Sex Discrimination Includes Sexual Orientation Says the 7th Circuit

Posted in Employment

“We must consider what this country has become in deciding what [a statute] has reserved.” So wrote Judge Richard Posner, Circuit Judge of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, quoting Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in Missouri v. Holland, 252 U.S. 416, 433-34 (1920), in his concurring opinion of the 7th Circuit’s landmark ruling that a person who alleges employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation has put forth a case of sex discrimination under Title VII. That’s right. It finally happened.

On April 4, 2017, in the matter of Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, No. 15-1720 (7th Cir. Apr. 4, 2017), the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from discrimination on the basis of their sex, extends the same protections to employees on the basis of their sexual orientation. The courthouse doors, once closed to homosexual or bisexual employees seeking relief from discrimination under Title VII, have opened. Some might call it judicial activism. Others might call it common sense. Either way, the Title VII landscape has shifted.

Continue Reading

Small and Independent Brewers Saw Growth in 2016

Posted in Beer & Spirits

The Brewers Association, the trade association representing small and independent American craft brewers, recently released 2016 data on U.S. craft brewing. Small and independent craft brewers represent 12.3 percent market share by volume of the overall beer industry, with more than 5,300 breweries operating during the year.

In 2016, craft brewers produced 24.6 million barrels. Retail dollar value was estimated at $23.5 billion, representing 21.9 percent market share. By adding 1.4 million barrels, craft brewer growth outpaced the 1.2 million barrels lost from the craft segment due to acquisitions by large brewing companies. Small and independent brewers continue to show steady growth. Microbreweries and brewpubs delivered 90 percent of the craft brewer growth.

Continue Reading

Does Your Community Association Need a Drone Policy?

Posted in Community Associations

As drone technology advances and the number of drones in the air increases, managers and board members in community associations are asking about drone policies. If drones are being used in your community or if there is a plan for their use, whether recreational or commercial, your board should adopt a drone policy.

drone in skyWhen thinking of drone use, most people may think of recreational drones operated by “those darn kids.” Recreational drones are certainly something associations should stay on top of, with privacy and safety of residents being paramount. Also, recreational drone use is not limited to children and policies should be neutrally applied to avoid running afoul of the law. There are limited government regulations relating to this type of drone use and association policies are an important supplement.

Drone delivery service has been hyped for some time now. Who wouldn’t want to order cold and flu medicine from the comfort of your couch and have it on your doorstep within the hour? Drone delivery is almost certainly on its way to your community one day and we can expect to see further government regulation as it arrives. When it does, your community policies can be adopted once you know what this operation looks like and how it is otherwise being regulated.

There are other business applications for drones that likely require more immediate attention in your community association. These include vendors hired by homeowners and the association, but also entities such as utilities who may have the right to enter association property for certain purposes. The FAA has enacted rules for the use of commercial drones but many community association residents may be concerned that they do not go far enough to protect individual privacy, safety concerns, or the right to quiet enjoyment of one’s home. Managers and board members are right to evaluate and address these concerns through written drone policies which are consistent with current law.

If your board is considering a drone policy, it should work with legal counsel because local, state, and federal regulations are expected to continue to change.

PennEast Pipeline – What to Anticipate

Posted in Condemnation & Eminent Domain

Shareholder Timothy P. Duggan recently joined Jacqueline Evans, property owner and member of Homeowners Against Land Taking (HALT), on an episode of PrincetonTV hosted by Natasha Sherman. Mr. Duggan and Ms. Evans talked at length about the proposed PennEast pipeline and its anticipated effect on parts of Central New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania.

The Shoe Dropped…Payless Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Posted in Bankruptcy & Creditor's Rights

Kansas-based Payless, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis) on Tuesday afternoon, under docket # 17-42257.

If you read my blog post about Payless from two weeks ago, this filing should come as no surprise to you. I even put Payless on my retail bankruptcy watch list for 2017 back in January.

The retail discount shoe chain has more than 4,000 stores in 30 countries. CNN reports 400 stores are closing immediately. The company has about $665 million in debt, according to Reuters. In February, Moody’s downgraded the company debt rating, stating the company shown “weaker than anticipated operating performance.”

Continue Reading

The Basics of Commercial Construction Liens

Posted in Construction

The purpose of this blog is to provide a general overview of the basics of filing commercial construction liens. It must be noted, however, that the procedure for filing a construction lien on a residential project is an entirely different process.

The first threshold requirement that must be met in order to file a commercial construction lien is that the party who wishes to file a construction lien must have a written contract with an owner, general contractor, or subcontractor. This threshold requirement cannot be waived and a lien claim is invalid on its face if it is not founded upon a written contract.

The next requirement is that the lien claim must be filed within 90 days of the last date the lien claimant provided materials or services for the project. It must be noted that this 90 day period cannot be extended for the completion of punch list or warranty items. This 90 day period is strictly construed and may not be extended for any reason. The final threshold issue for being able to file a commercial construction lien is that the lien claimant must be a party who is eligible to assert a construction lien claim.

Typically, a general contractor, subcontractor, and sub-subcontractor may file a construction lien on a commercial project. In order to do so, a written contract between the owner, general contractor, subcontractor, and any party who wishes to file a lien claim must exist. The cut-off point for a potential claimant being able to file a construction lien claim is a sub-subcontractor. A sub-sub-subcontractor is not able to file a construction lien on a commercial project.

This same cut-off point applies for suppliers. A supplier may file a construction lien provided they are in privy of contract with either a general contractor or a subcontractor. It should be noted, however, that a supplier to a supplier is not able to file a construction lien claim under the relevant lien law. Once again, a valid supply contract or purchase order which supports the lien claim must exist.

As set forth above, this blog is merely to provide general guidance as to the right to file a construction lien claim on a commercial project. The process as to residential construction is entirely different. Nonetheless, the above guidelines should assist a typical contractor in determining whether or not they can file a construction lien on a commercial project.

Condominium Associations May Recoup Insurance Deductibles

Posted in Community Associations

One of the largest line items in any condominium association’s budget is its insurance premium. Condominium associations are required, pursuant to their governing documents, to carry adequate property insurance to address common elements (and in many cases, unit owners’ improvements), liability insurance, and director’s and officer’s insurance coverage. Further, condominium associations budget for any insurance claims that may trigger the need to meet an insurance deductible. That deductible may be $10K per claim.

Continue Reading

Court Upholds Association Revocation of Parking Privileges

Posted in Community Associations

A New Jersey trial court has upheld the suspension of parking privileges against a delinquent condominium owner. In this case, the condominium association adopted a Resolution – based on authority from the governing documents – that revoked parking privileges for habitually delinquent unit owners. The unit owner involved failed to pay his common expense fees and had accrued a substantial balance. After notice and an offer of alternative dispute resolution, which was rejected by the unit owner, the Association revoked his parking privileges. Continue Reading

Payless Expected to File for Bankruptcy in Next Few Weeks

Posted in Bankruptcy & Creditor's Rights

As i mentioned in my blog from January, “11 Retailers to Watch for Possible Bankruptcy Filings in 2017,” it looks like Payless is on the verge of a bankruptcy filing.

Bloomberg reports that Kansas-based Payless, Inc. may be filing for bankruptcy protection as early as next week. The retail discount shoe chain has more than 4,000 stores in 30 countries. Speculation is that they will close about 10 to 15% of the stores as it reorganizes.

Continue Reading

Gander Mountain Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy – Fifth Outdoor Retailer to File in Last Year

Posted in Bankruptcy & Creditor's Rights

Last month I posted a blog indicating that Gander Mountain was possibly preparing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The rumors were true.

St. Paul-based hunting and fishing chain, Gander Mountain Company, which bills itself as “America’s Forearms Supercenter,” filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Friday in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota, docket # 17-30673 and 17-30675. Gander Mountain is the nation’s largest retail network of outdoor specialty stores for shooting sports, hunting, fishing, camping, marine, apparel, footwear, and outdoor lifestyle.

Continue Reading