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Androvett NewsWire: October 25, 2012: Election Rights | Wind Energy Taxes | BP Deadline
 
October 25, 2012 11:22 am

Elections and the Workplace
As the election season hits its high point in the days leading up to November 6, employers would be wise to keep certain election laws in mind. State laws typically govern issues involving elections and the workplace, and most of those laws provide for job-protected time off to vote, according to Audrey Mross, who heads the labor and employment practice at Munck Wilson Mandala in Dallas. "The Texas version of the law says employees get time off unless their schedule provides two consecutive non-working hours during the time the polls are open," Mross says. Some states, such as California, require workplace posters that inform employees of their rights as voters. Others prohibit discrimination against those who engage in certain political activities, such as running for office or working at a polling place. For more information, contact Mark Annick at 800-559-4534 or mark@androvett.com.

Tax Breaks: Gone With the Wind?
With federal tax incentives supporting the development and production of wind energy set to expire at the end of the year, there is a new level of uncertainty about the industry's future. According to one study, at least 37,000 jobs could be lost next year without an extension of the tax breaks, which the wind energy industry relies on to gain a competitive edge and improve technology. "Some renewable energy incentives that have been in place for the past 20 years may be going away or be greatly limited," says Roger Aksamit in the Houston office of Thompson & Knight. "Congress will face pressures to reduce the deficit regardless of the election outcome and views on energy policy, and it's already projected that these breaks will be cut in half over the next four years." Texas leads the nation in wind energy, generating about 8.5 percent of the state's electricity and employing some 9,000 people. For more information, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.

Whistleblowers Must Wait
The recent IRS award of $104 million to a single whistleblower underscores the possibility of big payouts in similar cases, but a Houston attorney cautions that whistleblower claims can require a substantial investment of time. "This is not a get-rich-quick proposition," says Marc Grossberg of Thompson & Knight. "These matters take a long time to investigate and prosecute, and no reward is guaranteed or is likely to be processed in anything close to a timely manner." Earlier this year, Grossberg helped a client secure a multimillion-dollar whistleblower reward based on a confidential claim originally filed in 2003. "Informants only receive an award after taxes are collected, based on the information they directly provided, and those facts must be clearly established and presented to convince the IRS to even pursue a claim. This process requires a combination of the whistleblower's knowledge and the tax professional's experience." For more information, contact Barry Pound at 800-559-4534 or barry@androvett.com.

Deadline Looms for BP Oil Spill Settlement
Individuals and businesses affected by the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have until November 1 to decide if they want to opt out of the multibillion-dollar BP settlement fund. While the settlement may be a good idea for most people affected, the process can be cumbersome and overwhelming, warns Houston attorney Mark Lanier from The Lanier Law Firm. "BP is obligated to fully satisfy all eligible claims under the terms of the court-supervised settlement, and we're working hard to make sure the company lives up to its end of the bargain." Lanier and his team are working with numerous individuals, families and businesses that are taking part in the settlement, and the firm has set up a special website, http://www.bpoilspillcourtcase.com, to help victims understand their rights. For more information, contact Alan Bentrup at 800-559-4534 or alan@androvett.com.

Cash Crunch Impacts EEOC Case Filings
Dallas employment attorney Matt Scott says this year's 50 percent decrease in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission federal case filings stems from a cut to the agency's budget. "After the 2008 election, there was a commitment of energy and resources to staff up the EEOC, but, in 2010, the money wasn't there," says Scott, an attorney at Dallas-based Kendall Law Group. Scott adds that just because the EEOC has slowed down its actions against employers, the number of EEOC discrimination cases that employees file on their own remains roughly the same. Scott says he thinks the commission is now targeting companies to either send messages to their particular industries, or it is tackling cases that will likely result in sizeable, attention-grabbing awards. For more information, contact Dave Moore at 800-559-4534 or dave@androvett.com.


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