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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Right to Disconnect

Should workers be entitled to completely detach from work when they are not at the office? The French legislature seems to think so. A recent law passed by the Assemblée Nationale (AN) is encouraging French companies to negotiate formal policies with their employees, limiting work-related contact with employees to their regular working hours. This move has been described as an attempt to protect the supposed "right to disconnect". Whether this concept becomes recognized as a fundamental right of all French workers is yet to be seen, but one thing is certain; France is beginning to cut against the norm of constant accessibility that we have all been accustomed to. For instance, in most Western work environments, it is not abnormal to at least glance at a work e-mail received at five in the morning and respond to it on the way to work; theoretically disrupting the individual's opportunity to find the time to relax and be alone outside of the office. The AN contends that limiting this interaction to work-hours will significantly decrease health risks and increase worker morale.
However, this is not the law of the land in France, at least not yet. The measure must now pass the French Senate. If the Senators modify it, it will need to go back to the AN once more and may then need to go back again to the Senate.
Additionally, the proposed law is not as far- reaching as one might think. The law does not declare that weekend work emails are illegal. It simply says that employment agreements must consider what is and is not acceptable during weekends. If there is no such agreement, it can be fixed unilaterally by the employer to either allow or restrict weekend emails.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

AmCham veröffentlicht 2016 Business Barometer

Die American Chamber of Commerce in Germany (AmCham Germany) hat in Zusammenarbeit mit Roland Berger in Berlin das XIII. AmCham Germany Business Barometers am 13.April vorgestellt. Die exklusive Umfrage unter amerikanischen Unternehmen am Standort Deutschland, zu der auch die TOP 50 umsatzstärksten US-Firmen in Deutschland zählen, gibt einen Überblick, wie diese ihre Geschäftsaussichten 2016 einschätzen und den digitalen Wandel der deutschen Wirtschaft bewerten.
War der Ausblick gemessen an den Umsätzen 2014 gedämpft, lässt das Jahr 2015 auf einen Aufwärtstrend hoffen. Zwar sind bei Beschäftigung und Investitionen die für das Jahr 2016 erwarteten Zahlen niedriger als 2015, allerdings bewegen wir uns hier auf einem hohen Niveau", sagt Bernhard Mattes, Präsident der American Chamber of Commerce in Deutschland. "Der gute Ruf Deutschlands unter den US-Unternehmen sollte allerdings nicht unseren Blick für die Bereiche trüben, in denen Handlungsbedarf besteht. Dazu zählen weiterhin die Energie- und Arbeitskosten sowie die Unternehmensbesteuerung. Die politischen Entscheidungsträger müssen nun handeln und die entsprechenden Rahmenbedingungen schaffen. Das gilt auch bei der Digitalisierung des Standorts und der einhergehenden Umwälzung der Arbeit. Wir müssen die 'digitale DNA' für Unternehmen und für Deutschland jetzt schaffen", so Mattes.
Die vollständige Studie können Sie hier kostenlos herunterladen. Eine Zusammenfassung der Ergebnisse finden Sie auch auf der Webseite der AmCham Germany.

by: Sebastian Meis (BridgehouseLaw Atlanta)

Our Client Appreciation Event

Reinhard has been providing legal services to the international community in Charlotte for 10 years. Time to celebrate, with clients, partners, family and friends. Thank you to everyone who came to Sycamore Brewing to spend the afternoon with us and helped welcome Kristina Stauf to the Queen City. She is the new GACC Events and Membership Coordinator for the Carolinas.

All of us at BridgehouseLaw would like to thank you for your business and your friendship. We appreciate your support and loyalty as clients, colleagues, and friends, and look forward to the next 10 years of working together. 

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Driver's license, insurance, and blood sample, Sir.

I blame the unseasonably warm weather, perhaps the election season circus, or possibly the fact other cases before the Supreme Court tackle sexier issues like the separation of powers or the enforceability of voting rights, for the reason more coverage is necessary on a fundamental privacy issue currently before the court in Birchfield v. North Dakota.
The case raises the critical question, whether, in the absence of a warrant, a State may make it a crime for a person to refuse to take a chemical test to detect the presence of alcohol in the person's blood. Immediately, I am confronted by challenges to individual liberty, biomedical ethics, objective expectations of privacy and even the integrity of the body itself. For this analysis I will differ to the wisdom of the highest court. In the interest of keeping our readers informed and keeping this essay short, instead what I would like to examine is exactly what is being asked of the court.
First, examine the actors involved, 'the State' and a 'person'. This tells us that we may be examining protections protected by the Bill of Rights. Procedural history proves this assumption correct; this is an action of the State, simply meaning government in its broadest sense, against a person, meaning all those protected by the Bill of Rights.
Second, what does the State want to do exactly? The State in this instance wants to criminalize a behavior. No real red-flags here, most people recognize the essential function of government to criminalize morally repugnant or otherwise socially destructive behavior.
It is the targeted behavior that sends up the red flags and sets the stage for the controversy. The 'would be' criminal behavior is the refusal to take a chemical test. The pertinent North Dakota statute reads, "chemical test, or tests, of the individual's blood, breath, or urine to determine the alcohol concentration or presence of other drugs, or combination thereof, in the individual's blood, breath, or urine,..." This leaves us with a criminal charge for refusing to submit to a blood, breath, or urine testing at the request of law enforcement.
This isn't unusual and most jurisdictions criminalize this refusal in a number of ways under a theory that wrongdoers should not be allowed an advantage by refusing to assist the State in its evidence gathering. The rationale of these laws is that implicit in the issuing of driver privileges is the implied consent to chemical tests necessary to prevent and prosecute drunk or otherwise impaired driving. The chemical tests and implied consent only become problematic because of the lower, Supreme Court of North Dakota holding that the implied consent is also present in situations where there is no warrant.
Warrants protect people and their paper, from unreasonable searches and seizures. What makes this question significant is the fact that taken broadly, the Supreme Court of North Dakota would approve of criminalizing constitutionally protected behavior. Refusing warrantless searches (make no doubt that drawing blood is indeed a search implicating 4th Amendment protections) is widely held as constitutional.
Perhaps not, while driving through North Dakota. Do you think that it is subjectively reasonable to search a person with chemical testing of blood, breath or urine where there is neither warrant nor exception? Send your comments to your favorite BridgehouseLaw attorney and wait patiently at the next DWI checkpoint to submit your biological data. 
by: Ian Morris (BridgehouseLaw Charlotte)