Exempt Salary Rule Invalidated

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By Joseph F. Saeli, Jr.

Today a Federal Court Judge in Texas struck down the Obama administration’s rule which would have increased the salary minimums for exempt employees, greatly expanding the number of employees entitled to receive overtime pay.

The Judge ruled that the Department of Labor exceeded its statutory authority in adopting the rule.  The Judge explained his analysis as follows:

“The department has exceeded its authority and gone too far with the final rule.  The department creates a final rule that makes overtime status depend predominately on a minimum salary level, thereby supplanting an analysis of an employee’s job duties. Because the final rule would exclude so many employees who perform exempt duties, the department fails to carry out Congress’s unambiguous intent.”

Be aware that this ruling will have no effect on the New York State rules for exempt employees.  Effective 12/31/17 the minimum salary for exempt employees in upstate New York increases to $780.00 per week.

New York Paid Family Leave Benefits Law—Coming Soon

Written by Colligan Law on . Posted in Articles, News

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By Joseph F. Saeli, Jr.

New York’s Paid Family Leave Benefits Law takes effect on January 1, 2018.   Most non-government employers in New York will have to comply with this law.  It is not too early to begin preparing for it.

Employees will be eligible for Paid Family Leave (“PFL”) for up to eight weeks within a fifty-two-week period.  PFL includes compensation, continued health insurance, and job protection.

PFL can be used for one of three reasons:

  1. To care for a close relative with a serious health condition.
  2. To bond with a newborn, newly adopted, or newly placed child within the first twelve months after birth, adoption or foster placement.
  3. When a spouse, child, domestic partner or parent is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call to active duty, as provided under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”).

Unlike the FMLA, PFL benefits are not available for an employee’s own health condition.

Racial Disparagement? The U.S. Supreme Court Rules on “The Slants” Trademark Refusal

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By Erin Gormley

Summer is often a season for music, when music lovers listen to their favorite artists at concerts, in their backyards, and in their cars with the windows down. This summer, a U.S. Supreme Court case has caused music to become a place where freedom of speech and trademark law intersect.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that the rock band “The Slants,” made up of Asian-American musicians, cannot be barred from using that name, regardless of the potential of disparagement to Asian and Asian-American individuals. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (the “USPTO”) initially prohibited the band from registering the name “The Slants” as a trademark in classification 041 for “entertainment in the nature of live performances by a musical band” on the grounds that “the applied-for mark consists of or includes matter which may disparage or bring into contempt or disrepute persons, institutions, beliefs or national symbols.”

How Community Capital Models Can Regenerate Upstate NY

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By Matthew Pelkey

If you’ve spent any time in Upstate New York you have no doubt experienced an unfortunate yet common site: a row of empty storefronts lining a street which once upon a time was a bustling town center. Community capital models could be the answer we’ve been looking for to revitalize neighborhoods victim to the rust belt economy.

As Upstate NY’s economy changed, many of these storefronts became boarded up relics—scars on our neighborhoods serving as a reminder of a time since past. It is important to acknowledge that there has recently been significant progress in many upstate communities, but a brisk stroll through Saranac Lake, or Watertown, or even Main Street in Buffalo leaves these scars difficult to ignore. What exactly to do about them, however, is a difficult question.

Catching up on emerging legal practices.

Written by Colligan Law on . Posted in Articles, News

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By Matthew K. Pelkey

At Colligan Law we believe that high growth companies should have access to a broad network across the globe which can be leveraged to assist our clients no matter what comes up, or more importantly—no matter where it comes up.

As a member of Lawyers Associated Worldwide (“LAW” because lawyers have a terrible sense of humor), we are able to do exactly that. For those unfamiliar with it, LAW is a global association of nearly 100 independent law firms located in more than 50 countries. With access to more than 4000 lawyers worldwide, LAW allows firms such as ours to service the legal needs of clients that are expanding their operations and relationships into new domestic and foreign markets.

LAW also allows us to gain a global perspective on emerging industries and how legal services may be impacted. Here are some of the latest practice areas that are emerging among our LAW network:

Colligan Law LLP Sponsors Entrepreneur Expo

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Bright Buffalo Niagara to feature local venture-backed CEOs

Today Colligan Law LLP announced that it will sponsor the Bright Buffalo Niagara Entrepreneur Expo 2017 on Wednesday, June 28, 2017 at the Hotel Henry Urban Resort and Conference Center. Special guest Frans Johansson, renowned innovator and diversity expert, will keynote the event.

25 companies will pitch to a live audience, with the top five pitching for the chance to win a $20,000 grand prize, an automatic pass into the 43North Year 4 Semifinals Round, acceptance into the Critical Path Lie Sciences Program and Companies, or the opportunity to pitch at an upcoming UVANY event. 20 companies will pitch for the chance to win a $5,000 People’s Choice Award.

Buffalo Law Journal – Uber drivers: Proceed with caution

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As Uber faces a storm of legal action, the ride-sharing company is readying to open operations in the Buffalo area.

With hundreds of Western New Yorkers signing up to drive for Uber, a look at the fine print of what they are signing up for may be in order.

Under a mandatory arbitration clause in the terms of use, drivers could be in for a surprise should something go wrong with their experience with the company. When drivers sign up to work for the company, they agree to several provisions when it comes to possible litigation with Uber, said former Magistrate Judge Carol Heckman, now a partner at Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP. She specializes in arbitration.

“First of all, they’re saying that any disputes between Uber drivers and Uber have to be arbitrated. They can’t go to the courts,” she said. “Drivers are waiving their right to a jury trial because arbitration does not have a jury trial and arbitration is final and binding. Any claims for class relief or collective action are waived, as well.”

Another aspect of the agreement is that any issues with the scope of the arbitration clause go to the arbitrator instead of the courts.

“What this achieves, from Uber’s point of view, is that they keep the number of reported cases on all of the issues to a very minimum,” Heckman said. “Arbitration is a confidential procedure.”

Uber and other ride-sharing services including Lyft open for business in Western New York on June 29. For Uber, it’s been a tumultuous time as several company leaders recently stepped down. CEO Travis Kalanick resigned June 20, a week after he started an extended leave of absence.

“This could go down as one of the best examples of how not to run a company, short of defrauding investors,” said Buffalo attorney Matthew Pelkey of Colligan Law LLP.

Buffalo Law Journal – Uber hounded by workforce, legal issues

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When Uber opens for business in Western New York in a few weeks, the ride-sharing company will be bringing a host of legal and ethical issues with it.

In fact, the issues could be “existential,” said Matthew Pelkey, an attorney at Colligan Law LLP who works with local startups.

Issues range from workplace claims of harassment and discrimination to running afoul of the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics. The sheer amount of issues the company faces is “shocking,” he said.

“This could go down as one of the best examples of how not to run a company,” he said, “short of defrauding investors.”

The state ethics commission recently announced that it reached a settlement with Uber after the company failed to disclose more than $6 million in lobbying expenses in 2015-16.

Uber agreed to pay a fine of $98,000, according to the commission. The settlement is the largest reached under the commission’s compliance program.

According to reports about the fine, Uber disclosed $3.1 million in expenses when the actual number was closer to $9.4 million. Most of the spending was for an advertising campaign geared toward regulations in New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio pressed legislation to check the growth of the company’s app.

According to the settlement, Uber cooperated fully with the commission and attributed the nondisclosure to an error by a filing firm used by the ride-sharing company. Uber also made a mistake in reporting the expenses, the settlement said. The company has updated its filings with the commission.

In a statement, Uber said it no longer uses the third-party company to manage its state filings.

“We updated our reports because there were unintentional omissions from our initial disclosures,” the company said. “Uber NY has revised its processes and no longer uses the third-party filing firm who prepared these disclosure statements.”

Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new regulations for the rollout of ride-sharing services across the state as of June 29.

Be Prepared: Planning Ahead (for Retirement and Disasters)

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Joe Saeli will speak at a continuing legal education program co-sponsored by the Erie County Bar Foundation, the Erie Institute of Law and the New York State Bar Association.  Joe’s discussion topic is the Sale or Merger of a Law Practice – Transitioning to Retirement.

 

Date: Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Time: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Location: Bar Association of Erie County, Sun Auditorium, 438 Main Street, Buffalo, New York

Register online at www.eriebar.org.