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Law office of Bonnie Lawston

Law Offices of William Cafaro

A Look Back on Sexual Harassment Charges in 2018

EEOC Sexual Harassment Charges Statistics Surged

Author: Stephen D. Hans

A Look Back on Sexual Harassment Charges in 2018The increase in sexual harassment lawsuits brought by the EEOC was 50 percent higher in 2018 than they were in 2017. The EEOC filed 66 harassment lawsuits, and of those, 41 involved allegations of sexual harassment.

New charges filed with the EEOC that alleged sexual harassment were more than 7,500, which was 12 percent higher than in 2017.

The EEOC recovered close to $70 million in settlements of cases that involved sexual harassment issues, which compared with the $47.5 million in settlements recovered for 2017.

As the new year begins, we often look back to the previous year, reflect on the changes and hone our perspectives toward progress for the coming year.

Facts about the #MeToo Movement and Its Effect on Sexual Harassment

In October of 2017, rape and sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein were the springboard that propelled the #MeToo movement. Sexual harassment took center stage in the American media’s spotlight.

The #MeToo Movement is a movement against sexual harassment and assault. Tarana Burke was the social activist who coined the “Me Too” expression in 2006, and the phrase reappeared in 2017 when actress Alyssa Milano used it on Twitter.

The #MeToo movement has been a driving factor in the heightened focus on sexual harassment cases. According to the Washington Post, similar to the celebrity driven #MeToo movement, cases filed with the EEOC saw an increase in sexual harassment cases filed by employees from small businesses — mom-and-pop and everyday companies.

The #MeToo movement has increased society’s awareness of the problem and also made it more acceptable for victimized employees to speak out and report abuse. It has made filing claims with the EEOC or a state agency more socially acceptable.

While charges for other types of discrimination dropped in 2018, charges for sexual harassment rose significantly. This focus does not appear to be losing momentum any time soon.

Incorporate Anti-Sexual Harassment Policies and Actions into Your Business in 2019

If you have questions, our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates are glad to advise regarding your concerns or represent you in employment related disputes.

Parental Legal Rights when your child turns 18

What does it mean to be 18 years old?  From a personal perspective, it means college and freedom.  However, from a legal perspective, it can be a liability, not only for the 18-year-old but for you, the parents, as well.  When your child turns 18, parental legal rights dramatically change, especially in regard to financial, educational, or health rights, and this can be detrimental to their own life, especially if they are away at school.

This does not mean your children are now completely independent from you.  You still may pay their tuition, you still may pay their rent, you still may even do their laundry, but you no longer have access to their financial, educational, or health records.  However, certain steps can be taken to secure you some legal authority to make important decisions, whether health related or financial, in support of your children’s future.

The first step you can take is to set up a health care proxy and power of attorney.  This provides a certain level of security and preparation in case anything happens while your children are away.  A healthcare proxy is much more important than you might think.  Think of it like having insurance or a will; both are utilized in preparation of unforeseen events.  For instance, you may have flood insurance if you live near the water.  Read More

PinPoints blog

This year, a relative of mine left for her freshman year of college, several hours away from home.  As if acclimating to college life was not difficult enough, a bad case of pneumonia was spreading around campus like wild fire.  Within a few weeks my relative was stricken ill and had to be transported to the hospital.  Her parents were alerted to the fact that she was being transported by the school, however, they were unable to receive any information from the doctors themselves at the hospital.  Why?  They did not have a pre-existing proxy allowing for the disclosure of medical information.  Read More

Simple legal documents, like the health care proxy or power of attorney, would not only make your life easier, but will heavily relieve potential stress or anxiety that you may incur without them.  Take the time to not only lessen your burden, but provide an extra layer of security to your children.  Contact us to get started!

Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. This information is not intended to be a substitute for special individualized legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific legal issues with a qualified legal professional.

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Do You Have to Be on the Company’s Payroll to Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Can You Recover Workers’ Compensation if You Are Paid “Off the Books”?

Author: Pyrros & Serres LLP

New York City | Bronx | Brooklyn | Queens Workers’ Compensation Lawyers

Pyrros Serres Attorneys Workers CompensationIt’s a common occurrence in the United States—working for someone without being on their payroll. In fact, some experts estimate that as much as $2 trillion in income goes unreported in the United States every year.

But what happens when you suffer an injury while working for someone “under the table”? Are you able to file a workers’ compensation claim?

To qualify for workers’ compensation in New York, you must meet two requirements—you must have been injured and the injury must have been sustained in the course of your employment. When you are working for a company and not on their payroll, a determination needs to be made—were you truly an independent contractor, or were you, for all intents and purposes, an employee. If you meet the test to be legally considered an independent contractor, you will typically be responsible for ensuring that you have workers’ compensation insurance to cover you in the case of injury. If, however, the Workers’ Compensation Board determines that you had many or all of the characteristics of an employee, you may be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits.

The Workers’ Compensation Board will typically look at a number of criteria to determine whether there was a valid independent contractor relationship, such as:

  • Where you physically work
  • How your time is managed—do you control it or does the company?
  • Who pays for your equipment and space
  • Whether there is a written agreement
  • Whether the company provides you with other benefits

Can You Get Workers’ Compensation Benefits if You Are Paid “Under the Table”?

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 practice area overview page.

Pyrros & Serres LLP

Queens | NYC | Brooklyn | Bronx Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

Website Accessibility: ADA Lawsuits Against Websites Go Mainstream

More Lawsuits Are Emerging to Pursue ADA Violations

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)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.

The Ever Changing World of Web Design & Websites

NYC Bans Polystyrene Takeout Containers and Coffee Cups

Judge Upholds the 2013 Law Banning Polystyrene for Takeout Containers and Coffee Cups

NYC Bans Polystyrene Takeout Containers and Coffee CupsIn 2019 restaurants must begin phasing polystyrene cups and containers out of use. This change is a result of a ruling that came down from an appeal that had challenged the new law in 2013. The appeal had suspended implementation of the law until the court rendered its decision. One of the main arguments alleged by parties challenging the law was that it was not difficult to dispose of Styrofoam products. Research that parties had presented and included in the appeal supported this argument. Read More

Will Plastic Straws Be Next?

In May of 2018, a NYC council member proposed the idea of banning plastic straws to cut down on plastic pollution. A number of cities in various states such as Malibu, California and Miami, Florida have already banned plastic straws. Davis and San Luis Obispo in California require that restaurants do not provide customers with straws unless requested. Customers requesting straws must receive paper straws. At this time, the elimination of straw use in Europe is more widespread than in North America.

McDonald’s has pledged to continue its research for alternatives to plastic straws.

While it has yet to happen, New York City restaurant owners may have to contend with this change as well.

Our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates work with restaurant owners to help them comply with labor laws affecting their industry and to deal with employment issues.

Matter of Van Patten—Undue Influence

Probate Administration | Wrongful Actions

Probate Administration  Wrongful ActionsThere are certain basic legal requirements when a person transfers property, conveys a power of attorney or establishes a plan for the distribution of an estate. Among the most important are:

  • The person must have appropriate legal capacity
  • The person must not have been subject to “undue influence”

In the Matter of Wechsler, a 2015 opinion from the New York County Surrogate’s Court, specifically addresses both of these issues.

The Facts

Lewis Wechsler died in February, 2006, survived by his wife of 30 years and two adult children from a previous marriage. In the probate proceedings to settle his estate, a will executed in November 2004 was offered to the court. That will placed all his property into trust for the lifetime benefit of his wife, with his children designated as beneficiaries upon her death. The deceased had executed five prior wills, the first in 1992, with the same provisions.

During the probate proceedings, however, it was discovered that most of the property that would have passed through the will had been transferred to the decedent’s wife through a serious of transactions, starting in June, 2005. This included the execution of a power of attorney in favor of the wife, as well as the transfer of individually owned property to jointly held property. The executor asked the Surrogate Court to compel the wife to turn over property, alleging that the decedent lacked capacity to make property transfers or execute a power of attorney, and that the wife had exerted undue influence to bring about the property transfers.  The wife asked the court to dismiss the executor’s motion, arguing that there was insufficient evidence of lack of capacity.

Capacity

As a general rule, legal capacity refers to the ability to understand both the nature of a transaction or agreement, as well as its consequences. In Wechsler, the executor introduced evidence indicating that the decedent had been admitted to the hospital the day before he executed the first transfer of property to his wife (in June, 2005). Notes from that admission state that he “was becoming more confused recently,” and diagnosed him with a “waning mental status,” indicating that he occasionally mistook his daughter for his wife. Other documentation from that visit described him as “forgetful” and prone to lapses in short-term memory.

The wife contended that the confusion and disorientation demonstrated that day were a one-time occurrence, citing other assessments that the decedent was “alert and oriented” and able to communicate his needs.

The court ruled that the determination of whether the deceased had the necessary capacity to execute the first transfer was a factual issue that needed to be (and had not been) resolved. Accordingly, the court denied the motion to dismiss. However, because the executor had introduced no evidence suggesting that the decedent experienced the same capacity issues when the other property was transferred, the court ruled that all transfers except the first one were valid. (NOTE: The executor had introduced expert testimony from a medical professional alleging incapacity at the time of the other transactions. The court rejected that testimony, citing the fact that the expert had never personally examined the decedent or discussed his condition with attending nurses or physicians).

Undue Influence

As stated by the court in Wechsler, undue influence requires a showing of influence that amounted to “moral coercion.” That influence must have “restrained independent action” and must have led the decedent to do something which was “against his free will and desire.”

The court concluded that there were genuine issues regarding whether or not the wife exerted undue influence. The medical record indicated that he was in extremely poor health and suffering from depression at the time of the transactions. Evidence also showed that the wife was integrally involved in all the transactions. She drafted some of the letters requesting property transfers and also brought documents to the decedent, so that he could sign them from his hospital bed. In addition, the court was troubled by the fact that the decedent had used the same attorney to handle all prior estate planning (the executor), but that attorney had not been consulted before these transactions.

Because the court perceived that there were still factual issues to be resolved regarding the question of undue influence, the court denied the wife’s motion to dismiss the action.

Contact the Law Office of Bonnie Lawston, PC

At the Law Office of Bonnie Lawston,  P.C. , we focus our estate administration practice on estates subject to probate in Nassau County and Suffolk County on Long Island. Contact our office online  or call us at 631-425-7299  to set up a free initial consultation.

The Ever Changing World of Web Design & Websites

A Brief Look Back and Look Forward at Websites

 The Ever Changing World of Web Design & WebsitesIt’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.

In fact, until other programming languages and codes came into existence like CSS, php, javascript and jquery, web pages lacked graphic design elements. They also lacked visual and marketing appeal.

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

 

Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Serving Flushing, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, New York City, Long Island and Garden City

Author: Sackstein Sackstein & Lee.LLP

Medical Malpraactice AttorneysMedical malpractice occurs when there is a failure to follow generally accepted medical practices, which results in harming a patient. Consequently, patients may experience injury, illness and in the most severe cases, death. However, not every injury that a patient suffers during medical treatment is caused by medical malpractice. An experienced attorney can evaluate the circumstances under which injury occurred and determine whether grounds exist for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Proving that a practitioner deviated from standard practice typically requires an investigation and testimony by a medical expert or experts.

At Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP, we have the resources to consult with and retain medical experts who can testify to support the facts underlying a medical malpractice claim. Without an experienced lawyer to evaluate your suspicions, you probably would not know, or at least you would not be certain whether medical malpractice had occurred. In some cases, malpractice is blatant, but in other cases, it may be subtle and more difficult to prove.

Common Types of Medical Malpractice Cases

Some types of medical malpractice are more common than others. We represent clients in malpractice cases that are caused by the following:

  • Anesthesia errors. Anesthesia errors can result from the failure to monitor drug reactions and oxygen levels or from incorrect dosages or the failure to assess using a particular anesthesia based on a patient’s known allergies.
  • Failure to monitor. Before and after surgeries and other medical treatments, physicians and nurses must monitor vital signs, ensure proper hydration and nutrition and take other precautions for patients.
  • Hypoxia and asphyxia injuries. Failing to properly monitor the fetus can lead to low oxygen levels and result in hypoxia or asphyxia, which can have serious repercussions.
  • Delivery room errors. Failure to perform a C-section in a timely manner, improper use of forceps and other errors during delivery can harm babies during childbirth.
  • Bedsores due to nursing home negligence. If untreated, bedsores can lead to serious infection. However, good hygiene and moving patients regularly can usually prevent bedsores.
  • Medication errors. Incorrect dosages, mixing up medicines with similar names or prescribing the wrong medication for a patient are a few examples of medication errors.
  • Surgical errors. Operating on the wrong patient, the wrong body part or leaving a medical instrument inside the body are surgical errors that can adversely affect patients.
  • Medical errors due to failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis. Failing to diagnose or misdiagnosing cancer, heart disease or other severe illnesses can lead to worsened conditions or fatality.
  • Birth injuries. Newborn babies can suffer from nerve damage, brain damage and other serious injuries when doctors fail to follow proper medical standards during childbirth.
  • RSD/CRPS. Regional Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSC) or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a disorder that causes pain, swelling and limited motion. In some cases, it can result from medical negligence.
  • Hospital errors. Errors that occur during hospitalization sometimes include surgical errors, emergency room errors, a failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis.

At Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP, we can investigate medical malpractice claims involving a wide scope of medical practitioners: general practitioners, nurses, surgeons, anesthesiologists, radiology technicians and other types of medical professionals in specialized fields.

Were You a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

You can find out by sitting down with one of our attorneys. Discuss the details of your medical injury in a free consultation and explain why you suspect malpractice was involved. Handling medical malpractice cases requires extensive skills and access to medical experts. At Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP, our attorneys have decades of experience and the necessary resources. Your case matters to us. Find out how we can help.

Call us toll free at 888.519.6400, or contact us in Garden City at 516.248.2234, or in Flushing-Queens, Brooklyn or the Bronx at 718.539.3100. You can also fill in our contact form, and we will get in touch with you.

 

We know you take your injury seriously, and so do we.

Find out how we can help.

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Looking to Grow Your Small Business?

A Step-by-Step Approach to Build a Stronger Small Business

Author: Patrick Bergen, Compass Operations

It’s an essential part of the American dream—owning and operating your own business, calling your own shots, reporting to no one but yourself. But it’s also common knowledge that running a small business is a risky proposition—about half of all new business enterprises make it five years and little more than half of those last another five years. The reason many such companies fold?—failing to have a plan to facilitate and manage growth. As a general rule, the small businesses that do survive are the ones that take intentional and well-conceived steps to ensure that operations are continually growing, andthat they have the procedures in place to effectively respond to that growth. If you have what you believe is a sound business opportunity, but you’re struggling to keep momentum moving forward, here’s a step-by-step checklist to help you grow your business:

Step #1—Identify What Makes You Different

If you can’t determine why your customers should come to you (as opposed to the competition), neither will your customers. What makes you different? Why would someone choose to purchase your goods or services? Maybe you are able to compete more effectively than others on price. Maybe your product has proprietary features that set you apart from the competition. Determine what your “value proposition” is and focus your energy there. Don’t try to compete in areas where you can’t.

Step #2—Know Who Your Customers Are and Target Them ::Read More

Step #3—Establish Meaningful Metrics::Read More

Step #4—Know Where You Can Expect Most of Your Revenue::Read More

Step #5—Learn from Your Competition::Read More

Step #6—Stick with Your Strengths::Read More

Step #7—Invest in People

Your employees are your greatest asset. Don’t waste precious resources on a modern warehouse or fancy offices, unless you’ve already built a solid and loyal team of motivated and dedicated workers. It’s better to hire fewer employees at first, but pay them a little bit more. You’ll get the work done and you’ll build a committed team. If your employees know that you will pay them a fair wage when times are good, they’ll often be willing to stick with you when times are lean.

Step #8—Be Willing to Delegate

A common problem with small growing companies is the concentration of decision-making and strategy among a very small group of people. By doing so, you get less perspective and learn of fewer options for moving forward. Instead of trying to do everything yourself, you are better served to bring in talented people and let them do their jobs. The less time you have to spend with the nuts and bolts of your product or service, the more time you can spend strategically positioning your business for growth.

Compass-Operations

How Important Is ADA Compliance for Your Website?

ADA compliant websiteADA 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.

Features include:

  • 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.