Friday, October 11, 2019

Protections for Victims of Harassment are Effective Today.

The following provisions of the recently passed New York State law which provide additional protections for victims of harassment/discrimination based on any protected class (sex, race, religion, etc.) go into effect today: 

1)  As of today, the high "severe and pervasive" standard for establishing claims of harassment no longer applies. Rather, any conduct, including isolated incidents, that merely rises above "petty slights" or "trivial inconveniences" may be considered harassment.

2) Whether or not an employee filed an internal complaint prior to filing a lawsuit is no longer determinative of an employer's liability.

3) Non-employees (contractors, vendors, etc.) can now bring claims of harassment against companies based on any protected class.

4) Non-disclosure provisions in agreements settling harassment claims are prohibited unless it is the employee's preference.

5) Mandatory arbitration of harassment claims based on any protected class is now prohibited.

Employers should ensure that these new provisions are included in their annual harassment prevention training.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Can Employers Discriminate Against Employees Based on Their Sexual Orientation or Status as Transgender? The Supreme Court to Weigh-In.

The Supreme Court of the United States is hearing oral arguments on three high profile cases today which will have a significant impact on LGBTQ rights in the workplace.

In the first two cases, Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia and Altitude Express, Inc.v. Zarda, the justices will determine whether Federal law prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. (Federal law generally prohibits discrimination based on "sex"). In the third case, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the justices will determine whether employment discrimination against transgender people violates Federal law.

The decisions on both of these issues - which will likely be released in early 2020 - will be of great interest to both employers and employees.

Monday, October 07, 2019

Time's Up For NY Companies - October 9th is the Deadline for Employers to Comply with Sexual Harassment Prevention Requirements

October 9th, 2019 is the deadline for Employers to issue updated Sexual Harassment Prevention Policies & annual trainings to all employees. Our company Lieb Compliance solves this burden with our on-demand solution.

Rental Real Estate Enterprise Tax Deduction - Final Rule Published

New rules for a 20% tax deduction on rental properties published by IRS as 199A Safe Harbor.

What you need to know
The Safe Harbor applies to taxpayers who have "an interest in real property held for the production of rents and may consist of an interest in a single property or interests in multiple properties."

KEY - Safe Harbor allows rental real estate enterprises to receive a 20% qualified business income deduction for tax purposes.

If an interest fails to satisfy the requirements of the Safe Harbor, it's still possible to qualify for the 199A deduction by otherwise meeting the definition of a trade or business as set forth in 199A.

Some Notes:

  • Multiple Properties - If a taxpayer has an interest in multiple properties, commercial & residential properties can't be combined for the deduction.
  • "Mixed Buildings" - In a single building with both residential & commercial purposes (e.g., a storefront with apartments above), property owners have 2 options; 1) treat the property as a single rental real estate enterprise; or 2) separate the interest into both residential & commercial interests. 
  • Less Flexibility - Taxpayers also can't change the forms of their interests from year-to-year (i.e., filing multiple properties as a single interest one year, and then filing them as separate interests the next).

Safe Harbor Requirements:
  1. Separate books & records are maintained to reflect income for expenses for each rental real estate enterprise;
  2. Records should reflect 250+ hours of rental services for each year;
  3. Records should also reflect time logs (or similar documents) that show: (i) the amount of hours for all services performed; (ii) descriptions of all services performed; (iii) dates when the services were performed; & (iv) names of persons/companies performing the services; and 
  4. A statement attached to a filed original return that outlines the information about the real estate enterprise(s) & why the deduction is being sought by the taxpayer. 
**IMPORTANT**: The record requirement will not apply to taxable years beginning before 1/1/2020. 

"Rental Services"
Rental Services can be performed by property owners, or by their employees, agents, and/or independent contractors. 

LANDLORDS: Keep logs of rental services and receipts to see if you qualify for the Safe Harbor deduction.

Friday, October 04, 2019

New Law Allows Disabled Tenants to Terminate Lease in Face of Worsening Medical Conditions


On October 3, 2019 Governor Cuomo signed bill A2118 into law, mandating that for all leases moving forward, landlords must accept lease termination notices for tenants living with a "disability" as defined by law, or for the spouse or dependent of a tenant with a disability, should the tenant need to relocate to one of the following:
  • An adult care facility;
  • A residential health care facility;
  • Subsidized low income housing; or 
  • A residence of a family member.
The Tenant Must Give Proper Notice
In order to give proper notice, the tenant needs to attach a physician's certification that the tenant needs to relocate and cannot live independently for medical reasons, as well as a document showing admission or pending admission to an adult care or residential health care facility. 

Tenants must also submit the termination notice with 30 days notice. If the notice is mailed, the notice is considered "received" after 5 days.

Tenant mailed notice:           May 5th
Notice "received":                May 10th
Next rental payment:            June 1st
Termination effective:          July 1st

Landlords Could Face Fines or Imprisonment for Failing to Accept the Notice
Landlords who refuse the termination notice accompanied by the proper documents could be charged with a misdemeanor, facing either a year in prison, a $1,000 fine, or both. 

RESIDENTIAL LANDLORDS: Make sure that you and your teams are trained in discrimination prevention to avoid fines and jail time.