Legal Analysts

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Addressing Legal Needs for Real Estate Brokerages

Lieb at Law represents many of the nation's largest real estate brokerage companies in addition to small and medium-sized offices and individual licensees. The firm's services range from advising cutting edge PropTech startups on corporate structuring and securities laws from seed round to operational compliance and more. We also offer traditional brokerage firms full litigation services.

Lieb at Law's real estate brokerage litigation services includes representation in courts, arbitrations, and mediation where we conduct hearings, trials, and appeals in addition to negotiating favorable settlements,on such topics as:

  • Anti Competitive Practices
  • Breach of Fiduciary Duty
  • Commission Disputes / Affidavits of Entitlement
  • Fair Housing & Discrimination
  • False Advertising
  • Fraud / Fraudulent Inducement
  • License Law Violations and Administrative Complaints before the Government
  • NAR / REBNY Ethics & MLS / RLS Complaints
  • Subpoenaed Non-Party Witness Representation

In addition to their litigation expertise, Lieb at Law assists in mitigating litigation risk by developing customized policies, forms, and procedures for each company, aimed at enhancing overall compliance and reducing legal challenges. They draft independent contractor agreements, in compliance with such laws as the Freelance Isn't Free Act, and employment agreements, so as to avoid misclassification issues. Furthermore, their extensive training programs for licensees, including digital on-demand sessions, play a crucial role in equipping real estate broker's to defend against lawsuits effectively.

Lieb at Law's trainings and policies are meticulously crafted to mitigate litigation risks. Led by Attorney Andrew Lieb, their compliance courses provide invaluable insights and practical guidance, helping licensees, managers, and other employees and independent contractors, stay up-to-date with regulatory requirements and industry best practices.

Explore Lieb at Law's comprehensive range of TRAININGS & CERTIFICATIONS, covering essential topics such as Fair Housing & Discrimination, Rental Training, Subsidies Training, Housing Security and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, Agency Disclosure, Sexual Harassment Prevention Training, New Agent Training / Orientation Training, Commercial Compliance, Property Manager Compliance, License Law Annual Updates, and License Obligations.

At Lieb at Law, they understand the importance of proactive legal measures and ongoing education in safeguarding the interests of real estate brokerage companies. Trust Lieb at Law to be your strategic partner in navigating legal challenges and ensuring compliance in today's changing real estate brokerage industry.

Contact Lieb at Law today.  

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Friday, April 19, 2024

Navigating Real Estate Discrimination - Your FAQs Answered

Real estate discrimination must be fought any time you’re buying, selling, or renting any type of housing or commercial property. Real estate discrimination involves unfair treatment because of your source of income, disability, race, religion, sex, gender, and many other protected classes. Because discrimination in the housing market can be attributed to so many factors, it’s crucial for buyers, sellers, and renters to be familiar with their rights. Learn more about real estate discrimination through our answers to your most frequently asked questions below.

If you are a real estate broker or salesperson charged with discrimination, contact Lieb at Law to learn how we can defend you with our team of real estate discrimination lawyers.

Is real estate discrimination illegal?

Yes. Discrimination in real estate is illegal throughout the United States. In some states, like New York, there are even greater protections, rights, and damages available to victims of housing discrimination. You are entitled to compensation whether you were discriminated against by a seller, landlord, tenant co-op, condo, HOA, lender, real estate broker, salesperson, or property manager.

Does real estate discrimination only apply to housing?

No. Real estate discrimination laws apply to both housing and places of public accommodation. Examples include shopping centers, professional offices, retail stores, recreational facilities, service centers, and educational institutions.

Can I sue for housing discrimination?

Yes. Not only is it possible to sue for real estate discrimination, but Lieb at Law, P.C. has helped countless individuals recover compensatory damages and punitive damages for the emotional distress inflicted by this unlawful act. If you or a loved one were discriminated against because of your protected status or class, it is critical to work with an experienced attorney who will fight to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.

What qualifies as discrimination?

Discrimination is classified as unfair treatment to an individual because of their protected status or class. These statuses/classes vary throughout the United States, but may include race, ethnic background, visible traits (hair texture, hairstyle, donning of religious garments or items), color, national origin, citizenship status, alienage status, immigration status, lawful source of income (subsidy recipient status), occupation, religion, creed, marital status, partnership status, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression (transgender status), domestic violence victim status, stalking victim status, sex offense victim status, familial status, pregnancy, presence of children, handicap (disability), age, military status, uniformed service, veteran status, first responder status, arrest record, and sealed conviction record.

Can a real estate / housing provider change the terms of a lease or contract based on my protected class?

No. The law prevents real estate / housing providers from changing the terms, conditions, privileges, and/or availability of property based on your protected class status. It requires real estate brokers / salespersons to give you written disclosures that advise you of your rights. It prevents you from being treated differently from others where only the terms of your offer matter, not who you are.

Are handicapped individuals entitled to housing accommodations?

Yes. If you are handicapped or disabled, you are entitled to receive reasonable accommodations and reasonable modifications to allow you to equally use and enjoy the property. Your actual diagnosis does not need to be revealed and can remain confidential if you seek an accommodation or modification. In addition, the cost of the accommodation cannot be charged to you. In places like New York City, the cost of modifications cannot be charged to you either.

What are common examples of disability cases concerning housing discrimination?

The most common handicap and disability cases that we see involve service animals or emotional support animals in no pet properties. Other types of cases include parking issues, egress ramps for mobility impairments, and additional failure-to-accommodate cases. When it comes to accommodating the rights of handicapped and disabled individuals, providing access is essential.

Can I be discriminated against based on my source of income?

Whether you receive subsidies, like Section 8 (Housing Choice Vouchers), or are unemployed and receive child support, disability, spousal support, or have a trust fund, your source of income cannot impact your housing choices. The law protects you from offensive signage, improper applications, and/or wrongful questionnaires if they inquire about your employment status, request your W-2, or solicit a letter of employment. Where you get your rent money is your business and yours alone.

Can I be retaliated against if I proceed with a discrimination lawsuit?

Don't be afraid to speak-up. If you are advancing a fair housing and/or anti-discrimination right, you are protected from retaliation. Even if it is ultimately found that you were not discriminated against, you can be compensated for facing unlawful coercion, intimidation, threats, or other types of interference with your anti-discrimination rights. It also applies if you are an ally who is aiding and/or encouraging someone else to exercise their rights to be free from discrimination.

What happens if I win my housing discrimination case?

As the victim, you can recover compensatory damages, punitive damages, and your attorneys’ fees. The perpetrator can lose their license (if applicable), be required to take trainings, be made to pay fines, and be ordered to stop their offensive behavior. Working with a top discrimination attorney affords you the best possible chance at a successful outcome to your case. If you or a loved one has been treated unfairly and is in need of legal assistance, contact Lieb at Law today.

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Thursday, April 18, 2024

SCOTUS - Discriminatory Job Transfers - The Simple Injury Standard is Born

The Supreme Court just adopted The Simple Injury Standard to identify discriminatory terms and conditions of employment when it ruled unanimously that an employer's act of transferring an employee "from one job to another because she is a woman" (or another protracted trait) is actionable discrimination under Title VII.

The case, Muldrow v. City of St. Louis, states that discrimination is actionable so long as the employee can identify "some harm" regardless if that harm is "significant" because to “discriminate against” refers to “differences in treatment that injure” employees. Specifically, in Muldrow, the plaintiff sued because her "terms [or] conditions" of employment were changed, even though her "rank and pay remained the same," because her new position changed her "responsibilities, perks, and schedule," based on who she was. SCOTUS explained that this "meet[s] that test with room to spare" in overturning the lower court's dismissal based on the now extinct "materially significant disadvantage" standard.  

In Muldrow, the simple injuries experienced that support a discrimination claim were:

  1. "She was moved from a plainclothes job in a prestigious specialized division giving her substantial responsibility over priority investigations and frequent opportunity to work with police commanders." 
  2. "She was moved to a uniformed job supervising one district’s patrol officers, in which she was less involved in high-visibility matters and primarily performed administrative work." 
  3. Her schedule became less regular, often requiring her to work weekends; and she lost her take-home car."

Specifically, SCOTUS held that "[a]lthough an employee must show some harm from a forced transfer to prevail in a Title VII suit, she need not show that the injury satisfies a significance test." That is the new test, resolving a split in the Circuit Courts, as to the definition of an adverse employment action for an employment discrimination claim. 

Monday, March 25, 2024

A Win for Fairness: NYS Court Expands Discrimination Protections for Nonresidents Seeking Jobs

On March 14, 2024, New York State's Court of Appeals rendered its decision on Syeed v. Bloomberg L.P., which holds that New York City and New York State Human Rights Laws apply to nonresidents who are not yet even employed by a company in the city or state, but who are proactively seeking an actual city or state based job opportunity. 

This decision expands the protections of NY's / NYC's discrimination laws to include individuals who were denied employment based on discrimination even if said individuals were not yet residents or employees in New York State or City.

If you'd like to read the case and learn more about the court's decision, click here

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Proposed Rule Aims to Enhance Air Travel Safety for Passengers with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has introduced a proposed rule to bolster regulations under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). This initiative seeks to address the pressing concerns faced by individuals with disabilities, particularly those utilizing wheelchairs and scooters, during air travel. With an emphasis on safety and dignity, the proposed rule aims to rectify issues such as mishandled mobility devices and inadequate assistance during transfers to and from aircraft seats.

Key Objectives of the Proposed Rule:

  • Addressing Mishandled Mobility Devices: Passengers with disabilities often experience damage or loss of their mobility devices during air travel, leading to significant distress and inconvenience. The proposed rule seeks to establish stringent guidelines to mitigate such incidents and hold airlines accountable for the proper handling of mobility devices.
  • Ensuring Proper Transfers: Passengers with disabilities often face challenges in navigating these transitions, leading to potential safety risks and infringements on their dignity. The proposed rule aims to implement measures to ensure that passengers receive the necessary support and assistance throughout the travel process.
As the proposed rule enters the public comment period, stakeholders, including disability advocacy groups, airlines, and the general public, will have the opportunity to provide feedback and input. This collaborative process will be instrumental in shaping the final regulations and ensuring that the needs of passengers with disabilities are adequately met.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Shedding Light on Pay Disparities: What You Need to Know from EEOC's Latest Data

Today, we bring to your attention the recent release of pivotal data by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This data, encompassing information from 2017 and 2018, provides an insightful glimpse into the state of pay disparities in American workplaces., which is illegal based on the Equal Pay Act. To learn more about the Equal Pay Act, take a CLE from Attorney Andrew Lieb here.

Key EEOC Findings:

The EEOC's data dashboard reveals a troubling reality: pay disparities based on sex and race persist across nearly every industry and state. Here are some crucial highlights:

  • Gender Disparities: The data unequivocally shows that men continue to outearn women, with the median pay band for men consistently higher than that for women. In 2018, this gap was particularly pronounced, with men's median pay band being one or even two bands higher than women's.
  • Racial Disparities: The disparities deepen when considering race and ethnicity. Black or African American women and American Indian or Alaska Native women find themselves in the lowest median pay bands, reflecting a distressing pattern of inequality.
  • Industry and Job Category Trends: Across various industries and job categories, men consistently occupy higher median pay bands compared to women. While some sectors exhibit equal median pay bands, such as Accommodation and Food Services, these instances remain exceptions rather than the norm.
  • Geographical Disparities: Disparities are not confined to specific industries or job categories but are pervasive across different states. For instance, in 2018, Wyoming, Louisiana, and West Virginia exhibited significant differences in median pay bands between men and women.

Implications for Legal Action:

The release of this data underscores the urgency of addressing pay discrimination in the workplace. Here's what you need to know:

  • Equal Pay Act and Title VII: The EEOC enforces both the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibit pay discrimination based on sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. If you believe that you have experienced pay discrimination, you may have legal grounds to pursue a case and if you live in a State, like New York, you can go back up to 3 years on the state's anti-discrimination law to bring your case.
  • Data as Evidence: The aggregated data provided by the EEOC can serve as compelling evidence in legal proceedings. If you find that your pay is unfairly lower compared to colleagues of a different
    gender or race in similar roles, this data can bolster your case.
  • Consultation: If you suspect pay discrimination in your workplace or have questions about your rights, we encourage you to seek legal consultation. Lieb at Law, P.C. is here to provide guidance and support as you navigate the complexities of employment law.
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Tuesday, March 05, 2024

Staying Ahead: Adapting to the Changes in New York's LLC Beneficial Ownership Requirements

On March 1, 2024, Governor Hochul signed A8544 to amend NY's limited liability company law relating to the disclosure of beneficial owners of limited liability companies ("LLC"). 

This bill amends a law from 2023, which was enacted to end the practice of anonymous ownership of LLCs in New York. 

The new law adds Limited Liability Company Law sections 1106, 1107 and 1108, which does the following, in summary:

  • All filings must be submitted electronically to the Department of State ("DOS")
  • The time frame for which beneficial ownership disclosure ("BOD") filings and fees must be submitted to the DOS are now, for new entities, BODs must be filed within 30 days of the initial filing of articles of organization; and for all previously formed or authorized reporting companies, BODs must be filed within 1 year of the effective date of the bill. 
  • All beneficial ownership information will be kept confidential with exceptions for: (1) voluntary consent or request; (2) court order; (3) officers and employees of federal, state, and local government agencies where disclosure is necessary to perform official duties; or (4) valid law enforcement purposes. 
  • Attorney General can now enforce the BOD rules.
  • The penalties are now up to $500 for each day an LLC fails to disclose beneficial owners to the DOS. 
  • LLCs are now provided with the ability to cure any past due beneficial ownership filings by providing updated filings and a payment of $250 to the DOS. 
  • It is unlawful for any person to knowingly provide false or fraudulent beneficial ownership information to the DOS. 
  • The Attorney General can now investigate any LLC which fails to file its BOD statements, annual statements or attestations of exemptions and seek fines up to $500 per day for late filings. 
  • The Attorney General can bring actions to dissolve or cancel any entity that is delinquent in filing its BOD or that provides false or fraudulent information in their disclosure. 
  • Any LLC that fails to file its BODs or attestation of exemptions be suspended by DOS after a 30 day notice period.  

These changes are effective on January 1, 2026, the same date and in the same manner as Chapter 772. To learn more about Chapter 772 read our blog post here(need to post and link). To learn more about Bill No. A08544, click here. 

Monday, March 04, 2024

Freelance Isn't Free Act Changed, RE Brokers / Salespersons Pay Attention

When it comes to the Freelance Isn't Free Act, out with the old and in with the new (A8535). 

The old law (Labor Law 191-d) was supposed to take effect on May 20, 2024 - no more. 

Now, a new version of the statewide Freelance Isn't Free Act will become effective August 28, 2024 and it authorizes the NYS Attorney General to sue and enforce the law. 

This version, passed on March 1, 2024, is at General Business Law Article 44-A. 

The new law applies to "one natural person" who earns at least $800 from the same hiring party within 120 days, except that the law doesn't apply to: 
  1. Independent contractor who solicit manufacturing orders in New York State;
  2. Lawyers;
  3. Doctors; and
  4. Construction contractors.
Under the new law, freelancers must be paid no later than when payment is due under the contract or within 30 days after completion of the freelancer's services under the contract. 

More importantly, all freelancers have a right to a written contract (hiring manager must keep for at least 6 years) that includes, at a minimum, 
  1. The name and mailing address of both the hiring party and the freelancer; 
  2. An itemization of all services to be provided by the freelancer with their value and the rate / method of compensation; 
  3. Payment date or method to determine such date; and
  4. Invoice date by freelancer.
Remember, the big change is that the NYS Attorney General is now involved, has a right to demand a copy of these contracts, and a failure to provide the contract to the Attorney General works a presumption that the freelancer's allegations of what is in the contract are correct. 

More so, the Attorney General is authorized to bring a lawsuit to enforce the law and obtain restitution for freelancers plus a penalty of $1,000 for a first violation $2,000 for a second violation, and $3,000 for a third and subsequent violations. 

Additionally, freelancers have a private right of action that can be brought within 2 years, or 6 years if it's for untimely payment or discriminatory retaliation after such freelancer insisted on their rights under the Freelance Isn't Free Act. 

Get this, untimely payment also gives the freelancer the ability to sue for their attorneys' fees and may give them the ability to obtain double damages in certain circumstances. 

Finally, there is a $25,000 penalty against hiring managers that violate the law by a pattern or practice. So, hiring managers - ALL NYS REAL ESTATE BROKERS - you better update your contracts immediately.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Employment Discrimination - How Far Should We Go Back for Lawsuits?

NYS' Senate passed a bill, S345, on February 28, 2024, that would change the look-back period (a/k/a, statute of limitations) for employment discrimination in the State from 3 years to 6 years. 

Under Title VII, federally, employees only have 300 days to bring claims so moving the deadline for state claims from 3 years to 6 years would be huge.

How long is the right period that employees should be able to sue for employment discrimination? 

Do you think the Assembly should pass this bill or let it die like they did last time around?

Monday, February 26, 2024

Major Retaliation / Discrimination Case by NYS' Highest Court

On February 15, 2024, The New York State Court of Appeals issued their decision in the Matter of Clifton Park Apts., LLC v. New York State Div. of Human Rights. 

We now know that the "threat of litigation" may support a retaliation claim under the New York State Human Rights law (Executive Law 296). So, if you notice a claim of discrimination and the perpetrator then threatens suing you for other reasons, you likely have a retaliation claim in NYS. 

That's why it is imperative that victims immediately notice perpetrators of their claims in a notice of preservation, notice to insurance, and demand letter. This is how you protect yourself. 

To read the decision, click here.