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Blog: Opinions & Observations

Does Title VII Protect against Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation?

March 21, 2018

Most Americans are aware that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevents discrimination by employers against employees “because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”  In a highly-anticipated decision, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers several northeastern states, recently overturned its own precedent and became the second federal appellate court to find that Title VII protects individuals who are discriminated against...

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Judgment Lien vs. Memorandum of Lien: Two Power Tools in a Community Association’s Collection Toolkit

February 19, 2018

In Virginia, when a property owner fails to pay assessments to the community association, the association has the option of filing a judgment lien or a memorandum of lien against the owner’s property as a means of securing the debt. The benefit of a lien is that it attaches to the property of the debtor, which increases the likelihood that the secured debt will be paid. A lien will prevent the property owner from selling the property or refinancing without first paying the...

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Out with the Old...in with the New...Planning for Divorce

January 22, 2018

As we begin a new year, many of us look to the future and begin to plan changes in our lives. Unfortunately, for many people the old adage “out with the old and in with the new” involves ending a marriage or other long-term relationship. As with any other major change in life, it is important to plan for a possible divorce or separation. Therefore, as we begin 2018 it might be helpful to review a few tips in planning for an impending divorce. Seek counseling/therapy- Prior...

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Other Than Parents, Who Has Standing to Seek Custody and Visitation Rights in Virginia?

December 12, 2017

In all child custody cases, including those between a parent and a nonparent, the best interests of the child are paramount for the guidance of the court in determining the dispute.  Bailes v. Sours, 231 Va. 96, 99 (1986) (quoting Walker v. Brooks, 203 Va. 417, 421 (1962)).  However, there are situations when non-parents have standing to seek custody and/or visitation of a minor child.  The presumption that a child’s best interests will be served when he is in custody of a...

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Consult an Attorney before Making Changes to Employee Compensation to Avoid Violating FLSA

November 13, 2017

An employer in Ohio recently learned that Benjamin Franklin’s advice of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” can be applied to employee compensation systems.  When the new owner took over the Brown Derby Roadhouse restaurant, it decided to reclassify restaurant servers as independent contractors.  In doing so, the owner implemented a “table renting” system, where the servers received no pay from the restaurant, kept all of their tips, but had to pay the owner a...

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Virginia Intrastate Crowdfunding: SEC Amendments Leave Virginia Law Outdated

November 09, 2017

Many of us are familiar with crowdfunding, particularly reward-based crowdfunding through websites like Kickstarter and Indigogo. Reward-based crowdfunding allows companies to raise money from members of the public in exchange for prizes that vary depending on the amount of money you donate to the company’s project (e.g. $5 gets you a personalized Thank You from the CEO, $15 gets you a company t-shirt, etc.). This rewards-based funding model can also be referred to as...

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Deciphering Who Is a Joint Employer

October 20, 2017

If your company uses contract labor or temporary staffing, recent agency actions and court decisions may have turned your company into a joint employer who is legally responsible for its contract workers’ overtime pay.  Traditionally, companies were not considered joint employers unless they had direct control over the wages and other conditions of employment of another company’s employee.  However, Obama-era agency actions significantly broadened the scope of what may be...

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Virginia Supreme Court Creates New Uniform Scheduling Order for Eminent Domain/Condemnation Cases

September 11, 2017

Virginia Supreme Court Rule 1:18 governing scheduling orders in civil cases was recently amended by the Virginia Supreme Court, effective August 1, 2017. The amendment creates a new Uniform Condemnation Scheduling Order (the “New Scheduling Order”) that may ease the time crunch facing condemnors and condemnation counsel face in finding and disclosing rebuttal witnesses.  A link to the new Rule 1:18 is included at the end of this column.  The Virginia Supreme Court created...

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Can Local Governments Discipline Employees for Violation of their Social Media Policies?

August 08, 2017

Earlier this year the Fourth Circuit decided a case that pitted two fundamental interests against each other: a public employee’s First Amendment right to free speech and the government’s ability to provide efficient and effective service to the public. In the age of social media, the historic tension between these two interests has only become more contentious. In Grutzmacher v. Howard County, 851 F.3d 333 (4th Cir. 2017),  a battalion chief of Maryland’s Howard County Fire...

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A Look at Virginia's New Laws Affecting Community Associations

July 10, 2017

The new bills signed into law on July 1, 2017 affecting Virginia community associations help clarify obligations and requirements ranging from governing documents and disclosure forms to assistance animals and disability documentation.   These new laws aim to decrease uncertainty and improve understanding of purchasers and associations.  Since the Virginia Supreme Court decided the case of Tvardek v. Powhatan Vill. Homeowners Ass’n, 291 Va. 269 in February 2016, community...

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