The past few weeks have been challenging for everyone. We know that each of our clients has been impacted in different ways. As we work to help you with the questions and concerns that arise with new developments every day, rest assured that we are still here to help. Our three physical office locations are
We have been inundated with requests by our business clients about their legal obligations when responding to COVID-19. Here are a few of the most common questions (and their answers!) that we’ve seen:
Closure of all businesses except those that are “life-sustaining”
In its earlier guidance, Pennsylvania has “strongly urged” non-essential businesses throughout the state to close for at least 14 days. But the essential vs. non-essential debate was moot before it ever really got started. Now the triggering standard is whether your business is “life-sustaining.” Governor Wolf’s office has provided a detailed breakdown, industry by industry, of what may be physically open at this point in time.
Enforcement of these measures has been taken seriously throughout the area thus far. We have already had employers in the life-sustaining categories report their employees were questioned by law enforcement on the way to work. So for now, we need to hunker down and work remotely if we are not an authorized business.
Still not sure? Any business can ask for clarification at email@example.com. And businesses can seek waivers (although in our experience that are not generally being granted) by emailing RAfirstname.lastname@example.org.
The first thing on everyone’s mind right now is the health and safety of our family, friends and neighbors. But as the quarantines and restrictions increase with the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19, businesses will start to be hurt as well. At some point, every business needs to know how coronavirus will affect their contracts. Are you going to get refunds for the things you already paid for? Are your construction contracts going to cost more because of delay?
The answer is: It depends.
If we want to predict the impact of coronavirus on business agreements, we have to read the agreements. They can treat the situation in a number of different ways. Many agreements have a force majeure or “act of God” provision. Maybe the contract calls these events “unavoidable casualties” or “events beyond the control of the parties.” The point is that different contracts may treat these situations differently. Let’s look at some examples:…
For the first time, you can now cast your ballot by mail. Recently enacted election reform laws now allow all registered voters in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to vote by mail. Prior to the change in the law, only voters who obtained an absentee ballot, after explaining why they were unable to vote in person, could vote by mail. Now, anyone who wishes to, regardless of whether they are or are not able to make it to their polling place, can vote by mail.
You can check your voter registration status online to determine if you are registered to vote and where your polling place is. You can also register to vote online or by mailing a voter registration form to your county voter registration office.
George has dementia and is no longer able to make medical decisions for himself. Physically, George is fairly healthy, but has developed some heart issues that would benefit from a pacemaker. Prior to developing dementia, George appointed his niece Amanda to be his Health Care Agent and drafted a Living Will, wherein he stated he did not want any heroic measure in the event he was in an end-stage of a terminal illness. George told Amanda “I don’t want to be hooked up to all those machines. Just let me die!” But that was the extent of their conversation. Amanda was close to George when she was younger, but didn’t have a chance to see him too often in recent years. Now she needs to decide whether Uncle George should receive the pacemaker, which would probably prolong his life. But would he want to prolong his life given his advanced dementia?
I have been thinking a lot lately about all of the new “holidays” that are being invented. While I am all for celebrating National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day and National Sibling Day, I am having a hard time keeping up. While scrolling through Facebook recently to catch up on all the cute baby pictures my friends have been posting, I saw a notice from the Facebook Privacy Team about “Data Privacy Day.” Turns out, Data Privacy Day is an annual event that occurs each year on January 28th.
This announcement from Facebook got me thinking about how private my online presence is across all of my personal accounts. Although I am very cautious about my social media privacy settings, only allowing my “friends” and approved followers to view my content, I am not so sure about how secure my other accounts really are. So, I decided, to go all in on celebrating Data Privacy Day.…
I have gotten a number of questions recently related to the PA Skill games that are becoming more and more popular in bars, restaurants, and even convenience stores. The questions I get are often concerning whether those games are legal and can lawfully be operated by a business owner, particularly if they hold a liquor license.
Recently, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement conducted an investigation and seized a number of games in the Central Pennsylvania area. In justifying these seizures, they took the position that these machines constitute illegal gambling devices and were subject to seizure by the police. That action by the police led to concerns by restaurateurs and other holders of liquor licenses that they were going to get in trouble or have these machines seized by the police.
After these raids and seizures by the state Police, Pace-O-Matic, one of the manufacturers of these Pennsylvania skill games, challenged the State Police and sought an injunction from the courts to prevent the police from seizing any more of the games they manufacture. They argued that their games do not constitute illegal gambling devices, and base their position on a decision issued in 2014 by a Court of Common Pleas judge in Beaver County. In that decision, the judge concluded that because there is an element of skill involved in the Pace-O-Matic games, they do not constitute illegal gambling. That decision in 2014 led to the wide spread circulation and use of these machines, but has also spurned a lot of copycat machines. Pace-O-Matic was initially granted an injunction by the Court of Common Pleas preventing the state police from seizing any of the machines they manufacture until the issue could further be sorted out in court system.…
One of my memories from childhood is watching my mother build and run her own business. I saw first hand how she lived the job, how seriously she took her responsibilities to her customers and employees, and how she never really stopped thinking about work. It was what she had to do to make the business successful. At the time, I didn’t always enjoy sitting at dinner and listening to my parents discuss the store finances or how to deal with a problem employee; however, I now realize that I was learning by just listening and it has helped inform my approach to working with small business owners and understanding what it takes to establish and maintain a successful business. I know how hard small business owners work. There can be so much focus on building the business and running it day to day that people often forget to address what happens when they no longer want to keep it going or can no longer work at the same pace. I don’t mean what happens when a business fails. What happens when a business succeeds? How do you transition it to the next owner? How do you protect the legacy you’ve worked hard to build?…
Lancaster County has a lot of multi-generational family businesses. You’ve probably seen countless articles like this one highlighting the “tsunami of change.” And if you’ve taken the time to read any of these articles, you’ve learned that the businesses that flourish in the second or third (or later) generations are successful largely because of the way they planned for the future. These succession plans have a number of things in common.
During the holiday season we often hear the quintessential phrase “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” Well, for those of you out there considering adopting someone over the age of eighteen, yes, there is adult adoption.
In the state of Pennsylvania, anyone can adopt and anyone can be adopted if they are legally free for adoption. That is, if the proposed adoptee’s parental rights have been terminated or in the case of an adult, if notice is provided to the adult proposed adoptee’s biological parents, unless otherwise waived by court order. The process in a minor’s adoption is relatively simple. In fact, the Pennsylvania Adoption Statute is like a recipe book which contains each step necessary to finalize an adoption. However, when adopting an adult, two Pennsylvania statutes must be considered. First is the Adoption Statute and the second is the Name Change Statute.…