What is a “hostile work environment?”

This seemingly straightforward three-word phrase has vexed employers, in-house counsel, and HR professionals alike when dealing with employee internal grievances of discrimination and harassment. It’s easy to discipline employees engaged in repetitive discriminatory or harassing behavior in the workplace.

More troublesome for employers, however, is the single racial slur or isolated incident of harassment, which can leave HR directors in search of legal guidance.

Continue Reading Can One Workplace Incident Create a Hostile Work Environment?

Wayne, NJ-based Toys “R” Us filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond) on Monday (Case no. 17-34665). Toys “R” Us operates more than 1,600 locations for both Toy “R” Us and Babies “R” Us and employs approximately 64,000 people. The chain is seeking borrow money in order to pay suppliers by restructuring $5 billion in long-term debt. The company noted that the approaching holiday shopping season accounts for 40% of its net sales.

Prior to the filing, almost all the company’s vendors sought cash in advance before shipping products, forcing Toys “R” Us to raise $1 billion for suppliers. The company’s debt is attributed to a $6.6 billion buyout in 2005 led by KKR & Co. LP, Bain Capital LP and Vornado Realty Trust.

Continue Reading Toys “R” Us Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection

Changing American Families

Changing social norms and biological advances in reproductive technology have changed the face of the family, in turn creating legal consequences and implications.

Families formed by non-traditional marriages, same-sex couples, and individuals intending to parent alone may use assisted reproductive technology. Assisted reproductive technology and adoption can help create families who may not be biologically related.

Continue Reading Tri-Parenting Arrangements and Custody

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and the incredible devastation wrought across the State of Texas, many Americans want to do what they can to help. Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous individuals who will seek to personally profit from the generosity of their neighbors.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that over $20 million was lost to charity scammers after Hurricane Katrina, and this disaster has the potential to cause just as much harm. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have both issued warnings about fake charity scams that are emerging, and are urging Americans to only reach out to recognized charitable organizations.

Continue Reading Avoiding Charity Scams in the Wake of Hurricane Harvey

What is the status of the PennEast Pipeline project?

With the recent confirmation of two new commissioners, a quorum has been restored in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). This likely means that FERC will soon begin addressing the approval of natural gas pipeline projects, including the PennEast Pipeline.

The PennEast Pipeline project received its final environmental impact statement from FERC in April 2017.

In the next step in the approval process, FERC will decide whether to issue a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity under Section 7 of the federal Natural Gas Act. Once a Certificate is issued, as is probable, FERC will convey the power of eminent domain to the PennEast Pipeline project owners. PennEast will then use the power of eminent domain to take private property to construct the pipeline along a right-of-way approved by FERC.

Continue Reading Can Anything Be Done to Stop the PennEast Pipeline?

Community Association Board of Directors Powers:

As is well understood, Community Association Boards are elected to manage the property, affairs, and business of the Association. The Board has the power to enforce obligations of the unit owners and do what is necessary and proper for the management of the community. This includes enforcing the Association’s Governing Documents. If a violation occurs, the Board generally has the power to assess penalties.

Typical violations concern parking issues, storage of property in common areas, failure to comply with fireplace and dryer vent cleaning requirements, violation of pet restrictions, and similar issues.

Continue Reading Addressing Harassment Issues in Community Associations

Baures v. Lewis Standard for Relocation

For just over 16 years, Baures v. Lewis was the standard in New Jersey for allowing a parent to permanently relocate out-of-state with a child against the other parent’s wishes. N.J.S.A. 9:2-2 provides that a parent seeking to relocate and remove a child from New Jersey without the other parent’s consent must show “cause.”

Pursuant to Baures v. Lewis, a parent designated as the Parent of Primary Residence (PPR) could show cause to relocate the children out of state by: 1) demonstrating a good-faith reason for the move, and 2) that the move would “not be inimical to the child’s interests.” The New Jersey Supreme Court has now abandoned that standard in favor of a best interest of the child standard.

Continue Reading New Standard for Child Relocation Applications in New Jersey

On July 13, 2017, a new law was enacted in New Jersey amending the Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act (PREDFDA). PREDFDA governs homeowners associations, condominium associations, and co-ops. The new PREDFDA provisions apply to trustee elections and certain by-laws amendment procedures. They also permit an association’s board of trustees to amend the association’s by-laws without a vote of the unit owners. This may be very helpful to an association that needs by-laws amendments to operate more efficiently but cannot get apathetic unit owners to vote. There are two circumstances in which a community association board may amend the by-laws without the majority vote or procedures required by the by-laws: Continue Reading A Board of Trustees May Now Amend the By-Laws Without a Vote of the Unit Owners

On July 13, 2017, a new law was enacted in New Jersey amending the Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act (PREDFDA). While the new law was created in reaction to litigation involving a community called the Radburn Association, which lacked by-laws that mandated fair and open trustee elections, it also includes provisions relating to amendments of the by-laws which will apply to all community associations. Here is what you should know about these by-laws amendment provisions which are effective immediately: Continue Reading New By-Laws Amendment Procedures Mandated by PREDFDA

On July 13, 2017, a new law was enacted in New Jersey amending the Planned Real Estate Development Full Disclosure Act (PREDFDA). While primarily governing the development of community associations (homeowners associations, condominium associations, and co-ops) PREDFDA also has many requirements relating to their operation and governance. The new amendments to PREDFDA were created in reaction to litigation involving a community called the Radburn Association, which lacked by-laws that mandated fair and open trustee elections. However, the amendments will also apply to community associations which do have by-laws with seemingly-sufficient election procedures, and that may be a surprise to many community association board members and managers. A few of these important provisions which relate to board elections are summarized below. Continue Reading New Trustee Election Procedures Mandated by PREDFDA