gets out there (online), it’s difficult (to reverse).”

Some options, particularly for people whose images or videos are posted on a website by a third party (presumably an ex), include filing for copyright of the footage. It’s “cheap and easy,” says Ingle, to get a copyright. Unless your significant other challenges the claim, someone can generally submit a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) request to the hosting website and get the photo or video removed.

For couples who drafted their prenups pre-Zuckerberg, who, by the way, had a relationship agreement drafted up before his marriage to Priscilla Chan that required 100 minutes of alone time away from Facebook’s headquarters, Milner still suggests considering a dialog about social media in the relationship and, potentially, a post-nuptial agreement.

“It’s never too late to have the discussion and spell out expectations and healthy boundaries to avoid future problems,” she says.

Michelle Lind

Michelle Lind – 50 Most Influential Women in Arizona Business

Michelle Lind – CEO, Arizona Association of Realtors

Lind oversees the strategic direction and day-to-day operations of the largest trade association in Arizona. Prior to becoming CEO, Lind served as the primary legal advisor to the association and was integral in the development of AAR’s contract forms. Lind began her legal career at Jennings, Strouss & Salmon and later joined two other lawyers and became a partner in Combs, Mack & Lind, a law firm focusing on real estate litigation and transactions.

Surprising fact: “Prior to attending law school, I was a registered nurse working in obstetrics and out-patient surgery.”

Biggest challenge: “My biggest challenge has been balancing my professional life and personal life. I try to overcome the challenge by setting priorities both at home and at the office.”

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 >>