LIEB BLOG

Legal Media Analysts

Showing posts with label #liebcast. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #liebcast. Show all posts

Thursday, March 25, 2021

New Law Requiring Two Witnesses for Power of Attorney Forms

Starting on June 13, 2021, filing out a power of attorney is going to be a little more annoying.
Previously, the form just had to be signed, initialed, and dated by a principal with capacity, but now you are going to need 2 disinterested witnesses as well.
The new law, Senate Bill S888, is curiously only applicable to financial and estate planning, but why?
Its stated purpose is to provide extra protection against fraud and abuse, but how does adding 2 witnesses accomplish that?
Couldn’t you find witnesses to abuse the form too if that was your goal?
Isn’t this just another piece of lip service legislation?
Penalties are the answer, not witnesses, just saying…

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Employment Sexual Harassment - Case of Interest at the NYPD

A homosexual detective was just given his chance to prove that he experienced workplace discrimination at a trial and recoup damages.

Here are his facts:

  • His homophobic colleagues vindictively called other officers wherever he was stationed & told them to harass plaintiff because he was gay;
  • 2 Sergeants constantly made homophobic slurs at civilians & gay officers in his presence; 
  • He endured over a year of homophobic derision, harassment, and verbal abuse;
  • He was singled out to do tasks, which his peers were not required to do, such as:
    • He was repeatedly required to enter a holding cell, by himself, with prisoners still inside, while plaintiff carried metal and wooden cleaning implements. This was potentially dangerous, as plaintiff could have been overwhelmed & attacked by the prisoners. Other officers were not required to do it, as it was usually a task for the maintenance crew; 
    • He was required to go on foot patrol alone during the midnight shift in dangerous areas at the 77th Precinct while other officers patrolled with partners;
  • He was given extra work when he arrived on the job; and
  • He experienced some new or escalated conduct after he started to fight the discrimination, which could be deemed retaliatory.
Do you think he should win?
How much would this be worth to you in damages if it were you who experienced these actions?

Remember, he can sue for emotional distress damages, back pay, forward pay, punitive damages, and attorneys' fees.

This case was just decided by the Appellate Courts in Doe v New York City Police Dept.



Thursday, January 07, 2021

PODCAST | How Businesses Can Get The PPP Round 2 Loan

On this Podcast, we discuss the highlights of the second Paycheck Protection Program with financial planner, Louis Soriano. Answering questions about whether:
  • You can get a second loan
  • What the qualifications are to apply
  • What size businesses can apply
  • How this works with taxes
  • If the first loan needs to be forgiven to get the second loan

And MUCH MORE!




Wednesday, December 30, 2020

No NYS Residential Foreclosures Until May – New Law

On 12/28/2020, the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020 became law. 


This law effectively stops all residential foreclosures in NYS until May 1, 2021, but it does nothing about the borrower's obligation to repay their loan.  

 

Do you think that makes sense?

Isn’t that just delaying the inevitable foreclosure crisis?

Shouldn't something be done about the loan too? 

 

Here is how the law works – a homeowner needs to submit a hardship declaration to their lender and magic, no more foreclosure until May.

 

The Details:

o   Either the court or lender (depending on foreclosure status) must provide the borrower with a statement explaining the law.

o   To qualify, a borrower must be suffering a financial hardship including, such as

§  A significant loss of household income;

§  Increase in necessary expenses;

§  Childcare responsibilities;

§  Moving expenses; and/or

§  Other circumstances negatively affecting the borrower’s ability to find meaningful employment.

o   Sample hardship declarations will be available on the Office of Court Administration website.

o   New Foreclosures – If the borrower does not provide the declaration, the lender is required to file all sorts of documents to commence a foreclosure proceeding, including:

§  Affidavit of Service of the Hardship Declaration in English and in the borrower’s primary language.

§  Affidavit of Service of RPAPL 1303 and 1304 notices; and

§  Affidavit of the Petitioner/Petitioner’s agent attesting that the Petitioner or his agent did not receive a Hardship Declaration from the Borrower.

o   Existing Foreclosures – Paused (stayed) for at least 60 days to provide the borrower time to complete and submit the hardship declaration.

o   This also stops foreclosure sales if the case already was decided by the court in a judgment.

 

Make no mistake, this new law does NOT excuse borrowers from paying the mortgage. 

So, what is the point? 

Isn’t it misleading borrowers into digging an even bigger financial hole?

What do you think? 




Monday, December 28, 2020

Employment Sexual Harassment - Case of Interest - Exceeding Petty Slights or Trivial Inconveniences

Back on October 11, 2019, the NYS Human Rights Law was modified with a new standard for actionable employment sex discrimination. The new standard was intended to align NYS more closely with the NYC Human Rights Law. 


The new standard is that conduct that exceeds "petty slights or trivial inconveniences" is actionable. 


As to what that means, the NYC law was interpreted by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (Federal Court) in Mihalik v. Credit Agricole Cheuvreux North America, Inc., which is the leading case. 


Now, we have a leading case interpreting the NYS law as well by a State Court. 


On December 15, 2020, the NYS Appellate Division decided Franco v Hyatt Corp. and found the following allegations to constitute conduct that exceeds petty slights or trivial inconveniences:

  1. Supervisor made repeated sexual advances towards him, including reaching out to touch his face and holding his hand in an elevator while they were alone.
  2. Supervisor also initiated conversations that made him uncomfortable, telling him she had a "crush" on him, telling him she was single and twice inviting him to her home to repair "a hole" in her apartment. 
  3. Supervisor said she had a tattoo, adding that "You have to undress me to see it." 
  4. After victim rebuffed advances, supervisor brought him to the Human Resources manager's office to complain about his work product and that she solicited complaints about him from other coworkers.
Interestingly, this case involved a female harasser of a male subordinate. 

When we train the NYS / NYC Mandatory Sexual Harassment Prevention Course to companies around the country, at sexualharassmenttrainingny.com, we always get push back to the concept that sexual harassment can be female on male. This case is a good reminder that everyone is protected from harassment at work. 





 

PODCAST: Religious Freedom to Discriminate

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Building Code Violation Law Passed in NYS

Starting on December 11, 2020 there will be time limits to remedy any determinations of building code violations in NYS per new law


The Real property Actions and Proceedings Law (RPAPL) 777(a) has been amended to ensure that no code violations or dangerous conditions remain outstanding for "more than sixty days from the date of the order of the court" if the owner (or mortgagee or liener) enters into a consent order to remedy the issue upon the petition being granted against such owner. 


We expect that this sixty day period will be applied by the various town / city / village attorneys in plea agreements as well. 


Now, there is a rush to fix unless good cause for delay can be shown.




NYS Passes Law to Increase Free Speech & Public Participation

Effective November 10, 2020, NYS strengthened its laws against lawsuits that are brought and intended to chill free speech, called Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation ("SLAPP suits"). 


NYS' prior anti-SLAPP / free speech law had been limited to protecting speech concerning "controversies over a public application or permit, usually in a real estate development situation." 


Now, the anti-SLAPP law deals with "anything other than a 'purely private matter.'" Additionally, the law now requires courts to provide costs and attorney's fees if a lawsuit against public petition and participation was initiated in bad faith to chill speech. 


The new laws are Civil Rights Law 70-a, which deals with the costs and attorney's fees, and Civil Rights Law 76-a, which expands the types of speech that is protected by the anti-SLAPP law. Specifically, Civil Rights Law 76-a now permits a suit concerning "[a]ny communication in a place open to the public or a public forum in connection with an issue of public interest; or ii. [a]ny other lawful conduct in furtherance of the exercise of the constitutional right of free speech in connection with an issue of public interest, or in furtherance of the exercise of the constitutional right of petition."


To read the full bill, click here








Monday, November 02, 2020

New Discrimination Standard Under the Fair Housing Act is Effective

Effective October 26, 2020, HUD implemented a new disparate impact fair housing standard.

 

Disparate impact discrimination occurs when housing practices have an unjustified discriminatory effect even though they were not motivated by a discriminatory intent. 


The new standard exists at 24 CFR 100.500 and it makes a claim of disparate impact discrimination far harder to bring and even harder to prove as compared to the prior HUD standard.


Previously, the regulation did not contain an express pleading standard and instead, only required the plaintiff to prove "that a challenged practice caused or predictably will cause a discriminatory effect." 


Now a plaintiff must "sufficiently plead facts to support each of the following elements: (1) That the challenged policy or practice is arbitrary, artificial, and unnecessary to achieve a valid interest or legitimate objective such as a practical business, profit, policy consideration, or requirement of law; (2) That the challenged policy or practice has a disproportionately adverse effect on members of a protected class; (3) That there is a robust causal link between the challenged policy or practice and the adverse effect on members of a protected class, meaning that the specific policy or practice is the direct cause of the discriminatory effect; (4) That the alleged disparity caused by the policy or practice is significant; and (5) That there is a direct relation between the injury asserted and the injurious conduct alleged."


With respect to the 3rd element, that is a very heavy burden for a plaintiff to satisfy at the pleading stage of litigation because the requisite evidence is often unavailable until the parties have engaged in the discovery process. 


Moreover, while the prior regulation provided that a defendant would then have to rebut the claim by "proving that the challenged practice is necessary to achieve one or more substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interests[,]" a defendant now can just rebut the first element "by producing evidence showing that the challenged policy or practice advances a valid interest (or interests) and is therefore not arbitrary, artificial, and unnecessary." Changing the term from a "substantial" interest to "a valid interest" results in the defendant's burden seemingly being far lower.

 

Moreover, under the new standard, once the defendant rebuts the first element, "the plaintiff must prove by the preponderance of the evidence either that the interest (or interests) advanced by the defendant are not valid or that a less discriminatory policy or practice exists that would serve the defendant’s identified interest (or interests) in an equally effective manner without imposing materially greater costs on, or creating other material burdens for, the defendant." Previously, this was the defendant's burden. 


Regardless, there are now also 3 express defenses available, including that "(i) The policy or practice is intended to predict an occurrence of an outcome, the prediction represents a valid interest, and the outcome predicted by the policy or practice does not or would not have a disparate impact on protected classes compared to similarly situated individuals not part of the protected class, with respect to the allegations under paragraph (b). This is not an adequate defense, however, if the plaintiff demonstrates that an alternative, less discriminatory policy or practice would result in the same outcome of the policy or practice, without imposing materially greater costs on, or creating other material burdens for the defendant. (ii) The plaintiff has failed to establish that a policy or practice has a discriminatory effect under paragraph (c) of this section. (iii) The defendant’s policy or practice is reasonably necessary to comply with a third party requirement, such as a: (A) Federal, state, or local law; (B) Binding or controlling court, arbitral, administrative order or opinion; or (C) Binding or controlling regulatory, administrative, or government guidance or requirement."


Housing participants should be particularly interested in the third available defense in the form of a controlling administrative opinion or binding regulatory guidance. It is strenuously suggested that every housing industry participant seeks such opinion or guidance as a necessary incident of any business plan covering a new product or service. To fail to do so is just reckless in a world where such a defense exists. 


That being said, it is noted that this regulation only pertains to a federal housing discrimination claim and states and locales may offer increased protections to their citizens. So, these other laws must also be analyzed for housing participants to the extent that they afford disparate impact claims (e.g., NYC Admin. Code). 







Friday, October 30, 2020

NYC Housing Discrimination Notice Law Ready for Mayor's Signature

On October 29, 2020, the NYC City Council approved a new law that requires the Department of Social Services to provide a letter to applicants about their rights to be free from source of income discrimination. 

This is yet another reminder that landlords and brokers need to understand that source of income discrimination is illegal and can subject them to large fines / judgments, loss of licensing, and terrible public relations issues. 

Landlords and brokers should review the NYC Commission on Human Right's Best Practices for Licensed Salespersons and Brokers to Avoid Source of Income Discrimination and revise their applications, leases, policy manuals, and trainings to reflect this new expected law. 


For help, contact Lieb Compliance


The new law adds new §21-141.1 to the Administrative Code as follows:

Information regarding lawful source of income discrimination. a. Definitions. For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings: CityFHEPS. The term “CityFHEPS” means the city fighting homelessness and eviction prevention supplement program established pursuant to chapter 10 of title 68 of the rules of the city of New York or any successor program. Covered entity. The term “covered entity” means the owner, lessor, lessee, sublessee, assignee, or managing agent of, or other person having the right to sell, rent or lease or approve the sale, rental or lease of a housing accommodation, constructed or to be constructed, or an interest therein, or any agent or employee thereof, who is subject to the prohibition on discrimination based on lawful source of discrimination pursuant to subdivision 5 of  section 8-107. Lawful source of income. The term “lawful source of income” has the meaning as set forth in section 8-102. Shopping letter. The term “shopping letter” means a letter issued by the department to assist a household in its housing search that identifies the household as potentially eligible for CityFHEPS and lists the maximum rent. b. The department shall provide written notice regarding the protections of section 8-107 related to lawful source of income at the time that a CityFHEPS applicant receives a shopping letter. Such notice shall be developed by the New York city commission on human rights pursuant to paragraph p of subdivision 5 of section 8-107 in consultation with the department.

It also amends §8-107(5) by adding new paragraph (p) as follows:

For purposes of this paragraph, the term “CityFHEPS” means the city fighting homelessness and eviction prevention supplement program established pursuant to chapter 10 of title 68 of the rules of the city of New York or any successor program. The commission shall develop and disseminate a written notice of protections of this subdivision related to lawful source of income. The notice shall be made available to the department of social services for use in accordance with section 21-141.1. The notice shall include, at a minimum, the following information:

1. Examples of different forms of lawful source of income; 

2. A description of covered entities required not to discriminate on the basis of lawful sources of income;

3. Examples of actions that may indicate discrimination based on lawful source of income in violation of title 8, such as refusing to accept lawful source of income for rent payment, publishing any type of advertisement that indicates a refusal to accept any lawful source of income, and refusing or delaying repairs because a person uses any lawful source of income for rent payment, publishing any type of advertisement that indicates a refusal to accept any lawful source of income,  and any additional actions landlords or brokers use to unlawfully discriminate against a person on the basis of their using any lawful source of income;

4. A statement that it is illegal for covered entities to refuse to accept a CityFHEPS subsidy for payment of rent or a security deposit voucher in buildings subject to the prohibition on discrimination on the basis of lawful source of income pursuant to section 8-107;

5. A statement that it is illegal for covered entities to request additional payments for rent, a security deposit or broker’s fee because an individual receives rental assistance;

6. A statement that it is illegal for covered entities to publish any type of advertisement that indicates a refusal to accept rental assistance;

7. A statement that it is illegal for landlords to refuse or delay making repairs to an individual’s unit because such individual pays rent with a CityFHEPS subsidy;

8. A statement that an individual has the right to be free from discriminatory, harassing or threatening behavior or comments based on such individual’s receipt of or application for CityFHEPS;

9. Directions on how to contact the commission, the department of social services’ source of income discrimination unit, the state division of human rights and the office of the state attorney general;

10. A description of potential remedies available at the commission if a covered entity is found to have engaged in discrimination based on lawful source of income; and

11. Any other information deemed appropriate by the commissioner and the commission in consultation with the department of social services.

Upon the Mayor's signature, the law will take effect 180 days thereafter. 




Wednesday, October 14, 2020

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.




Friday, October 09, 2020

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.




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