Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Commercial Eviction and Foreclosure Moratoriums Extended through January 1, 2021

Through Executive Order 202.70, Governor Cuomo extended the moratoriums for the initiation of a proceeding or enforcement of an eviction of any commercial tenant for nonpayment of rent or a foreclosure of any commercial mortgage for nonpayment of such mortgage to January 1, 2021. This means that no eviction or foreclosure proceeding may be commenced against commercial tenants for nonpayment of rent or mortgage until such date. However, commercial tenants may still be evicted through holdover eviction proceedings or sued under breach of contract theories for missed rent.

There are no moratoriums in place for residential properties by Executive Order but residential evictions based on non-payment are governed by the Tenant Safe Harbor Act. Courts may be prohibited issuing a warrant of eviction or judgment of possession against a residential tenant experiencing COVID-19-related financial hardship, if the tenant raises it as an affirmative defense and the Court determines that the tenant is suffering such hardship. Listen to our podcast HERE for what this means to residential landlords.


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

How to Track a Remote Employee’s Hours Worked in Compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act

Creating and issuing clear policies and enforcing such policies will make managing remote employees less onerous and less costly. Mordy Yankovich, Esq. provides policy advice in The Suffolk Lawyer.

CLICK HERE to review the full article. 




Consent to Foreclosure or Deed in Lieu as Mortgage Workout Options: Which is Better?

With roughly 10% of Long Island homeowners behind on their mortgage, it's time to start thinking about foreclosure settlement options. Andrew Lieb breaks down the difference between a deed-in-lieu and a consent to foreclosure in this helpful article for lenders and borrowers alike.




Employment Discrimination - NEW EEOC Rule Clarifies Right to Bring Lawsuit

On October 14, 2020, the EEOC issued a final rule, 29 CFR 1601 & 1626, for charges of employment discrimination. The key to this rule is to clarify that just because EEOC makes a "no cause" determination, that doesn't mean there is no discrimination and a victim can still hire an attorney and pursue a private lawsuit against their employer. While this change is minor in law, it's very important to clarify victim's rights.

Specifically, the rule now includes a notice to the victim of their right to file a lawsuit (within 90 days of receipt of the determination) and clarifies that a "no cause" determination doesn't mean that the "claims have no merit." Now, the Dismissal and Notice of Rights will read as follows:

The EEOC issues the following determination: The EEOC will not proceed further with
its investigation, and makes no determination about whether further investigation would
establish violations of the statute. This does not mean the claims have no merit. This
determination does not certify that the respondent is in compliance with the statutes. The
EEOC makes no finding as to the merits of any other issues that might be construed as
having been raised by this charge.

To be clear, the point of this change is to make sure everyone understands that "even
after the EEOC has decided not to proceed further with its investigation, private proceedings or
litigation may lead to court findings of discrimination or settlements for the charging parties."

Additionally, the rule clarifies deferrals to state agencies and it provides for the digital transmission of documents by way of providing access to a system with a unique login to retrieve documents. However, don't worry if you aren't tech savvy because the EEOC will mail hard copies to the parties if the system records no access for a reasonable time.




Monday, October 12, 2020

Residential Eviction Suspension Being Lifted Today (October 12, 2020)

Effective October 12, 2020, residential evictions are back in NYS with suspensions being lifted.

Specifically, Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks issued Administrative Order 231/20, which permits the prosecution of residential evictions commenced after March 17, 2020.

As of October 12, 2020, here are the rules are in place for residential and commercial proceedings:

Residential Eviction Proceedings
  • Proceedings Commenced Prior to March 17, 2020:
    • The court must conduct a status or settlement conference wherein the court reviews the procedural history of the case, any effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, if any, upon the parties, any other relief or protection available to the tenant, among others. Thereafter, the court may take further steps it deems appropriate, including allowing the matter to proceed and allowing the enforcement of warrants of eviction. 
  • Proceedings Commenced After March 17, 2020: 
    • All residential eviction matters (nonpayment and holdover) may proceed subject to: 
        • Current or future federal and state laws affecting evictions; 
          • For evictions based on nonpayment of rent: 
          • FHAFannie MaeFreddie Mac borrowers are prohibited from starting nonpayment evictions and are encouraged to seek forbearance and other options with their lenders; 
          • The CDC also halts evictions for nonpayment of rent until December 31, 2020. You can read more about it and the penalties HERE
        • The individual court’s scheduling requirements as affected by health and safety concerns due to COVID-19. 
          • Courts are prohibited from issuing a warrant of eviction or judgment of possession against a residential tenant or other lawful occupant who suffered a financial hardship during the COVID-19 period and is being evicted for non-payment of rent due during such period. 
          • Currently, the COVID-19 period runs from March 7, 2020 to January 1, 2021, as extended by Executive Order 202.66 and subject to any further extensions. This means that courts will only issue money judgments (no warrants of evictions and judgments of possession) on eviction proceedings based on nonpayment of rent due during the COVID-19 period. 

Commercial Eviction Proceedings

  • Proceedings Commenced Prior to March 17, 2020:
    • May proceed in the normal course subject to:
        1. Any existing prohibition on the prosecution or enforcement of evictions (as of this writing, there are none); and
        2. The suspension of statutory deadlines until November 3, 2020 per Executive Order 202.67.
  • Proceedings Commenced After March 17, 2020:
    • Eviction proceedings for nonpayment of rent are prohibited until October 20, 2020 per Executive Order 202.64 and subject to any further extensions.
    • Holdover eviction proceedings may be commenced but remain suspended until further order of the court per Administrative Order 160A/20. This means the petition may be filed and the tenants may file an answer, but the proceedings shall remain suspended. However, if all parties are represented by counsel, the matter may be eligible for calendaring virtual settlement conferences with the court.

All Evictions
  • All proceedings will be conducted remotely whenever appropriate.
  • Mediation and other alternative dispute resolution methods are encouraged where either all parties are represented by counsel; or all parties are unrepresented by counsel.
  • All petitions must include the Notice to Respondent Tenant.
  • Filing and service may be done through NYSCEF, if available and by mail, if not.

Landlords should immediately file their evictions and preserve their rights.


Friday, October 09, 2020

OSHA Guidance on COVID-19 Reporting Requirements for Employers

On September 30, 2020, the Occupational safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published additional frequently asked questions and answers (FAQs) regarding an employer’s reporting requirements for in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities for employees who contracted COVID at work.

The new FAQs require employers to report in-patient hospitalizations and fatalities for work-related, confirmed, cases of COVID-19.

For in-patient hospitalization, the specific rules are:
  • Employers must report in-patient hospitalization within 24 hours of the work-related incident. A work-related incident means that the employee was exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace.
  • The 24-hour reporting period starts when the employer:
    • learns that an employee was in-patient hospitalized within 24 hours of a work-related incident; and
    • determines afterward that the cause of the in-patient hospitalization was a work-related case of COVID-19.
  • The above rules only apply to reporting but not to record keeping. Employers must still record work-related confirmed COVID-19 cases regardless of whether an employee was hospitalized.

For employees who died due to a work-related, confirmed, case of COVID-19, the specific rules are:

  • Employers must report them within 30 days of the work-related incident or the employee’s exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.
  • The employer must report the fatality to OSHA within 8 hours of knowing or determining:
    • that the employee died within 30 days of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace; AND
    • that the cause of the death was a work-related case of COVID-19.
  • Similar to in-patient hospitalization, the above limitations only apply to reporting and not to record-keeping.

Employers are advised to consult counsel to ensure compliance and to roll out a tailored record keeping and reporting procedures compliant with OSHA’s requirements.




Guess how much employers pay, on average, in litigation costs in defending discrimination cases?

According to the EEOC, they pay $174,000 and attorneys' fees on cases that go to trial are between $195,000-$279,000.


You should get your training to prevent discrimination at your workplace today - sexualharassmenttrainingny.com or call 646.216.8038






Guess how much employers pay, on average, to settle discrimination cases?

According to the EEOC, they pay $45,466 to settle cases in conciliation before lawsuit (it only goes up from there).




Employment Discrimination Lawsuit Rules Are Changing

On October 9, 2020, the EEOC submitted a proposed rule in the Federal Register to change the conciliation procedures in an employment discrimination lawsuit. 

Basically, a conciliation is a required mediation of the discrimination case undertaken after EEOC finds reasonable cause for a charge, but before a lawsuit is filed. Historically, the process has been a mystery for employers as EEOC kept the steps, charges, and process secret. This mystery has resulted in approximately 1/3 of employers refusing to participate in conciliation even though the process is confidential and can't constitute evidence against such employer (unless otherwise agreed upon in writing).

The proposed rule requires that "the Commission will provide to the respondent, if it has not already done so:

(1) A summary of the facts and non-privileged information that the Commission relied on in its reasonable cause finding, and in the event that it is anticipated that a claims process will be used subsequently to identify aggrieved individuals, the criteria that will be used to identify victims from the pool of potential class members;

(2) a summary of the Commission's legal basis for finding reasonable cause, including an explanation as to how the law was applied to the facts, as well as non-privileged information it obtained during the course of its investigation that raised doubt that employment discrimination had occurred;

(3) the basis for any relief sought, including the calculations underlying the initial conciliation proposal; and

(4) identification of a systemic, class, or pattern or practice designation. The Commission also proposes to specify that the respondent participating in conciliation will have at least 14 calendar days to respond to the initial conciliation proposal from the Commission."

These rules are terrific and will result in increased settlements because an employer now has the ability to ascertain risk and then, strategically engage in meaningful settlement discussions in the conciliation process rather than blindly throwing money at a situation to make it go away. 


We encourage you to comment on the proposed rule should you have any suggestions to enhance its effectiveness by writing your thoughts, up until November 9, 2020, and sending them by mail, with reference to RIN Number 3046-AB19, to Bernadette B. Wilson, Executive Officer, Executive Secretariat, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 131 M Street NE, Washington, DC 20507.




Monday, October 05, 2020

Federal Eviction and Foreclosure Moratoriums Invite Litigation

Andrew Lieb published the article in The Suffolk Lawyer, Federal Eviction and Foreclosure Moratoriums Invite Litigation. This article discusses issues that will be litigated if an eviction moratorium is raised as a defense to an eviction proceeding.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Employers in NYC Must Update Their Sick and Safe Leave Policies

On September 28, 2020, Mayor De Blasio signed a bill into law amending the New York City Paid Sick and Safe Leave law to make it largely consistent with New York State's new Paid Sick Leave law. 

The law amends the New York City Paid Sick and Safe Leave law as follows:

Amount of Sick Leave

  • Employers with 4 or fewer employees and a net income of over a million dollars are obligated to provide 40 hours of Paid Sick and Safe Leave per calendar year (no prior requirement);
  • Employers with 5-99 employees (regardless of net income) are required to provide 40 hours per calendar year (unchanged);
  • Employers with 100 or more employees are required to provide 56 hours of paid sick leave per calendar year (previously 40 hours). 
Other Notable Changes:
  • Each pay period, an employer must provide to all employees a writing (whether via paystub or other document) containing the amount of sick leave accrued and used by the employee;
  • If employers require employees to provide supporting medical documentation when using Paid Sick and Safe Leave, employers must reimburse employees for any fees incurred in obtaining such documentation;
  • The new law permits the City to conduct an investigation into employer violations (even if there is no employee complaint) and commence a civil litigation against an employer;
  • Employers can face civil penalties of $500 per violation plus a $15,000 penalty if they engage in a "pattern or practice" of violation of the law. If employee is discharged in violation of the law, an employer can be obligated to pay a $2,500 penalty in addition to lost wages/benefits.

The amendments to the law take effect on September 30, 2020. Employers with employees in New York City should update their policies to avoid exposure.



Friday, September 25, 2020

NYS Senate Committee - Housing Discrimination Hearing

 Watch the hearing live now here 


What do you think? 


The key question was whether there should be legislation to cap the number of salespersons per supervising broker. Wowwwwwww




Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Is Your Pot Smoking History Holding Your Job Prospects Back?

If you were ever convicted of unlawful possession of marijuana, you can now easily get your record expunged and then, records about your arrest, prosecution, and criminal history will be destroyed.

Persons eligible to apply for the destruction of expunged marijuana (a/k/a, marihuana) convictions records are: 
  • Persons convicted of Penal Law 221.10: “A person is guilty of unlawful possession of marihuana in the first degree when he knowingly and unlawfully possesses one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing marihuana and the preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of more than one ounce.”
  • Persons convicted of Penal Law Section 221.05: “[a] person is guilty of unlawful possession of marihuana in the second degree when he knowingly and unlawfully possesses marihuana.”

Persons adjudicated as Youthful Offenders are not eligible for expungement and destruction because such adjudication is not considered a conviction.

The following records will be destroyed:
  • Arrest records;
  • Prosecution records;
  • Criminal history records;
  • Any dismissal of your case; and
  • Any expungement of your conviction.

It is important to note that only convictions of Penal Law 221.10 and 221.05 may be expunged and the destruction of records does not include any other conviction for any other felony or misdemeanor concerning the drug.

If you are interested in getting your marijuana conviction expunged and records destroyed, you should complete an Application to Destroy Expunged Marihuana Conviction Record and file it with the court where you were convicted. There is no application filing fee and you may file multiple applications if you were convicted in multiple courts.


Monday, September 21, 2020

Commercial Eviction and Foreclosure Moratoriums Extended through October 20, 2020

By Executive Order 202.64, Governor Cuomo extended the moratoriums for the initiation of a proceeding or enforcement of an eviction of any commercial tenant for nonpayment of rent or a foreclosure of any commercial mortgage for nonpayment of such mortgage to October 20, 2020. This means that no eviction or foreclosure proceeding may be commenced against commercial tenants for nonpayment of rent or mortgage until such date.

There are no moratoriums in place for residential properties by Executive Order. Irrespective of Governor Cuomo’s Executive Orders, court directives are still in place whereby landlords and lenders are permitted to initiate residential and commercial evictions and foreclosures not based on nonpayment but such proceedings remain suspended until further notice. You can read more about these court directives HERE and HERE. Further, residential evictions remain governed by the Tenant Safe Harbor Act as well, which prohibits courts from issuing a warrant of eviction or judgment of possession against a residential tenant experiencing COVID-19-related financial hardship, among others.



Thursday, September 03, 2020

CDC's Moratorium - Required Declaration for Effectiveness - As Promised on the LiebCast

State of         ______________    )
                                                     ) ss:
County of     ______________    )

______________, being duly sworn, deposes and says the following: 

I certify under penalty of perjury, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1746, that the foregoing are true and correct:

 I have used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
 I either expect to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), was not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act;
 I am unable to pay my full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, lay-offs, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
 I am using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses;
 If evicted I would likely become homeless, need to move into a homeless shelter, or need to move into a new residence shared by other people who live in close quarters because I have no other available housing options.
 I understand that I must still pay rent or make a housing payment, and comply with other obligations that I may have under my tenancy, lease agreement, or similar contract. I further understand that fees, penalties, or interest for not paying rent or making a housing payment on time as required by my tenancy, lease agreement, or similar contract may still be charged or collected.
 I further understand that at the end of this temporary halt on evictions on December 31, 2020, my housing provider may require payment in full for all payments not made prior to and during the temporary halt and failure to pay may make me subject to eviction pursuant to State and local laws.

I understand that any false or misleading statements or omissions may result in criminal and civil actions for fines, penalties, damages, or imprisonment. 
_________________________________ 
Signature of Declarant                                 


Sworn to before me this 
____ day of ___________, 2020

_________________________________ 
Notary Public



Wednesday, September 02, 2020

CDC's Residential Eviction Moratorium - Fines up to $500,000 and Jail - You Better Read This

CDC's eviction moratorium has teeth and the details matter. 

CDC issued an Agency Order, under the Public Health Service Act, to temporarily halt residential evictions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 through December 31, 2020. 

The Order applies to residential tenants (not transient or "seasonal tenant[s]") who have provided an executed and sworn copy of the Declaration form, set forth in Attachment A of the Agency Order, to their landlord. 

Such Declaration swears that:
  1. The individual has used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
  2. The individual either (i) expects to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), (ii) was not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or (iii) received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act;
  3. the individual is unable to pay the full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, a lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
  4. the individual is using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses; and 
  5. eviction would likely render the individual homeless—or force the individual to move into and live in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting—because the individual has no other available housing options.
Landlords and tenants alike better get this right as DOJ can bring actions against violators and "a person violating this Order may be subject to a fine of no more than $100,000 if the violation does not result in a death or one year in jail, or both, or a fine of no more than $250,000 if the violation results in a death or one year in jail, or both, or as otherwise provided by law." If the violator is an organization, the fines are $200,000 and $500,000, respectively. 

This does NOT mean that landlords DON'T have rights.

It is expressly noted that "[t]his Order does not relieve any individual of any obligation to pay rent, make a housing payment, or comply with any other obligation that the individual may have under a tenancy, lease, or similar contract." Nor does the order preclude "the charging or collecting of fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payment on a timely basis..." As we just wrote in Dan's Papers - Sue the Tenant for a Judgment

Finally, it is noted that the Order does not prevent evictions "for reasons other than not paying rent or making a housing payment" nor does it preclude "foreclosure on a home mortgage."

As an aside, the CDC is justifying this Order by pointing to the "over 174,000 deaths due to the disease" and comparing it "to the peak mortality observed during the 1918 H1N1 influenza pandemic," while asserting that "eviction moratoria-like quarantine, isolation, and social distancing-can be an effective public health measure utilized to prevent the spread of communicable disease." Perhaps we should stop downplaying this pandemic - it is real per Trump's Federal Agency. 



Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Legally Speaking: Rentals, Rights, Reality...What's a Landlord to do?

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Wage & Hour Litigation is Coming from Remote Workers

The US Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division recently issued "guidance regarding employers’ obligation under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA or Act) to track the number of hours of compensable work performed by employees who are teleworking or otherwise working remotely away from any worksite or premises controlled by their employers" that is a must read by employers / HR professionals. 

We addressed this issue on the Lieb Cast on 8/2/2020's segment 3 at the 9 minute mark well before the guidance was ever issued as this advice was a no brainer for a quality employment attorney like Mordy Yankovich

We advise you now that Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuits are coming. 

Are you prepared? 

To get prepared, you need to immediately establish "a reasonable process for an employee to report uncompensated work time."  




Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Discrimination: Disabled's Right to Reasonable Accommodation to Eliminate Possible Exposure to COVID in the Workplace

A must read for all employers, both public and private, is the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's publication "What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws."

In plain English, if you have an employee with a pre-existing disability that either "puts her at greater risk during this pandemic" or, if such disability will be "exacerbated by the pandemic," and such employee requests a reasonable accommodation, then, you better either grant that request or engage in the "interactive process" to avoid getting sued.  

Be warned - the lawsuits are coming.


Monday, August 24, 2020

Homeless Housing: Issues, Ethics, & Options (4 Part Podcast)

On Sunday, 8/23/20, between 12pm and 1pm on WRCN 103.9FM, LIEBCAST aired an hour episode on Homeless Housing. 


The conversation was inspired by the Facebook Group - Upper West Siders for Safer Streets. With well over 11k members in under a month - this group was formed in response to rising crime and safety concerns after 3 luxury hotels in the neighborhood were converted into homeless shelters. 


We start the episode with a conversation on ethics and we breakdown how successful businesses succeed with ethical discretion in the context of contractual obligations and the law.


We thereafter bring on a representative from the Facebook Group - Upper West Siders for Safer Streets


Then, we go deep into the following topics:

  • Real estate value losses / underwater real estate
  • How a hotel can become a homeless shelter
  • Unraveling whether homeless people are more likely to be drug users, sex offenders, substance abusers and mentally unstable
  • The De Blasio Administration
  • Safety, Crime and Police Action in NYC
  • Where to relocate homeless people
And finally, we reached out to the NYC Department of Health Services / Homeless Services and share their response.

The show was broken out into 4 podcasts without commercials. Below are the links: