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Employee Training Regarding Data Protection

Data breaches have become a new reality and an important consideration for all businesses. A business needs to make cyber security a priority or risk loss of important intellectual property and/or private consumer data. Businesses need to develop and implement a company policy and plan to protect their computer systems. These methods need to include technical safeguards, trustworthy employees, and safety measures to prevent vulnerabilities

Most data breaches are not caused by sophisticated backdoor attacks by unknown entities. In fact, most common causes of data breaches occur due to human error and breaches by employees. A company must make employee training a primary aspect of their policy when dealing with cyber security.  A company policy should also include the following best practices:

Background Checks. A business should always conduct background checks on potential hires. It is important to hire trustworthy individuals, especially information technology (IT) professionals who have access to the company’s computer systems. It is important to ensure that the IT staff has been vetted properly.

Confidentiality Agreements. All employees and new hires should sign a confidentiality agreement for securing sensitive company information, including data confidential.

Data Security Agreements. All employees must have access to the company’s data security standards policy and sign an agreement to abide by the agreement.

Limit Employee Access. Limit access of employees to important information, such as Social Security numbers. Only give access to employees on a limited, need to know basis.

Provide Training. Provide frequent training and reminders on the company’s best practices regarding data security so that employees are aware of how attacks happen and how to prevent them.

Passwords. Insecure passwords are the easiest way to hack into protected networks. Train employees on creating passwords that are harder to crack.  Make it a policy to create complex passwords and change them frequently.

Prevent Human Errors. Create awareness among employees of how human error can cause data breaches. Train them to not send important emails over unencrypted hardware devices, to not share account information with others, to not leave important paperwork unsecured, or to not send important information to the wrong recipient.

Reward Reporting of Suspicious Behavior. Reward employees who report suspicious activity or behavior.

Discipline Violators. Discipline employees who violate company data security policies.

Train Employees on Phishing Attacks. Train employees on how to spot phishing attacks and require that they independently verify all requests for sensitive information.

Secure Building Access. Prevent non-employees from entering office buildings by requiring security codes and request employees not give access to non-employees without permission.

Report Lost Equipment. Require all employees to report lost company equipment, including laptops and cellular phones.

Personal Devices. Limit the use of personal devices for business purposes and vice versa.

Software. Do not allow employees to download unauthorized software onto company computer systems, laptops, cell phones, and other devices.

Termination of Employment. When an employee is terminated or resigns, it is important to terminate their access to company information, papers and other sensitive information immediately.

An educated work force that is vigilant and alert is the best way to tackle threats to a company’s computer systems. Building employee awareness is a big step toward securing company data.

If you have concerns about creating a company cyber security policy for your business, contact the attorneys at MacMain, Connell & Leinhauser. We provide human resource support and review employer policies to limit exposure to litigation. For further information on how our firm can assist you, contact us online or call us at 484-318-7106. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Chester County and Philadelphia.

Judge Denies Chester Community Charter School Proposal to Take Over K-8 Schools

In the first effort of its kind in Pennsylvania, a local charter school recently announced their intention to take over all kindergarten through eighth grade (K-8) education in its local district. Currently, Chester County Charter School (CCCS) serves most elementary and middle school students in the Chester Upland School District. They asked a Delaware County judge for approval to convert all remaining schools to charter schools, a request that was denied last month.

CCCS asked the court to accept proposals to convert any K-8 schools not currently operating under the charter company. Yet, the judge said that while some charter school expansion may be necessary to fortify the financially strapped school district, he felt the CCCS petition was premature at this time. This spring, he will hear a new plan for the district’s financial recovery.

A Closer Look at Chester County Charter School

CCCS currently educates more than half of all grade-school aged children residing in the Chester Upland School District and operates the largest charter school in Pennsylvania with more than 4,300 children. After the district was unable to get out of debt, the state took over through a process called receivership. Under this system, all financial recovery efforts and leadership changes must be approved by a local judge, including adding more schools to the CCCS roster.

Opposition to the Charter School Takeover

Members of the Chester Upland Education Association and some public-school teachers were concerned a full charter school takeover would limit school choice, impacting students who may not thrive within the charter school model.

The Vice President of the CUEA works with special needs students who are not getting their needs met in CCCS. Without an alternative, she worries these children may fall through the cracks and she may have valid reasons for her concerns. According to the most recent test scores, district-run schools perform on average the same and sometimes better than charter schools.

Some parents with students in the district filed a lawsuit claiming a takeover would prevent any community input and put the students at an academic disadvantage based on the charter school test scores. Unions representing district teachers and other staff are also concerned a takeover would mean certain termination for their members. Others feel it will fix the underlying problem of inadequate funding. A financial recovery plan for the district was expected to be submitted late last month. If approved, it may delay the charter school takeover.

The education law lawyers at MacMain, Connell & Leinhauser resolve complex legal matters facing today’s educators and educational institutions. We ensure schools are compliant with local, state, and federal regulations and defend them in all types of litigation. We are on top of ongoing changes in education so you can feel confident you are receiving the most effective and informed guidance for your legal issue. Call us at 484-318-7106 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we represent clients throughout Philadelphia and Chester County.

What is a Breach of Fiduciary Duty?

Some relationships carry fiduciary duties and responsibilities according to the law. These relationships are held to a higher standard so that a breach of said duty is actionable in the court of law. Usually, a fiduciary relationship exists when one party must act in the best interest of another party and that party places confidence and trust in another.

What are Fiduciary Duties?

A fiduciary duty exists between parties of a transaction where one party is bound to act according to good faith, fair dealing, and for the benefit of the other party. In these relationships, one party invests their confidence in the loyalty and integrity of the other, known as the fiduciary. The party that the obligation or duty is owed to is the beneficiary. Some fiduciary duties are governed by statute and others are defined specifically in contract terms.

Some examples of those who have fiduciary duties include medical professionals, such as physicians and psychiatrists to their patients; legal and financial professionals; spouses; and appointed guardians. Often, corporate directors have fiduciary duties to shareholders, as well as employees to their employers. Fiduciaries have the following duties and responsibilities:

Duty of Loyalty. The fiduciary is under obligation to act on behalf of the beneficiary and never knowingly act against their interest. If a conflict of interest exists that prevents the fiduciary from complete loyalty to the beneficiary, this conflict must be disclosed to the beneficiary.

Duty of Care. The fiduciary is also under a duty of care to the beneficiary and must act in a reasonably safe manner in accordance with the standards set in the community.

Duty of Fair Dealing. The fiduciary must also act in a fair manner and not take advantage of the confidence of the beneficiary to gain profit or unfair disadvantage.

Duty of Confidentiality. The fiduciary also owes a duty to not disclose sensitive information given to them in confidence without informed consent or use the information to their advantage.

Claims for Breach of Fiduciary Duty

To file a claim for breach of fiduciary duty, one must first establish that a fiduciary duty existed. Whether a fiduciary duty existed is a matter of law determined by a judge in a court of law. Whether a fiduciary duty exists is a legal question. However, how or what type of duty was breached is a matter of fact often determined by a jury.

One who is injured by the breach of a fiduciary duty is entitled to recover the actual damages incurred, as well as punitive damages. Punitive damages are usually awarded if malice or fraud can be proven. After it is established that fiduciary duty exists, the claimant must then show that a breach of said duty occurred and that the claimant suffered harm caused by said breach.

If you experienced a breach of fiduciary duty, you need comprehensive representation from an experienced professional liability attorney. MacMain, Connell & Leinhauser has expertise in defending professionals against breach of fiduciary duty claims. Contact us online or call us at 484-318-7106 for an initial consultation. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Philadelphia and Chester County.

Changes to Standards for Investigations of Police in New Jersey

Due to recent investigations by news organizations into gaps in oversight of police use of force and conduct, new standards will be put in place to monitor police behavior. New Jersey’s attorney general announced that there will be a public database that will track police use of force rates, increase public access to videos of police encounters, and require prosecutors to provide evidence, including incriminating evidence surrounding the credibility of the cops involved, to the accused.

Portal Tracking Police Use of Force

According to the attorney general, the new initiatives will target six New Jersey police departments in a pilot program to report all police use of force incidents to an online portal. The attorney general’s goal is to increase accountability, public trust, and transparency of the police departments. Under this program, Bridgeton, Dover, Linden, Millville, Paterson, and South Brunswick police departments were selected based on the demographics that represented a cross-section of New Jersey’s various police departments, according to the attorney general.

Improve Training and Consider Licensing of Police Officers

The attorney general directed a Police Training Commission (PTC) to devise a proposal for whether the state should be licensing police officers. New Jersey is one of few states in the nation that does not require licensure of police, even though they are authorized to carry weapons and use deadly force. The attorney general also required the PTC to study and draft a proposal to improve police training and revisions to recruiting standards.

Standardize Prosecutor Practices

The attorney general also issued a directive to all county prosecutors to standardize practices on evidence gathering, as well as a policy guidance to provide impeachable evidence and inconsistent statements by witnesses to defendants that may be helpful to the defendant’s case, even if it may undermine a state’s witness credibility and exculpate the defendant.

Prevent Bad Cops from Seeking New Jobs

The new standards require a police officer’s secret internal affairs files to be transferred to any new department that the officer applies to. Additionally, the policy discourages non-disclosure agreements to keep documents hidden. These initiatives are aimed to prevent cops with a record of disciplinary issues from job-hopping.

Release of Videos

The attorney general has also authorized the release of videos from police body cameras, dash cameras, surveillance videos, and smartphone videos when a citizen has been killed or seriously injured in response to public requests. These new initiatives will track use of force incidents in the state and prevent police officers from continuing to abuse their power.

For legal advice and representation on police and law enforcement agency claims, contact the civil rights defense attorneys at MacMain, Connell & Leinhauser. For an initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 484-318-7106. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we provide counsel to residents of Chester County and Philadelphia.

Do I Need A Lawyer for My Non-Profit Organization?

A lawyer specializing in non-profit organization law has expertise in incorporation, maintenance, and tax filing requirements for a non-profit organization. Much like a corporate lawyer who specializes in corporate formation and maintenance, an attorney for the non-profit sector has specific knowledge that is tailored to non-profit entities.

A non-profit organization must ensure proper compliance of the rules and laws to maintain its status as a tax-exempt organization. Failure to do so can lead to the organization losing status as a tax-exempt organization and become liable for fees and penalties.

Navigating the Different Types of Non-Profits

There are many different types of non-profits. An attorney that specializes in this field can provide advice on the appropriate entity for the organization’s needs and goals. A charitable organization has different tax and legal obligations from a religious, political, or private philanthropic foundation.

Preparation of Legal Documents

A lawyer can prepare and file the appropriate forms with the government and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to form the entity and take advantage of its tax-exempt status. A lawyer can also draft bylaws and amendments of the organization. Furthermore, a non-profit organization may also wish to file for trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property. An attorney can evaluate the organization’s intellectual property rights and advice on such issues.

Negotiations

An attorney can negotiate contracts with vendors, employees, and third parties. Additionally, an attorney can counsel the organization on liability issues so that litigation may be avoided or minimized.

Management

Lawyers can also provide advice on management and maintenance of the organization. The organization will need to form a board of directors and appoint officers. Attorneys can advise board members, executives, and employees on compliance with various regulations to ensure that the organization’s status is maintained.

Choosing an Attorney

When choosing an attorney, choose one who is not already on the board. It may seem easy to consult with an attorney who is on the board of the organization, but this attorney will have a conflict of interest. As a board member and counsel to the organization, an attorney from the board cannot represent the organization in litigation and may even be called as a witness.

The best way to identify an attorney for consultation may be a referral from another organization that benefitted from their services, which is a tried and tested way to retain counsel. Other means of finding an attorney are through referral services organized by the local state bar association or through online portals. Having a non-profit attorney prepare the legal documents and advise on the appropriate tax-exempt entity for the organization should provide piece of mind, prevent common pitfalls, and set up the organization on a course for successful operations so that it achieves its goals.

MacMain, Connell & Leinhauser understands that non-profit organizations have unique needs. Our attorneys provide specialized knowledge for counseling such organizations. For an initial consultation, please contact us online or call us at 484-318-7106. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Philadelphia and Chester County.