Tapped to Discuss Heightened Oversight of Corporate Boards and Dealing with Immigration Laws When Hiring Global Talent
Ava Lias-Booker and Jacquelyn E. Stone, two partners of McGuireWoods LLP, were invited by the Minority Corporate Counsel Association to serve as panelists during the MCCA’s Sixth Annual Continuing Legal Education Expo.
Booker, who heads McGuireWoods’ litigation practice in its Baltimore office, spoke on a panel that discussed the ways government regulators are becoming more invasive in the operations of corporate boards. Other panel members included Randall Lee, Regional Director, Pacific Region, U.S. Securities and Exchange, and Michele Mayes, Senior Vice President & General Counsel, Pitney Bowes, Inc.
“Board scrutiny by governmental agencies has increased significantly since the enactment of SOX and the new rules adopted by the SEC. These days boards also are being closely watched by hedge fund shareholder activists who are beginning to use litigation as a tool to make significant changes in board structure and corporate direction,” Lias-Booker cautioned. “Because there is over a trillion dollars invested in hedge funds, corporate boards have to take seriously the threat of attack from these sorts of institutional investors. In addition to good corporate governance practices, corporate boards should be prepared to respond quickly and aggressively when confronted with activist hedge funds that use litigation as a vehicle to achieve short term goals that do not promote long term value or the best interests of all corporate stakeholders.”
Stone is a partner in McGuireWoods’ Richmond office. She is a member of the firm’s Mergers & Acquisitions, Securities & Corporate Services Department, where she advises clients on a range of business issues, including immigration matters. Stone spoke on a MCCA CLE Expo panel regarding immigration and employment law issues. This panel discussion was led by Magdeline R. Momani, immigration counsel for Wal-Mart, Inc.
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been pursuing I-9 enforcement with new vigor in the last two years, with a new focus on criminal penalties for workers, managers and business owners,” Stone said. “To avoid problems, companies should immediately review and rectify any violations on their I-9 forms. In most cases, I-9 audits have become multi-agency events with ICE being accompanied by other agencies such as the IRS, USDA, Health Department, EPA, and city and state agencies. Now is the time for employers to take a very close look at their training programs for employees involved in I-9 completion and document review as well as their procedures for I-9 maintenance and retention. Where an employer believes that a large portion of their workforce would be affected by an I-9 audit or ICE raid, the employer should develop an ongoing program to review their workforce and I-9s in stages to avoid loss of a large number of workers at any one time, which would result in a severe decline in productivity.”
The MCCA CLE Expo was held March 21-23 in Chicago.
McGuireWoods’ Business & Securities Litigation Department assists companies in all aspects of business and securities litigation, whether in court, at the SEC or before other agencies. The firm has successfully represented corporate defendants in national class actions and False Claim Act litigation as well other significant commercial matters. McGuireWoods’ Mergers & Acquisitions, Securities & Corporate Services Department has an international reputation for its mergers and acquisition work, representing both buyers and sellers in acquisitions, divestitures and joint ventures throughout the Americas and in Europe and the Pacific Rim. McGuireWoods is widely recognized for providing corporate governance guidance and legal counsel to large companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ.