Business Law Advisory

November 2006

Ohio Fair Minimum Wage Amendment and Smoke Free Workplace Act Significantly Affect Ohio Employers
The Fair Minimum Wage Amendment and the Smoke Free Workplace Act, both passed in the November election, bring changes to the way Ohio employers conduct business.  The Fair Minimum Wage Amendment increases the minimum wage Ohio employers must pay employees from $5.15 to $6.85 per hour, effective January 1, 2007.  The difficulty of the Amendment is in its recordkeeping requirements, which take effect on December 7, 2006.  Most notably, employers are required to record each employee’s name, address, occupation, pay rate, hours worked for each day, and the amount each employee was paid.  Employers must maintain such records for three years following the employee’s last date of employment and provide the records, free of charge and upon request, to an employee or person acting on an employee’s behalf.  Although it is speculated that this recordkeeping requirement may be clarified to exclude exempt employees, it presently appears applicable to all employees. 

The Smoke Free Workplace Act also has a significant effect on Ohio employers.  All public places and places of employment must be entirely smoke-free as of December 7, 2006.  Employers must ensure that smoking does not occur in enclosed spaces or in areas adjacent to entrances, and must remove all ashtrays from these areas.  Additionally, employers must post conspicuous “No Smoking” signs at each entrance.  These signs must contain the toll-free telephone number for reporting violations, which is 1-866-559-OHIO.  Please visit http://www.odh.state.oh.us/alerts/ohiosmokingban.aspx for examples of these signs.  For further information, please contact Jeff Shoskin at jshoskin@fbtlaw.com or 513.651.6834 or Cynthia Crain at ccrain@fbtlaw.com or 513.651.6425.



Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance a Challenge for Companies with Significant Software Related Assets
For companies that develop their own software, Sarbanes-Oxley Act ("SOX") compliance can be a challenge.  Such companies are required to identify, value and report all changes to software related assets.  

Through their efforts to comply with SOX, many companies are finding software in use that is undocumented or poorly documented or that is not being used in accordance with the governing license.  The matter is made more complex by the widespread use of open source software in software development.  Many of the open source code development licenses are “viral”, meaning that the license contains a requirement that any derivative work (i.e. a modified or revised version of the software) be likewise released to the public for use under the same open source license.  If the company has used such open source software in the company's proprietary software development, then such software may be required to be released to the public under an open source license.  The result is that the company's software is not proprietary to the company, and it has a completely different (and lesser) value.  

In any case, companies required to comply with SOX should be particularly diligent in reviewing software that contains open source code.  The interpretation of many of the license terms associated with certain open source software is unclear and has been the subject of much debate and discussion among lawyers and IT and software professionals.  For further information, please contact Cynthia L. Stewart at cstewart@fbtlaw.com or 502.568.0225.



EU Law Compliance
Any company that has employees in Europe must consider compliance with EU laws governing personal data.  The EU’s opt-in system is different from ours, and US companies have been fined or disciplined for sending European personnel data to the US.  Recent news stories concerning what airline companies may or may not supply to US officials for security purposes are just one example of the sensitivity involved in this area.  There are several ways to comply with EU rules, as well as individual company rules, including entering a Safe Harbor program administered by the EU and the FTC in the United States.  Frost Brown Todd has developed a set of documents that can be readily adapted for this purpose.  Privacy Practice Group members can counsel on other ways to address the issue of personal data that flows between Europe and the United States.  FBT’s Privacy Group has published numerous articles concerning EU, Canadian, Japanese and other privacy rules and how US businesses can comply with the complex global rules that apply to personal data.  For further information, contact Joe Dehner at jdehner@fbtlaw.com or Jane Hils Shea at jshea@fbtlaw.com.

Additional Documents:

Practices

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