Legal Concerns for New York Restaurant Owners
Author: Stephen D. Hans
If you’re opening a new restaurant in New York City or the surrounding area, there are certain legal requirements you must put in place. You will need to choose a business entity and get your licenses and permits. You must address health and safety issues (ventilation, garbage removal, sanitation, etc.) before opening your restaurant. You will also need to purchase insurance.
When all the above is said and done, you still have the matter of employees. An employment attorney is a vital resource who can help ensure you are up to speed with New York employment laws.
New York Employment Laws
You will have to know which employees must be paid for overtime, the rules about paying tipped employees and the laws for employing minors. You will have to verify the legal work status of every employee at your restaurant and fill out an I-9 form for each employee.
Before you begin the hiring process, it is wise to know what questions you should avoid. Our blog on job interviews will give you a basic idea but to ensure you have all the information, it is wise to consult with an attorney.
Our lawyer can assist you by reviewing your job application to ensure it does not contain illegal questions. You also need to understand how to check references without making illegal inquiries.
It is wise to devise an employee handbook and ensure it is legally sound.
You must set up sexual harassment training for all of your employees based on recent New York State law.
If you feel overwhelmed about the laws involved with opening a restaurant, you are not alone. You can avoid some employment nightmares at the outset by consulting with an experienced New York employment attorney.
At Stephen Hans & Associates, we work with restaurant owners to help them comply with labor laws and to deal with employment issues.
More Lawsuits Are Emerging to Pursue ADA Violations
Website accessibility based on the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) became an issue for the Beyonce website. Media outlets featured articles about it in January 2019. A blind person sued Parkwood Entertainment, Beyonce Knowle’s management company, because the site wasn’t accessible for her.
Many business owners and people in the general public don’t think this has anything to do with them. They may think, “Beyonce is a celebrity, high profile and worth millions of dollars. People like her get sued all the time because they have fame and money.”
That may be true for small business owners with few employees. However, there is a problem with this line of thinking. It often doesn’t take long before an issue like website accessibility goes mainstream. Almost every business today has a website. The ADA is federal law that affects businesses with 15 or more employees. It is a fact that the ADA accessibility issue has already gone mainstream.
Ten New York Galleries Are Defendants in Civil Lawsuits
The New York Times published an article about a blind Manhattan resident who filed federal lawsuits against 10 art galleries. He alleged that their websites were not ADA compliant for the blind. The list of galleries that were party to the lawsuit included: Adam Baumgold Fine Art, Adelson, Agora, Albertz Benda and Acquavella. After filing a lawsuit against these galleries, his attorneys started going through the alphabet, naming other galleries that began with the letter “B.”
As it stands today, numerous lawsuits filed on grounds of ADA non-compliance exist across the nation, and the numbers keep growing. The New York Times article states that ADA lawsuits against websites tripled in 2018 over those filed in 2017.
What Types of Business Are Being Sued?
The lawsuits that allege websites are ADA noncompliant name parties that go well beyond celebrities. They include: insurance companies, colleges, moving companies, sightseeing tours, yoga studios, fashion industry companies and restaurants, to name a few.
Accessibility is a serious issue. The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has an article on its website entitled “Improving Your Website’s Accessibility.” The article lists steps that a web developer should take to make the site accessible for blind people.
Are You Concerned About Website Accessibility? Is Your Website Accessible for the Disabled?
We are glad to discuss how we can make your website accessible. Contact a NY Internet marketing specialist today.
A Brief Look Back and Look Forward at Websites
It’s a fact that the world of web design and websites is ever changing. New improvements in design and technology emerge all the time.
Can you imagine growing up without being able to browse the web or carrying a cell phone with you everywhere you go?
Many of us can. But for the new generations such as iGen and Gen Z, born between 1995 and 2012, it’s unimaginable. Not having a mobile phone, not being able to jump online or text or visit a social media site is a foreign concept.
The Evolution of Web Sites and Web Design
It’s been more than 20 years since computer scientist and CERN engineer Tim Berners-Lee launched the first web page in 1990.
Today, web development has moved beyond the realm of computer science alone. Fields like graphic design and marketing have become an integral part of website development evolution.
How important is it for websites to be mobile friendly?
“Mobile-first indexing means Google will predominantly use the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. Historically, the index primarily used the desktop version of a page’s content when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user’s query.”
Web Perseverance’s New Websites
While trends come and go, consumers want designs that reflect their company’s values. We’ve worked to make our websites unique and authentic. Here are a few recent examples:
- Restoration Dry Cleaners. The branding for the new site incorporated much happier images. We shifted the focus from damaged materials to restoration of prized possessions. By replacing fire and smoke images and damaged articles with happy people, bright and colorful wardrobes and other images, we changed the look and feel of the site. Branding shifted from “damaged” to “restored.”
- The Van De Water Law Firm and Sackstein, Sackstein & Lee, LLP websites incorporate hero images (large full width image at the top of the website). The viewer meets the attorneys at first glance. This emphasis brings a more personal experience to the viewer when visiting the website.
- Anna’s Fried Dough is another new site we launched. We worked with the client’s existing logo to bring a colorful and fun feel to the site. The company initially introduced its product through concession stands at fairs but now it offers wholesale purchase as well.
- Poseidon Irrigation grabs the viewer’s attention through its colorful logo over a sprinkler system background video with spraying water. It’s a colorful and eye-catching site where viewers receive great visuals of the product’s use.
Are you looking to boost your internet marketing? Keep up with the times and reach out to us.
Author: WebPerseverance: Cindy J. Silver
ADA Non-Compliance and The Beyonce Website Lawsuit
Non-compliance with the ADA (American with Disabilities Act) has farther-reaching effects than many business owners might realize. Recently, a blind woman filed a lawsuit against the owners of the Beyonce.com website.
Details of the Beyonce Website ADA Lawsuit
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the lawsuit alleges that visually impaired users do not have equal access to the website’s products and services.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Mary Conner is a New York resident who is totally blind. She is not able to browse the site and get information. Why? The images do not provide text equivalents. There are also no dropdown menus and navigation links that are accessible for her. She also cannot use a keyboard instead of a mouse to browse the site.
The class named in the lawsuit is “all legally blind individuals in the United States who have attempted to access Beyonce.com and as a result have been denied access to the enjoyment of goods and services offered by Beyonce.com, during the relevant statutory period.”
The requested injunction would require that Parkwood Entertainment, Beyonce Knowle’s management company make the site accessible to blind and visually impaired customers based on the ADA. The lawsuit also seeks compensation for damages for its class members who have been subjected to unlawful discrimination.
Web Accessibility and the ADA
The lawsuit regarding Beyonce.com is not the only lawsuit that has been filed against website owners who were non-compliant with the ADA. As we mentioned in an earlier blog article, more than 240 class action lawsuits have been filed against businesses for ADA non-compliance based on inadequate website accessibility (according to law360.com).
What Can You Do to Ensure Your Website Is ADA Compliant?
Business News Daily article states that no definite legal guidelines outlining ADA compliance exist for websites. However, website owners should make a good faith effort to incorporate features that would make your site more reasonably accessible.
Some of suggested features include:
- Alt tags for images, videos and audio files. A blind web user cannot see an image. However, web software will read the image description contained in the alt tag used for the image, video or audio file.
- Text transcripts. Transcripts for video and audio content can help the hearing impaired.
- Organized layout. Organize the navigation menus, links and buttons so they are user friendly throughout the site.
At Web Perseverance, we use a website plug-in that increases website accessibility for disabled web viewers. Web Perseverance is an internet marketing company. You can see the plugin logo on this site. It looks like the wheelchair handicap logo and is located at the bottom left of your screen. Click on it, and it will display various boxes with features that help make our site more user friendly for disabled viewers.
- A keyboard key
- Bigger cursor
- Increased contrast
- Larger text
- Desaturate (the button removes color from graphics and images)
- Highlight links
- Legible fonts
- Read page (audio software button that reads the words in the navigation, content text and tag information on the page)
Do You Have Questions About ADA Website Compliance?
We are glad to answer your questions and can discuss putting this plug-in on your website. Contact a NY Internet marketing specialist today.
If you’ve noticed a sudden drop in traffic or decrease in your site ranking, your redirect attachment URL settings may be the bug-a-boo. Yoast, one of the most popular SEO plugins among designers, discovered a bug in their recent upgrade. Rather than defaulting to ‘yes,’ the “redirect attachment URLs” option defaulted to ‘no.’
What are Attachment URLs?
Simply put – whenever you insert an image, into a post or page, WordPress creates a new page with that single image. This new page is a called an attachment URL. The problem with these pages is that they have little to no content beyond the image and therefore are bad for site SEO. And while they increase the number of site pages they don’t contain what search engines deem as quality content, so you could get dinged because of it.
What went wrong?
Customers who updated from an earlier version of Yoast SEO to Yoast SEO 7.0-7.0.2 may not have had their settings automatically converted from the previous version to the new version. So, if in your case, the upgraded plugin did not convert your previous settings it would have overwritten those and set the attachment URL option to the default setting of ‘no.’ Thereby creating a lot of thin, ‘image only,’ pages.
Impact on websites
Worst case scenario, some sites have experienced having attachment URLs quintupled, without adding any content. Because with the setting set at ‘no’, XML sitemaps were enabled for attachments. This is where it gets bad for SEO – a lot of those attachment URLs were indexed by Google. In some cases, these sites may be suffering from Panda-like problems. If your site is image heavy and light on content, this could be a problem for you as Google then assumes you’ve put on a bunch of non-relevant content suddenly and in essence are trying to game the system. When you actually aren’t.
How widespread is the problem?
According Yoast, who put out this article, the situation does not appear to be widespread. They have, upon discovering the bug, created a patch to fix the problem of the settings default. For full information and instructions on how to remedy the situation, read the Yoast article, cited above.
Talk to an innovative website design company that cares
Web Perseverance is an innovative online marketing company that devises online strategies through website design and maintenance, SEO, advertising, business strategies, social media networking and search engine marketing (SEM). We help you achieve an online presence that generates website traffic and converts to revenue. Our full-service internet marketing firm is staffed with highly experienced, talented, and versatile individuals who are committed to bringing your vision into reality. We base our marketing and business strategies on the unique characteristics of your business or practice, your needs, and your goals. We work closely with you throughout the planning and implementation process to ensure you get the right online strategy for you. Contact us or call (631) 765-8098 to schedule a complimentary review of your current online presence. For clients outside of the New York metro area, we can arrange a conference call to discuss your goals.
Investigating Employees Through Their Social Media Accounts
Social media can provide a lot of information about people’s lives. Why would an employer want to know what an employee is doing through social media?
An employer may suspect that an employee is doing other things during work that do not relate to his or her job, such as posting on Facebook, watching Youtube videos, etc. An employer may also wonder if the employee is speaking badly about the company or discussing private company information.
Any number of reasons could motivate an employer to pressure an employee for social media account information or to access the employee’s site without permission.
What laws protect the privacy rights of employees?
The American Bar Association warns employers about not violating the Stored Communication Act (SCA). The SCA includes social networking sites when it states that individuals are subject to criminal and civil actions when the individual:
“Intentionally accesses without authorization a facility through which an electronic communication service is provided”
“Intentionally exceeds an authorization to access that facility”
(By intentionally accessing) “obtains, alters, or prevents authorized access to a wire or electronic communication while it is in electronic storage in such system”
Keep in mind that a government institution may obtain a subpoena for an investigation and through court approval access social networks for information. However, a private company conducting an internal investigation does not have this right.
Employers who obtain access to social media under false pretenses or through duress can be held liable and courts typically do not view favorably attempts to access an employee’s account information or the private account of a “friend.”
However, in some instances where employers obtain the information without asking or pressuring an employee to provide it, the courts have allowed it.
Get Legal Help with Your Questions about Employment Law
It is often wise to seek legal advice when you have questions about accessing an employee’s social media information. Stephen Hans & Associates offers seasoned legal guidance and representation to assist business owners with employment issues.