Category: Business Law


Supreme Court Ruling Calls for Paid Sick Leave for Workers in Pittsburgh

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Philadelphia employment lawyers advocate for workers’ rights to paid sick leave.For some workers, having to take a sick day means not getting paid. That may simply not be an option for those hard-working employees who are struggling to make ends meet. Instead, they come into work, and run the risk of getting sicker and spreading germs to other employees. Fortunately, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently ruled that the city of Pittsburgh must offer guaranteed paid sick leave to workers. While some small businesses and restaurant associations have sued and won in the lower courts, the Supreme Court ruled that the paid sick leave ordinance gives the city authority to further the cause of disease control and prevention.

Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

In a 4-3 ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Pittsburgh’s 2015 ordinance was allowed to stand. The decision will impact the roughly 50,000 lower-income workers who did not have access to paid sick leave. According to the ordinance, employers with 15 or more employees must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. Employers with up to 14 employees must provide up to 24 hours of paid sick leave per year. It is unclear exactly when this will take effect.

Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto said that the decision will have a significant impact on the men and women who live and work in the city. He went on to say that no worker should be forced to decide between staying home sick and losing a day’s pay or coming to work and risk getting others sick. Prior to the ruling, the home rule charter law did not require Pittsburgh employers to offer paid sick leave. The law states that municipalities should not be responsible for requirements placed on employers or businesses. However, the Supreme court overturned this decision.

Those opposed to the ruling argue that decision is going to be particularly hard on small businesses. However, advocates of paid sick leave argue that, in addition to offering improved benefits to employees, it helps prevent the spread of illness, reduces the cost of healthcare, and ensures that parents will be able to care for sick children or other family members.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green, P.C. Advocate for Workers’ Rights

If you have a wage and hour dispute, contact the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. at your earliest convenience. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online. Our offices are located in Philadelphia, where we represent clients in South Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

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Lanham Act’s Ban on Immoral Trademarks is a Violation of the First Amendment, Superior Court Rules

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Philadelphia business lawyers assist clients with business and trademark issues.In the case of Ianco v. Brunetti, the clothing line, FUCT, was denied a trademark for its use of the F-word, even though it is spelled differently. The founder of the clothing company, Erik Brunetti, wanted to trademark FUCT, which stands for “Friends U Can’t Trust,” but the application was denied by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office because the brand name was considered vulgar. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the clothing brand and found that the Lanham Act’s ban on scandalous trademarks is a violation of the First Amendment.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote the majority opinion, which stated that the law violated the First Amendment rights of artist Erik Brunetti. The Justice Department tried to limit the meaning of “scandalous” to only cover names that are sexually explicit, but Kagan said that the Lanham Act covers all scandalous and immoral ideas. Therefore, denying the trademark for Brunetti’s clothing brand violates the First Amendment. Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh endorsed the opinion.

According to Justice Kagan, the Lanham Act’s ban on immoral trademarks favors ideas that are socially acceptable and rejects those that provoke offense and condemnation. For example, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected a trademark for “You can’t spell healthcare without the THC,” which was a suggested tagline for a pain-relief medication. However, it approved a trademark for “Say no to drugs – reality is the trip in life.” It also rejected a trademark for “Madonna” for a wine label but approved “Jesus died for you” on t-shirts and other clothing items.

In a separate concurrence written by Justice Alito, he wrote that it is crucial that the court stand firm on the principle that the First Amendment will not tolerate viewpoint discrimination, particularly at a time when free speech is under attack. He went on to say that the Court’s decision does not prevent Congress from passing statutes that ban registration of trademarks that may contain “vulgar terms that play no real part in the expression of ideas.”

In dissents written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen G. Breyer, the justices said that the ban on scandalous trademarks did not violate the First Amendment when only addressing obscenity, vulgarity and profanity. Sotomayor said that the decision will limit the government’s power to refuse trademarks that contain extremely vulgar and obscene words.

Philadelphia Business Lawyers at the Law Office of Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Assist Clients with Trademark Issues

If your trademark application was denied, or your First Amendment rights have been violated, contact the Philadelphia business lawyers at the Law Office of Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Our skilled legal team will review the details of your case and ensure that your rights are protected as we work to resolve your trademark dispute. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online. From our offices in Philadelphia, we represent clients across Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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Judge Denies Philadelphia Man’s Lawsuit Against Domino’s Over Racial Slur

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Philadelphia business litigation lawyers will fight for your rights against racial discrimination.A Philadelphia resident filed a lawsuit against Domino’s Pizza after a Domino’s employee allegedly directed a racial slur at him during a confrontation in July of 2017. The customer had complained that he received a pizza via delivery that was burnt. He drove to the restaurant to return the pizza and request a refund. The situation became heated after the customer took a picture of the employee, who refused to give the customer his refund unless he agreed to delete the photo. The employee claimed that having her picture taken was against her religion. As the argument escalated, the Domino’s employee allegedly directed an offensive racial slur at the customer. A Pennsylvania Superior Court judge ruled that, while offensive, a racial slur is not enough to warrant a lawsuit.

Ruling Based on 1985 Precedent

The initial lawsuit claimed that Domino’s was negligent in the way it hired, trained, and supervised its employees. The customer claimed that the racial slur directed at him caused emotional distress. Due to a precedent that was established in 1985 in the Pennsylvania Superior Court, which ruled that an individual can only be held liable for emotional distress if the individual’s conduct is extreme and outrageous, the initial lawsuit was dismissed.

The precedent is based on an incident involving an altercation between a department store employee and a shopper, where the employee reportedly directed the n-word at the shopper. The ruling states that an individual cannot be held liable for mere insults, threats, and other indignities or trivialities. Until legal and societal changes occur, plaintiffs must be expected to accept a certain degree of offensive, inconsiderate, or unkind acts. The law cannot intervene every time someone’s feelings are hurt.

The Domino’s customer appealed after the initial lawsuit was dismissed, claiming that the 1985 ruling was outdated. While the Pennsylvania Superior Court made it clear that it does not condone such offensive and derogatory language, the appeal was denied.

Philadelphia Business Litigation Lawyers at The Law Office of Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Handle a Range of Legal Matters

If you suffered emotional distress, financial harm, or were injured in any way as a result of racial discrimination in the workplace, you are urged to contact the Philadelphia business litigation lawyers at The Law Office of Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online. Our offices are located in Philadelphia, where we represent clients in South Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

Department of Labor Conducts Investigation, Finds Many Employers in Violation of FLSA

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Philadelphia employment lawyers advocate for clients who's employer is violating FLSA.The Department of Labor recently conducted multiple investigations throughout the country, identifying multiple violators of various aspects of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA sets guidelines as to who is protected, and dictates that certain employees must receive 1.5x their hourly rate for any weekly hours worked in excess of 40. The Department of Labor penalized various employers who improperly compensated their employees for mistakes such as incorrectly rounding an hourly wage rate, or playing flat daily rates.

One of the investigations ordered Lowndes Advocacy Resource Center Inc. (LARC) of Georgia to pay $157,473 back to 130 of its employees, because it did not meet the requirements of Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which allows employers, after obtaining a certificate, to pay a minimum wage less than the Federal minimum to disabled employees. LARC incorrectly rounded the employees’ wage rates, deducted their break time from their daily hours, and did not count travel time as work time, resulting in their gross underpayment.

Similarly, ASAP Courier & Logistics LLC, was ordered to pay 160 of its employees $64,027 in back wages based on underpayment of its delivery drivers. The Florida based company paid its drivers flat daily rates without regard to how many hours they worked, severely reducing the amount of overtime that they should have been paid. Paying flat daily rates is not illegal; however, any hours worked in excess of 40 must be compensated by 1.5x the employee’s hourly rate. Similar to ASAP, Chattanooga Restaurant Group LLC had to pay its employees $153,740 for failing to accurately track their hours, significantly reducing the amount of overtime to which the employees were entitled.

For more information, call our Philadelphia employment lawyers for Fair Labor Standards Act in Philadelphia and South Jersey at the Law Office of Sidkoff, Pincus & Green at 215-574-0600 or contact us online.

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SugarHouse Casino Sued by Gamblers for Unfair Losses

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Philadelphia business lawyers represent victims of unfair gambling conditions.Recently, two card players filed a lawsuit against SugarHouse HSP Gaming, L.P. and Rush Street Gaming of Chicago after they lost a combined total of close to a quarter of a million dollars at the SugarHouse casino in Philadelphia. The plaintiffs claimed that SugarHouse supplied their table with decks of cards that were illegitimate, including decks that had too few cards, too many cards, or decks that had not been properly shuffled. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, which includes the $250,000 in gambling losses, as well as punitive damages and attorney fees.

According to the lawsuit, the two men lost a total of $250,870.18 between the two of them between May 2017 and January 2018. The plaintiffs accused the casino of fraud and failing to provide an honest wagering environment for customers. For example, one casino worker found 16 cards left in an automatic shuffler. Investigators found that the cards were missing from six decks, and those six decks were used in many card games during the previous day, including 46 rounds of blackjack.

A spokesman from SugarHouse released a statement saying that the employees responsible for these infractions have been either disciplined or terminated. In addition, the casino has taken steps to improve the procedures in order to prevent this from happening again.

Other Complaints Against SugarHouse

This is not the first time that SugarHouse has been named in a lawsuit. On July 26, 2018, SugarHouse was fined $100,000 by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for using broken shuffling machines or dealing cards using illegitimate decks from May 2017 to January 2018. SugarHouse did admit that there were a number of occasions when employees did not properly address the warning lights on the automatic shufflers used at poker, blackjack, and mini-baccarat tables. None of the players involved in these games were reimbursed, and the plaintiff accused the casino of failing to provide a “fair and honest wagering environment.”

While most gamblers understand the odds of winning big are against them, there is a certain thrill in the possibility of beating the house. When illegitimate cards are being used, the house has an unfair advantage over players who are trying to win fair and square.

Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green, P.C. Represent Victims of Unfair Gambling Conditions

If you experienced an unfair or dishonest environment while participating in poker, blackjack, or any other card game at a casino, you are urged to contact the Philadelphia business lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green, P.C. We will investigate the details of your case and ensure that you receive the financial compensation that you deserve. Protecting your rights is our top priority. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 215-547-0600 or contact us online. From our offices in Philadelphia, we assist clients across Pennsylvania and South Jersey.

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HUP Employee Fired While Recovering from Breast Cancer Treatment

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Philadelphia business lawyers assist clients with employment disputes.The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania has a reputation for being a leading breast cancer treatment center. When an anesthesiology technician who worked at the hospital was diagnosed with breast cancer, she knew that she was in good hands, and that she would receive excellent treatment, which she did. Unfortunately, while the employee was still undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, she was fired from her job, which caused her and her family significant financial hardship and stress.

A mammogram and biopsy confirmed the cancer after the plaintiff found a lump in her breast. Doctors performed a lumpectomy and checked to see if the cancer had spread into the lymph nodes, which it had. As a result, she had to undergo more aggressive treatment, including a mastectomy followed by 16 weeks of weekly chemotherapy, then six weeks of daily radiation. She was able to take a four-month medical leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act so that she could rest and recover from the side effects of treatment.

Plaintiff Fired After Second Request for Medical Leave

After the initial extension of her medical leave, her doctors requested a second extension due to the physical effects of the radiation, including burns, tight skin, and open wounds. The hospital’s Office of Disability Management replied to the request, saying that her department supervisor would determine whether accommodations should be made that would not impose an undue hardship. However, instead of receiving an accommodation, the plaintiff received a termination letter in the mail following a series of unpleasant phone conversations with a representative from the hospital’s personnel department.

According to the plaintiff, at no point did anyone at the hospital ever give any indication that her job was in jeopardy. She had to move in with her mother after exhausting her disability and unemployment benefits, and is now working as a classroom aide in a local school. She filed a lawsuit against the hospital and is seeking financial compensation for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The hospital has since filled her position, and the new hire’s start date was the same day the plaintiff would have returned to work if the second request for a leave of absence had been approved.

Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Assist Clients with Employment Disputes

If your employment was unfairly terminated or your legal rights were compromised in any way, you are urged to contact the Philadelphia business lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. We will conduct a thorough investigation into your case, and the circumstances surrounding your termination. If we determine that your legal rights were violated, we will seek the financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online. Our offices are located in Philadelphia, where we serve clients throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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Navient’s Request to Dismiss Lawsuit Denied by District Judge

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Philadelphia business lawyers represent clients harmed by abusive loan practices.Navient Corporation is a student loan servicer based in Delaware. According to a recent lawsuit filed on behalf of students who have been harmed by Navient, the company engaged in abusive practices that were financially harmful to borrowers, costing them billions of dollars. A spokesperson from Navient said that the allegations were unfounded and the company made a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. U.S. District Judge Robert Mariani denied the motion, which means that the case will proceed.

Highlights of the Lawsuit

The lawsuit against Navient includes the following claims:

  • The company made predatory loans to students who were attending for-profit and non-profit colleges that had graduation rates that were below 50 percent. Navient knew that a high percentage of these students would not be able to repay the loans.
  • Navient increased its subprime lending, ignoring the fact that the loans would most likely default at very high rates.
  • Navient urged students to apply for short-term loan forbearances. Unlike loan deferments, the interest continues to accrue and adds to the loan’s principal. This should only be used as a short-term solution for students who are having a temporary problem making payments.

This is not the first lawsuit filed against the company. Three other states have filed lawsuits against Navient as well.

Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Represent Clients Harmed by Abusive Loan Practices

If you were financially compromised by a student loan that was recommended to you by a loan officer, it is in your best interest to contact the Philadelphia business lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. We will thoroughly examine the loan agreement and recommend the best legal course of action. Protecting your rights and securing the financial compensation you deserve is out top priority. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online. Our offices are located in Philadelphia, where we represent clients across southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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Legal Battle Over $4M Lottery Ticket

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Philadelphia business litigation lawyers represent employees whose rights have been violated.On March 21, 2019, a customer purchased $22 worth of Match 6 Lotto tickets at the ACME supermarket in Doylestown Borough. The tickets were printed out on four sheets of paper with several tickets on each sheet. The man who purchased the tickets returned the sheets of paper, asking that each ticket be printed individually. The returned tickets were set aside. When the winning number was announced later that day, the employee who had printed the unwanted tickets realized that one of the numbers was a winner, so she purchased the tickets and filed a claim for the winnings.

A legal battle ensued after ACME Markets Inc. filed a lawsuit against the employee, arguing that by ringing up the tickets herself, she violated company policy, which states that another employee should have completed the transaction for the tickets. The lawsuit goes on to say that ACME owns the tickets because the lottery does not reimburse stores for unpurchased tickets that were generated by an employee. The lawsuit will determine who deserves the $4.15 million in winnings.

Details of the Lawsuit

According to the lawsuit, once the Acme employee purchased the tickets and filed the claim, the ticket sale was recognized by the Pennsylvania Lottery. As a result, lottery officials were unable to stop processing the payment without a court order. On April 16, a Bucks County judge granted a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction against the Pennsylvania Lottery, which states that the lottery may not submit any of the winnings to the Acme employee until the legal issues have been resolved. In the meantime, the parties involved have agreed to put the winnings into an escrow account.

The lawyers representing the Acme employee argued that Acme had established a pattern of allowing its employees to purchase “mistake tickets” before a redrawing if the winnings were unclaimed. Their client, who was suspended from her job at Acme, had worked at the store for 20 years. Her legal team plans to move on to pretrial discovery.

Philadelphia Business Litigation Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Represent Employees Whose Rights Have Been Violated

If you believe that your legal rights have been violated by your employer, it is in your best interest to contact the Philadelphia business litigation lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online. From our offices in Philadelphia, we represent clients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Pa Superior Court Upholds Verdict Against Greyhound Lines in Crash Lawsuit

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Philadelphia Business Lawyers discuss the verdict in the 2013 Greyhound accident lawsuit. On October 9, 2013, a Greyhound bus carrying over 40 passengers rear-ended a slow moving tractor trailer on Interstate 80 in Union County at approximately 1:30 a.m. The bus was travelling from New York City to Cleveland, Ohio. Twenty-one passengers were injured in the accident, and one passenger died after she was thrown from the bus by the force of the impact. The victims were awarded a $15 million verdict after a number of passengers claimed that the bus driver fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into the truck going 67 mph. Greyhound officials argued that the truck driver was traveling at 20 mph below the speed limit and failed to turn on the flashing warning lights when entering the highway. A three-judge Superior Court Panel upheld the verdict.

According to the Superior Court Panel, although witness testimony revealed that the truck driver admitted to being under the influence of marijuana at the time of the accident, the statement was not admissible because the witness did not have personal knowledge of the driver’s drug consumption. He could not provide an accurate account of the truck driver’s condition at the time of the accident, nor did he have any additional evidence to support the claim.

Evidence of Drowsy Driving

The Superior Court awarded punitive damages based on driver fatigue, arguing that the bus driver was aware of her own level of fatigue, and that she was in danger of falling asleep at the wheel if she continued driving. The Court found that there was evidence that the bus driver knew that she was supposed to pull over to a rest stop or other safe location if she started to feel drowsy. One of the passengers observed the bus driver drinking a Red Bull as the passengers were boarding the bus, and that she appeared to nod off at various times during the trip.

The Court also rejected Greyhound’s argument that a mistrial should have been declared when a lawyer representing one of the passengers asked a witness if Greyhound had allocated $81 million to pay for claims related to the crash. This was significant because jurors already knew that Greyhound’s assets exceeded its liabilities by $647 million. In recent years, other verdicts were issued against Greyhound. In 2016, $27 million was awarded to a passenger who lost his leg in a bus accident. In another 2016 trial, four passengers were awarded $5 million in damages after a collision.

The Philadelphia business lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. handle a wide range of legal matters, including cases involving serious injuries. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online. Our offices are conveniently located in Philadelphia, and we represent clients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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Investment Banker Can be Held Liable for Sending False Statements in Email Signed by Director of Firm

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Philadelphia FINRA lawyers assist clients with FINRA claims.In the case, Lorenzo v. Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that an investment banking director can be held liable for false statements he emailed to a client, even though the director’s boss wrote the content of the email and directed him to send it. In a 6-2 ruling, the court found that the director could be held liable under securities laws, even though the 2011 decision in Janus Capital Group v. First Derivative Traders found that liability for false statements only applied to those with “ultimate authority over the statement.”

However, the Court in Lorenzo distinguished the Janus decision due to the fact that the Janus decision was based specifically on the second prong of the Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 10b-5, which prohibits individuals or entities from making untrue statement of material fact or omitting a material fact. The person making the statement has “ultimate authority of the statement,” according to the court. Unlike in Janus, the Court found in Lorenzo that the first prong of Rule 10b-5, which bars any device, scheme, or artifice to defraud, applies.

According to Court documents, in October of 2009, the director was told that the total assets of his only investment banking client at the time – Waste2Energy – was less than $400,000. However, on October 14, 2009, the director reached out to prospective investors via email about Waste2Energy. The emails stated that the company had assets of $10 million. The emails were signed by the director, but he testified that the firm’s owner instructed him to send the emails.

In addition to being fined $15,000 for sending the emails, the SEC barred the director from working in the securities industry. While Lorenzo argued that since he did not make the untrue statement, he should not be held liable under Janus, Justice Breyer, writing for the majority, affirmed the Circuit Court decision, which stated that the director violated subsections (a) and (c) of Rule 10b-5 and related statutory provisions.

Examples of Investment Fraud

The following are common examples of investment fraud and financial advisor misconduct:

  • Securities fraud
  • Failure to disclose the risks associated with certain investments
  • Making frequent trades for the purpose of generating commissions, also known as churning
  • Lack of suitability
  • Unauthorized trading

If an investor wants to file a claim against a financial advisor, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Rule 12200 states that he or she must arbitrate their claims, as opposed to litigating the claims in court. The FINRA rules state that customers have six years from the time of the event to file a claim. Because FINRA arbitration orders are final, and can only be appealed in limited circumstances, it is highly recommended that investors seek legal counsel from an experienced FINRA lawyer.

Philadelphia FINRA Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green, P.C. Assist Clients with FINRA Claims

If you have been the victim of investment fraud, you are urged to contact the Philadelphia FINRA lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green, P.C. We have handled a wide range of disputes involving investment fraud and financial advisor misconduct, and we will ensure that your legal rights are protected. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online. From our offices in Philadelphia, we assist clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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