The Grady Firm joins MAPLE Canadian-US Business Council Delegation to Toronto; Partners with Canadian Immigration Firm to Offer Cross-Border Services

maple-jg-with-sign-e1507223473277.jpgOn September 21-22, 2017, Jennifer Grady, Esq. participated in a delegation of the MAPLE® Canadian-U.S. Business Council of Southern California on a cross-border networking event in Toronto, Ontario.  The delegation visited nine leading innovation, enterprise, and government organizations and hosted a sold-out cross-border networking reception to connect with Toronto-area business leaders.  A panel presentation called “Doing Business with Southern California” featured speakers from Economic Development & Tourism, Business and International Development at Greater Irvine Chamber in Orange County, and the World Trade Center Los Angeles.

Maple JG

Outside MaRS Discovery District

The following organizations provided the delegation with insight into their work and shared opportunities for cross-border collaboration:

  • EY Canada
  • JLabs Toronto
  • MaRS Discovery District
  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • Ryerson University Digital Media Zone
  • Toronto Board of Trade
  • Toronto Global
  • Toronto Rehabilitation Institute
  • U.S. Department of Commerce

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USCIS Releases New I-9 Form to Be Used by September 2017

i-9USCIS released a revised version of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, on July 17, 2017. Download instructions are available on the Form I-9 page. Employers can use this revised version, or continue using Form I-9 with a revision date of 11/14/16 N through Sept. 17, 2017. However, on Sept. 18, employers must begin using the revised form with a revision date of 07/17/17 N. Employers must continue following existing storage and retention rules for any previously completed Form I-9.

Revisions to the Form I-9 instructions:

  • USCIS changed the name of the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices to its new name, “Immigrant and Employee Rights Section.”
  • USCIS removed “the end of” from the phrase “the first day of employment.”

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Plaintiffs Given Broad Access to Discovery in PAGA Suits by California Supreme Court

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by Grace Lim-Ayres, Esq.

On July 13, 2017, the California Supreme Court in Williams v. Superior Court (Marshalls of CA, LLC) issued an opinion addressing the scope of discovery in representative actions brought under PAGA (Private Attorneys General Act of 2004, codified in Cal. Lab. Code § 2698 et seq.).  The Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) authorizes aggrieved employees to file lawsuits to recover civil penalties on behalf of themselves, other employees, and the State of California for Labor Code violations.

The Williams Court unanimously reversed the trial court’s discovery order denying plaintiff access to statewide contact information for fellow employees of other Marshalls stores.  It held that plaintiffs in PAGA actions have access to a broad scope of discovery similar to discoverable information in a class action.  The plaintiff is entitled to statewide contact information at the onset of the case to determine which cause of action to plead, and whether a broader representative action is warranted.

In what could be considered another blow to employers in an already employee-friendly state, given the relatively low threshold for pleading, employees may now bring more PAGA claims that are in fact “fishing expeditions”, which will in turn require employers to spend more time defending against them.  In addition, it is clear that statewide contact information is relevant and discoverable in a PAGA claim at the outset of the case. Continue reading

DHS Delays Debut of International Entrepreneur (Parole) Rule Until March 2018

international-movers-and-packersby Anthony Mance, Esq. and Jennifer Grady, Esq.

On Monday, July 10, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it would delay implementation of an Obama-era program that would allow international entrepreneurs the opportunity to come to the United States to develop and operate start-up businesses.

In its announcement, which was officially entered into the Federal Register on Tuesday, DHS stated that the program, known as the International Entrepreneur Rule, would be delayed until March of 2018. According to DHS, the delay will allow for a pubic comment period on whether to fully rescind the Rule.

The International Entrepreneur Rule, which was issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services prior to President Obama leaving office, would provide international entrepreneurs with an opportunity to develop and run a business in the United States. The Rule would permit around 3000 international entrepreneurs annually to come to the United States for the purposes of developing and operating a business that offered a significant public benefit. To qualify, the entrepreneur would have to demonstrate that their business promotes public interest in ways that include hiring U.S. workers and contributing to the U.S. economy. Continue reading

Santa Monica, California’s Minimum Wage and Sales Tax Will Increase on July 1, 2017

Santa MonicaAs of July 1, 2017, the City of Santa Monica will implement changes to its sales tax and minimum wage.

For small employers with 1-25 employees, the wage will be $10.50 per hour.

For large employers with 26 or more employees, the minimum wage will increase to $12.00 per hour.

In addition, for employee of hotels, the minimum wage will increase to $15.66 per hour.

California picFinally, the sales tax in the City of Santa Monica will increase to 10.25%, making it one of the highest in the nation.  California has the highest state-level sales tax rate, at 7.25%.

The five states with the highest average combined state and local sales tax rates are Louisiana (9.98 percent), Tennessee (9.46 percent), Arkansas (9.30 percent), Alabama (9.01 percent), and Washington (8.92 percent).

The five states with the lowest average combined rates are Alaska (1.76 percent), Hawaii (4.35 percent), Wyoming (5.40 percent), Wisconsin (5.42 percent), and Maine (5.5 percent).

Action Plan: Continue reading

DHS Announces New International Entrepreneur Parole Option for Startup Founders

international-flags**Please note, on July 10, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security postponed implementation of the Entrepreneur Parole Rule March 2018.

On January 17, 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a new immigration avenue for foreign entrepreneurs who benefit the U.S economy. The “International Entrepreneur Rule” will serve as a pathway for qualified investors and foreign entrepreneurs to develop business enterprises which have significant public benefit in the United States.

This exciting news for start-ups and foreign entrepreneurs comes as a much welcomed development for those frustrated by the lack of immigration options available through the existing U.S. visas, which generally are not oriented to companies that are still in start-up mode.

Requirements

uscisThis new rule will be effective on July 17, 2017 and it will allow certain international entrepreneurs, on a case-by-case basis, to remain in the United States for up to five years in order to start or expand their businesses.  To secure the parole, three prerequisites are required: (1) applicant must submit the required application; (2) the application must be approved; and (3) a physical entry into the United States with the parole status is required. Continue reading

How to Comply With E-Verify Requirements

712fv2lM04L.pngby Jennifer Grady, Esq.

On November 2, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice increased monetary penalties substantially for employers who knowingly employ an unauthorized worker. Under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), it is unlawful for an employer to hire or continue to employ a person knowing that the person is not authorized to work in the United States. This law requires that employers verify employment eligibility of all employees by completing a Form I-9.  Failure to comply with these rules subjects employers to substantial penalties. Continue reading

IRS Mileage Reimbursement Rates Decrease in 2017

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© Jennifer Grady

Beginning January 1, 2017, the standard mileage rates designated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are the following:

  1. 53.5 cents per mile for the use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck for business miles driven (down from 54 cents in 2016).
  2. 17 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes (down from 19 cents in 2016).
  3. 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations (unchanged).

The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs. Continue reading

Online filing with the EDD will be mandatory for Companies with 10+ Employees in 2017

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Beginning Sunday, January 1, 2017, employers with 10 or more employees will be required to electronically submit employment tax returns, wage reports, and payroll tax deposits to the Employment Development Department (EDD). Employees with fewer than 10 employees will be subject to this requirement beginning January 1, 2018.

This mandate also applies to out-of-state employers who report payroll taxes to the EDD.

The e-file and e-pay mandate requires the following returns, reports, and payments to be electronically submitted: Continue reading

Increased Minimum Wage for Employers with 26+ Employees Starting Jan 1, 2017

fee-increaseThe California minimum wage law has been modified so that the wages will gradually increase to $15.00 per hour by 2022.

For the first time, the increases are grouped by employer size.  Employers with 26 or more employees will need to increase the minimum wage from $10.00 per hour to $10.50 per hour on January 1, 2017.  Employers with 25 or fewer employees will have another year until the minimum wage increases by fifty cents for their employees.

The schedule for the California minimum wage increases for large employers is as follows: Continue reading

Learn the Secrets Behind Starting and Building a Successful Law Firm on Feb. 21 with Jennifer Grady

law-firmOn February 21, 2016, attorney and entrepreneur, Jennifer Grady, Esq. will be teaching law school graduates how to open and develop a law firm from scratch.  Ms. Grady will provide the top 10 tips every small law firm owner should know, and will include real-world examples.  Topics will include entity formation, retainer agreements, marketing, and client retention.

loyolaThe seminar will take place at Loyola Law School on February 21, 2017 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.  The presentation will begin at 7:00 p.m., and will end with the opportunity for Q&A and networking.

To RSVP for this event, please sign up here. Continue reading

USCIS To Increase Filing Fees on December 23, 2016

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For the first time in six years, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has increased its filing fees by a weighted average of 21% for numerous immigration applications and petitions.  USCIS announced the increase in a final rule published in the Federal Register, noting that the increase will go into effect on December 23, 2016.  The department explained that because USCIS is primarily funded by these fees, an increase was necessary in order to fully cover the costs of providing its services.

fee-increaseOne of the steepest increases is the fee for EB-5 applications, especially Form I-526 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Entrepreneur), which will increase from $1,500 to $3,675 – an almost 145% increase.  Furthermore, USCIS also added a $3,035 fee for the I-924A – Annual Certification of Regional Center, an essential form for EB-5 applicants applying through regional centers.

Other popular forms that will also increase include the popular I-90, I-130, I-140, I-485, I-765, N-400, which are used for Green Card, work permit, and citizenship applications.

For more information about these fee increases view the official USCIS announcement here.  If you plan on filing any of these forms within the next few months, you can save money on filing fees by filing before costs increase on December 23,2016.  Due to the uncertainty that will follow the recent political elections, we recommend filing your application before new officials take office in January 2017.

Below is a chart highlighting and comparing these major fee changes: Continue reading

New DOL Rule Increases Minimum Salary Requirements for Exempt Employees Starting 12/01/16

12/01/16: This Rule is currently on hold, per court order. Please read the latest article for news updates on this topic.

On May 23, 2016, the Department of Labor announced a new, final rule that will take effect on December 1, 2016. To the relief of employers, the new rule does not make any changes to the criteria for classifying employees as exempt. Employers can continue to classify employees as exempt or non-exempt under the same duties tests and criteria they used in the past. However, the principal change comes in the form of several heightened minimum salary requirements.

The DOL estimates that in the first year as many as 4.2 million workers would either need to: (1) be reclassified as non-exempt and paid overtime whenever they work more than 40 hours in a workweek; or (2) receive an increase in their salary to meet the new requirement.

exempt-well-maybeUnder the new rule, the minimum annual salary for exempt employees will more than double, from $23,660 ($455 per week) to $47,476 ($921 a week). The minimum annual salary for highly compensated employees will also increase from $100,000 to $134,004. Furthermore, these minimums will continue to automatically increase every three years.

In a new addition to the rule, employers will now be permitted to satisfy up to 10 percent of the annual salary level through non-discretionary bonus and incentive payments, including commissions. Payments to health insurance policies, however, may not be used to satisfy the salary requirement. Continue reading

The Grady Firm Attorneys Speak to Students at UCI Blackstone Launch Pad on business and visa options for graduate entrepreneurs

Group photo.jpgRecently, Jennifer Grady Esq. and Anthony Mance, Esq. of The Grady Firm, P.C. hosted an informative “Fireside Chat” about the various immigration options that are available to foreign students upon graduation from U.S. undergraduate or graduate programs. The event took place at the Blackstone Launchpad of University of California, Irvine. The program was recorded and is available for viewing by members of the international Blackstone Launchpad community. 

uci blackstoneThe esteemed UCI Blackstone Launchpad was founded in 2007 with the goal of inspiring global entrepreneurship, and is accessible to over 500,000 university students globally.  This university-based entrepreneurship program is designed to mentor students, staff, and alumni of all disciplines and experience levels. The Blackstone Launchpad is an initiative of The Blackstone Charitable Foundation, and offers one-on-one mentoring, online tools, and a international community that supports ideas from the idea stage to execution and investment. Continue reading

When and How Must an Employee Be Compensated for Travel Time?

businessman at the airport

There are various factors that influence whether an employee must be compensated for his or her travel time to a new work site, or for off-site employment activity. One of the main factors to consider is whether the employee is actually engaging in travel as part of the employer’s principal activity or, whether the employee is engaging in travel for the convenience of the employer.

At the federal level, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the primary law governing travel pay. The standard asks whether the employee’s time is spent primarily for the benefit of the employer. It also includes time spent, even if not doing work, but under the control of the employer, such as on-site, on-call time.

Pursuant to California’s Labor Code, the standard comes down to whether the employee is

subject to the control of the employer; the concept of “control” is narrower than federal standard. While the federal and state laws overlap, California’s Labor Code is of course generally more liberal and more protective of employees.

California Law

The definition of hours worked is found in the Industrial Welfare Commission Orders, and refers to the time during which the employee is subject to the control travel-timeof an employer, and includes all the time the employee is “suffered or permitted to work,” whether or not required to do so. State law does not distinguish between hours worked during the “normal” working hours, or hours worked outside “normal” working hours, nor does it distinguish between hours worked in connection with an overnight out-of-town assignment. Continue reading