Registering Your New York Nonprofit For Fundraising Purpopses

If your New York nonprofit is fundraising in New York, then you may likely need to register with the New York Attorney General’s office. Before soliciting contributions from individuals, foundations, corporations or government agencies within New York, a New York nonprofit must register with the NY Attorney General’s General Charities Bureau, unless it falls within one of the many exceptions: Exceptions to the New York Nonprofit Filing Requirements Religious organizations or other organizations with a religious purpose (i.e., a religious school); Educational institutions that solicit contributions only from alumni, the student body, faculty, trustees and their families, and other educational organizations that report to or are chartered by the Board of Regents of the State University of New York are exempt; PTAs (Parent-Teacher Associations); Fraternal, patriotic, social or alumni membership organizations that limit their solicitations to its membership; Law enforcement support groups, veterans organizations, and volunteer firefighter/volunteer ambulance service organizations; Any

Continue reading

Terminating A Franchise Agreement In New York: NY Franchise Law Basics

The termination or cancellation of a New York franchise relationship requires planning, a thorough understanding of your particular New York franchise agreement and procedural formalities.  Typically, it is advisable to consult with your franchise lawyer. New York Franchise Terminations (Franchisee Considerations) For example, preparation should begin before signing a franchise agreement by a New York franchisee.  Before signing, a would-be franchisee should consider the written terms outlining the right to terminate the franchise agreement.  Other clauses, of course, should be reviewed.  This post, only, addresses one issue of many that a franchisee should consider. Typically, a franchisor shall lay out several conditions it would consider to be breaches of the franchise agreement that trigger termination.  These conditions will not afford an opportunity for either party to cure or correct the specific condition.  These incurable breaches are, typically, material breaches of franchise agreement and, often, New York law.  In some cases, a

Continue reading

Enforcement of Liquidated Damages Clauses in NY?

When NY businesses contract with others, and those contracts include a clause for liquidated damages, be careful that your New York liquidated damage clause is enforceable in New York and not a mere penalty, or you may have negotiated your way into a New York court. In New York, parties generally are free to set the terms of their own contracts and may agree on the damages for breach in certain circumstances. Specifically, parties are free to agree to liquidated damages, which is damage calculation, typically, used when: damages are difficult or impossible to calculate; and where the amount agreed upon bears a reasonable relationship to the probable loss. Our New York law office drafts, has enforced and has challenged liquidated damage clauses in numerous industries including real estate, service agreements, supply agreements and vendor agreements. When damages resulting from a breach are readily calculable or where the agreed upon

Continue reading

NY Legal Protection For Employees With Disabilities In New York

As part of our ongoing series of postings bringing awareness to certain laws every New York business owner must know, we bring your attention to laws that protect employees with disabilities. (For other stories in this series, you can read our posts about best practices to avoid age discrimination and New York’s new laws involving family and medical leave.) The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers in many cases to provide a “reasonable accommodation” to employees with disabilities.  The law, as amended by the ADA Amendments Act, protects employees from job discrimination based on: Physical or mental disability; Recorded history of disability or impairment; or A substantial impairment that limits a major life activity (defined in the law as hearing, seeing, speaking, walking, breathing and many other manual tasks – broadly defined). Having a disability covers only half of the standard.  Employees making a discrimination claim based upon ADA must also

Continue reading

New York Defamation Law: Yelp Alerts Reviewers To Business’s “Questionable Legal Threats” In Response To Negative Reviews

Some New York businesses, including a New York dentist, have been turning to litigation to respond to negative reviews left about their businesses on the popular website, Yelp. Yelp is a website that crowd-sources recommendations and reviews of local businesses. Many businesses see an increase in business activity based upon positive reviews and recommendations left on the website, while others believe that their business good-will and reputation are harmed by negative reviews that may or may not be accurate. Buzzfeed recounts the story of a New York dentist that has sued at least three negative reviewers for speaking their mind about the services provided by this business. The increase in such activity has led Yelp to alert reviewers to businesses who make, in Yelp’s words, “questionable legal threats” against reviewers speaking their mind. The story also states that Congress is currently considering bills designed to protect consumers from such lawsuits based

Continue reading

Liability of New York Shareholders for Unpaid Debt of a New York Company

If you reside in New York or wish to run a business in New York , it may be convenient to incorporate a business in New York. But before you do so, you should know a major disadvantage of incorporating a business in New York. Business owners tend to desire the protection that incorporation gives to its shareholders’ personal assets. But you should know of a significant exception to that rule in New York. Under N.Y. Business Corporation Law § 630, the ten largest shareholders in any non-public company can be held liable for wage claims made by corporate employees. This includes salaries, overtime, vacation, holiday, severance pay and a whole host of other types of pay. To compound matters, liability under this law is “joint and several,” meaning that a claimant can enforce a judgment against just one of the ten largest shareholders, who would then have to seek

Continue reading

Franchisors Filing of NYS Tax Documents

With the new year fast approaching, franchisors in New York should begin focusing on updating their franchise disclosure documents, renewing their franchise registrations and preparing their New York state tax filing documents. Tax Filing Obligations of Franchisors in New York New York reporting requirement applies where the franchisor-franchisee relationship falls within the broad franchise definition under the New York franchise statute. The statute was created so that New York tax authorities can verify state tax filings submitted by New York franchisees so that the franchisor’s filing matches what the franchisee disclosed. Franchisors in New York that have at least one franchisee doing business in New York are required to register as a sales tax vendor and must file information returns with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. The reporting period is from March 1 to February 28 of the subsequent year – in most cases. The returns

Continue reading

New York Franchisee Succession Planning

New York franchisees interested in succession planning must be made aware of the effect a lifetime transfer of a business has on estate planning. Federal & New York Gift Tax Law Transfers without consideration during one’s lifetime are considered gifts under federal and New York tax law. From an estate tax perspective, gifts reduce the estate tax threshold of the person making the gift and after death, that person’s estate would have to pay taxes on the amount of the estate that exceeds the estate tax threshold. However, with advanced preparation, a franchisee interested in succession planning can implement a plan to minimize the tax burden of the transaction. Franchisees are, typically, responsible for finding a buyer when they want to sell their franchise. Succession planning may involve a franchisee identifying a successor.  In these circumstances, and depending upon the terms and conditions of the particular franchise agreement, the franchisor

Continue reading

Successor Liability Pitfalls in New York

When buying or selling a New York business or any of a business’s assets under NY law, potential successor liability of the buyer is of primary concern.  New York Successor Liability Law is complex and the following is, only, intended as a brief overview of the matter. Successor liability in New York is liability that the buyer of a New York company’s assets may have for the liabilities of the seller of those assets performed prior to the purchase.  Essentially, a buyer would be compelled to pay off debt that the seller accumulated prior to completion of the transaction. The general rule in New York is that the buyer of company assets does not assume and is not liable for the seller’s liabilities unless otherwise expressly stated in the asset purchase agreement.  However, exceptions exist. New York Successor Liability Exception to General Rule Express or Implied Assumption by Buyer. This exception

Continue reading

U.S. Patents for New York businesses

The common types of U.S. patents that are available to innovative New York entrepreneurs seeking to protect their  intellectual property falls into three common categories based on the type of invention in question: design, utility and plant patents. Utility patents are chiefly concerned with how an invention functions.  A utility patent may be applied to a wide range of unique and innovative new products or processes. It prevents others from manufacturing, selling, using or distributing your invention.  Utility patents last for 20 years running from the date that the patent application was filed.  In addition to the initial patent filing fees, inventors must submit maintenance fees throughout the life of the patent in order to keep the patent’s protection. Design patents are any enhancement or adornment applied to an existing item or the design for a new product. It protects the aesthetic appearance and can be issued for the appearance, design,

Continue reading

NYC Landlords Sue To Overturn Second Year Of Imposed Rent Stabilization Freeze

New York City landlords want the courts to intervene on the rent freeze on rent stabilized units that takes effect for second straight year.  According to the Courthouse News Service, four landlords, Benson Realty LLC, Danielle Realty LLC, Milagros Huertas and Marilyn Percy, and the Rent Stabilization Association, a trade group that represents 25,00 landlords across New York City, filed a petition in Manhattan Supreme Court seeking to overturn an order adopted by the New York City Rent Guidelines Board that freezes rent increases at 0 percent for one-year leases and 2 percent for two-year leases. This is the second year in a row that the freeze has been ordered. The petition claims that the Order in question is “arbitrary and capricious,” as well as “constitutionally dubious” and asks the Court to annul the Order in question, declaring it unconstitutional under the 5th and 14th Amendments, alleging violations of the

Continue reading

Buying a Business in New York

When buying a business in New York, we recommend a more nuanced approach that contemplates matters beyond a mere cost benefit analysis.  Small businesses are the engine of the American economy.  According to a 2012 Small Business Administration report, small businesses “produced 46 percent of the private non-farm GDP in 2008 (the most recent year for which the source is available), compared with 48 percent in 2002.”  New York is one of the best places to establish a business in many industries, because of its educated labor force, high net worth and business infrastructure. Here are a few of the important steps to consider when buying a New York business. What is the Deal Structure? When buying a NY small business, consider the reason for the purchase. The reasons shall, often, dictate the structure of the purchase and the risks associated with the anticipated deal. What is the primary reason for the

Continue reading

New York Reverse Mergers Basics

If you are looking to take your New York private business public, consider the benefits and drawbacks of a New York reverse merger.  Often executives and owners of successful New York businesses may wish to capitalize on that success by making shares of the business’s stock available to the public. Having a public company provides additional benefits to businesses, including expansion of business dealings and attracting highly talented hires with offers of stock options.  However, of course risks abound. In a reverse merger in New York, investors of a privately-held company acquire a majority of the shares of a publicly-held “shell company,” which is then merged with the privately-held company.  To consummate the deal, the private company trades shares with a public shell in exchange for the shell company’s stock, transforming the acquiring private company into a public company. An advantage of undertaking a reverse merger is the comparative ease

Continue reading

Starting a Home-Based Food Business in New York

If you are looking to create a home-based food business in New York, then you should become familiar with what you can and cannot make, as well as other rules and regulations that exist. Before you even think about launching your home-based food business, check with your city or town to see if you will be able to comply with local zoning laws that govern where you can run a business and,thus, if you can run a business from your home. In many cases, there are limitations on the percentage of your square footage within your home that you may dedicate for a home business. There may even be a complete restriction on running certain businesses in your neighborhood. Obviously, this can only be addressed on a case-by-case basis, so consult with an NY attorney before taking any further steps. Also, before you can operate a home-based food business in

Continue reading

New York Commercial Lease Basics: Negotiate a Good Guy Clause For Your New York Start-Up

New York start-up businesses can negotiate a Good Guy Clause into their NY commercial leases to gain flexibility in terminating leases should things go upside down. A New York Good Guy Clause is commonly used in New York City as a personal guaranty within a commercial lease.  In exchange for a guarantee from the tenant or an affiliate of the tenant to fulfill all obligations under the lease, the commercial NY landlord agrees to allow the New York tenant to terminate the lease early so long as all rent has been paid in full and the tenant gives sufficient notice.  The premises must be delivered “broom-clean” with all possessions and trash removed. Good Guy Clauses in New York may protect both the commercial landlord and tenant.  These clauses protect commercial landlords in New York City because these clauses avoid landlord-tenant litigation and, if there is a party other than the

Continue reading

Some Uber Drivers May Be Entitled To Unemployment Benefits

An administrative ruling out of New York state found that, under certain conditions, Uber drivers may be entitled to state unemployment benefits. The NYS Department of Labor (DOL) ruled that two Uber drivers were eligible for weekly jobless benefits. This represents the first time that a state government determined that drivers for a ride-sharing company are employees. To date, states have found – and companies like Uber have argued – that drivers for ride-sharing companies were independent contractors who are ineligible for jobless benefits. We here at The New York Law Blog have discussed the differences between an employee and an independent contractor in the context of continuing federal litigation involving Uber. Uber and other ride-sharing companies are part of a larger development in business termed the “gig economy,” which is an environment where independent workers contract for temporary positions for short-term engagements. Uber’s critics have argued for some time that it

Continue reading

Use A Cease and Desist Letter in New York

Proper use of a cease and desist letter is the first measure a business can take to protect itself from copyright and trademark infringement – as seen in recent news articles.  GiGi New York sent Gigi Hadid and her Tommy Hilfiger collaboration a cease and desist letter because of the similarities in the styling of their name of a new line of clothing called “GiGi,” which GiGi New York believes has the potential for customer confusion between the brands. GiGi New York has owned their trademark, “GiGi New York” for certain leather goods it produces, but only filed an application for the trademark “GiGi” after Hadid’s recent runway show. A cease and desist letter is a tool that businesses use for any number of reasons including to stop harassment, assert ownership rights, or when they just want to formally tell someone to stop doing something harmful to their business. It

Continue reading

What NY Businesses Should Learn From the United States v. Texas Immigration Decision

The Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Texas this past June upheld a challenge to a pair of executive orders on immigration. While the political rancor continues on the issue of immigration, especially on the grand stage of election politics, businesses should remain vigilant in the evolution of immigration law on this front. First, businesses are still obligated to use Form I-9 to verify the legal status of new employees even though the form expired.  Noncompliance may lead to monetary penalties up to $16,000 per violation. Second, businesses relying on foreign skilled workers eligible for an H1-B visa should start planning for the next fiscal year – now.  As a result of this Supreme Court decision, the cap on skilled foreign employees remains at 65,000. The USCIS has began accepting H1-B petitions for the 2017 fiscal year, with more than 236,000 petitions filed. Clearly, businesses cannot turn a blind eye

Continue reading

NLRB Judge Rules Chipotle Is Liable For Labor Violation For Enforcing “Unlawful” Social Media Policy

This week, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that Chipotle Mexican Grill had an “unlawful” social media policy that violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). According to published reports which detail the facts of this particular case, the dispute stems from charges filed on the worker’s behalf by the Pennsylvania Workers Organizing Committee regarding Chipotle’s social media policy and allegations that the employee was wrongfully terminated. Apparently, Chipotle sought to enforce an “oudated” social media policy that was not lawful under the NLRA. This policy had already been replaced, but supervisors sought to enforce the older policy against an employee who made postings on Twitter criticizing his employer about adverse working conditions. Since the outdated policy is what prompted Chipotle to act, the NLRB found that Chipotle was liable for violations that occurred resulting from enforcing that improper policy.   According to the NLRB’s website, the NLRA protects the

Continue reading

Proposed Change to NYC Hiring Practices Intended To Tackle Wage Inequity

A proposed change to New York City local law seeks to make certain customary hiring practices illegal for employers in New York City. This week, the NYC Office of Public Advocate introduced proposed legislation that would make it illegal for employers to inquire into a job applicant’s wage history during the hiring process.  The bill would prohibit New York City employers or employment agencies from asking about an applicant’s salary history or searching publicly available records or reports for the same. New York City employers would also be prohibited from relying on any such information in determining the compensation package at any stage in the employment process unless the applicant disclosed information willingly and without prompting.  The proposed new New York law would not apply to any actions taken by a NY employer in following any federal, state or local law. Similar legislation recently passed in Massachusetts.  Indeed, the issue has

Continue reading