WWT Insights Legal Blog

Wilson Wehmeyer Themeli, pllc provides you legal news, updates, and analysis in its blog WWT Insights. Read the latest posts.

  • “U.S. Citizenship Act” – Earned Path to Citizenship: a Summary
    by Sonila Themeli on February 22, 2021 at 7:11 pm

    On February 18, 2021, a new immigration bill – “U.S. Citizenship Act” – was introduced in the House and Senate.  The Bill contains many positive and important provisions for immigrants, for both family and employment-based visas.  The following is an overview of the main provisions related to the Lawful Prospective Immigrant status. Terminology: The Bill

  • Affidavit of Support, Form I-864, and a Sponsoring Spouse’s Obligations After Divorce
    by Sonila Themeli on February 18, 2021 at 1:14 am

    Very often immigration issues arise in family matters.  The following is a question I am often asked by family law attorneys representing non-citizen clients: Does divorce terminate or void the obligation of a sponsoring spouse to support an immigrant spouse?  The answer is: No, it does not. The Affidavit of Support A U.S. citizen or

  • Employment Verification Requirements for Employers and Penalties for I-9 Violations
    by Sonila Themeli on February 11, 2021 at 11:25 pm

    What are an employer’s obligations? Under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), every employer in the United States (individual or entity) is prohibited from knowingly hiring or continuing to employ a person not authorized to work in the United States.  INA § 274A, 8 U.S.C. § 1324a.  Nor can employers use contracts,

  • Fiancé or Marriage visa? Which way to go?
    by Sonila Themeli on February 2, 2021 at 11:59 pm

    Are you a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident (green card holder) who has a girlfriend, boyfriend, fiancé, husband, or wife who is abroad?  Some of the most common questions we receive from clients are “How can I bring my fiancé or spouse to the U.S.?  Should I file for a fiancé visa or marriage

  • The 183 North Mobility Project
    by Ana Suarez on January 29, 2021 at 7:05 pm

    An Expansion Impacting The Austin Community Running approximately 9 miles along the US-183, The 183 North Mobility Project sets to expand mobility capacity and reduce traffic congestion along the US 183, between SH 45 North and MoPac.The expansion is a collaboration between The Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, and the Texas Department of Transportation. The

  • The I-45 North Houston Highway Improvement Project
    by Ana Suarez on January 22, 2021 at 6:17 pm

    Characterized as “transformative”, the North Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP) is set to delineate new infrastructure for the City of Houston. The NHHIP includes the combined participation of TxDOT, City of Houston, Harris County Flood Control District, METRO, the Houston Housing Authority, management districts, civic associations, and neighborhoods.The project displaces churches, schools, commercial billboards, medical

Other Legal Feeds

The Supreme Court of the United States

  • Justices voice skepticism about retroactive sentencing reductions for low-level crack-cocaine offenders
    by Ekow Yankah on May 7, 2021 at 10:11 pm

    On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard its last case of the term. The case, Terry v. United States, about sentencing reductions for certain offenses involving crack cocaine, comes just a few months before the petitioner, Tarahrick Terry, is scheduled to be released after serving 13… The post Justices voice skepticism about retroactive sentencing reductions for low-level crack-cocaine offenders appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

  • Punitive damages and rejected pleas
    by Andrew Hamm on May 7, 2021 at 3:32 pm

    This week we highlight petitions that ask the Supreme Court to consider, among other things, whether an award of punitive damages that doubles the compensatory damages can comport with due process and how a defendant can prove ineffective assistance of counsel in rejecting a plea… The post Punitive damages and rejected pleas appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

  • The morning read for Friday, May 7
    by James Romoser on May 7, 2021 at 2:21 pm

    Each weekday, we select a short list of news articles, commentary, and other noteworthy links related to the Supreme Court. To suggest a piece for us to consider, email us at roundup@scotusblog.com. Here’s the Friday morning read: Will the Supreme Court Write Guantánamo’s Final Chapter? (Linda… The post The morning read for Friday, May 7 appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement

US Department of Labor

  • Federal judge finds Bradenton behavioral healthcare center exposed workers to more than 50 attacks by residents, allowed destruction of video evidence
    on May 8, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    BRADENTON, FL – A federal administrative law judge has determined that a Bradenton behavioral healthcare center and its management company exposed workers to more than 50 attacks in a two-and-a-half-year period when residents kicked, punched, bit, scratched, pulled and used desk scissors as a weapon, and that both entities deserve to be sanctioned for destroying surveillance videos showing this workplace violence. In a 170-page decision, U.S. Department of Labor Administrative Law Judge Dennis Phillips found UHS of Delaware Inc. – a hospital management company – and Premier Behavioral Health Solutions of Florida Inc. exposed workers to workplace violence, and showed bad faith in allowing the destruction of videos that showed instances of workplace violence at the facility. Premier operates as Suncoast Behavioral Health Center in Bradenton. UHS, one of the nation’s largest healthcare service providers, manages Suncoast Behavioral and more than 300 other behavioral health facilities nationwide. The judge’s decision follows an Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigation at Suncoast in 2017 after a patient jumped over a nurse’s station and stabbed an employee with a pair of scissors. OSHA determined UHS of Delaware and Suncoast exposed employees to workplace violence hazards that included physical assaults and attacks on staff. OSHA cited Premier Behavioral Health Solutions and UHS and proposed penalties totaling $71,137. “Violence, particularly against healthcare workers, is a leading cause of injury in the workplace. The U.S. Department of Labor will pursue all available legal actions to hold employers accountable and ensure they take all feasible steps to keep employees safe,” said Regional Solicitor Tremelle Howard in Atlanta. In April and August 2019, the department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor in Atlanta conducted a 13-day hearing on the merits, during which 15 direct-care workers testified about their experiences with violence at the facility. Department attorneys established that between January 2016 and July 2018, at least 55 incidents of patients attacking staff occurred. As part of his decision, Judge Phillips held UHS and Suncoast liable for the citation, and found existing measures taken to address the hazard of patient-on-staff violence woefully inadequate. The judge assessed a penalty of $12,934. In addition, the judge ordered the employers to pay $9,600 in attorney’s fees as a sanction for the employers’ bad faith destruction of relevant video surveillance evidence. The judge found that UHS and Suncoast should implement abatement measures that include – but are not limited to – the following: Developing and implementing a comprehensive workplace violence program. Hiring staff with specialized training in security to be available on all shifts and on all units for the sole purpose of monitoring patients and responding to acts of patient aggression. Performing practice drills on how to respond to acts of patient aggression, and reconfiguring the nurse’s station so patients are not able to jump over or into it. This was the fourth trial against a UHS Inc. subsidiary brought by Regional Solicitors’ offices and the second in which the Solicitor of Labor and OSHA named UHS of Delaware as an employer in addition to the subsidiary facility. Suncoast Behavioral Health Center is an acute psychiatric facility in Bradenton. The facility provides inpatient and outpatient treatment for children, adolescents, adults and mature adults who are experiencing emotional and behavioral issues. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. Learn more about strategies and tools on Preventing Workplace Violence in Healthcare and Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Services Workers.

  • US Department of Labor issues guidance to states to permit greater flexibility for waiving the recovery of certain unemployment insurance overpayments
    on May 8, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration today issued an Unemployment Insurance Program Letter that provides states with guidance on addressing unemployment insurance benefit overpayments established by states for programs authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. An overpayment occurs when a state finds an individual received a payment or payments to which they are not entitled. The guidance includes the following updates on the CARES Act unemployment benefit programs: States may choose to waive recovery of overpayments under certain circumstances when an individual is not at fault. This includes circumstances when the state initially found the individual eligible for unemployment benefits during a given week but the individual received payments from the wrong CARES Act unemployment benefit program. Participating states must generally refund payments recovered prior to this guidance’s issuance if the state determines the individual meets the waiver provisions. The department recognizes it may take participating states up to a year to process any applicable refunds. In cases where individuals collected CARES Act benefits fraudulently, states must assess monetary penalties in addition to requiring repayments. Individuals who defrauded the program may also face criminal prosecution.  “Amid the pandemic, state Unemployment Insurance programs did the best they could in the face of unprecedented demand as millions of Americans filed claims for benefits,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Suzi LeVine. “That demand, coupled with systems stretched beyond their capacity, led to widespread overpayments in benefits.” “In many cases, individuals received payments for which they may not have been eligible through no fault of their own,” LeVine added. “The guidance issued today by the U.S. Department of Labor will help states address this important issue, providing them with greater flexibility to forgo recovery of improper payments from honest workers who continue to struggle and direction in handling cases where real fraud exists.”  The unemployment insurance program is a federal-state partnership, with states responsible for accepting, processing, and paying claims. Direct all eligibility questions to state employment agencies.

  • US Department of Labor welcomes nominations for members of the National Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship
    on May 8, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that it is seeking nominations for members to serve on the newly reinstated National Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships. The action follows President Biden’s executive order that directed the department to reinstate the committee. The committee will include a diverse set of stakeholders from across the nation – including unions, employers, apprentices, community colleges and other institutions – to build a Registered Apprenticeship Program that works in all communities. It will focus on expanding apprenticeships into fast-growing industries and sectors like clean energy, technology and healthcare to create more high-quality training and employment opportunities. In addition, the committee will focus on making sure that Black and brown Americans, immigrants, youth and women can access the training and jobs of the future. “The Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship will bring experts together to develop recommendations for an inclusive apprenticeship program that promotes equity for all participants,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “Apprenticeships offer good-paying jobs and a path to the middle class. The committee will help us ensure that people seeking apprenticeship reflect the broad diversity that has always made America strong.” Committee members will be appointed to one- and two-year terms and will advise the Secretary of Labor on ways to expand and modernize the national apprenticeship system to provide equitable career pathways that advance the dignity of work for everyone. “Expanding and diversifying apprenticeship is vital to equipping today’s workers with the skills needed now, for enabling opportunities into the future and providing employers with a workforce to support their growth,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Suzi LeVine. “To enable that expansion, the newly reconstituted National Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships will provide important insights and guidance we need to succeed. To help with that, the re-established committee will include individuals with lived experiences and, for the first time, youth apprentices.” The department will accept nominations for the National Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships until June 3. Learn more about the committee. Send questions to AdvisoryCommitteeonApprenticeship@dol.gov.

  • Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report
    on May 8, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    In the week ending May 1, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 498,000, a decrease of 92,000 from the previous week’s revised level. This is the lowest level for initial claims since March 14, 2020 when it was 256,000. The previous week’s level was revised up by 37,000 from 553,000 to 590,000. The 4-week moving average was 560,000, a decrease of 61,000 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since March 14, 2020 when it was 225,500. The previous week’s average was revised up by 9,250 from 611,750 to 621,000.

  • US Department of Labor to withdraw Independent Contractor Rule
    on May 8, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the withdrawal – effective May 6 – of the “Independent Contractor Rule,” to maintain workers’ rights to the minimum wage and overtime compensation protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The department is withdrawing the rule for several reasons, including: The independent contractor rule was in tension with the FLSA’s text and purpose, as well as relevant judicial precedent. The rule’s prioritization of two “core factors” for determining employee status under the FLSA would have undermined the longstanding balancing approach of the economic realities test and court decisions requiring a review of the totality of the circumstances related to the employment relationship. The rule would have narrowed the facts and considerations comprising the analysis of whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, resulting in workers losing FLSA protections. “By withdrawing the Independent Contractor Rule, we will help preserve essential worker rights and stop the erosion of worker protections that would have occurred had the rule gone into effect,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “Legitimate business owners play an important role in our economy but, too often, workers lose important wage and related protections when employers misclassify them as independent contractors. We remain committed to ensuring that employees are recognized clearly and correctly when they are, in fact, employees so that they receive the protections the Fair Labor Standards Act provides.” The FLSA includes provisions that require covered employers to pay employees at least the federal minimum wage for every hour they work and overtime compensation at not less than one-and-one-half times their regular rate of pay for every hour they work over 40 in a workweek. FLSA protections do not apply to independent contractors. In addition to maintaining the scope of workers covered by FLSA wage and hour protections, the department anticipates that the independent contractor rule’s withdrawal will avoid a reduction in workers’ access to employer-provided fringe benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans. The withdrawal will also avoid a reduction in other benefits such as unemployment insurance and workers compensation coverage. For more information about the FLSA or other laws it enforces, visit the Wage and Hour Division, or call toll-free 1-866-4US-WAGE.