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

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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

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Starting a New York Restaurant? New York Restaurant Law

Starting a restaurant in New York involves significant consideration of New York state and local health and safety regulations.  Because restaurants and eateries are all about serving food, New York subjects restaurants to significant regulations regarding food health and safety. The New York State Department of Health has many regulations for food service establishments, including coverage of: employee cleanliness issues; employee hand washing and food handling; employee health issues, such as prohibition from working if they have certain illnesses; washing of fruits and vegetables; reheating and thawing food; cleaning and sanitizing utensils; and garbage storage and disposal. The NYS Department of Health has a guide and other resources that can help you ensure you are meeting regulatory requirements. In addition, if your restaurant is in New York City, there are additional handbooks containing local guidelines that you must follow, including how to obtain a New York City Food Handler’s License.  New

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Possible Legal Concerns Created By Pokémon GO & Other Augmented Reality Games

With the creation of “augmented reality games” like the wildly popular Pokémon GO, attorneys will be considering the possible legal issues that may arise. Augmented reality games involve live direct or indirect views of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. In the case of Pokémon GO, fictional creatures are projected onto a mobile device’s camera through the game’s app. With all new technology comes new questions for lawyers to consider. The possibilities are endless, but the American Bar Association has tried to outline what other attorneys are thinking. For players, there is the danger of wandering through the world while distracted by their mobile device. These augmented reality games may lead to conflict and complications between players and non-players enjoying public and private spaces, which may lead to violent confrontations. For government, law already exists

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Federal Government Considering New Debt Collection Rules

For the first time in nearly 40 years, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is proposing new rules that govern debt collection in an effort to clamp down on alleged abusive collectors. Debt collection is a multi-billion dollar industry. According to the Urban Institute, one in three American adults have a report of debt in collections. That equals to over 77 millions Americans. The average debt owed is over $5,000 and typically involves a credit card balance, medical or utility bill more than 180 days past due. The CFPB has fielded over 250,000 complaints since 2011. According to the CFPB, the safeguards suggested are those that debt collection companies frequently ignore, raising the specter of the prototypical company aggressively chasing customers. The rules should also bring some consistency to what is now a hodge-podge of local, state and federal rules and regulations. Under the proposed rules: Collectors must confirm consumers’ names,

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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

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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

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Factors to Consider When Forming a Corporation in New York

New York businesses are not bound to incorporate within the state to operate within New York State. In fact, start-up businesses in New York should consider incorporating outside of New York based on several factors for consideration. Some choose to keep things simple by incorporating or forming an LLC in New York, while others opt for more “business friendly” states and incorporate in Delaware, Nevada or Wyoming. In some cases, even if you wish to establish a business in New York, it is advisable to form a company outside New York and enter New York as a foreign business – one of the many reasons is the New York may impose liability on company shareholders.  Here are some of the more important factors to consider when choosing a state for incorporation: Setup & Recurring Fees While a minor consideration in the grand scheme of establishing and operating a business, you

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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

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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,

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Foreign Nationals Can Work for Their Businesses in New York

If you are a foreign national living in New York, it is not impossible for you to start a business. Starting a business, in New York, does not, in most case, even require residing in New York or even having the legal ability to reside in New York. If you are looking to start a business in New York as a foreign national or resident alien, it may be advisable, however, to be aware of the immigration requirements before you get started, since you may wish to live, work and reside in New York in order to conduct your business. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, aside from U.S. citizens or naturalized citizens, if you are an individual with the following immigration status, then you can work for your business in New York: Green Card Holders – Also known as “permanent residents,” green card holders can work, live and study

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New York Non-Compete & Confidentiality Agreements

Business in New York can be highly competitive, and relies, in part, upon a business’s ability to protect valuable information disclosed to current and past employees. Many NY companies feel that implementing non-compete agreements and other contractual obligations will encourage employee retention overall and protect information should an employee leave. It is important for New York businesses to understand, however, that there are restrictions to when and how non-compete agreements can be enforced. Traditionally, non-compete agreements in New York are used in companies and industries involving sensitive proprietary information and/or trade secrets. Non-compete agreements are commonly found across many industries regardless of size or products or services offered. They can take many forms depending on the information to be protected, including confidentiality agreements (prohibiting use or revealing information) and non-solicitation agreements (prohibiting approaching customers, poaching employees or contacting vendors). New York Courts consider the enforcement of a specific non-compete agreement

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Buy-Sell Agreements for Multi-owner Businesses in New York: New York Buyout Agreement Basics

When there is more than one owner of a New York business, creating a New York-tailored buy-sell agreement can save time and money if a change of ownership occurs in the future. New York business owners know that circumstances can change at a moment’s notice.  That is why ensuring that your business is prepared for whatever waits around the corner is crucial.  Part of being fully prepared is having a New York law compliant buy-sell agreement in place. New York businesses of all forms and sizes with more than one owner should create a solid buy-sell agreement in anticipation of potentialities in many cases. A buy-sell agreement, also known as a buyout agreement, is a legally binding agreement between co-owners of a business that governs the situation if a co-owner chooses to leave the business, is forced to leave the business or passes away.  If the triggering event occurs, the other

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Reasons for a New York Landlord to Hire an Real Estate Attorney

If you are a New York landlord that owns or manages one or a few rental properties, then you are unlikely to have a New York lawyer on retainer. To save costs and avoid frustration, landlords should recognize that when these five situations arise, it is time to hire a real estate attorney in New York.  We see too many issues and the issues, normally, fall into one of the following: Evicting a Tenant in NY In New York, an eviction lawsuit is a summary proceeding that takes much less time than other New York civil matters.  But, in exchange for the expedited treatment of cases, landlords must follow detailed court rules to the letter. These rules range from serving proper and timely notice on the tenant to filing the right papers in court with the appropriate legal arguments.  Additionally, landlords should know at the outset that New York Landlord-Tenant

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No, You Cannot Take a “Ballot Selfie” in New York

With the Presidential election looming in a few weeks, here is a reminder that taking a “ballot selfie” to show your social media circles how you voted in New York is actually illegal. Recent published reports note that federal courts recently struck down bans on ballot selfies in New Hampshire and Indiana led us to research what exactly the law is in New York. Election Law 17-130 states, in part: Any person who … makes or keeps any memorandum of anything occurring within the booth, or directly or indirectly, reveals to another the name of any candidate voted for by such voter; or shows his ballot after it is prepared for voting, to any person so as to reveal the contents … is guilty of a misdemeanor.  While the law does not specifically mention photographs, New York is one of 18 states that prohibits “ballot selfies” which is a photo of a

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