Drones are the latest craze to hit the market and chances are someone in your community has a drone, or your community deals with a vendor that uses drones. Drones are small, unmanned aircraft that respond to the commands of a remote operator or follow a pre-programmed trajectory. They are technically known as “unmanned aerial vehicles” or “UAVs”. Initially developed by the military, drones are now available to the general public and are used by many businesses and individuals alike. drone in sky As drone technology develops and evolves, it is important for your Community Association’s rules to develop and evolve to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents. Continue Reading Can Community Associations Regulate the Use of Drones?

A New Jersey Chancery Court was called upon to rule whether the filing of a foreclosure complaint by a condominium association prevents the association from taking other actions to enforce its rules and regulations as they would apply to the defendant in the foreclosure action.

Specifically, a condominium association had started a foreclosure action against an owner, seeking to foreclose its liens. During the pendency of the foreclosure case, the Association decided to enforce its parking revocation policy, as set forth in the association’s Governing Documents. It sought to revoke parking privileges of the owner because of the substantial arrears.

Continue Reading Does a Foreclosure Complaint Prevent a Community Association from Enforcing Rules and Regulations?

Ignite Restaurant Group (“Ignite”) filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division today (Case no. 17-33550). Ignite operates 137 Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern + Tap restaurants, including three international franchise locations in Dubai. Ignite employs 8,400 people, including 2,900 full-time (both salaried and hourly) employees. Ignite’s bankruptcy schedules list $197 million in liabilities and $153 million in assets.

In its bankruptcy filings, Ignite cites to declines in comparable restaurant sales and income from operations at both Joe’s and Brick House. The company also notes that it has closed underperforming restaurants, including a location in Newark, NJ which had opened in 2013.

Continue Reading Ignite Restaurant Group Fires Up Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Case

The New Jersey state Senate passed the bill 181, authored by Senator Christopher Bateman(Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset), by a vote of 35-0 on January 23, 2017.

The bill, if passed by the Assembly and signed into law by the Governor, will render void and unenforceable any indemnification/hold harmless language in a contract with a snowplow vendor. This bill will not apply to the State or any municipal government.

Passage of New Jersey Senate bill 181 will have dire consequences for community associations. Continue Reading NJ S181-Act Concerning Snowplow/De-Icing Service Contracts in Community Associations

Foreclosure rates for residential properties continue to drop. Black Knight Financial Services reported that in 2016, the national foreclosure rate dropped by 30 percent. The first quarter of 2017 reports the lowest rate of foreclosure activity since 2006.

As the inventory of foreclosed properties lessens, housing markets will see an increase in value. Owners should start to see home values on the rise.

While foreclosure rates nationwide are the lowest they have been in 11 years, foreclosures in New Jersey remain among the top ten highest in the country. Continue Reading Foreclosure an Effective Method to Recoup Unpaid Condo Assessments

Rue21 Inc. (“Rue21”) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Pittsburgh, PA on Monday (case no. 17-22045-GLT, Western District of Pennsylvania).

This was another bankruptcy filing I saw coming back in January, when I wrote my blog Retailers to Watch for Possible Bankruptcy Filings in 2017. In the bankruptcy petition, the teen fashion retail chain lists more than 1,100 stores in the U.S. and assets and liabilities in the range of $1 billion and $10 billion.

Continue Reading Rue21 Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Divorce arbitration is an effective method of dispute resolution which has been recognized by the New Jersey Supreme Court as an alternative to conventional litigation. Given the severe backlog in the New Jersey court system and the difficulty obtaining consecutive hearing dates and receiving timely decisions, more divorcing parties are turning to arbitration to resolve their disputes. As a certified divorce arbitrator, I will describe what arbitration is (and isn’t) and explain how it functions.

First, it is important to distinguish arbitration from mediation. While mediation involves the assistance of a third party “neutral” to encourage and facilitate a resolution, arbitration is akin to litigation on an expedited basis. In other words, at the conclusion of an arbitration hearing the arbitrator renders a decision just as would a judge hearing the case.

Second Continue Reading Divorce Arbitration – How it Works and Why it’s Right

To say that Facebook and social media have complicated the relationship between employer and employee and, specifically, what an employee can say or do with respect to his/her work, is an understatement. Social media has added a new dimension to analyzing the intersection between employee speech and protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act (the “NLRA”), and the level of protected activity has reached a new low.

A new line has been drawn in the sand, and the “outer-bounds of protected, union-related” activity has been reestablished by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. In National Labor Relations Board v. Pier Sixty, LLC,  the Second Circuit was tasked with the challenge of determining to what extent the NLRA protects an employee’s comments on social media and the point at which an employee’s conduct is so “opprobrious” (i.e. abusive, pejorative, obscene, libelous) as to lose the NLRA’s protection.

In laymen’s terms, the question is: How badly can an employee behave and still keep his job if the employee’s behavior is at least loosely tethered to union-related activity? The answer, as explained below, is very badly.

Continue Reading Say What? The Second Circuit Establishes a New “Outer-Bounds” Limit to Protected Employee Speech

When was the last time you clicked a box indicating your agreement to terms of service without actually reading, let alone understanding, the terms and conditions of service? The use of “clickwrap” whereby users of web-based applications memorialize their acceptance of legal agreements by clicking something, like a check box, is commonplace in the digital world. In the employment arena, however, the use of such web-based platforms and click-to-accept legal agreements is relatively new. Still, courts have not hesitated to apply traditional principles of contract law to these agreements and enforce them against unsuspecting and often oblivious employees, so long as the clickwrap agreements are conspicuously displayed on the web-based platform and reasonably communicate the employer’s terms to its employees.

Continue Reading Read Before You Click: The Enforcement of Web-Based Restrictive Covenants and Arbitration Agreements Against Employees

Despite increased efforts to curb it, sexual harassment in the workplace hasn’t gone away. In fact, news reports of allegations of sexual harassment and lewd behavior lodged against media mogul Bill O’Reilly at Fox News and, separately, against transportation network company Uber, have shined a spotlight on the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in the workplace. As to O’Reilly, several complaints were raised and settled over several years by Fox News before the company asked O’Reilly to leave the network. With respect to Uber, the company allegedly swept “under the rug” several separate claims of sexual harassment made against a particular manager because the manager was a “high performer.” The sad truisms revealed by both the Uber and O’Reilly matters, clearly, are that money talks and rules can be bent (if not broken) for star performers. But there is a silver lining, as important lessons about the correction and prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace can be learned from these two publicly aired situations involving sex discrimination in the workplace.

Continue Reading Successful Strategies for Preventing and Defending Claims of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace