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Court and legal news weekly roundup

This week’s highlights

  • In a competitive labor market, major law firm Goodwin Procter offers to pay for week-long vacations for their associates
  • US Labor Board seeks remedies after alleging that Amazon illegally threatened, surveilled, and interrogated staff to prevent unionization
  • Attorney who was kicked off of LinkedIn for excessive self-promotion loses appeal
  • The Federal Trade Commission has filed suit against Facebook to demand that they relinquish Instagram and Whatsapp due to anti-competitive conduct
  • Texas files a third complaint against Google, strengthening the anti-trust lawsuit against the tech giant

Goodwin Procter offers vacations valued at $5,000 to $10,000 to associates and some other billers

In an effort to promote relaxation and mental health after COVID-19 created stressful work conditions across the industry, law firm Goodwin Procter is offering to pay for week-long vacations for its associates.

With its “Recharge On Goodwin” program, Goodwin Procter appears to be the first major firm to organize and directly pay for attorney vacations since the pandemic. (Orrick launched at similar program in 2018 that is no longer active.)…According to the Goodwin memo, all associates, professional track attorneys, science advisors and science law clerks are eligible to for the vacation program provided they billed 1,950 or more hours in 2021. The highest billers will get priority. (Via Reuters)

Associates point out that during this difficult time for attorneys, a $5,000 bonus may seem insignificant. However, the same amount of money targeted specifically at a vacation proves that the firm values their health and free time, and it incentivizes associates to take time off and avoid burnout.

US Labor Board alleges that Amazon illegally threatened, surveilled, and interrogated employees

The National Labor Relations Board seeks remedies after staff at a Staten Island Amazon fulfillment center were illegally intimidated and surveilled as they tried to organize a union.

According to the complaint, an Amazon consultant last May promised to fix employees’ problems if they opposed the union, interrogated them about their involvement with the ALU and told them that union organizing was going to fail because the organizers were “thugs.” The company also repeatedly confiscated union literature and told employees that they weren’t allowed to hand it out, according to the filing. (Via Bloomberg Law)

Amazon representatives deny that these activities occurred. From Bloomberg Law: “These allegations are false, and we look forward to showing that through this process,” Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said in an email.

Lawyer who was removed from LinkedIn for excessive posting and self-promotion loses appeal

After purchasing a LinkedIn Premium account, attorney Kenneth Vercammen was banned from the platform without warning.

LinkedIn said he was violating its user agreement by posting more than 15 articles per day on the site, and that he was using the site to promote his small law office in Edison, New Jersey, where he handles traffic tickets, personal injuries, wills and probate matters. Vercammen, for his part, says he was unaware of that rule, and that it was not presented clearly. (via Law.com)

Vercammen filed a consumer fraud suit against LinkedIn, asserting that he had no notice of terms limiting his posting activity on the site. The case was dismissed by a Middlesex County Superior Court in August 2020, but Vercammen appealed that decision. Now, a two-judge appellate panel upheld the dismissal, but they did rule that the court order should be changed from “with prejudice” to “without prejudice.” The attorney has not yet decided whether he will pursue the claim further in California.

FTC wants Facebook parent company Meta to relinquish Instagram and Whatsapp in reinvigorated anti-trust case

Shortly after Facebook lost its bid to remove Linda Kahn from the antitrust investigation against it, the FTC filed suit to demand that the company divest itself of communication platforms Instagram and Whatsapp.

The outcome of this case is far from certain.

While about 2.8 billion people use Meta’s services daily, American antitrust has progressed past the point where a company’s mere size is its deadly sin. If Meta can prove that its acquisition of Instagram and Whatsapp had non-anticompetitive ends like lowering costs or increasing functionality for customers, the FTC might not walk away with the W. (Via Above The Law)

This move may set the precedent for other big tech antitrust cases that are currently being reviewed.

Texas files third anti-trust complaint against Google, strengthening the state-led lawsuit against the tech giant

Speaking of big tech antitrust cases, the States’ 3rd Amendment antitrust complaint against Google just gained momentum. Texas, the state leading the charge, had previously filed a heavily redacted complaint. Last week, the state filed its third attempt, which included much more information.

The complaint focuses heavily on the online advertising market, especially the claim that Sundar Pichai and Mark Zuckerberg signed off on a special deal to combat header bidding. Google is also accused of misrepresenting advertising options and giving preferential treatment to certain advertisers.

Commentary from Above the Law sums up the outlook of this case: “How Google responds to the lawsuit will be extremely interesting and worth watching. Given the errors in the original filing, it’s possible that there are errors here too, but if what Texas is alleging in this latest version of the lawsuit are accurate, then Google should be in trouble.”

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