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While sexual harassment is not generally categorized as a “crime,” when it moves from suggestive remarks to things such as unwanted touching, the civil offense of sexual harassment can quickly become the crimes of assault, forcible touching, sexual battery or even rape. An employee’s criminal liability for such acts has traditionally not been imputed to the business organization for which he works, but that does not mean it could not happen as some states have laws on the books that impose criminal liability on business organizations when a criminal offense is “engaged in … by a high managerial agent acting within the scope of his employment and in behalf of the corporation” (NY Penal Law §20.20). With such laws on the books, business entities would be well advised to implement and enforce sexual misconduct policies that protect their employees, thereby protecting the business itself from potential criminal, as well as civil, liability.
By Robert J. Anello and Richard F. Albert
When federal prosecutors focus their attention on high profile misconduct that is not an obvious violation of federal criminal law, they often cannot resist the attractions of broadly worded “catch-all” fraud statutes. From time to time, however, the U.S. Supreme Court has pushed back on efforts to further expand the boundaries of these statutes, leading to reversals of some well-publicized criminal convictions.
By Margaret A. Dale and Mark D. Harris
Given the current turmoil in the markets, an increasing number of plaintiffs are bringing shareholder class action suits, citing corporate statements about COVID-19. As first-quarter earnings season draws to a close, now is a good time to reflect on the shareholder class actions that have been brought to date related to COVID-19, and others potentially yet to come.
By Terence M. Grugan, David L. Axelrod and Emilia McKee Vassallo
For more than 10 years, federal investigators have investigated criminal conduct in connection with the 2008 recession-era TARP program. From those investigations, U.S. Attorneys across the country brought cases and earned convictions for offenses spanning the federal criminal code. We can expect that these same agencies will use the same techniques and strategies to investigate crimes and bring cases involving fraud related to the COVID-19 stimulus packages.
By Russell Koonin and Adam Schwartz
In the midst the current COVID-19 pandemic, the SEC is paying attention. The Division of Enforcement has made clear that it will act, and act quickly, to stop fraudulent conduct that falls under its jurisdiction related to the pandemic.