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Karolina Dehnhard joined Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper PC in Westfield as partner in the firm’s divorce and family law practice, and as managing director of the international law group.

In her matrimonial practice, Dehnhard focuses on divorce, prenuptial agreements, child custody, parenting time, alimony, child support, adoption, and domestic violence issues. She assists with complex financial issues, including valuation of businesses both domestically and abroad; international custody rights; the impact of immigration status on divorcing spouses and their children; enforcement of foreign divorce decrees; and the complexities associated with alimony rights and post-judgment cohabitation.

A native of Poland, Dehnhard founded the Polish-American Chamber of Commerce North-East, which focuses on collaboration between Polish and American business networks with an eye toward international development. She’s often tapped to present workshops geared toward educating Polish-based companies on doing business in the U.S.

Stephen Timoni was recently interviewed by Karen Appold of Managed Healthcare Executive regarding significant changes on the horizon which are expected to affect both health insurers and providers alike.  Many are the result of a shift toward value-based care, a move toward decreased care in hospital settings, technological advances, and other forces.

Along these lines, Timoni says that consolidation has been motivated by the evolving and challenging commercial and government reimbursement models which include lower fee-for-service payment rates, value-based payment components, and incentives to move care from inpatient to outpatient settings. “Basic economic theory suggests that consolidation of hospitals and physicians enables these combined providers to charge higher prices to private payers as the result of a lack of competition,” Timoni says. “Likewise, combined insurers are able to charge higher premiums to their subscribers.”

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I. Where We Are

A. What Are Restrictive Covenants in the Employment Setting in New Jersey?

Generally speaking, restrictive covenants in an employment setting take one of three forms: a covenant not to compete, a non-solicitation covenant, and/or a non-disclosure covenant.

Employers doing business in New Jersey have been subject to both the federal and state Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (“WARN”) for more than ten years.  Under the prior laws, if an employer were to close a facility employing more than 50 fulltime employees, it was required to provide those employees with at least 60 days’ advanced notice of the closure or face a penalty that required the employer to pay severance compensation to each of the terminated employees.   Amendments to the New Jersey legislation signed into law by Governor Murphy in January 2020 not only require employers to provide more notice to employees, but will also impose new economic burdens upon the employers.

These amendments to New Jersey’s WARN Act require employers who plan to close one or more establishment(s) within the state that will result in the layoff or termination of 50 or more employees (fulltime and/or part-time employees) from that establishment(s), are required to provide the affected employees with at least 90 days advanced notice of the layoff or termination of employment.  Additionally, employers will be obligated to pay severance compensation to each of the affected employees in an amount equal to one week of severance compensation for each year of service. The severance compensation must be paid on or before the last day of employment. If an employer fails to pay the appropriate severance compensation, the employer will fact a penalty obligating it to pay an additional four weeks of compensation to each employee not correctly paid.

Amendments to the Act also define severance compensation as compensation due for back pay associated with the termination in an apparent attempt to characterize the severance compensation as wages for the purposes of bankruptcy.

New Jersey has one of the most progressive laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace, as well as in places of public accommodation.  That law’s protections against race discrimination have been further expanded under recent legislation signed into law by Governor Murphy. The new act is commonly known as the “Crown Act.”

Under the new law, it is now illegal to discriminate against anyone because of their race, inclusive of traits historically associated with race “including but not limited to, hair texture, hair type, and protective hairstyles.”  The new law further defines protective hairstyles to include “such hairstyles as braids, locks and twists.” In short, you cannot refuse to continue to employ any current employees or refuse to employ prospective employees if they are sporting hairstyles that are characteristically associated with a particular race of people.

Although the new law was clearly adopted as a result of last year’s debacle involving a high school wrestler’s hairstyle, it goes beyond hairstyles.  It prohibits discrimination against race, inclusive of “traits historically associated with race.” The law does not further define such traits. Unless and until the Division of Civil Rights adopts regulations which further define such traits, or court decisions provide employers with some direction with respect to defining such traits, employers will be compelled to make those decisions as they arise. For example, could it be argued that beards, piercings or tattooing are traits historically associated with race?   Since there may be numerous historic traits that are associated with different races, we suggest that employers move slowly and consult their employment counsel before making a potentially incorrect decision.

Lindabury’s Employment Law Group partner, Kathleen Connelly joins Jeanie Coomber for her podcast series One Woman Today discussing “Workplace Sensitivity Training, Harassment and Bullying”.  In their conversation, Kathleen shares her wisdom on what constitutes “bad behavior” and how education of employees and thorough and fair investigations is paramount for employers.

You may listen to the archived podcast here.

 

“Owning real estate can be a great recruiting tool, and can lure physicians into a larger practice,” says Stephen Timoni in a recent interview with Healthcare Finance News’ Jeff Lagasse.

“They become a partner in the practice, but they also offer them a buy-in into the building,” he said. “That’s very interesting for a young physician because, down the road, what physician groups may be doing is they’ll sell their building for a gain to a real estate investment trust or hospital system, and then they’ll lease the building back from the hospital. So they cash in on their equity.”

Another option for physician groups is to retain the real estate and lease it back to the health system for additional income — providing better overall economics, largely in the form of tax benefits.

Robert Anderson, a shareholder at Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper and a member of the firm’s Cybersecurity & Data Privacy practice group was recently questioned by Tom Hughes of ROI-NJ, regarding the reasons a business should consult an attorney to oversee cybersecurity planning and preparation.  In short; the answer is: attorney-client privilege.

If you have a breach and your company gets sued — and it will, Anderson said — having all of your preparation protected could result in huge savings of both money and reputation. Anderson, speaking at a recent ROI-NJ Thought Leadership Series panel, explained how. “When you’re first starting to put together a program to protect your company, one of the things that you will typically want to do is hire someone called an ethical hacker, who will try to get into your system,” he said. “The results of this kind of a penetration testing that determines the vulnerabilities and weaknesses in your system will be in a report that goes on for pages and pages of all the problems in your system. If you do end up with an attack and end up in litigation, Exhibit A in the litigation is going to be this detailed report that shows all the vulnerabilities of your system, and they’ll be able to see how you elected to prioritize the problems. “The litigants are then going to say you knew you had these vulnerabilities and spot the one you didn’t fix.” Having legal counsel order the penetration test would likely shield

that document by virtue of attorney-client privilege, Anderson said.

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