Modern Slavery Act reforms under a Labor Government and what businesses need to know
Labor went into the May election promising a number of significant changes to modern slavery mitigation strategies and legislation in Australia.
As educational institutions, dining establishments, retail outlets and other places of public accommodation shutter their doors in response to fears over the spreading coronavirus, individuals are turning to the internet to meet their needs more than ever. Indeed, internet traffic in the United States jumped 20 percent after President Trump declared the pandemic a national emergency, and even more in hard-hit United States cities, such as Seattle, where internet usage increased by 40 percent compared to January.1 Internet providers across the country are even offering free internet and unlimited data to meet the unprecedented need for online access.2
In response to the spreading global pandemic, many commercial enterprises are developing and/or modifying their websites to meet this increased online demand. Educational institutions are implementing online classes, dining and retail establishments are providing for online ordering and delivery, and financial institutions are relying on online banking as they close branches and scale back retail operations.
The closing of these brick-and-mortar establishments and increasing reliance on online operations has great implications for businesses whose websites may not be accessible to the sight- and hearing-impaired. For several years, financial institutions, retailers, and other businesses have been facing a rising tide of website accessibility lawsuits, alleging violations of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“Title III”), which requires “places of public accommodation” to provide “full and equal enjoyment” of their goods and services to people with disabilities. While several Circuit Courts have held that a “place of public accommodation” is a physical structure, others have concluded the opposite and suggested that Title III applies to a business’ website. As online access expands and the coronavirus increases consumers’ reliance on business’ websites, this trend is likely to accelerate.
So what should these businesses do to minimize their potential liability in these trying times?3
• Make Accessibility a Priority
• Adopt an Accessibility Strategy
• Assess and Minimize Risk
The Fifth Circuit's decision in Jarkesy v. SEC, No. 20-61007, has significant consequences for how the SEC can prosecute civil securities law violations and how parties facing SEC charges can seek to vindicate their constitutional rights.
In an effort to crack down on tax evasion, criminal activities, money laundering, corruption and terrorism financing, legislation has been introduced federally and in many Canadian provinces requiring that private corporations maintain a register of individual(s) who “significantly control” a corporation (a Register).
© Norton Rose Fulbright LLP 2021