Blogs

 

04.04.2019

The trend to legalize marijuana continues.  Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced his intention for New York to be one of the next states to legalize marijuana.  While his initial timeline has met some resistance and will not coincide with the State’s annual budget, which was due April 1, it appears New York could legalize recreational marijuana in the very near future.  Governor Cuomo’s proposed legislation – Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act - would create an office of Cannabis Management to oversee cultivation, processing, distribution, sale and adult use of marijuana for recreational purposes. 

03.25.2019

The third opinion letter issued by the US Department of Labor on March 14 addressed a New York law that contradicted federal overtime laws. The opinion addresses employees who work for a New York real estate company as live-in janitors (“supers”) to maintain their rental buildings.  New York law exempts these workers from minimum wage and overtime law, while the Fair Labor Standards Act does not. The DOL said these workers are not exempt from federal minimum wage and overtime requirements because the federal law does not contain those exemptions. 

03.20.2019

Another notable opinion from the U.S. Department of Labor letters issued on March 14 is that workers are not required to be paid for community service they perform through an employer program unless they are forced into volunteering. An employer submitted a question to the DOL asking if it had to compensate employees who are allowed to pick their own or employer sponsored volunteer activities.  The employer pays them for activities that occur during the work day or on the employer’s premises, but much of the volunteer time falls outside of working hours. 

03.15.2019

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued three opinion letters. This is the first of a series of blog posts addressing the letters.

Notably, the DOL clarified that employers cannot allow employees to take paid leave in lieu of FMLA leave.  As you know, the FMLA allows workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off to care for family members or receive treatment for their own illnesses.

03.06.2019

The IRS recently released Technical Advice Memorandum 201903017 (the TAM) providing guidance to IRS personnel as to whether the value of meals and snacks provided without charge by an employer to its employees constitutes taxable wages. 

The employer in the TAM provided free meals to all employees, contractors and guests.  No distinction was made as to the employee’s position, job duties, responsibilities or other circumstances.  Unlimited drinks and snacks were also provided to all employees, contractors and visitors in unrestricted snack areas. 

03.05.2019

If you made gifts in 2018 in excess of the gift tax annual exclusion amount - $15,000 per donee in 2018, or $30,000 if a husband and wife elect to split gifts - you must file a gift tax return and apply your lifetime gift tax exemption to report these gifts.

If you made a gift to a Trust that has the potential to distribute property to a grandchild, it is important to file a gift tax return to have a clear record of the Generation-Skipping Transfer (GST) tax exemption allocated to the Trust.

02.28.2019

Good news!  Last night, the New York State Department of Labor issued a statement that it would not pursue implementing the proposed call-in pay regulations we wrote about previously (click here for that blog post). This issue is likely headed to the New York State Legislature.

02.18.2019

Another recent NLRB decision narrows the standard for what constitutes protected activity.  In that case, a manager asked a group of airport baggage handlers to help unload the equipment of a soccer team. One of the baggage employees said they’d done a similar job previously and didn’t receive a tip.  When the equipment arrived, the baggage handlers didn’t help unload, and the employee who complained about the lack of tip was fired.  He filed a complaint alleging he was fired for complaining about the lack of tip, which he claimed was protected activity.

02.08.2019

On January 25, 2019, the NLRB issued a Decision wherein it found that van operators at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport are independent contractors, not employees, and thus could not unionize.  In doing so, the NLRB overruled its own 2014 FedEx Home Delivery Decision that it said gave insufficient weight to workers’ entrepreneurship opportunities, and too much weight to right-to-control factors, in deciding the issue.  Going forward, where appropriate, all the traditional common law independent contractor factors will be evaluated “through the prism of entrepreneurial opportunity”. 

01.24.2019

On January 15, 2019, the New York Legislature passed a bill that protects transgender people from discrimination and adds gender identity or gender expression as a protected class in employment, housing, places of public accommodations and other areas.  After more than a decade of attempts, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) awaits Governor Cuomo’s expected signature.  

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