Please note that, in light of Governor Murphy's recent "stay at home" order in New Jersey due to the COVID-19 pandemic, McLaughlin & Nardi, LLC's attorneys and staff are working remotely at this time. However, we are still ready, willing, and able to address all of your individual and business legal needs. Please contact us by phone at (973) 890-0004 or email at info@esqnj.com. We are committed to providing the same high level of legal services that our clients have come to expect over the years. Thank you.

Articles Posted in Business Law

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The Federal and State Government has set up avenues of relief to assist businesses in these hard times in the form of loans and grants.  Below is rundown of the New

Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program, through which New Jersey is offering Coronavirus relief to small businesses.

What is it?

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In this time of economic uncertainty due to the coronavirus and the social distancing required to slow it, our attorneys and staff are helping New Jersey sba-disasterbusinesses seek financing under the new Federal Small Business Paycheck Protection Program.  The basic elements of the program are below.  Call us to obtain help. Applications are being accepted starting April 3rd, and funding is limited, so time is of the essence.

Small Business Paycheck Protection Program

The new Paycheck Protection Program by the Federal Government will provide small businesses with funds to meet payroll and benefits costs, payroll taxes, vacation and sick leave payments, rent, mortgage interest, and utilities for up to  for up to eight weeks.  If the funds are used solely for these expenses and the number of the business’s employees stays the same, the loan can be fully forgiven (it is expected that seventy five percent of the forgiven amount will go to payroll expenses).  In other words, the loan is converted to a grant and does not need to be repaid.  The requirement can be met by retaining employees or quickly rehiring them by June 30, 2020.  If the number of full-time employees is reduced then the forgiveness will be reduced, and a pro rata portion of the loan will need to be repaid.  Only one loan may be taken.  The non-payroll costs need to have been incurred before February 15, 2020.

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As a result of the coronavirus (“COVID19”), the federal government has taken significant action to provide relief to individuals and business struggling with civil-service-jobs-1-300x200economic hardships as a result of lost business during widespread closures and stay-at-home orders. The first major legislation passed by the federal government was the Families First Coronavirus Response Act which provided job protection and paid leave provisions.  Now, the government has recently passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (also known as the “CARES Act”).

The CARES Act provides for approximately $2 trillion in relief aid through expanded unemployment assistance, individual relief checks, tax credits, loans, and grants to businesses which were closed or significantly effected by COVID-19, and funding to hospitals and health care facilities.

Small businesses in particular which are struggling with the current situation economically should look into applying for one or more of these relief options.  For example, a business may apply for a $10,000 immediate advance to cover emergency costs that they are unable to pay because of the COVID-19 situation.  Expenses covered would, of course, have to be legitimate business costs such as payroll and utilities.

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In the time of the Coronavirus (COVID19), many people are concerned about the likelihood of needing to file for unemployment benefits in New Jersey in the near future.

Certainly, many people will be in need of New Jersey State assistance in 2020 and beyond as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and its effects.

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The Order

On Saturday, March 21, 2020, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order Number 107, which further tightened restrictions on people and businesses in response to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.  This Executive Order superseded all previous Executive Orders on Coronavirus responses.

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Coronavirus be damned, McLaughlin & Nardi is open to help the people and businesses we served for years get through this crisis, and we’ll work with new ones too. This too shall pass, but in the meantime we are here to help you.

Governor Murphy has indicated that he will be shutting down all nonessential businesses. We think we are essential, but if he tells us to close our doors so we will, but we will not close our firm. We are set up to operate remotely, and will be fully functional to help you during this time of need.

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Truck, Transportation, Vehicle
In 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) announced a new rule establishing a database for information regarding violations of drug and alcohol testing regulations by commercial motor vehicle drivers. While the rule went into effect in 2017, the requirement for FMCSA-regulated employers to begin searching and reporting on this database did not take effect until January 6, 2020.

Therefore, regulated employers are now required to report information regarding any violations of the DOT’s drug and alcohol regulations through the FMCSA’s database (called “Clearinghouse”).  This will allow employers to identify drivers who are prohibited from operating a vehicle because of prior violations.

“Regulated employers” include employers in the trucking or transportation industry who either hold a Commercial Driver’s License (“CDL”) themselves or whose employees hold a CDL, and who operate a commercial motor vehicle(s) in any state which has (1) a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more, or (2) is designed to carry 16 or more passengers (including the driver), or (3) is involved in transporting hazardous materials.

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People Of Uganda, People, Sad, Emotional
The Wrestling Incident

During an incident on December 19, 2018, a referee required an African American wrestler at Buena Regional High School choose between cutting his dreadlocks or forfeiting his wrestling match.  Rather than forfeit the match, the wrestler chose to cut his hair.  Because the incident had indicia of being racially motivated, or at least having a racially disparate impact, and allegations of racism by the same referee had previously been made, the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR) and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (known as NJSIAA, the Association self-regulates high school sports in New Jersey) begin a joint investigation.  The NJSIAA eventually suspended the referee for two years.

The New Jersey Division of Civil Rights’ Guidance

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Whistleblower, Clock, Read, Hours
When facing claims of retaliation for reports on objections about discrimination under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination or Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 (or for whistleblowing under New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act), courts are often faced with the situation where there is no direct evidence in the form of an admission, document, email or tape recording.  Therefore, when examining whether an employer took an action because of retaliation, employees are often forced to rely upon circumstantial evidence.  One of the strongest types of circumstantial evidence in cases where the employee alleges she was retaliated against because of her objections about discrimination is the amount of time which elapsed between the objection and the employer’s adverse action.  However, this is not the sole element which courts will consider – nothing happens in a vacuum.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently examined just such a situation in a case about Title VII retaliation allegation in the case of Jessica Harrison-Harper v. Nike, Inc., d/b/a/ Converse, Inc. (The Third Circuit hears Federal appeals from the courts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and the United States Virgin Islands).

In that case, Jessica Harrison-Harper was an employee of Nike and manager at a Converse retail store.  She was hired in July 2014.  During the first several months of her employment numerous complaints were received about Harisson-Harper.  For example, a customer complained about her refusal to accept the return of a pair of shoes bought at the store.  Nike received multiple complaints about Harrison-Harper from her employees about her mismanagement and demeanor, and also from a neighboring Nike store.  There was a complaint that Harrison-Harper violated a family discount policy.  She was counseled regarding failure to document employee time and attendance issues, and about her plan to rehire an employee she had previously fired for calling a subordinate a “bitch.”

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New Home, Construction, For Sale, Buy
In October 2019, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey issued an opinion in the case of Becker v. Ollie Solcum & Son, Inc., examining the enforceability of an arbitration clause in a construction project.  The decision continued the trend in New Jersey of limiting enforcement of arbitration agreements, particularly where one party is a customer.

The case arose from a dispute over a residential construction project. Robert and Catherine Becker entered into a contract with Ollie Slocum & Son, Inc. (“Slocum”) to build a new home for them for $1,850,000.  Under the contract, the project was to be completed in no more than 52 weeks after excavation work started.  Substantial completion was actually about one and a half years late.  The Beckers sued Slocum in the Law Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey over the delay and alleged construction defects including water penetration and deterioration of the outdoor decking, siding, and finishing.

The contract, which contained a clause requiring arbitration of disputes, stated:

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