LIEB BLOG

How current events impact business & real estate

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Artificial Intelligence Decides if You're Hired! Is It Discriminatory?

Wonder why you were denied the last job or promotion you applied for? 


Wonder no more, because there is a good chance that it wasn't a human's decision. In fact, Artificial Intelligence "AI" has become the judge on who is hired or who is promoted for most employers and employment agencies. However, AI isn't perfect and may be infringing on your anti-discrimination rights if it's not properly programmed and regularly audited. 


That is why AI or Automated Employment Decision Tool "AEDT" has been the target of much scrutiny. Experts point out that AEDT are prone to bias in their hiring and promotion process. Biases include racial, sexual, and ethnic discrimination, amongst so many other protected categories. This problem has become so worrisome that New York City is putting in place an amendment to the New York City Administrative Code to curb the use of AI in hiring. 


Such amendment was approved by the New York City Counsel on November 10th, 2021. It can be read here.  The purpose of the Bill is to require employers and employment agencies to assess employees and candidates without the use of machine learned biases. The effects of such machine learned biases are discriminatory in nature.

Now, the Bill is on the Mayor's desk and goes into effect on January 1, 2023.


The Bill is limited to regulating AI decisions that screen candidates for employment or screen employees for promotion. This limitation is not without exception. An AEDT is allowed if the tool has undergone an independent bias audit no more than one year prior to it use. The audit's summary then must become publicly available on the employers' or employment agencies' website.


But how will you know if the employer or employment agency is using AEDT on you? The law enforces notification guidelines that will inform employees and candidates of its use.


If caught in violation of the law, employers and employment agencies face fines of up to $500 for the 1st violation, and fines between $500 to $1,500 for each subsequent violation. Plus, they may be exposed to a discrimination lawsuit with compensatory damages, punitive damages, penalties and attorneys' fees being awarded to the victim. If you believe that you were discriminated against by an AI / AEDT, your lawyer will be able to determine it's involvement during the lawsuit and leverage the company's non-compliance with the NYC Bill to win your case. 





Monday, November 22, 2021

Real Estate Brokerage - 11/18/2021 NYS Board of Real Estate meeting summary

On November 18, 2021, the NYS Board of Real Estate continued its mission of optimizing the regulation of real estate brokers in our state by holding its meeting. 


To remind real estate brokers and salespersons, the public is welcome at these meetings where the public can bring comments from the floor. Its encouraged that Lieb School students attend these meetings to have your voices heard.


"[T]he Board has general authority to promulgate rules and regulations affecting real estate brokers and salespersons in order to administer and effectuate the purposes of Article 12-A of the Real Property Law."


A complete video of the meeting is available on youtube.


In summary, the following was discussed:

  • Exam Results - January through September 2021:
    • Salesperson = 20,046 applicants with a pass rate of 54%
    • Broker = 1,477 applicants with a pass rate of 57%Order U
  • License Enforcement - July through November 2021:
    • Complaints = 273
    • Investigations Completed = 188
    • Closed (no violations) = 26
    • Closed (warning / instruction letter) = 31
    • Closed (private resolution) = 7
    • Closed (abandoned) = 16
    • Closed (duplicate) = 9
    • Closed (insufficient evidence) = 51
    • Closed (civil matter jurisdiction) = 7
    • Hold (licensee action required prior to renewal) = 13
    • Referred for Disciplinary Prosecution - 28
  • Live distance education is still permitted 
The 2022 meetings are February 17th (1pm); July 21st (1pm); and November 17th (1pm). 



Thursday, November 18, 2021

Lieb School - Condo Course HANDOUT

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Attention NY Businesses - Emergency Regulation Issued to Implement NY HERO Act's Exposure Prevention Standard

As you may recall, on May 5, 2021, the NY HERO Act was signed into law in order to protect employees against exposure and disease during a future airborne infectious disease outbreak. The HERO Act requires employers to take certain measures to protect their employees in the event of future airborne infectious disease outbreaks, which includes requiring employers to have an exposure prevention plan in place in the event of a future outbreak.


As previously reported on this Blog, regulation 12 NYCRR 840.1 entitled "Airborne Infections Disease Exposure Prevention Standard" was proposed over the summer to assist employers in adopting an exposure prevention plan. 


Although 12 NYCRR 840.1 has not yet been approved, the New York State Dept. of Labor has enacted an emergency regulation so that 12 NYCRR 840.1 can be immediately adopted. 


Regardless of whether or not 12 NYCRR 840.1 is ultimately approved, employers should still have an exposure prevention plan in place. However, to err on the side of caution and to avoid a whirlwind of possible future lawsuits, employers should comply with the requirements set forth 2 NYCRR 840.1, especially in light of the Dept. of Labor's recent actions in proposing an emergency regulation to adopt 12 NYCRR 840.1.


Clearly, the Dept. of Labor is gravely concerned about the possibility of future airborne infectious disease outbreaks and their patience is running thin.


If you agree or disagree with the Dept. of Labor's emergency regulation, you can make your voice heard by emailing Michael Paglialonga, Dept. of Labor, at regulations@labor.ny.gov, by December 31, 2021. 







Friday, November 12, 2021

Foreclosure Protection Enhanced by Federal Regulators

On November 10, 2021, Federal Regulators issued a statement that lenders will no longer be afforded leniency with complying with mandatory mortgage servicing practices.

 

As background, Federal Regulators had previously issued an April 2020 Joint Statement, in response to COVID, that they would not take supervisory or enforcement action against mortgage servicers for failing to meet certain borrower-protective timing requirements so long as the servicers made good faith efforts to provide those required notices or disclosures and took the related actions within a reasonable period.

 

Now, as of November 10, 2021, Agencies will apply their respective supervisory and enforcement authorities, to address noncompliance or violations of Regulation X’s mortgage servicing rules.

 

Borrowers, who are looking for leverage in negotiating mortgage modifications, short sales, and deed-in-lieu workouts should be brushing up on Regulation X today.

  


Thursday, November 11, 2021

Utility Customers Now Protected from Harassment on Unpaid Balances

With the foreclosure and eviction moratoriums coming to an end in January 2022, New Yorkers are about to feel pinched in their housing costs, which may turn into utility billing issues.

 

New Yorkers just received increased rights and beginning on December 8, 2021, utility companies are prohibited from engaging in harassment, oppression, or other abuses towards residential customers in connection with deferred payment agreements and the collection of unpaid balances.

 

Bill A3359 was signed by Governor Hochul on November 8, 2021 and amends §53-a of the Public Service Law.




Wednesday, November 10, 2021

It's Official, Unlawful Debt Collection Practices Will Not Be Tolerated!

As you may recall, a proposed bill (A2382) was submitted to Gov. Hochul last month, seeking to amend the CPLR & Judiciary Law concerning predatory debt collection practices & consumer actions, as discussed in our blog here.


On November 8, 2021, Gov. Hochul signed bill A2382 into law. 


"When bad actors try and take advantage of consumers, New York will fight back. I'm proud to be signing legislation that will protect New Yorkers from unscrupulous practices by debt collectors and utility companies."  -Gov. Hochul. 


This is huge news considering the new legislation will undoubtedly protect debtors from abusive debt collection practices. 


How big of an impact will this new legislation have on overall debt collection practices in New York? 


Stay tuned....




Foreclosure Alert - Lenders Required to Provide Single Point of Contact to Borrowers

Starting January 2, 2022, borrowers negotiating a loan modification have a right to a single point of contact at their lender.


On November 3, 2021, Governor Hochul signed BillS671 into law, which amends Section 6-o to the banking law, and starting on January 3, 2022, upon written request by the borrower, lenders will be required to provide borrowers with a single point of contact who must provide accurate account and other information related to the foreclosure process and loss mitigation efforts.


This is huge because many mortgage modifications are functionally blocked by a lack of access to lenders rather than based upon qualification criteria. As the foreclosure moratorium is coming to an end on January 15, 2022 and a wave of foreclosures are about to hit New York State, this is a needed law for borrowers, and their attorneys, to settle cases.




Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Employers Required to Provide Employees Notice of Electronical Monitoring Beginning May 7, 2022


Starting May 7, 2022, if you wish to electronically monitor your employees, you will need to provide statutory notice first.


On November 8, 2021, Governor Hochul signed Bill A430 into law, which amends Section 52-c to the Civil Rights Law, and starting on May 7, 2022, employers with a place of business in New York who monitor or otherwise tap telephone calls, e-mails, or internet access of an employee by any electronic device or system, must give prior written notice upon hiring to all employees. Additionally, each employer must also post the notice of electronic monitoring in a visible place which is readily available for viewing by its employees.

 

Any employer found to be in violation of this Bill will be subject to a maximum penalty of $500 for the first offense, $1,000 for the second offense, and $3,000 for the third and each subsequent offense.

OSHA Vaccine Stay in 5th Circuit - What Does That Mean - Nothing?

On November 6, 2021, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the OSHA Vaccine Emergency Temporary Standard (which we explained in this blog). However, the Circuit set a short briefing schedule and required the Government to respond to petitioners' motion for a permanent injunction by 5:00 PM on November 8th, which they did, and the petitioners to reply by 5:00 PM on November 9th, which they did


However, the stay seems to be a splashy headline about absolutely nothing. Specifically, the Emergency Temporary Standard's compliance date is not until January 4, 2022 and it impossible that the legality of the Emergency Temporary Standard is not determined before then. More so, as the Government points out, in great detail within their response, this case will be in Multidstrict Litigation "on or about November 16—21 days before the December 7 date that petitioners allege is the earliest date that any employee could be required to receive a vaccine and 51 days before petitioners’ employees would be required to start testing." Here, the 5th Circuit choosing to go it alone, is really strange. 


Regardless, the ultimate determination in this case will likely involve a ruling as to whether the United States Code (29 USC 655(c)), permitted OSHA to issue the vaccine Emergency Temporary Standard. The applicable Code section reads:

OSHA shall provide, without regard to the requirements

of chapter 5, title 5, United States Code [5 USCS §§ 500

et seq.], for an emergency temporary standard to take

immediate effect upon publication in the Federal Register

if he determines (A) that employees are exposed to grave

danger from exposure to substances or agents determined

to be toxic or physically harmful or from new hazards, and

(B) that such emergency standard is necessary to protect

employees from such danger.

Stated otherwise, the question before the Multidistrict Court is going to be whether OSHA has power to issue the Standard. To get to that answer, it is helpful to understand that a grave danger means one that causes "incurable, permanent, or fatal consequences to workers, as opposed to easily curable and fleeting effects on their health," according to precedent. 


Now, to make matters even more interesting, even if OSHA loses on this Emergency Temporary Standard before the Multidistrict Court, it can nonetheless issue a vaccine requirement through traditional rulemaking so long as such a requirement is "'reasonably necessary or appropriate' to address a 'significant risk' of harm in the workplace." As you can see, we are just in the starting gate and this horse race hasn't yet even started. Stay tuned.