Issues to Watch

Issues to Watch

The U.S. Court of Appeals Upholds Minimum Wage and Overtime Protections for Home Care Workers


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The U.S. Court of Appeals Upholds Minimum Wage and Overtime Protections for Home Care Workers

Aiste Palskyte*

On August 21, 2015, in Home Care Ass’n of America v. Weil, 799 F.3d 1084 (D.C. Cir. 2015), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the Department of Labor (DOL) rule extending the Fair Labor Standard Act’s (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime provisions to third-party-agency home care employees.  With the rule expected to come into effect in January 2016, approximately two million home care workers will qualify for FLSA minimum wage and overtime protections.  Charlie Sabatino & Caroleigh A. Newman, The New Status of Home Care Workers Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 36 Bifocal 130, 130 (2015).  The rule, promulgated by the DOL in 2013, made a few important changes: it revised and narrowed the definition of “companionship services,” and limited the parties who could claim the “companionship services” and “live-in domestic services” exemptions.  Sabatino & Newman, supra, at 131–32. (more…)

Issues to Watch

Rethinking Solitary Confinement in American Prisons


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Behind Bars: Rethinking Solitary Confinement in American Prisons

Emily Steiner*

Solitary confinement is a widely used and highly controversial practice in American prisons that has been the go-to method for handling discipline and security since the mid-1980s. Inmates held in solitary confinement spend approximately twenty-three hours a day in tiny, windowless cells, receiving their food on trays passed through a slot in the cell door. According to an estimate by the Vera Institute of Justice, as many as 80,000 people are currently held in isolation cells across the United States. See Natasha Haverty, Amid Backlash Against Isolating Inmates, New Mexico Moves Toward Change, Nat’l Pub. Radio (Aug. 24, 2015, 4:47 AM), http://www.npr.org/2015/08/24/432622666/amid-backlash-against-isolating-inmates-new-mexico-moves-toward-change.  Solitary confinement is so commonly widespread that many states do not even track how many people are held in isolation. Id.  A growing number of activists, however, are convinced that the policy is a violation of basic human rights.  These activists, largely comprised of lawmakers and former prison inmates, are speaking out about the damaging effects of solitary confinement and demanding prison reform. (more…)

Issues to Watch

The Supreme Court’s Upcoming Decisions Regarding Class Action Lawsuits


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A Well Fitted Suit: The Supreme Court’s Upcoming Decisions Regarding Class Action Lawsuits

Christopher Finke*

Class action lawsuits have garnered much media attention and have gathered a reputation as opportunities for greedy lawyers.  Christine Frymire, Comment, Class Actions a Thing of the Past . . . Or Are They? A Look at the Circuit Courts’ Application of Comcast v. Behrend, 48 J. Marshall L. Rev. 335, 363 (2014).  Some have gone so far as to call it “legalized blackmail.”  Id.  The Supreme Court granted certiorari to three cases, which could have strong ramifications for class action suits.  See Gomez v. Campbell-Ewald Co., 135 S. Ct. 2311 (2015); Bouaphakeo v. Tyson Foods Inc., 135 S. Ct. 2806 (2015); Robins v. Spokeo, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 323 (2014). (more…)

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Maryland Court of Appeals Holds That Sustained Complaints Against Police Shielded From Public Disclosure


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Access to Governmental Records – Maryland Court of Appeals Holds That Sustained Complaints Against Police Shielded From Public Disclosure – State Police v. Dashiell, 117 A.3d 1 (Md. 2015)

Ben Weathers*

Following a spate of highly publicized killings of unarmed African American men at the hands of police officers over the past year, relationships among law enforcement and minority communities have become increasingly volatile.  Nowhere is this more evident than in largely urban communities like Baltimore, where anger over the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died while in police custody, led to unrest this past April.  Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Baltimore Enlists National Guard and a Curfew to Fight Riots and Looting, N.Y. Times (Apr. 27, 2015), http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/28/us/baltimore-freddie-gray.html.  Six Baltimore City police officers were charged in Gray’s death and are slated to go to trial in October.  Kevin Rector, Officers plead not guilty in Freddie Gray Case as Judge and Trial Date Selected, Balt. Sun (June 22, 2015), http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/freddie-gray/bs-md-ci-freddie-gray-trial-date-20150622-story.html.  However, had the officers not been criminally charged in Gray’s death, it remains unclear whether their alleged misconduct would have ever been brought to public light. (more…)

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FIFA Gets the Mafia Treatment


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FIFA Gets the Mafia Treatment

Christopher Burns*

Members of the Hells Angels, Latin Kings, and the Gambino crime family were all prosecuted in Federal Court under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).  RICO, enacted in 1970, was drafted with the intention to take down various mafia organizations and crime syndicates located domestically by means of incorporating assorted federal crimes ranging from substance abuse to money laundering.  Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1961 (2012).  Additionally, RICO adds new criminal and civil consequences to the predicate offenses incorporated into the statute.  Id. § 1963.  Recently, the Department of Justice (DOJ) applied RICO to prosecute a different kind of crime syndicate – the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or as most people know it, FIFA.  Grand Jury Indictment, United States v. Webb, et al., 15 CR 0252 (E.D.N.Y. May 20, 2015), http://www.justice.gov/opa/file/450211/download [hereinafter Webb Indictment].  FIFA is the international body governing organized soccer, commonly known outside the United States as football.  The organization has long been accused of harboring corrupt members, whose prerogative consist of filling their deep pockets rather than “develop[ing] football everywhere and for all . . . and to build a better future through the power of the game.”  Fifa, http://www.FIFA.com/about-fifa/who-we-are/explore-fifa.html (last visited Aug. 27, 2015). (more…)