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Tara A. Speer is a member of Stark & Stark’s Business & Corporate Group, where she focuses her practice in franchise and employment matters. Ms. Speer concentrates her practice on helping franchisors manage all aspects of the franchise relationship including handling state regulations, advising on day-to-day franchise relations, and preparing disclosure documents, franchise agreements, development agreements, management agreements, and supplier agreements.

The insurance industry is reacting to the recent realities that the Ebola virus has the potential to have an impact on U.S. based businesses. NAS Insurance Services recently announced that it will offer Ebola Business Interruption Coverage in conjunction with Prospect Insurance Brokers Ltd and the Ark Syndicate at Lloyd’s of London. This coverage is intended to fill a gap that exists in current Commercial Business Owner policies.
Continue Reading New Insurance Offering: Ebola Business Interruption Coverage

Countless people have been affected by the harsh economic times of the past several years. Many were unable to meet their financial obligations and stopped paying their bills which ultimately resulted in diminished credit ratings. In turn, job prospects also diminished. Pre-employment credit screenings are often standard practice and an unacceptable credit rating can be a bar to potential employment opportunities.
Continue Reading New Legislation Seeks to Curtail Pre-Employment Credit Checks

Employee manuals are a very useful tool for both employers and employees. The manuals are meant to provide guidance to employees about how the company runs, what the employer’s expectations are and how certain situations should be handled. They can quickly and effectively provide employees with answers to many commonly asked questions. This creates a certain level of clarity for both parties and aids in the avoidance of misunderstandings regarding the company’s policies.
Continue Reading Avoiding Ambiguities in Employee Manual Arbitration Provisions

Social Media use is prevalent and will undoubtedly continue to remain a staple in our society for years to come. Improvements in technology have made access easier which has helped to create a culture where people are engaging in the use of social media anytime and from almost anywhere. But what does this mean for employers? Is an employer permitted to access employee social media accounts? Can the content of employee social media conversations be restricted? Can the use of social media be banned or limited in the workplace?
Continue Reading Setting Proper Policy: The Employer’s Survival Guide to Employee Social Media Use

The national movement towards “Banning the Box” has made its way to New Jersey and it could mean additional red tape for employers who want to perform criminal background checks on prospective employees. The New Jersey Assembly Labor Committee recently voted to send the “Opportunity to Compete Act” to the full assembly for approval. The Act essentially bars employers with fifteen or more employees from inquiring whether a prospective employee has been convicted of a crime. Employers who still wish to obtain information about an applicant’s criminal history can do so, but only after a conditional offer of employment is made and the applicant consents to the background check.
Continue Reading Banning the Box: The Potential Erosion of Employer Reliance on Criminal Background Checks

In today’s technology dependent culture, the use of mobile devices without regard to time or place is a growing phenomenon. Certainly, the digital age has changed the way a large majority of employers conduct business with unmistakable benefits. However, a savvy employer knows that benefits rarely come without some element of risk, and risk reduction is of paramount importance when it comes to sound business management. Achieving a healthy balance between reaping the benefits of technological advancements while curtailing their use to reduce potential liability is not an easy task, but it is absolutely essential. Preparation is the most prudent course of action for today’s employer.
Continue Reading A Digital Dilemma: Cell Phone Use by Employees While Driving

Whether we like it or not, romance in the workplace often is inevitable. Most people spend more of their waking hours with their co-workers than anyone else in their lives. In light of that, it is not beyond comprehension that, on occasion, a romantic relationship will result. However, while the employees in question may be basking in the light of new found love, the company’s administration may not view the relationship with the same amount of fervor. In fact, work place romances can create myriad issues and can easily turn into a HR nightmare if not handled properly.
Continue Reading Regulating Romance: How to Manage Workplace Relationships

With the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy fast approaching, policyholders who sustained damage during the storm who have not yet settled their insurance claims, may be running up against some contractually imposed deadlines. Most insurance policies limit the time period within which an insured is permitted to file suit against an insurer for the insurer’s failure to provide benefits under the policy. Insurance policies are considered contracts, and normally in New Jersey an aggrieved party has up to six years to sue for an alleged breach of contract. However, parties are free to enter into contracts that contain terms which restrict rights that would otherwise be available to one party or the other. In the insurance context, policy provisions which limit the time period within which an insured is permitted to sue are found in virtually all policies.
Continue Reading The Impact of “Tolling” on Sandy Suit Deadlines

While Superstorm Sandy brought with it destructive winds and tidal surges, it also ushered in tides of change for New Jersey’s insurance market and regulatory scheme. Now that insurance company coverage decisions are starting to emerge, the New Jersey Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act, codified as N.J.A.C. 11:2-17.1, et al., is in the spotlight. The Act is currently only enforceable by the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance and action is typically only taken if a pattern of abuse is evident.
Continue Reading Post-Sandy “Bad Faith” Bill Targets Insurers

It is no surprise that legislation mandating changes to homeowners insurance in New Jersey has begun to make its way through Trenton following Superstorm Sandy. Most recently, a bill was signed into law which adds information to be included in the required Homeowners Insurance Consumer Information Brochure which accompanies new and renewal policies. The new law will require the inclusion of a one-page summary of the policy including “notable” coverages and exclusions, as determined by the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance.
Continue Reading Homeowners Insurance Policy Summary Will Be Required Post-Sandy