How Did Facebook Get Sued Successfully under the Housing Discrimination Laws without even Being a Landlord?
By passing a law called the CDA1, Congress decided to protect interactive computer services from any liability from material posted by others to promote open vibrant free expression on the internet. Because of this law, a company like Facebook can’t be sued for an ad posted by somebody else in the same way a traditional newspaper can. Was this just a frivolous lawsuit?
No. – Facebook settled the case, agreeing to make some significant changes in its advertising practices, to pay several million in fees and in advertising credit, and agreeing, at least to some extent, to police its advertising of certain things, which it never previously had any legal obligation to do.
So How Could Facebook Ever Be Liable for its Advertising Content Despite being Legally Protected by this Federal Law?
Certain public interest fair housing groups sued2 Facebook for violations of the Fair Housing Act, over discriminatory ads for real estate sales and apartment rentals in New York City. Here’s how: When any real estate agent posted an ad on Facebook, it had a choice of whether to include or exclude certain groups of people. For example, if the real estate agent knew that the landlord didn’t want any young children in the building, it had the option of excluding those people with children of any given age from the target group. When buying ads, advertisers decide to include, or exclude, certain groups from their intended target audience. This includes Facebook ads that are “boosted’ or will be shown to certain other Facebook users. The idea for this lawsuit came from ProPublica’s article detailing how Facebook’s online platform effectively enabled advertisers to exclude blacks, Hispanics and other ethnic groups from receiving their ads. Here’s what the portal actually allowed real estate agents to do:
In fact, the groups that brought the lawsuit placed an ad for a fictitious apartment and requested that African Americans and Hispanics be excluded. Facebook approved the ad and ran it. The people the advertiser didn’t want to rent to would simply never see their ad; it offered surgically accurate advertising placement that the unwanted customers would never see.
How is Facebook able to target its advertisements so precisely? Read More
Is it Legal for Facebook to Collect all this Information About You Without Even Giving You a Way to Opt Out?
Yes – Absolutely. Read More
What Did the Facebook Settlement Accomplish?
Under the terms of the settlement, a separate portal is now required to advertise for HEC (Housing, Employment or Credit) which will basically not give advertisers the option to exclude based on gender, race, religion or sexual orientation, like they do in the example above. Advertisers will be asked if they are advertising for housing or employment, and if so, their targeting options will be limited. Zip code targeting has also been eliminated and replaced by a minimum geographical radius of 15 miles. The settlement will, however, continue to allow advertisers to discriminate against anyone they like as long as the ad is not for something involving housing, employment or credit.
 Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. § 230(a)
 Nat’l Fair Housing Alliance, et al. v. Facebook, Inc., SDNY 18-cv-02689, filed March 27, 2018.
What Legal Requirements Exist for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death is a legal term that indicates a party’s unlawful actions caused a death to occur. Obviously, not every death is a wrongful death. What makes a death wrongful in the eyes of New York State law?
What Elements Are Necessary for a NY Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
To bring a wrongful death case in New York, the following elements are necessary:
- An individual died (New York State law does not recognize a fetus that dies before birth as an individual, even if a wrongful act killed the fetus)
- The person died as a result of another’s wrongful act, neglect or failure to fulfill a legal obligation
- If the person had lived, he or she would have been able to take legal action against the person who was responsible for the harm
- The person who died must be survived by one or more persons who suffered loss as a result of the death
- Damages exist that can be recovered by the estate
- The court has assigned a personal representative, and that person is the only one who can file the lawsuit on behalf of the surviving beneficiaries (exception below)
- When a personal representatives refuses to bring a wrongful death lawsuit, the surviving family may have an administrator appointed to prosecute the wrongful death on their behalf
If a criminal action was brought against the same defendant with regards to the wrongful death, the personal representative has at least one year from the termination of the criminal action to file a wrongful death lawsuit even if the two year statute of limitations has expired or if there is less than a year remaining before the statue would expire.
(Reference: New York Estates Powers and Trusts Law, Article 5, Part 4 Rights of Members of Family Resulting from Wrongful Act, Neglect or Default Causing Death of Decedent)
At Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP, we offer a free initial consultation to talk about wrongful death and determine whether grounds exist to pursue a lawsuit.
Two Weeks of Employee Paid Vacation
A paid vacation bill is under consideration and Mayor De Blasio has made a pledge to support the bill. It appears the NYC Earned Safe and Sick Time Act will serve as a model for the new paid vacation bill.
The National Law Review stated that no other city or state in the nation has a law like this. New York City would be the first if the law passes.
The paid vacation bill would apply to private sector employers, who have at least five employees, and the requirement to receive the benefit is that the employees must work at least 80 hours a year.
What Are the Requirements of the Earned Safe and Sick Leave Law?
New York City’s Paid Safe and Sick Leave Law has the following provisions:
- Employers with five or more employees, who work more than 80 hours per calendar year in NYC, must provide paid safe and sick leave to employees.
- Safe and sick leave accrues at a rate of one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 40 hours per calendar year.
- Accrual begins on the employee’s first day of employment
- Employees can begin using accrued leave 120 days after their first day of work
- Employers with fewer than five employees must provide unpaid safe and sick leave.
Paid Family Leave, Another Paid Time-Off Benefit in NY
In addition to the above law, New York also has the new Paid Family Leave benefit, which was passed into law. This paid time off enables employees who are sick, have a sick family member or who have a newborn baby to take paid time off from work. As of 2019, paid family leave is now 10 weeks (previously it was eight weeks) and the average weekly wage for the leave has increased from 50 to 55 percent.
At Stephen Hans & Associates, we work with employers to help them understand and comply with employment laws and deal with employment issues.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim after a Construction Site Accident
It’s common knowledge that working on a construction site is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. You can suffer serious injury in a fall, from a falling object, in a construction site motor vehicle accident, from a dangerous or defective tool or machine, or because of the carelessness or negligence of a co-worker. Fortunately, when you have been hurt on a construction job in New York, you have a right to seek benefits under the state’s workers’ compensation laws.
Though the workers’ compensation system may seem pretty straightforward, many legitimate claims are initially rejected by workers’ compensation insurance companies. It’s in your best interests to retain experienced legal counsel as soon as possible, so that you get the benefits you need and deserve in a timely manner.
There are only two prerequisites to qualifying for workers’ compensation benefits—you must have been hurt and the injury must have occurred during the course of your employment. Injuries suffered on breaks are generally covered, as are injuries sustained while traveling for work. It’s a fairly common practice for general contractors to use undocumented workers or pay workers “under the table.” There’s no requirement that you be on a company’s payroll to recover workers’ compensation benefits.
It’s also important to understand that, while you have the right to pursue workers’ compensation benefits, you may also have the right to file a civil lawsuit and seek damages. The workers’ compensation laws address only the liability of your employer or a co-worker. If your injury was caused by an unrelated third party—the manufacturer of a defective tool or the driver of a vehicle, for instance—you may be able to simultaneously file a workers’ compensation claim and a “third-party” action in civil court.
To learn more about your basic rights under the New York workers’ compensation laws, contact our office online or call us at 718-804-5406.
Workers’ Compensation and Construction Site Injuries
Experienced NYC | Queens | Bronx | Brooklyn Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
At Pyrros & Serres LLP, we provide comprehensive counsel to people with workers’ compensation and Social Security disability claims in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and across the greater New York City metropolitan area. Because of our reputation for effective advocacy, many of our new clients come to us as referrals from clients and other lawyers.
To learn more about the full scope of our practice, see our construction site injuries page.
Pyrros & Serres LLP
Bronx | NYC | Brooklyn | Queens Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
Let’s face it, the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana in New York State appears a foregone conclusion. Both the state Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are negotiating whether to include the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state budget for the fiscal year that starts April 1st. However, keep in mind that license to fire up that joint would not go into effect, at the earliest, until the following year in April of 2020, when New York would officially join the 10 other states that have already legalized recreational marijuana use.
Governor Andres Cuomo’s proposal for the legalization of recreational marijuana use essentially condenses into the following agenda:
- Ban marijuana sales to anyone under the age of 21
- Establish separate licensing programs for marijuana growers, distributors and retailers, with a corresponding ban on growers also opening retail locations
- Create a new state office, The Office of Cannabis Management, to regulate the drug and create a program to review and seal past marijuana convictions
- Allow counties and large cities in New York to ban marijuana sales within their boundaries
- Impose a 20 percent state tax and 2 percent local tax on the sale of marijuana from wholesalers and retailers, plus a per-gram tax to be imposed solely on growers
- Provide preferences and incentives to minorities and women who intend to establish retail sales locations.
Nevertheless, the debate rages on about how far reaching the effects will be within the school environment, impaired driving and ultimately, the workplace.
Along that vein, it is important for all New Yorkers to be aware of the risks of showing up to work under the influence of marijuana. As you know, if you show up to work under the influence of alcohol, and your employer has a substance abuse policy in their handbook, then you risk a disciplinary write-up at best, and termination at worst. The same rules apply to employee’s use of recreational marijuana. If you show up to work high, or light up outside your employer’s premises, employees run the same risks as with alcohol use. Certainly, it is a fine line to tread as there are no uniformly established THC levels that your employer can test to determine an employee’s level of impairment. Employers would therefore be given free license to make subjective judgments as to an employee’s level of impairment based upon smell, speech patterns, eye movement and dilation, delayed reactions, emotional state, short-term memory problems, among other physical symptomology.
It is a slippery slope at best, but an employer is within their rights to terminate employees with substance abuse violations. This is especially so in occupations involving physical labor and the use of a motor vehicle including drivers, delivery companies, waiters, warehouse workers, trades and any employees in the service industry.
The Van De Water Law Firm stands ready to serve you with respect to any employment issue, and our initial consultation is always free.