Are You Planning for Your Future?
Web marketing—when was the last time you thought about it? Today, due to the coronavirus (COVID 19), many of us sit in our homes, isolated from work colleagues, friends and in some cases even family members. Consequently, we have more time to think, and how we spend that time thinking can influence our future.
Even though we’re hunkering down, waiting for COVID 19 to eventually blow over, it doesn’t mean that our down time has to be unproductive. Where would you like your business to be a year from now? Two years from now? Or five years from now? When you’re caught up in the daily minutiae of managing your business, you often feel too busy to plan ahead or even think about marketing.
As physical locations are shutting down, do you know what’s busier than ever? The Internet. Mobile devices were already integral to how many people live. Texting, checking emails, visiting websites or Facebook, tweeting or whatever digital way people connect has become a way of life. The web hasn’t shut down. In fact, if anything, it’s more in use than ever because people have more time on their hands.
Take advantage of the present to create some goals, to plan web marketing and see yourself flourishing.
But…oh…you think, as the world slows down, how can you even think about web marketing? The truth is: how can you afford not to?
The Science of Mental Contagion
Here’s something important to understand, and how you decide to use this information can affect your future.
Jamil Zaki, an associate Stanford University psychology professor wrote an interesting article, called “Kindness Contagion.” He and his colleagues conducted a study to see whether kindness was “contagious.” In other words, if people see other people being kind, is it catchy? When people who were part of their group saw other people being empathetic, did they also want to be empathetic? The study showed they did. In fact, the article said, “Witnessing kindness causes it to spread like a virus.” (more…)
ABQ attorneys offer these tips for dealing with Covid-19 liability issues:
By Collin Krabbe – Technology reporter , Albuquerque Business First, May 18, 2020,
A few months ago, if you had asked Albuquerque business attorney Larry Donahue if an illness such as the flu would open your company to legal liabilities, he would have offered a short response. Read More
While many business owners may be eager to get employees back to work, not taking the right precautions could be costly, especially if people start becoming infected. In the event of a wrongful death suit, damages “can easily be in the millions,” said Albuquerque employment attorney Deena Buchanan, managing partner at Buchanan Law Firm.
Here are the top tips from three Albuquerque attorneys on mitigating the risk of being sued by an employee or customer after reopening:
1) “Consider the state guidelines as the floor, not the ceiling,” to protect yourself from someone who says they caught coronavirus at your business.
- In addition to the state’s measures, businesses that reopen during the pandemic should work to find solutions specific to their operation that may further stop the spread of coronavirus, said Buchanan.
- “The question is whether you are taking reasonable precautions,” she said. “You also have to think about how your individual business works.”
- Businesses where people are in close contact — such as salons and gyms — may be able to reduce liability by using virtual payment tools and closing off sections of an indoor space, Buchanan said.
2) Read — and understand — Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
- The federal FFCRA requires some employers to provide employees with paid sick or expanded family and medical leave for certain reasons related to the coronavirus.
- If an employee is quarantined or experiencing symptoms and seeking a diagnosis, employers must provide two weeks of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
- If an employee needs to care for an individual being quarantined, or child whose school or care provider is unavailable because of reasons related to the coronavirus, employers must provide two weeks of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay, according to the FFCRA. Those caring for a child are eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave.
- The law applies to “certain public employers, and private employers with fewer than 500 employees,” according to the DOL.
3) Keep an “incident log,” which will strengthen your case in the courtroom.
- Being able to provide a log of every coronavirus-related incident — like that time you asked an employee or customer to leave because they seemed ill — will bode well for your business in court, Donahue said.
- “Usually when there is a lawsuit, the facts are often disputed,” said Donahue. A log “allows the business to prove when [an incident] actually happened, what was actually said and what was really done.”
4) Make sure any incidents are reported to the right authorities, and be conscious of employee privacy.
- Employers will want to make sure they report all incidents of Covid-19 exposure to the correct authorities, said Albuquerque employment lawyer and University of New Mexico lecturer Amelia Nelson.
- Certain entities can disclose health information without an individual’s permission if doing so is necessary to protect the public health, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Nelson expects the laws regarding the disclosure of health information to change as the economy reopens, and said companies should consult with a legal professional before taking action.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits Dealing with Psychological Injuries
By now, we all know that many NY workers will ultimately end up contracting Covid-19 at some point throughout the next year. However, not everyone understands Psychological injuries that people may struggle with or develop as a result of Covid-19.
Psychological claims are not new injuries to the workplace. The Workers’ Compensation Law already recognizes work related psychological injuries. For example, there are many people who develop PTSD as a result of work related incidents such as an assault or attack while working. Similarly, it is common for workers who are injured through a work accident to develop anxiety or depression relating to the original work incident.
As it stands now, even those who have the ability to carry on with a somewhat normal life while working from home, are undoubtedly on edge. We are dealing with a global pandemic that affects everyone either directly or indirectly. How about those workers who are required to continue to work outside of the comfort of their homes? Specifically, essential workers like the nurses, doctors, grocery workers, firemen, IT specialists, and everyone else who needs to be out in the public or risk losing their job. How many of those workers will develop PTSD, anxiety disorders, or any other psychological injuries even without contracting Covid-19, but just because they must continue to do their jobs, or continue to be exposed to the virus at a greater risk?
There are many doctors offices that are already accepting new patients who are struggling with psychological injuries. We know full well, that it is difficult for many people to reach out for help when they may be suffering from a psychological injury. At Pyrros and Serres, we are well equipped to help you find the psychological services who can help. We are also well equipped to fight for your Workers’ Compensation benefits for psychological injuries related to Covid-19 even if you haven’t been diagnosed with Covid-19. As always, feel free to reach out to us for a free consultation at 718-626-7730.
Pyrros and Serres – Hard working lawyers, for hard working people.
Frequently Asked Questions About New York Scaffold Law
The NY Scaffold Law, also known as Labor Law 240/241 provides protection for construction workers and pedestrians against falling debris, falls from heights and other gravity related injuries at unsafe construction sites. This law is unique to New York and people often have questions about it.
Why are owners and contractors held liable for accidents?
Legislators and courts have decided that property owners and contractors are in the best position to text control a construction site and its safety. New York’s Court of Appeals has stated that, “The objective was—and still is—to force owners and contractors to provide a safe workplace…”
Workers rely on contractors and owners to provide safety equipment and to oversee the work. In that sense, they are dependent on them to make the workplace safe. A construction accident scene is different from a car accident scene, where both drivers have complete control of their cars. Contributory negligence makes sense in that situation. However, in the workplace, control is on the side of the owner and contractor, and the construction worker is dependent upon the contractor to provide safety devices and instruction.
Is the owner or contractor always liable for an accident under the Scaffold Law?
Not always. The owner or contractor would have to violate safety standards to be liable for damages resulting from an accident. The worker must prove that the other party’s negligence caused the accident. Also, if the party provided the worker with adequate protection and the worker’s negligence caused the accident, there would not be a viable claim against the party. An example would be if the worker were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then the claim would fail. In addition, if the contractors or owners provided the worker with proper safety equipment and instruction, but the worker ignored instructions or did not use the equipment, the court would not rule in favor of the worker.
Can an undocumented worker receive compensation under the Scaffold Law?
Yes, in 2006, the highest court in New York ruled that injured undocumented workers could recover lost wages under the Scaffold Law. However, there is one condition. They will not be to be able to do so if they have given false work papers to their employer.
(Reference: Center for Justice Democracy)
Contact an experienced accident attorney if you have questions about the Scaffold Law.
Non – Exempt and Working 24/7 at Home, on your time, Are you Getting Paid?
New Mexico Attorney Deena Buchanan
Consider this scenario. Susie, an administrative assistant to a corporate V.P., is extremely helpful and hard-working. She eagerly responds to emails and texts from her boss from her smartphone while he is traveling for work, often in other timezones. Given his heavy travel schedule, these emails and texts may arrive at all hours and while he doesn’t always ask for her immediate responses, she does so as a matter of pride. This may include sending reports, fixing his travel snafus and sending updated itineraries, and helping him find information he needs for a meeting the next morning. In this situation, Susie should be getting paid for all of this work, and is probably entitled to not just her regular hourly rate, but overtime pay. Read More
The Fair Labor Standards Act and state laws require that employers pay non-exempt employees for all hours they “suffer or permit” employees to work. Employers typically must also pay overtime at a rate of one and one-half times the employee’s base pay rate for hours worked over forty in a single workweek. Read More
There are many things an employer can do to avoid costly consequences. The employer can forbid off the clock work and not permit employees to install their company email accounts on their personal devices. If an employee breaks this rule, and works after hours, the employee can be disciplined but must be paid. The employer can also warn managers about sending after-hours texts and emails, and make sure that they ask the employee to record their time spent on these matters. If the employer wishes to permit this type of work, it can offer timekeeping apps to employees so they can record and report their time spent on work outside the office. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it highlights the fact that employers need to consider this issue, have procedures and policies in place, and take action to make sure they are complying with the law.
Contact the New Mexico Buchanan Law Firm, 505-900-3559, if you have questions about complying with wage and hour requirements, or if you are an employee who hasn’t been paid for off the clock work.
What is Price Gouging?
Price gouging is raising the price of a product excessively higher than the merchant’s cost to take advantage of a shortage caused by an emergency, like the pandemic we’re now in.
Is Price Gouging Really a Crime?
Yes, under NY State and NY City laws. The state law prohibits selling consumer goods during an abnormal disruption of the market at an unconscionably excessive price.
Who decides if the price is “unconscionably excessive” or just kind of high?
The judge does. The question is whether there was a gross disparity between the price of the goods or services before and after the emergency. If the merchant had to pay a much higher price to get the goods, he can use that as a defense.
What Can I Do if I Have Been a Victim on Price Gouging? Do I Have to Buy the Product to Complain? Read More
Is There a NY City Law Against Price Gouging?
Yes – and it’s tougher than the state law. The City’s emergency rule enacted on March 16, 2020. Any increase in price over 10% is a violation, and the City has been issuing numerous summonses to violators. Click this link for a list of the products covered by this Emergency Rule.
How Can I File a Price Gouging Complaint With the City of New York?
Click this link to go to the NYC Complaint Form. To make a City law complaint, you have to buy the product and they will ask you for a receipt.
Ladies – Toilet Paper is not covered under the City law, but you can complain to the State.
Is There a Federal Law Against Price Gouging?
No, but on March 23rd President Trump issued an Executive Order instructing the Department of Health and Human Resources and the Department of Justice (USDOJ) to enforce the anti-hoarding provisions of the Defense Production Act against those who hoard supplies of necessary health and medical resources. Read More
Can the NY State and City Governments Avoid Price Gouging? Read More
Employee Protection During the COVID Crisis
New York’s COVID-19 Sick Leave Law
In order to assure employees are fully protected during the COVID crisis, on March 18, 2020, New York adopted new legislation that provides New York employees with paid sick leave in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. This law applies equally to all employers with any employees located in New York State. Importantly, an employee is eligible for paid time off if they present to their employer a “mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation.” Such an order (a “COVID-19 Order”) is one issued by the “state of New York, the department of health, local board of health, or any government entity duly authorized to issue such order due to COVID-19.” In this regard, the New York State Department of Health has issued guidance to confirm that only those employees who have been exposed to COVID-19 in some fashion, or traveled to a high-risk area, will be allowed leave under the law.
An employee will receive a COVID-19 Order if their health care provider notifies the infection control personnel at New York State or a local health department that the employee is a “Patient Under Investigation” for COVID-19. This may be due to the employee’s own condition or that of a member of the employee’s household. The local health department then issues an order of quarantine after receiving this notification. Importantly, if an employee has received only a quarantine or isolation recommendation from their own health care provider, but not a quarantine or isolation order from the health department, this leave is not available. Other options may apply, however.
Leave benefits available to the employee depend on the size and net income of their employer. For example, businesses with 11-99 employees as of 1/1/2020 that had a net annual income greater than $1 million last year must provide employees with job protection for the duration of the order of quarantine or isolation and at least five (5) days of paid sick leave. See table, below, for further details.
Employers must provide this leave in addition to any other accrued leave (e.g., New York City Earned Sick and Safe Time Act or Westchester County Earned Sick and Safe Time). Although the COVID-19 Sick Leave Law does not contain a specific notice requirement itself, the state has issued guidance advising that employers let their employees know “that these benefits are available to them, should they, or their minor dependent child, be subject to a mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation.” The employee is entitled to job-protected leave for the full duration of the COVID-19 Order. Once the employee has exhausted the paid Leave Entitlement provided by their employer, they may also be eligible for leave benefits in accordance with the New York Paid Family Leave Benefits Law (PFLBL) if the employee either remains subject to a COVID-19 Order or needs to provide care for a minor dependent child who is subject to a COVID-19 Order. Additionally, an employee whose health has been impacted by COVID-19 may be eligible for disability benefits administered by the State of New York. Furthermore, employees who are caring for a family member suffering from a serious health condition, including being afflicted by COVID-19, may also be eligible for PFLBL under the “Family Care” provision.3
To apply for these benefits, the employee must submit to the employer’s insurance carrier (1) the COVID specific application (Request for COVID-19 Quarantine DB/PFL – Self (Forms PFL-1 & SCOVID19) or Request for COVID-19 Quarantine PFL – Child (Forms PFL-1 & CCOVID19) and (2) the COVID-19 Order. Each Request includes two forms, which have sections to be completed by the employee and the employer. Specifically, the employer must (1) provide the employee’s average weekly wage (averaged from the eight weeks prior to the start of Paid Family Leave), and (2) must attest that the employee has used any quarantine paid sick time and is not able to work remotely. The employer must complete and return their forms to the employee within three business days.
The employee is responsible for submitting their completed Request directly to the employer’s Paid Family Leave/Disability Leave insurance carrier within 30 days of their first day of NYPFL leave. The insurance carrier must pay or deny the employee’s request within 18 calendar days of receiving the completed request.
Exceptions to the Law
Interplay with Federal Law – Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA): Employee Paid Leave Rights
The FFCRA applies to employers with 499 or fewer employees. It went into effect on April 1, 2020. Employers should count the number of employees at the time the employee asks for leave to assess whether the employer meets the 500-employee threshold. Employers should include all employees on its payroll including part-time, temporary, seasonal employees and employees on a leave status. Note that employees on furlough are not entitled to FFCRA benefits, but should be included when assessing employee count. Independent contractors should not be included in the employee count Read More
The law limits this paid leave to $511 per day ($5,110 in the aggregate) where leave is taken for reasons (1), (2), and (3) noted above (generally, an employee’s own illness or quarantine); and $200 per day ($2,000 in the aggregate) where leave is taken for reasons (4), (5), or (6) (care for others or school closures).
Lastly, all covered employers must post the Mandatory Notice in their workplace explaining FFCRA leave rights. Where the physical workplace is closed due to executive order or other restrictions, the Department of Labor recommends posting this notice on an intranet or by email to employees.
The Van De Water Law Firm offers free consultations to navigate these new laws for your business or if you are an employee who has been terminated after requesting medical leave. You can reach us at 631-923-1314 or on the web at Chrisvandewater.com and fill out our questionnaire. God Bless and stay safe.
OUR NURSES HAVE A RIGHT TO BE ANGRY
First – Are Nurses Entitled To Get Paid For Their COVID Sick Days?
Everyone in New York who has to stay home because they have (or might have) COVID 19 and works for a large employer (like a hospital) is entitled to 14 days of paid sick leave, and they are guaranteed job security after their quarantine ends. For the first time in our nation’s history, we have a federal law requiring paid sick leave, Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) that entitles employees two weeks of paid sick leave if they have COVID 19 or have symptoms and are seeking a diagnosis.
So Why Don’t Our Nurses Get These Benefits?
The federal law said that the Secretary of Labor could exempt certain “health care providers”1from these paid sick leave benefits. However, it was clear that Congress only intended to exempt doctors, or others who were licensed to provide health care independently, from this paid sick leave. Regulations, which are only meant to give guidance in applying the federal law, cracked the definition of “health care provider”, wide open basically including anyone who works in a hospital or a doctor’s office.2
This is an Outrage! Why Isn’t Anyone Doing Something About it?
Second – How Long Should They Stay Home if They Get COVID 19?
Isn’t New York State Supporting Our Nurses on This? Read More
Isn’t This Madness? Why Isn’t Something Being Done About it? Read More
There Is – On April 20, 2020, the nurse’s union filed a lawsuit against the New York State Department of Health (“DOH”), complaining about this precise issue, trying to forced them to change these guidelines. It is not only in the nurses’ best interests that our nurses get this time off – It’s obvious that they shouldn’t be going back to the hospital and exposing the other nurses, the doctors, the hospital personnel – as well as their patients, to the virus. Ironically, the State of New York is actively suing the federal government for excluding nurses from the federal paid sick leave law (above) but doing this to our nurses here at home. What’s wrong with this picture? This lawsuit brought against the State DOH and several other lawsuits against some of the hospitals, have raised numerous unsettling issues about the PPE shortages, which I will address in the next blog.
 FFCRA §§ 3105 (emergency family leave); 5102(a) (paid sick leave).
 85 Fed. Reg. at 19,351 (§ 826.30(c)(1).
New York Workers Compensation Attorneys and Covid 19
If you contracted Covid 19 because you were exposed to it at work, you may be able to get Workers’ Compensation benefits. In order to begin your claim, you must follow the steps listed below.
The first step is to show proof that you actually have Covid19. If you tested positive for Covid 19, the next step is to give notice. Notice is perhaps the most important part of establishing a claim as it has the most strict time constraints. Under NY law, you only have 30 days to report the injury to your employer. In NY it is not enough to simply have suffered the accident, or in this case to be positive for Covid19, you must also tell your employer. If you have been diagnosed with Covid19, and you think you were exposed while working, tell your employer immediately. Sending an email or a text message would be the best way to give notice since the conversation would then be memorialized in writing. If neither is possible, a phone call to a supervisor or HR department would be sufficient.
Naturally we wish that you or your loved ones never contract Covid 19. However, if you are sick due to Covid19, tell your employer, and speak with your doctor to see if it is possible that you contracted it while working. Lastly, if you would like our help, please give us a call at 718-626-7730. All of us here at Pyrros and Serres can help you file and receive NY Workers’ Compensation benefits.
Let us thank you for serving our community !
If you are a health care provider, first responder or essential worker, and you feel you want to finally get your Estate planning documents completed such as power of attorney, health care proxy, living will or Will and executed quickly we can assist you remotely. We are working 7 days a week to assist and make you feel comfortable that your family is taken care of. There is no charge for this service – just show your work identification.
Call us at 631-425-7299 or email the office.
NY ESTATE ADMINISTRATION & PROBATE
Founder: Law Office of Bonnie Lawston
Location: Huntington, New York
Second location: Eastern Long Island
Fax: (866) 431-0101