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Different Causes and Types of Bicycle Accidents in New York

Some of the Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents

https://www.sacksteinlaw.com/2019/07/17/different-causes-and-types-of-bicycle-accidents-in-new-york/Many different types of bicycle accidents occur in Queens, Manhattan and Nassau County. These are heavily populated areas, and there are numerous bicycles, vehicles and pedestrians on the roads. Consequently, collisions are bound to happen. However, when serious injury results and another party was at fault, legal grounds may exist to pursue a lawsuit to hold the negligent parties accountable.

Despite the increasing numbers of bicyclists, the New York City DOT (Department of Transportation) claims that bicycling has grown dramatically safer. Even so, that does not mean that bike riders are free from danger.

Bicycle Accidents Causes

The following types of situations can cause bike accidents:

  • Dooring. “Dooring” describes a bike accident where drivers or passengers are exiting their cars and open the door into a bicyclist, who is passing by the vehicle. The unexpected door opening can strike riders, throw them off their bikes and cause bikes to crash or flip over. Being thrown into oncoming traffic is a serious concern. Also, if cyclists try to avoid the door, there is the danger they may swerve into oncoming traffic. A dooring accident can result in severe injuries or fatalities. The fault for the accident lies with the driver or passenger who failed to look before opening the door.
  • Failure to Yield the Right of Way. Who has the right of way  — the bicyclist or the vehicle or the pedestrian? It is crucial to understand right of way laws in New York. For example, in crosswalks, pedestrians have the right of way. Bicyclists must use a bike lane or the right shoulder near the curb, but they may move farther left (three to four feet) to avoid hazards with parked cars. It is illegal for a car to stop or stand in a bike lane.
  • Road defects and potholes. Poor road conditions can make bicycle riding dangerous. Hitting a pothole can throw the bike and rider up into the air or cause the biker to lose control and suffer injury. Local governments are responsible for keeping the roads in good repair and making them safe for traffic.

Experienced NY Bicycle Accidents Attorneys

When determining whether grounds exist for a lawsuit, attorneys investigate to establish who was at fault for causing the bicycle accident. When injuries are serious or result in death, a bicycle accident lawyer can often help you recover compensation for damages.

What Employers Should Know About Time Off to Vote

The NY State Legislature Passed an Election Law

What Employers Should Know About Time Off to Vote Time off to vote for employees was part of the legislation that the NY State Legislature passed in April of 2019.

The name of the law is the New York State Election Law and it went into effect immediately.

What Does the Time Off to Vote Mean for Employers?

Based on the new law, employers must allow their employees who are registered voters up to three hours of time off to vote. The employee will lose no pay for the three hours and this applies to voting at any election.

Guidelines for the Time Off

The employer must allow the time off only at the beginning or end of the employee’s work shift. The employer either designates the time or the employee and employer can mutually agree on the time.

The employee must notify the employer about taking time off to vote two working days before the Election Day.

Posting a Notice of the NY State Election Law

Employers must post in the workplace a notice that states the provisions of the NY State Election law. They must post it conspicuously no less than 10 working days before every election. In addition, they must keep the notice posted until the election polls close that day.

What Might Have Prompted the New Law?

According to an article in The New York Times, the mid term elections in 2018 in New York favored incumbents. New York was the only state in the country that held separate state and federal primary elections. Two separate voting days made it more difficult for voters to turn out to vote. In addition, New York does not have the options of early voting, voting by mail, nor same-day voter registration.

By comparison, some of New York’s voting laws were much more restrictive than laws in other states.

The New York State Election Law is one response taken by a more liberal legislature to effect change. More changes may be on the way.

At Stephen Hans & Associates, our attorneys work to stay up-to-date with legal changes. We like to let employers know about them so they can avoid employment law issues. We also represent business owners in employment litigation.

What Is the Difference Between Anxiety and Depression?

Do You Feel Anxious or Depressed?

Do You Feel Anxious or Depressed?It’s no surprise people often wonder about the difference between anxiety and depression because many people who suffer from anxiety also suffer from depression, and vice versa. The two mental conditions frequently overlap, and in certain instances, the medication prescribed or treatment used to address one will also be helpful with the other.

Anxiety and Depression  — The Differences

In a Psychology Today article, Gregg Henriques, Ph.D. describes anxiety and depression as negative emotional-mood states.

Anxiety

Anxiety is a reaction to a perceived threat or potential loss, and it prepares you to take defensive action.

Perhaps a situation has arisen that is similar to one in the past. For example, let’s say you are middle aged and find yourself in the dating world again after a recent divorce. Dating made you anxious as a young adult, and that familiar anxiety is now rearing its fearful head again. Or, perhaps you are interviewing for a new job. Job interviews always made you nervous because if the interview didn’t go well, you might not get the job. Your nerves are frazzled, your palms are sweating, and you momentarily have a slight stutter as you answer the interviewer’s questions.

Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, and certain situations may stand out as obvious triggers. However, what if you feel anxious, but there seem to be no stressors in your life and you’re baffled about why you feel anxious? Or, what if some days have passed and your anxiety won’t go away?

It might be time to speak with a psychotherapist and get some help.

Depression

In contrast with anxiety, depression is a not so much a state of worry and defense against something threatening. It feels more like a state of emotional shutdown. Yes, the threat or loss might exist, but depression makes you lose interest in life or people, and makes you feel sad, angry or worthless. You want to withdraw from life.

Again, everyone has days where they feel blue or down, but the kind of depression being discussed here is of a longer lasting variety. You may want to crawl into your bed and sleep for weeks. Feelings of lethargy sap all your energy, and daily tasks or speaking with people appears overwhelming.

If these descriptions of anxiety or depression sound familiar, we have counselors at Affordable Therapy Los Angeles, who can work with you. We’ll help you identify the source of your anxiety or depression. Gaining insight through treatment can assist you in relieving this problem.

Why Working Off the Clock Can Be a Liability

Why Working Off the Clock Can Be a LiabilityWorking off the clock can be problematic for an employer. One reason is that time clocks or time sheets exist to document an employee’s work hours. When workers do not punch in, the book keeping of hours worked becomes nebulous. However, aside from that, employees can be subject to wage and hour lawsuits, penalties and other additional expenses when they fail to pay employees for time worked.

What Is “Working Off the Clock”?

Why Is Working Off the Clock Illegal?

Read More

Examples that Qualify as Working Off the Clock

If you call employees outside of work or send them work related emails that they must answer, you would be encouraging unpaid work or work done “off the clock.”

If you allow your employees to come in early or stay late to finish their work tasks, you can run into problems as an employer. Perhaps your restaurant worker is cleaning up or your laborer is simply dropping off equipment at another site outside of work hours. Off-the-clock work includes employees who work outside of the scheduled hours, for example to get a worksite ready for the production day. Workers who correct errors in paperwork past the time they should’ve gone home also qualify as working off the clock. Even having an employee wait to receive an assignment, despite the fact the employee is not doing anything but waiting, qualifies as work time.

What Types of Swimming Pool Injuries and Accidents Can Occur?

Avoiding Accidents at Swimming Pools

https://www.sacksteinlaw.com/2019/07/10/what-types-of-swimming-pool-injuries-and-accidents-can-occur/Swimming pool injuries most frequently occur when the weather is hot. During the summertime in particular, going for a swim has been a favorite pastime.

Although swimming is a lot of fun, safety is also an issue. One of the best preventions against accidents is understanding the risks involved with swimming pools.

Types of Swimming Pool Injuries and Accidents

Diving Injuries

When diving into a swimming pool, swimmers may not give a second thought to how deep the water is. Yet, diving into water that is too shallow can cause serious injuries. Diving into shallow water can cause brain, head or neck injuries. In serious cases, injuries can lead to brain damage or paralysis. In addition, if the diver is knocked unconscious, he or she could drown.

Whenever diving into a pool, it’s vital to notice the depth of the water beforehand.

Pool Drain Injuries

Swimming pools have drains as part of their filtering systems to keep the water clean. Many people, and in particular children, may not know to stay away from the drains. Swimming pool drain injuries can be severe and are not that uncommon. The Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS) reported that certain drains exert up to 300 pounds of pressure per square inch. While most drains have tightly fastened covers to secure them, an improperly covered drain is capable of causing serious injury or death.

The drain’s suction is so strong that it can tear organs from a body. Unfortunately, this has happened in drain accidents. Read More

Slip and Fall Injuries

Many pools have signs that say, “No Running.” Areas around the pool often get wet. Water drips off people’s bodies and swimming suits as they leave the pool. As a result, wet surfaces tend to be slippery, and running can increase the chances of slip and fall injuries. Read More

If you are involved in a swimming pool accident and suffer serious injury, you may have legal grounds to pursue a case. New York swimming pool injury attorneys can review the circumstances surrounding your injury and discuss the prospects of taking legal action.

Bikini Baristas – Constitutional Law and Female Anatomy Over Coffee

Bikini Baristas,Hillbilly HottiesThe City of Everett, Washington, got very upset with the so called “Bikini Baristas”, and passed local laws which criminalized the clothing they wear as “lewd conduct”, and enacted a dress code for “Quick-Service Facilities,” which was clearly designed to apply to the drive through coffee-stands.  In fairness to the City, the “bikinis’ were really only pasties and g-strings, instances of clearly lewd conduct, as well as customer-barista physical contact, had been documented, and one sheriff’s deputy had even been convicted of helping an owner evade the undercover officers in exchange for sex acts. Although the city police were clearly able to make arrests for the acts that violated the existing public lewdness laws, the city complained that the resources required for undercover investigation of these businesses could be better spent elsewhere and that the new ordinances would make enforcement much easier.

 

Bikini Baristas ,hillbilly hottiesThe Ordinances and the Baristas’ Arguments:  Baristas working at “Hillbilly Hotties” sued the city, challenging the constitutionality of prohibiting “more than one-half of the part of the female breast located below the top of the areola,” “the genitals, anus, bottom one-half of the anal cleft, or any portion of the areola or nipple of the female breast” as well as the dress code provision requiring the covering of “the upper and lower body (breast/pectorals, stomach, back below the shoulder blades, buttocks, top three inches of the legs below the buttocks, pubic area and genitals).”They claimed portions of these ordinances were unconstitutionally vague. In their complaint, the Baristas pointed out that the length of a common woman’s shirt is often short enough that stretching or bending would reveal part of her back or stomach, violating the dress code, Complaint Doc. 1 ¶4. They also argued that in order to enforce the law, police would have to require suspects to expose their entire beasts in order to measure the top of the areola to determine whether “more than one-half of the part of the female breast located below the top of the areola” is covered. Women with larger areola or breasts are subject to different restrictions than women with smaller areola or breasts and accurate determination would be impossible without such exposure. Id. at  ¶¶31-3.

The Baristas Win the First Round:

The District Court judge1 found that the ordinances were probably not valid because they were constitutionally vague, especially because the term “bottom one half of the anal cleft” was not well-defined or reasonably understandable, and that the ordinances failed to provide clear guidance and presented risks of arbitrary enforcement. The District Judge reasoned that their choice of clothing was “communicative”, and conveyed messages of particularized values, beliefs, ideas, and opinions; namely, body confidence and freedom of choice, and that these messages are understood by customers. The City argued that the “message”, if any, was not sufficient to qualify for free speech protection, and was understood only as a sexual image.   The District Court ruled that the constitutional challenges to the ordinances should be analyzed according to the “intermediate scrutiny” standard2. Read More

The Baristas Lose on Appeal

The appeals court3 viewed the case much differently, reasoning was as follows. First, since the terms “anal” and “cleft” are easily found in the dictionary, the public would not be left to guess about the meaning of the term, which is reasonably ascertainable to a person of ordinary intelligence. The second part of the vagueness test concerns whether the criminal “lewd conduct” provisions were amenable to unchecked law enforcement discretion. The appellate court recognized that some degree of law enforcement subjectivity might be involved in close cases, but the mere fact that there will be close cases does not make a law unconstitutionally vague. Where it is a criminal law, the defendant charged with committing the crime will always be entitled to proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is sufficient protection in those close cases. Makes a law vague is not that it might be hard to determine whether the incriminating fact it establishes has been proved, but rather the indeterminacy of precisely what that fact is. A good example of a vague statute is a ban on the assembly of three or more persons on city sidewalks if they conduct themselves in a manner annoying to passers-by. Criminalizing conduct that is annoying is constitutionally vague, because what is annoying to one person may not be to another. Read More

P.S. – Nude and Semi-nude Dancing

It should be noted that nude and semi-nude dancing has been left to be expressive conduct entitled to at least some First Amendment protection, but the Baristas did not claim that they were covered by this. The City of Everett allows nude dancing, but it is subject to the adult entertainment licensing and zoning restrictions, which the owners of the Bikini Barista establishments chose not to comply with.

[1] U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, Edge v. City of Everett, Case No. C17-1361-MJP, District Judge Marsha J. Pechman.

[2] Depending on the nature of the speech, different standards are used to determine the validity of the government interest in restricting the speech and the extent to which the speech may be prohibited or limited. These analyses can become complex and go beyond the scope of a blog post like this.

[3] U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Edge v. City of Everett, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 19930.

 

What Is Fissuring in the Workplace?

What Is Fissuring in the Workplace?How Fissuring Is Changing the Work Environment

Fissuring in the workplace is a relatively new term. You may have heard about fissuring, a term coined by David Weil. He and Tanya Goldman in the article “Labor Standards, the Fissured Workplace and the On-Demand Economy” explain fissuring as follows:

It “means that in more and more workplaces, the employment relationship has been broken into pieces often shifted…to individuals who are treated as independent contractors.”

Other terms have become prevalent that also reflect this employment change. These are terms such as standard employment, non-standard employment, alternative work arrangements, independent contractors and contract employees.

The business models that typically accomplish fissuring use:

  • Temporary agencies
  • Labor brokers
  • Franchising
  • Licensing
  • Third-party management

What Does Fissuring Mean for Employers and Employees?

As stated by an article in The American Prospect, the workplace is undergoing a change, and fissure is what is happening to the U.S. workforce.

Back in the day, an employee worked for a company, received benefits, stayed with the company long-term and received a pension for retirement. The average worker often spent a lifetime working for the same company.

In an effort to reduce labor costs and also lasting ties to workers, companies have implemented a variety of employment strategies. Strategies include hiring through apps, employing temp workers and freelancers along with contracting out and in some cases, misclassifying employees.

Today, many people have two or three part-time jobs because main jobs are not available. Multiple part time jobs are necessary for them to make financial ends meet.

Yet, various wage changes have also emerged as a result of the fissured workplace. New York, New Jersey, California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts and Connecticut have all enacted $15 minimum wage laws.

The History Behind the Wage Increases

Governor Cuomo of New York created a wage board and held hearings throughout New York. At the hearings, many fast-food workers testified that they couldn’t survive on the $8.25 minimum wage. The New York legislature enacted legislation to raise wages to $15 per hour. Subsequently, the New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission engaged in a similar action and raised wages to a minimum of $17.22 per hour for app -based drivers.

The newest emerging trend is for cities to create boards that help workers raise their pay. In this effort, the boards appear to be taking on the previous function of labor unions, which were known in the past for working to equalize pay.

As Bob Dylan sang back in the 1960s, “The Times, They Are a Changin’.“

At Stephen Hans & Associates, we work with employers to help them comply with employment laws and to deal with employment issues.

What Does Fissuring Mean for Employers and Employees?

Top 10 Must Have Terms in any Employment Contract

Whether you are an employee who just secured their dream job, or an employer who has made a key hire, there exist certain key terms and obligations that must specifically be set forth in any resulting employment contract to protect all parties’ interests and set the ground rules for the duration of the employment relationship and beyond.  A well-drafted employment contract significantly lowers the potential for conflict down the line, increases employee morale and provides a means for redress should the employment relationship break down and eventually terminate.

Towards that lofty end, I have set down the Top 10 things an effective employment contract should include.  By no means is this an exhaustive list, but is rather meant to provide a general framework from which the parties may commence negotiations.

Job responsibilities and information

Job title, a description of job duties and expectations, as well as the department with which the employee shall work should all be set forth.  Equally important is providing clarity with respect to how the employee will be evaluated and to whom the employee will directly report.

Job compensation and benefits package

Clearly outline the employee’s compensation and benefits package, including the salary or hourly rate, specific information about performance and merit-based raises, bonuses and incentives, as well as detail the process under which each such benefit is obtained.  Explain when medical benefits become effective, what plans are available and what percentage is covered by the employer, as well as provide information about other possible benefits including a 401(k) plan, equity options and other negotiated benefits.

Vacation, PTO and sick time

The employer’s policy for employee time off should be fully explained.  At what rate does PTO, including sick and vacation, time accrue?  What is the employer policy with respect to emergency, sick or unpaid leaves?  Is flex-time permitted and if so, under what circumstances and approvals?

Employee classification

As a new hire, will an employee be considered an employee or an independent contractor?  Once a designation has been made, cross-reference to the job duties and responsibilities section should be made to support such designation.

Period of employment and job schedule

Whether or not an employee is being hired for a set term or on an ongoing basis is an integral term.  Key terms in this section include expected total weekly hours, daily hours of work, whether overtime hours are possible and if so, how they will be paid, and whether night and weekend work is expected, even if occasionally.

The Confidentiality Agreement

This section cannot be stressed enough and is the most litigated issue in most employment relationships. Therefore, it is imperative that not only do the parties agree to strict confidentiality of all of the employer’s intellectual property and trade secrets, such as client lists, but that the parties mutually detail what information is considered confidential so that there is no confusion should this issue ever be disputed.

Social media and a technology privacy policy

In this age of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we exist in a culture of immediate gratification.  That translates to an employee’s frequent use of the employer’s technology to access social media during working hours.  The employer should clearly set forth what their policy is with respect to an employee’s use of social media during working hours, not only for use of the employer’s computer, but also for use of the employee’s cell phone and other on site technology.

Termination

Let’s face it, nearly all employment relationships end, hopefully on good terms but that is by no means a guarantee.  Provide concise direction as to what notice period is required for either party to terminate the relationship, whether such notice must be in writing, and explain the employer’s policy with respect to severance, if any.

Post-termination assistance

An employer’s brand is their lifeblood and should be protected at all costs.  That translates into consideration of putting into place an outplacement plan should the employee and employer part ways.  Explaining what types of assistance may be available to a terminated employee goes a long way in buying good faith in a potentially bad situation.

The Non-Compete

If the new hire is a key player in the employer’s organization, the parties may want to enter into a non-complete that is carefully tailored to the circumstances while providing the employee a means to earn a living should the parties decide to part ways.  Overly broad non-competes are rarely enforced, and while Courts have wide discretion in narrowing an overly broad non-compete, the employer risks having it rejected in its entirety.  Thus it is in the parties’ mutual best interest to carefully negotiate this section to account for all competing interests.

We at the Van De Water Law Firm, P.C. are well versed in all manner of employment contracts and are happy to answer any and all of your questions regarding employment contracts and all other employment issues at (631) 923-1314 or Chris@vdwlawfirm.com You can also find more informative articles about the employment relationship by visiting our employment website.

The Van De Water Law Firm, PC

What You Should Know About Teenage Driving

The Worst Time for Teen Accidents Is When School Is Out

Teenage driving has the highest accident rate of any age group, and teen accidents are the nation’s leading cause of death for teenagers. Teenage drivers are youth between the ages of 16 to 19.

Teenage Driving Statistics

Teenage drivers are three times more at risk for dying in a vehicle crash than drivers who are 20 or older.

According the (CDC) Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2016, six teenagers died every day due to motor vehicle crashes. A total of 2,433 teens were killed. Teenagers represented 6.5 percent of the population in 2016, but the expenses they accumulated for vehicle crashes were 8.4 percent of the national total.

It stands to reason that during the summer, when warmer weather arrives and more people are on the road, so are teenagers. When school is out, teens have more free time and drive more often.

What Are Biggest Risks?

Male teens are twice as likely as females to die in a vehicle crash. When teens ride with a teenage driver and are unsupervised, the crash risk increases. In fact, the risk is proportionate to the number of teens in the car. The more teen passengers there are, the greater the risk.

New drivers who have just gotten their licenses are the most at risk of all. Also, younger teens at the age of 16 or 17 are at greater risk for a fatal crash than teens at the ages of 18 and 19.

What Can You Do to Protect Your Teenage Driver? Read More

If you are injured in a crash that involved a teenage driver, you should consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer. There is no cost for the initial consultation, and there are no out of pocket expenses. If the attorney recovers compensation on your behalf, the fee is a percentage of the recovery.

 

Pre-Employment Testing for Marijuana and THC

Pre-Employment Testing for Marijuana and THCDrug Testing: New York City ‘s New Law

A ban on pre-employment testing for marijuana and THC recently became law in New York City. Pre-employment testing for marijuana and THC had long been an accepted standard in the employment process for certain industries. However, the legal landscape is changing. With the legalization of medical marijuana (and recreational marijuana in certain states), employers must re-evaluate certain company policies. New York is no exception.

On May 10, New York City passed a law that prohibited employers, labor organizations and employment agencies from conducting pre-employment testing for THC. THC is an active ingredient in marijuana and cannabis. The law goes into effect in one year, on May 10, 2020. This time interval provides NYC employers with time to prepare.

Industries Exempt from the Ban on Pre-Employment Testing for Marijuana and THC

According to JDSupra, industries that are safety-sensitive are not subject to the new law. Some of these industries include:

  • Police and law enforcement positions
  • Jobs requiring OSHA certification or construction safety training under New York state laws
  • Commercial driver’s license positions
  • Positions involved with the supervision or care of children, medical patients or vulnerable persons
  • Positions capable of significantly impacting the health or safety of employees or the public

Employees applying for state or federal jobs would still be subject to pre-employment drug testing. This would include state employees, truck drivers, pilots or contractors.

The Reason for the Ban on Pre-Employment Testing

Legislators considered the practice discriminatory for job applicants. Washington D.C. has also passed a law that prohibits employers from testing for marijuana before extending a job offer. The NYC law is more comprehensive because at no point prior to hiring may the prospective employer require the drug test.

However, once the company hires the applicant, then the individual is an employee. Companies can test for drugs if an employee appears to be under the influence of marijuana while working.

Our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates stay up-to-date with legal changes that affect employers. We also represent business owners in employment litigation

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