Following are excerpts from newsletters recently published or soon to be published by various sections of the New Jersey State Bar Association. These briefs represent a small sampling of the informative articles available to NJSBA section members, who also have access to back issues of newsletters online at www.njsba.com by logging in using their member identification number. 
 
Business Law Section Newsletter
What Business Owners Should Know About Telecommuters
by Alix R. Rubin
With the advent of sophisticated mobile and remote computer technology, the frequency of such natural disasters as Superstorm Sandy and business efforts to go ‘green,’ cut costs and achieve work-life balance, telecommuters are becoming more and more prevalent in the workforce. Although federal government offices in Washington, D.C. were closed for two days during Sandy, about one third of government workers continued working remotely. Under the Telework Enhancement Act, federal agencies are required to implement telework policies. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 13 million U.S. residents, approximately 9.5 percent of all U.S. workers, work from home at least one day a week.
 
Employers increasingly recognize the need and desire for employees to be able to work from anywhere. However, business owners should consider the following questions that may arise when employees telecommute:
  • What impact does telecommuting have on the payment of wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New Jersey Wage and Hour Law?
  • When is telecommuting a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination?
  • Are business owners required to pay taxes and carry workers’ compensation insurance in other states from where their employees telecommute?
 
Health Law Section Newsletter
A New Set of Fangs: HIPAA in 2012 and Beyond
by Gary W. Herschman, Jack Wenik and Laura L. Hunt
Infamously dubbed a “toothless tiger,” the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was universally critiqued as inadequately enforced. All this has changed, however, as HIPAA has grown a new set of fangs in recent years. After the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 brought with it the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), there has been a flurry of recent enforcement activity, both at the federal and state level. HITECH made available higher monetary penalties for HIPAA violations and allowed state attorneys general to enforce HIPAA, both of these factors have increased its attractiveness as a tool for healthcare investigations. Moreover, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released a newly minted HIPAA audit protocol and has begun auditing covered entities. 

Given the increase in HIPAA enforcement, coupled with the audit protocol, protection of health information should be in the forefront of every healthcare compliance officer’s and privacy officer’s mind. This article will explore the government’s new heightened HIPAA enforcement initiatives and OCR’s new audit protocol, and how these recent developments can serve as a useful guide to healthcare organizations in taking proactive steps to guard against HIPAA violations and costly government investigations and penalties.