Tuesday, August 11, 2020

New Law Alert - Emotional Support / Service Animal Anti-Discrimination Rights Codified

On August 11, 2020, NYS passed a law that clarifies "that reasonable accommodation to enable a person with a disability to use and enjoy a dwelling includes the use of an animal to alleviate the symptoms or effects of a disability."

This codification exists at Executive Law 296(2-a)(d)(2) and (18)(2) and explicitly states that refusing "to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be  necessary to afford a person with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, INCLUDING THE USE OF AN ANIMAL AS A REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION TO ALLEVIATE SYMPTOMS OR EFFECTS OF A DISABILITY, AND including reasonable modification to common use portions of the dwelling."

This new law is effective immediately.


If you'd like to learn more about service animals, therapy animals, emotional support animals, comfort animals and discrimination lawsuits, read my article in the American Bar Association's Section of Litigation - The Intersection of Pet Policies and Anti-Discrimination Laws in Real Estate



Monday, August 10, 2020

Don’t Fire Your Employee for Taking Opioids so Fast – Lawsuit Alert

On August 5, 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidance explaining exposure to a discrimination lawsuit for employers who fire their staff for taking opioids.

To avoid being sued, employers must take the following steps upon discovering that an employee is taking opioids:

1. Determine if the opioid use is legal or illegal.
  • The ADA allows employers to terminate employees, or take other measures, based on the illegal use of opioids. However, legal or prescriptive opioid use cannot be a ground for automatic disqualification and employers must consider a way for the employee to do the job “safely and effectively” 
  • Employees who test positive to a drug test must also be given an opportunity to provide information about their legal drug use that may cause a drug result to show opioid use. The employer can ask the employee before the test is done if he/she is taking any such medication or the employer can ask all employees who test positive for an explanation. Such should be established by protocol and implemented consistently. 

2. Provide Reasonable Accommodations.
  • Employees who legally use opioids must be given a reasonable accommodation before getting fired or not considered for a position. This also applies to employees who have a history of opioid, or treatment for opioid addiction, which an employer thinks can interfere with safe and effective job performance.
  • Employees may also request a reasonable accommodation from taking prescription opioids to treat pain or from having other medical conditions related to opioid addiction as long as the condition is a disability under the ADA.
  • It is the employees’ responsibility to request a reasonable accommodation and employers cannot legally fire or refuse to hire or promote an employee for making the request. A request protocol should be established and applied consistently.
  • Employers must provide the reasonable accommodation if it does not involve significant difficulty or expense.

3. If an employee cannot do the job safely and effectively even after being provided with a reasonable accommodation, document objective evidence that the employee poses a significant risk of substantial harm. An employee cannot be removed for remote or speculative risks.

4. It is recommended that employers engage in an interactive process, as required in NYC, prior to making any final determinations. Failing to sue interact can be, in itself, the basis of exposure. To understand further, see our blog, 5 Step Process For Employers/Landlords to Protect Against Disability Discrimination Lawsuits for Failure to Accommodate.

You can access EEOC’s guidance HERE and HERE.


Electronic Notarization Extended until September 4, 2020

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Mortgage Lender Warning - No Consideration Deed

The Appellate Division recently reminded us of the importance of investigating a no consideration deed prior to issuing a mortgage to the titleholder. 

In 2386 Hempstead, Inc. v. 182 St., Inc., the Appellate Division held that the no consideration deed constituted notice of a potential previous fraud in the title spurring a duty to make inquiry concerning the circumstances of the transaction at issue. 

By failing to make such inquiry, the lender lost its status as a bona fide encumbrancer for value and therefore, jeopardized its status as a prior lienholder, who gets paid first in a foreclosure action. 


Statute of Limitations Tolled until September 4, 2020

On August 5, 2020, Governor Cuomo signed Executive Order 202.55 which extends the tolling of statute of limitations to September 4, 2020. The tolling period was previously extended to August 5, 2020 by Executive Order 202.48. As a reminder, the Executive Orders do not toll all deadlines in pending and ongoing actions.