Site Map - Legal Issues

Spyware Bill Reintroduced

- Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA) has reintroduced a bill that would require that consumers receive "a clear and conspicuous notice" prior to software being loaded onto their computers. H.R. 29, titled the Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act (SPY Act), is cosponsored by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. It was first introduced in 2004 and passed the House in October. However, the bill was not passed by the Senate before the end of the 108th Congress. The SPY Act is meant to protect consumers from spyware, programs that are surreptitiously loaded onto a computer that are able to track and gather the consumer's data, including which sites were visited or even sensitive information such as credit card numbers. The Federal Trade Commission would be responsible for enforcing the SPY Act and would be authorized to fine offenders as much as $3 million per violation.

Drug testing

- A federal appeals court has ruled that a government drug-testing policy did not impinge on the constitutional rights of an employee. In the case, Robert Relford was arrested for drug possession. He attempted to hide the fact from his supervisor at the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. However, the supervisor learned of the arrest and told Relford to submit to drug counseling. During the counseling, Relford was chosen for a random drug test. He failed the test and was terminated. The court ruled that testing employees who are participating in a rehabilitation program is constitutional. (Relford v. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, No. 03-5600, 2004)


- A new Maryland law (formerly H.B. 666) will require the state to issue regulations governing the release of the location and specified nature of biological agents. This information will be made available to specific law enforcement jurisdictions that are located near the agents. However, such information will be kept confidential from the general public and unauthorized persons.

Public records

- A new Maryland law (formerly S.B. 377) will prohibit the release of public records that identify or contain information about individuals or companies that maintain alarms or security systems. In an emergency situation, the records could be released to authorized personnel.

Spitzer Admits Defeat on Licenses for Illegal Aliens

- Widespread popular and political opposition to the plan to issue driver's licenses to illegal aliens in New York has led the governor to kill the plan.

20-20 Spy Sight

- Will intelligence reform help spies see terror threats before it's too late?

Legal Reporter

- New EEOC guidelines for the food-services industry, federal legislation proposed on homeland security and identity theft, and noteworthy judicial decisions


- A jury in a federal district court has awarded a former Federal Express employee $1.57 million in a workplace discrimination case. The jury found Federal Express liable for retaliation against and termination of Ted Maines, a company manager. Maines, who is white, attempted to promote an African-American employee and a Hispanic employee--both longtime Federal Express workers. Senior managers not only rejected Maines' suggestions, they promoted another person--a white female--instead. When Maines complained that he felt the move to be discriminatory, he was demoted five pay grades and was warned that he faced immediate termination for any other "mistake." (EEOC v. Federal Express, Federal District Court for the Middle District of Florida, No. 6:02-CV-1112-ORL-28DAB, 2004)


- The California Court of Appeal has ruled that it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee on suspicion that the worker might report safety violations to state agencies. In the case, another employee had already been fired after reporting such violations. During the plaintiff's termination, the employer said "I am afraid that you will be the next one to report me." The plaintiff filed suit and won. The court noted that taking action against an employee in anticipation of a complaint is no less retaliatory than action taken after the complaint has been made. (Lujan v. Minagar, California Court of Appeal, No. B170438, 2004)

Private investigators.

- Lawmakers in Maine have enacted a new law (formerly H.B. 735) governing investigators from other states. The new law will allow investigators from other states to act legally in Maine without obtaining a Maine license, but only in certain circumstances.

Identity theft.

- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has announced plans to reintroduce identity theft legislation. Feinstein, who serves on the Judiciary Committee, introduced similar legislation in the previous Congress which was approved by the Senate but was not taken up by the House. The legislation would prohibit the sale or display of Social Security numbers to the general public, set national standards for database security, and establish guidelines for companies that send customer information overseas for processing.


- The New York high court has ruled that an employer who has provided adequate safety devices cannot be sued by an employee who failed to make use of these devices. (Cahill v. The Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, New York Court of Appeals, No. 174, 2004)

Legal Reporter

- Case law on workers' compensation and drug testing; congress considers bills on cybercrime, gangs, and infant abduction; and new security laws in Michigan and Ohio.

Beyond Print

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