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On Sunday, December 27, 2020, President Trump signed the legislation providing government funding and a long-anticipated coronavirus relief package (the “Bill”). The wide-sweeping Bill contains a number of key provisions that will impact both public and private sector employment in 2021. Of particular significance to employers is that: The Bill does not extend the mandates of the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“EFMLEA”) or the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) enacted under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). The Bill allows tax credits to employers for “FFCRA like” paid leave benefits paid to employees through March…
The holiday season is a time of giving! With Christmas arriving next week, you might be rushing to find last minute gifts for the special people in your life. Have you considered potential tax consequences of those gifts? The annual gift exclusion for 2020 is $15,000. This means that an individual donor may gift $15,000 to any one recipient during the year without incurring federal gift tax or using the donor’s gift and estate tax exemption. A married couple may gift $30,000 to any one recipient without incurring gift tax or using their exemptions. For example, if a donor has…
In Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Dr. Atul Gawande writes about how often medicine fails the elderly and those with terminal illness. His first example is a man who chose a surgery that didn’t stand a chance of giving him what he really wanted (“his continence, his strength, the life he had previously known”). Despite seeing his wife die in intensive care and resolving to avoid the same fate, the man chose a risky surgery that led, 14 days later, to exactly that. To Gawande, the remarkable thing was not the poor choice; it was…
With the news that COVID-19 vaccines will soon be available in Wisconsin, employers are beginning to question whether they can—or should—require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Although employers can mandate the COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment, as discussed below, this may not be the best choice for most employers. When determining whether to implement a mandatory vaccination, employers should assess the exposure risk inherent in the workplace. For example, is it a high risk workplace, such as a hospital or nursing home? Second, employers should consider the effect of a mandatory vaccination program on workplace morale. Recent…
Businesses don’t typically enter into contracts thinking that one of the parties will breach and the matter will end up in court. As a result, the provision dealing with where the parties must litigate a dispute, known as a forum selection clause, often does not get the attention it deserves. It does not help that the provision is usually buried in boilerplate language near the end of the contract. The forum selection clause specifies where the parties must litigate disputes arising under the contact. Businesses entering into contracts with out-of-state parties use the provision to ensure that a dispute will…
On November 18, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Rev. Rul. 2020-27 regarding the ability of businesses that received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to deduct expenses. The PPP was created in April of 2020 to provide financial support to small businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. The new guidance states that if a business’s PPP loan is forgiven, any otherwise deductible expenses that were paid using the loan, such as payroll or rent, are not deductible for income tax purposes. Usually, these types of expenses are deductible when paid with revenue generated directly from the business. However, the IRS…
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued revised guidance with options for reducing the length of quarantine for individuals who are asymptomatic, but have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. While the CDC still acknowledges that the 14-day quarantine period provides the greatest protection from spreading the virus, they also recognize that a full 14-day quarantine period can be a burden for employers and employees alike. The CDC’s new guidance applies only to individuals who have been in close contact with a COVID-19 positive person, but are not showing symptoms. The new…
The risks presented by unknown site conditions are difficult to identify and evaluate, and the costs to address them can be very substantial. Saul Glazer discusses the necessity of using DSC – differing site conditions – clauses in construction contracts. The basic purpose of the contracting process is to allocate risks among the various parties. Many risks are easy to identify and evaluate. For example, a contractor can evaluate the risk of labor cost changes or material prices. Similarly, the owner can evaluate and cover the risk of a contractor’s default by requiring a payment and performance bond. In contrast…
In recent weeks, the prospect of an approved, widely available COVID-19 vaccine has become much more tangible as several pharmaceutical companies have presented promising preliminary data regarding the effectiveness of their vaccine trials. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received two applications for emergency use authorization within the last month with meetings scheduled to begin this week. On December 2, 2020, Britain authorized a COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, making it the first western nation to do so.1 In light of these developments, the CDC has indicated the possibility of one or more COVID-19 vaccines becoming available for public…
As each day of COVID19 passes, anticipation for a vaccine to remove all the social barriers grows.  According to the New York Times, researchers are testing 44 vaccines on humans, but a vaccine available for mass use probably won’t be available until spring or summer 2021.[1]  And this assumes that there will be sufficient production capacity, vaccination supplies and staffing to reach everyone.[2] Once a vaccine becomes available, to be effective, studies indicate that at least 75% of the population would need to be vaccinated, assuming that the vaccine itself is at least 70% effective in preventing…
Rico Sanders v. Scott Eckstein, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals No. 19-2596 (Nov. 30, 2020) Sanders was give a 140-year sentence for sexual assaults he committed when he was 15 years old. He’ll be eligible for parole in 2030, when he’s 51. He argues he’s entitled to habeas relief because the Wisconsin Court of Appeals unreasonably rejected his claim that his sentence violates the Eighth Amendment under recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions dealing with life sentences for juveniles. The Seventh Circuit rejects his claim. Sanders’s Eighth Amendment claim rests on Graham v. Florida, 560  U.S. 48, 75 (2010),…
City of Oshkosh v. Brian D. Hamill, 2020AP867, District 2, 12/2/20 (1-judge opinion; ineligible for publication); case activity (including briefs) The facts are just that simple. At 2:38 a.m. (bar closing time) an officer observed Hamill’s Jeep drifting to the right line of its lane, then to the center for 30-40 feet, then to the left centerline, and then to the right line of its lane. It was undisputed that Hamlin’s Jeep never crossed over either lane marker. And yet the circuit held that these facts gave the officer reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigator traffic stop. The court…
The State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors met virtually for its December meeting. Dec. 4, 2020 – The State Bar of Wisconsin’s Board of Governors today voted to support efforts to expand internet broadband access to ensure citizens in rural parts of the state have access to online legal tools, as well as access to attorneys who can help them. The board, meeting virtually, unanimously adopted the broadband policy position to support funding for broadband statewide to ensure more uniform coverage, as well as broadband expansion in any capital or infrastructure legislation. “Access to broadband is necessary for the…
Sharing physical custody of your children after a divorce can be a challenge throughout the year, but it is often especially difficult during the winter holidays. This year may be more difficult than ever as you balance your desire to spend time with family with the need to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this year and others, it is important that you and your children’s other parent have a plan to co-parent effectively during the holiday season. Suggestions for Holiday Co-Parenting If you consider the following suggestions, you may be able to take some stress out of co-parenting…
By Tim Ballering (justalandlord.com) Yesterday’s news contained many articles on Milwaukee’s Rental Housing Resource Center which is a collaboration to help both renters and housing providers. This was project was envisioned and started a couple of years ago. It became more relevant with the COVID economic crisis that has impacted the ability of folks to pay rent and avoid eviction. The partners are a very diverse group: Community Advocates, Legal Aid, Legal Action, IMPACT, Mediate Milwaukee, Hope House, the City of Milwaukee, County of Milwaukee, and the Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin. The inclusion of the housing…
Now that the Thanksgiving turkey or Tofurkey or frozen pizza has been consumed and the leftovers put away, attention turns to Christmas, Hanukkah, and other winter gift-giving occasions. This also means that fruit baskets and bottles of wine and those giant tins of popcorn begin showing up on doorsteps and on breakroom tables, gifts from vendors, or occasionally, from clients. (Well, in normal years. I’m not sure how this will play out this year. But let’s assume it will.) There’s no ethical problem in accepting token gifts like this for a job well done, or for that matter, just because.…