Reviewing Compensation Arrangements for Employees Subject to U.S. Income Tax Before Year-End Could Avoid Costly Tax Penalties

We have written about this in the past [here], but the message bears repeating each year. It is easy to overlook that employment agreements, change-in-control agreements, and severance agreements with U.S. taxpayers frequently contain provisions that subject them to U.S. Internal Revenue Code Section 409A (“Section 409A”), and failure to comply can result in onerous tax penalties. However, to the extent that rights under such agreements are not yet vested, it may be possible to correct them before year-end without penalty. Even if rights under an agreement are vested, in some cases correction is available with payment of reduced penalties under IRS correction programs. It is important to remember that U.S. residents, and U.S....

The SEC Adopts New Rules Regarding Mining Disclosure

On October 31, 2018, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) announced that it adopted rules to modernize mining property disclosure in order to harmonize SEC disclosure requirements with international standards. The SEC had proposed rules in June 2016 which received numerous comments and as a result a number of changes were made to the original proposed rules. A high level summary of the final rules and changes compared to the proposed rules can be found here: www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2018-248 The final rules provide for a two-year transition period so that a registrant will not be required to begin to comply with the new rules until its first fiscal year beginning on or...

Canadians Involved in Cannabis Industry Should be Careful Crossing the U.S. Border

With the legalization of marijuana going into effect in Canada tomorrow, October 17, we encourage our Canadian contacts to be careful when crossing the U.S. Border. For more information, see the recent article authored by Dorsey’s Immigration Practice Group posted on our Cannabis Blog here: dorseycann.com/at-the-intersection-of-cannabis-and-u-s-immigration-law-issues-that-canadians-and-other-non-citizens-should-be-aware-of/.

NAFTA Replacement Announced

On Sunday, September 30, 2018, the U.S. and Canadian governments announced that they had reached agreement on a new trilateral trade agreement with Mexico, which will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This long-awaited text, released late in the day as the “United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA),” is now available for public inspection.[1] The two governments announced this agreement just before a key deadline was set to expire at midnight. As reported in May 2017,[2] the Trump Administration commenced a process to renegotiate NAFTA, citing the need to update the cornerstone trilateral agreement that has governed trade among the three countries since 1994. At that time, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer informed...

The SEC’s Recent Settlement with Tesla and Elon Musk Teaches Us a Valuable Corporate Governance Lesson

The SEC’s settlement with Tesla and Elon Musk teaches us some important corporate governance lessons on monitoring and vetting executive use of social media. As background, on August 7, 2018, the markets were surprised by a series of tweets initiated by Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, Inc., in which Musk mused about taking Tesla private at $420 per share (a significant premium to the then-market price), with funding secured. The stock price jumped, trading in Tesla stock was halted, and Tesla rushed to catch up with official announcements. The deal didn’t happen, and it was questioned whether Musk was really serious, and whether funding was really “secured.” The SEC commenced an investigation....

Hostile Work Environment Harassment: It’s Whatever a Jury Says it is

When one thinks of the law, one often thinks of hard and fast rules. Employers cannot fire employees for a discriminatory or a retaliatory reason. Employees must be paid at least minimum wage. And so on. The law governing hostile work environment claims in the United States, however, is not so easily defined and applied. At first glance, the elements of a hostile work environment sexual harassment claim seem definite enough. In order to prove a claim for hostile work environment sexual harassment, a plaintiff has to prove that he or she has been subject to behavior that is: Sexual in nature or directed at an individual solely because of his or her...

What if You Miss the Deadline to File a Form D?

As a continuation of our August 9 post regarding the deadline for Canadian companies to file a Form D for a private placement in the United States, we now address the questions, “What if our company missed the deadline to file a Form D with the SEC?” And, more importantly, “Have we lost our ability to rely upon the exemption?” The good news is that the exemption provided by Regulation D is not dependent upon the filing of the Form D. So, an issuer that fails to file the Form, or files it late, need not be concerned about the liability associated with a non-exempt offering. However, the failure to file exposes the issuer...

Could Your Form D Already be Late by the Date of Closing?

Canadian companies that sell securities to U.S. investors under Regulation D must file a Form D with the SEC within 15 days after “the date of first sale.” Most people would assume that the closing of the offering is the date of sale. However, in the instructions to Form D, the SEC explains that the date of first sale is “the date on which the first investor is irrevocably contractually committed to invest, which, depending on the terms and conditions of the contract, could be the date on which the issuer receives the investor’s subscription agreement or check.” Therefore, the deadline for the Form D will depend on the wording of the agreement...

U.S. Employment in the #MeToo Era

The United States isn’t the only country addressing its history of gender inequality, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment. However, the United States is having its own unique experience in doing so. For U.S. employers, the current focus on these issues poses challenges, but also opportunities to address problems of diversity and harassment in the workplace. Non-U.S. companies looking to hire employees in the United States should be aware of the issues facing U.S. employers and be prepared to address them. One major change in the U.S. workplace resulting from the #MeToo movement is that employees who allege sexual harassment are far more likely to be believed. According to a November 2017 Quinnipiac University...

Proposed Rulemaking to Update Environmental Review Process under National Environmental Policy Act – How Your Company Can Participate

One of the principal sources of uncertainty, expense, and delay in the permitting process for many mining and infrastructure projects in the United States, especially those generating public controversy, is compliance with the environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). On June 20, 2018, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) seeking public comment on potential revisions to its implementing regulations for the procedural provisions of NEPA. NEPA documentation is generally required for any project, public or private, that requires approvals from the federal government. The ANPR is a continuation of the Trump administration’s efforts to address inefficiencies in the federal permitting process...