Photo of Kathleen Krafft Miller

The Today show announced this week that Matt Lauer has been fired after nearly 24 years on the show following an allegation made by a colleague of “inappropriate sexual behavior.”  I won’t bother linking to any of the news stories as you’ve probably already seen quite a few on this subject.  What made this story more shocking was that Lauer’s termination came less than 48 hours after the allegation was made.  This swift reaction demonstrates how attitudes in the public arena regarding workplace misconduct are beginning to shift.  But power can be exploited at all levels, which is why it’s imperative that every business owner, large or small, is aware of the laws and their responsibility to maintain a workplace that is free of sexual harassment.  An Associated Press article posted on Lancaster Online this morning discusses how Failing to address harassment allegations can cost employers.

This blog is the first in a series focusing on sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace.  Follow up posts will look at what’s important from the employer’s view, the employee’s and that of the accused.  As we become more comfortable having open discussion about workplace conduct, employers and employees need to learn more about this problem.   A key starting point for this discussion is the understanding of what constitutes sexual harassment. Continue Reading Employers and Employees: Do You Understand the Law and Sexual Harassment?

By now you should have received your final assessment for your home’s value.  After opening the dreaded notice, it likely goes one of two ways – hopefully, the assessment is accurate and it’s no big deal, but if your jaw hit the floor, don’t fret, we are here to help!

Over the past few months we have posted a series of blog articles explaining the reassessments and outlining the process of an appeal.  Now that the time has come, here’s what you need to know in a nutshell.

  1. Final notices were either mailed out June 9 or June 14, which means that you only have until either July 19 or July 24 to get your appeal in. You can find the appeal deadline listed on the assessment.
  1. If you appeal the assessment value within forty days, the appeal application fee is waived. How often can you do stuff like this for free?
  1. You, as the filing party, are responsible for providing proof that your home’s market value is not what they think it is.

If you fail to provide the documentation you need to substantiate your appeal, your appeal will undoubtedly be denied.  No harm, no foul, right?  I mean you didn’t have to pay the $40 appeal fee. Well, chances are that if you had just put some time and effort into researching what you need and gathering enough evidence, you would be enjoying a lower value and tax bill.  Continue Reading Lancaster County Assessment Notices are Out…Now What?

Today is National Superhero Day.  Earlier this month I had the opportunity to accompany one of the partners of the firm to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.  As a young attorney who has not yet had the opportunity to argue at the Superior Court, this was an exciting day for me and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Attorney Holly Filius’ argument of an appeal of a custody order in front of a panel of three Superior Court Judges was professional but fairly uneventful.  However, as we were leaving we happened upon a group of individuals dressed as superheroes on the Capitol steps.  So what do you do when you run into superheroes after a Superior Court argument?  Have your picture taken with them, of course!

The definition of a superhero according to Webster:

a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers; also: an exceptionally skillful or successful person

Superior Court Superheroes

Based on this definition, many of you often function as superheroes in some capacity in your life.  You also probably know, live or work with someone who behaves each and every day as a superhero.  Although she did not have a cape, mask or colorful costume, Holly’s skillful presentation at Superior Court made her a superhero for her client that day.  Continue Reading Superheroes of the Pennsylvania Superior Court

Nala Blu
Nala Blu

Earlier this year, much to my husband’s chagrin, we drove over an hour to Maryland to spend a Sunday afternoon at the home of a stranger.  We left with our new four-legged baby- Nala Blu.  More and more people choose to open their homes to rescue pets.  I must admit, it is a pretty fulfilling feeling to know that you were able to save the life of an animal whose fate was once questionable.  Our girl happened to be thrown into a cardboard box with her 8 brothers and sisters and left next to a dumpster in Tennessee.

This Sunday, April 30, just so happens to be “Adopt a Shelter Pet Day.”  Each year, more than 3.2 million pets are rescued from shelters across the US.  Each one comes with their own special story and leaves with their own special place in their new families’ hearts.

If you have ever had a pet, you know that almost immediately they become an integral part of your family, and are treated just like (or maybe even better!) than children.  But what happens to our four-legged kids when a marriage falls apart?  Some may find it hard to believe, but people do fight over their pets.  And unfortunately, in 49 of the 50 states, courts will refuse to step in to help.  In fact, the courts have labeled our beloved pets as nothing more than property.  In its 2002 decision in DeSanctis v. Pritchard, the Pennsylvania Superior Court went so far as to equate a dog to a table or lamp.  I can’t imagine that analogy won the hearts of those who read it.

Under Pennsylvania divorce law, personal property is distributed between the parties as the court sees fit after analyzing a list of factors.  And because a pet is considered personal property, they will be lumped into the “equitable distribution” of all property.  So if you want to keep your furry friend, you may have to give up that new big screen TV. Continue Reading Pet Custody in Pennsylvania

I continue to talk to friends and neighbors and clients who are confused, concerned, annoyed or worried about the reassessment and what it means for their future tax bills.  I’ve heard a lot of people say that the assessors are off their rockers if they think their home’s value has increased as much as the reassessments show.  It’s obvious the property reassessments are still a hot topic and seem to be on every homeowner’s mind.  I anticipate I will continue to be involved in assessment discussion even after June 1 rolls around and the final notices land in our mailboxes.

If you’ve read my previous blogs, you already know how the reassessments work and have heard my tips to help you decide if an appeal may be your best option.  Hopefully, you’ve taken my advice and started to do some research of your own.

If you think you found something that will help you show that your assessment is off, start preparing for the appeal process now.  If any of the major facts in your assessment are incorrect, you may have a quick and easy challenge. Let’s face it, if your square footage has all of a sudden doubled, it’s an easy appeal.  But most other situations will require some more leg work on your end, and likely a lot more time to prepare.  Continue Reading More About the Lancaster County Reassessment – First Step

By now, all property owners have had some time to stew over the preliminary reassessments they have received.  You’ve read our recent post on the Lancaster County property reassessment, searched Google for more information and discussed it with friends and neighbors.  The good news is, you don’t have to do anything yet.  That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s not time for you to start considering your options and preparing for the inevitable.

Final assessments will be mailed to all property owners on June 1, 2017.  You have 40 days from the date of final notice to file your appeal if you don’t agree with your property’s assessed value or the value becomes final.  As is the case with everything else in life, that time will fly by.  And because the appeal process may in some cases require an appraisal of your property, your decision to begin the process should be made sooner rather than later. Continue Reading To Appeal, or not to Appeal – That is the question after you receive your property reassessment.

If you own property in Lancaster County, you probably have heard a lot about the County-wide property reassessment.  You should have received your Preliminary Assessment Notice in the mail.  If you suffered from a bit of shell shock after opening the Notice, take a breath, there are things you can do if you feel the value attributed to your home is incorrect. Continue Reading So I Received My Preliminary Property Assessment Notice. Now What?