A presentation by Partner Patrick W. McGovern and Associates Phillip M. Rofsky and Gina M. Schneider on the Affordable Care Act at the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce‘s year-end breakfast meeting on Friday, Dec. 6, 2013 was featured in The Jersey Journal and on NJ.com. The session delved into the finer points of what employers are – and are not – required to do for their employees under the act, also known as Obamacare. The article features an in depth review of the Q&A session, where audience members representing a variety of industries asked a variety of questions on implementing the Act. Mr. McGovern, Ms. Schneider and Mr. Rofsky are members of the firm’s Labor Law Practice Group, with expertise in Employee Benefits issues.
Law 360 reported that a New Jersey appellate panel sided with the city of Paterson in the city’s dispute with police unions over how employee health contributions are calculated, ruling the state Legislature intended for an employee’s total pensionable salary to be used to calculate the contribution.
“In a published decision, a three-judge panel on the Superior Court of New Jersey’s Appellate Division ruled that Paterson properly calculated health contributions according to a contract with Paterson Police PBA Local 1 and its superior officers….
“The New Jersey Legislature failed to define “base salary” when it initially passed a trio of bills in March 2012 in response to a report from a joint legislative committee tasked with studying the reformation of public employee benefits. One of the committee’s recommendations was that employees be required to contribute 1.5 percent of base salary toward health insurance premiums, but the committee never provided the formula.
“According to the opinion, guidelines were later published by several state agencies, including the Department of the Treasury, the Division of Pensions and Benefits, the Department of Community Affairs and the Division of Local Government Services, which recommended the total pensionable salary formula adopted by Paterson.
“The appellate panel said that in addition to the formula’s appearance elsewhere, it considered the legislative intent, which was to reduce skyrocketing health care costs for employees, and in that light, the court favored Paterson’s method.”
Partner Laurence D. Laufer, Director of the firm’s Corporate Political Activity Law Practice Group, has published an article in Seton Hall Law Review entitled “Picture This: Campaign Finance Law and the Question of Values,” 43 Seton Hall L. Rev. 1209 (2013). The piece provides a thumbnail sketch of federal law as it exists today; catalogues predominant critiques of significant components of current law, taking note of commonly suggested avenues for reform; and poses an exercise for identifying common values that should be served by campaign finance laws. Mr. Laufer asks the reader to “think of a blank canvas and try to contemplate the values the American public thinks campaign finance laws should serve in a democratic political system.” The article was picked by Rick Hasen’s Election Law Blog.
One year after Superstorm Sandy, this is the ideal time for regional businesses to re-evaluate their insurance policies to determine the adequacy of coverage in the case of similar future events. There are also certain best practices that insureds can implement to bolster any future insurance policy claims. In this article, Partner James M. Burns and Conlee Whiteley of the New Orleans law firm Kanner & Whiteley explain the importance of such annual reviews and suggest best practices to enable businesses, homeowner associations and other entities to adequately plan for the future.
Genova Burns and Kanner & Whiteley have joined together to provide representation to businesses in the region affected by Sandy. Mr. Burns and Ms. Whiteley have written several articles of interest to affected New Jersey property owners and homeowner associations. This article from the Mid Atlantic Real Estate Journal outlines important deadlines for placing the insurance carrier on notice of a claim and/or instituting a lawsuit after denial of coverage. Policyholders who fail to comply with these deadlines risk losing their rights to recover from losses. The authors also recently published an article in AIM magazine, the publication for the New Jersey Apartment Association, which discusses how building owners might be overlooking potential wind damage insurance recoveries. The article outlines steps to analyze large commercial insurance wind claims.
Partner Dena B. Calo and Associate Joshua E. Knapp have published an article on How Employers Can Navigate Disability in Thompson’s Leave & Disability Coordination newsletter. The piece examines how an employer should approach a situation where a disabled employee engages in behavior that warrants termination. The authors emphasize the importance of an employer receiving notice of the employee’s need for accommodation of the disability. They also underline the need for interactive discussion, in case the employer did receive notice, in order to determine what reasonable accommodation might be necessary to prevent future misconduct.
Firm client Tucker Development was awarded more than $38M in subsidies in the form of bond financing and tax breaks by the Economic Development Authority to fund its mixed use development project on Springfield Avenue in Newark. The awarded amount represents an aggregate of approvals through three EDA programs; the Redevelopment Area Bond financing program, tax credits under the Urban Transit Hub program and tax credits under the Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant program. The Redevelopment Area Bond financing approval is also linked to the approval of a tax abatement which received preliminary approval recently from the City of Newark and is expected to be granted final approval by the City Council. The State’s Local Finance Board, which must review and approve all municipal tax abatements, granted its approval at its meeting this week.
Throughout the creation of this project, Genova Burns’s Commercial Real Estate & Redevelopment Practice Group has been closely involved with Tucker Development every step of the way since early 2008 beginning with the acquisition of the property; through modifications and amendments to the redevelopment plan that existed prior to the client’s acquisition; through site approvals at the municipal, county and state levels; through litigation challenges to the approvals; through approval by the City of the tax abatement and approvals by the EDA referenced in an article on NJ.com. Partner Frank Giantomasi led the team in planning and government interaction; Commercial Real Estate & Redevelopment Practice Group Director Partner Jeffrey R. Rich was lead counsel on site acquisition and finance.
Co-founding Partner Angelo J. Genova and Counsel Dina M. Mastellone have published an article entitled “Policies, Procedures and Protection: Why Every Dealership Should Have an Employee Handbook,” in the Summer 2013 issue of New Jersey Auto Retailer Magazine. The article lists top ten policies which should be contained in an Employee Handbook, including provisions related to the at-will employment, non-harassment and discrimination, accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employee discipline and the monitoring of electronic communications. The authors emphasize that a Handbook ensures fair treatment of employees and, when drafted correctly, can effectively limit a dealership’s liability from employment discrimination, harassment and other legal claims.
Co-founding Partner Angelo J. Genova and Associate Brett M. Pugach have co-authored an article entitled “What is an Abstention under the Municipal Vacancy Law” which appears in the October issue of New Jersey Municipalities Magazine, the publication of the League of Municipalities. In certain situations, if no majority vote of a governing body can be reached to fill a vacancy on the city council, the mayor can cast the tie-breaking vote. However, what constitutes a “tie” may depend on the procedural rules of the governing body, and can affect the ability of the mayor to fill the vacancy. This article explores the intricate details of the Municipal Vacancy Law in two recently-issued Appellate Division decisions involving Mayor Cory Booker of Newark and Mayor Dawn Zimmer of Hoboken, and sheds light on problems that may arise if certain council members abstain from voting.
Today, a divided Supreme Court of New Jersey invalidated the affordable housing rules adopted by the Council on Affordable Housing (“COAH”) in the case entitled In re Adoption of N.J.A.C. 5:94 and 5:95. The matter came before the Court by petition of COAH for review of the October 8, 2010 decision of the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court, rejecting a significant portion of COAH’s revised affordable housing regulations (the “third round rules”) as being inconsistent with the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”), L. 1985, C. 222. The Appellate Division required remand of the third round rules to COAH for redrafting within five months.
The COAH third round rules were designed to establish the responsibilities of municipalities to provide affordable housing during the period from 1999 to 2018. The third round rules adopted a number of significant changes in the methodologies that had been used during the first and second round rules. In particular, COAH proposed a “Growth Share” methodology for assessing prospective need in allocating a municipality’s fair share of the region’s need for affordable housing. The Appellate Division invalidated COAH’s Growth Share methodology. The Supreme Court reviewed the Appellate Division’s decision and the majority held that the third round rules are at odds with the FHA and S. Burlington Cnty. NAACP v. Twp. of Mount Laurel, 92 N.J. 158 (1983) (“Mount Laurel II”).
Partner Dena Calo’s article “Applying FMLA Leave Retroactively (and with Caution)” appears in this month’s issue of Thompson’s HR Compliance Expert. Ms. Calo, Partner and Director of the firm’s Human Resources Practice Group and member of its Employment Law & Litigation Practice Group, emphasizes the importance of notice to employees that a leave is designated as falling under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and urges employers to exercise caution in making retroactive designations without the consent of the employee.