New York Paid Sick Leave Law Provides Needed Relief

Sick leave is not mandated by law in all of the states in the US. In fact, there are only a few cities that currently have laws requiring businesses to provide sick leave for their employees. These include Portland in Oregon, Seattle, San Francisco, and now New York City. Cities in Connecticut require it only in selected industries.

The legislators in New York City had to override a veto by the mayor to pass the law in the city, a move that would have significance for more than a million employees. This is in line with the work-life balance movement that is pushing for similar laws in other states. The rationale behind the law is that workers should not have to choose between financial considerations and physical health. Many employees cannot afford to lose a day’s wages even if they are legitimately indisposed.

The New York City law, called the Earned Sick Time Act, is embodied under N.Y. City Admin. Code §§ 20-911 to 20-924, and passed on June 26, 2013, but there are quite a few ifs and buts. The law is supposed to come into effect on April 1, 2014, but only if the city’s economy improves by December 2013 based on the economic index of January 2012. If not, the provisions may be delayed until the economy picks up. The city’s Independent Budget Council will be monitoring economic indicators every 6 months, and once the target improvement is reached, the provisions of the Act goes into effect either the next April or October, whichever comes first.

The new employment law will be imposed only on business with 20 or more employees for the first 18 months after the law comes into effect, and then to employers with 15 or more employees. Public employers and government offices are exempted. Eligible employees are those who work in New York City for at 80 hours in a calendar year. Such employees can avail of a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick leave a year. Employees who are not eligible may still avail of 40 hours of unpaid sick leave a year.

The Act allows eligible employees to apply for sick leave if they themselves are sick, or if a spouse, partner, child or parent needs medical attention. The Act’s provisions may have a significant financial impact on a business, especially small ones, which is why the fraudulent use of the benefit may be considered cause for termination.

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After the Storm Comes the Fire: New Jersey’s Seaside Park

If bad luck really comes in threes, then there are some people in New Jersey who would be two-thirds on the way.
Still recovering from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy which hit the east coast of the US in October 2012, more than 50 businesses along the boardwalks of Seaside Heights and Seaside Park had been hit yet again on September 12, this time by a mysterious electrical fire. Initial investigations have not succeeded in identifying the owner of the energized wires which caused the fire, although it was thought at first that it serviced the Kohr’s Frozen Custard and Biscayne Candies, two of the affected businesses which were housed in one building.

What experts have determined was that the wires malfunctioned because it had been damaged by floodwaters that coursed through the area during Sandy, and were not replaced. Fingers are being pointed at borough officials whose responsibility it was to inspect and ensure that underground electrical wiring were sound, and to replace damaged materials. Borough officials agree that it is their responsibility, but that since there were no electrical permits applied for the area, they were unaware that there was electrical wiring existing under the boardwalk and in the subfloor of the building which served as the point of ignition.

The results of the investigation have not yet been made available to the public. It will first be under review by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office before any conclusions are published.

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Propylene for Propylene’s Sake

Propylene is on the brink of coming into its own as chemical companies decide it is important enough to make the effort of producing it for its own sake worthwhile.

Propylene is one of the most important by-products of petroleum refining and ethylene production. It has many industrial uses in chemical, manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries. And yet to date is just that – a by-product.

The two main processes for producing propylene are not geared for the production of the volatile organic compound itself. Despite its importance in daily life, it continues to play a supporting role. But not for long.

Dow Chemical is currently building a plant designed specifically to produce propylene using a process called propane dehydrogenation (PDH). This takes advantage of the abundance of propane, which will make it an economical and potentially profitable enterprise. PetroLogistics LP in Texas, the only PDH plant currently operational, produces just 10% of the needed propylene supply in the US.

This investment is driven mainly by the prices of propylene, which is as volatile as the compound. According to Williams Kherkher, it reacts sharply to changes in the production of gasoline, natural gas, and other fossil fuel market dynamics. In January 2013, propylene prices rose to $1,340 per metric ton, compared to $1,000 per ton the previous summer, which in turn was a plummet from $1,500 in the first quarter of 2012. This is wreaking havoc with the costs of manufacturers who use propylene as raw material in producing consumer and industrial goods. This state of flux is expected to continue for the next couple of years, or until the propylene plants come online, slate for the last quarter of 2015.

And Dow is not the only one to take this step. Formosa Plastics, Enterprise Product Partners, and C3 Petrochemicals, all in Texas, expect to have plants operational, with capacities ranging from 600,000 to 750,000 metric tons annually. Canadian company Williams Energy is also putting up a facility with a 455,000 metric ton a year capacity

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Why Science Needs Artists and Animators

It’s evident that animation is often used to delight people, but it’s also an instrumental tool that can be used to help teach difficult scientific and mathematical concepts. Lets face it, many of us who go on to become professional animators did it to avoid dealing with hard sciences and math, subjects that seem rather unrelated to our passions. However, science, especially when popularized, benefits tremendously from the efforts of artists and animators.

Think of any science textbook you’ve ever seen. Oftentimes, they feature images of complex scientific concepts that would be difficult to visualize without their aid. Even when looking through a powerful microscope, it’s rather difficult to see the double helix shape of DNA. Learning that it’s comprised of a long chain of nucleic acids and proteins, held together by base pairs, which are in turn held together by hydrogen bonds does little to demystify what it actually looks like. This is where the arena of science benefits most from the conceptualization skills native to artists. Now, accurate representations of what a DNA double helix looks like are ready available, helping make the building blocks of life at least a little bit more comprehensible. art and animation in science

The same case can be made for the role animation plays in making complicated scientific concepts consumable for the general population. In TV nature specials and documentaries about scientific subjects that are difficult to visualize, such as astronomy, animation can be invaluable. The filmmakers, for example, could have the narrator explain the relationship of the Doppler Effect to light, but many people will find it difficult to visualize the resulting red and blue shifts. However, adding an animation for the audience to look at during the explanation can make a world of difference.

All in all, the skills of artists and animators are valuable to improving the general understanding of difficult scientific concepts.

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Ways to Attract Investors to Your Business

business financingStarting a business is an incredibly costly and complicated process that can be incredibly difficult to understand. Often, it requires a great deal of money just to get a business off the ground, and a typical business is not profitable until it is several years old. If you’re trying to take your first steps into starting a business, you will need some capital to cover your initial costs. But how can you go about securing this capital?

Luckily, there are many ways budding businesses can acquire start up and growth money. To begin, many businesses aim for at least $25,000 in funding. One way to raise this is through loans acquired from friends and family. Money acquired for this purpose is called “seed money.” New business owners who utilize seed money should make a distinct effort to ensure anyone who provided seed money understands exactly how their loan will be payed back in order to avoid disruptions in their personal relationships.

Many people do not have friends and family that are able to pony up $25,000 in seed money. Another way to attract investment is to seek funding through venture capital firms. These groups make multimillion dollar deals on a regular basis. However, this money is not easily secured, no matter how good your business idea is. To help improve your odds of gaining investors, it is imperative to have a well-written business plan. Your business plan should outline in excruciating detail how your business works, a structure for its executives, a plan for growth, how your business will interact with competitors, as well as many other aspects of running a business. This helps convince investors that your plan is rational and has a high probability of succeeding.

Often, the competition for venture capitalist  funding is fierce. Approximately 2% of proposed business plans actually receive funding, so it’s important to be certain that your plan is well-produced. You should also be prepared to have your brilliant plan rejected. There’s nothing to keep you from pitching it to multiple sources, and this is something you should definitely do.

With a lot of work and a little bit of luck, your business can secure the funding it needs.

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Pixar Announces “Finding Nemo” sequel

Celebrated animation studio Pixar has recently announced a sequel to its popular feature film Finding Nemo.

findingdoryFinding Nemo, released in 2003, won numerous awards, including numerous animation honors and the Academy Award for Best Animated Film. It is the most-purchased DVD ever released, with more than 40 million copies sold.

The sequel is titled Finding Dory, hinting that the forgetful Dory will be its main character. The film’s director, Andrew Stanton, reassures fans that their favorite characters from the original movie will make appearances.

Finding Dory is set for a November 25th, 2015 release. Here’s hoping that it will live up to Pixar’s reputation as stellar a animation studio, who use the magic of their medium to dazzle and tell touching stories.

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The Details About Overtime Pay

The phrase “time-and-a-half” usually refers to what a regular employee receives as overtime pay. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) an employee who works more than 40 hours a week is entitled to receive overtime pay of 1.5 times their hourly rate for hours in excess of 40 hours per week. This is federal law, and entitles any non-exempt employee to time and a half.

Exemptions

The key element of overtime pay lies in the exemptions provided to employers under the FLSA. Some of the commonly used exemptions to overtime pay are the following:

  • Sales employees on commission
  • Seasonal and recreational establishments
  • Computer professionals earning at least $27.63 per hour
  • Executives and administrative employees

Claiming for overtime pay

The federal guidelines for overtime pay apply in Texas just as they do in the rest of the country, and you may entitled to make a claim against your employer if you are not exempt and have worked in excess of 40 hours a week. With evidence of your hours worked and relevant pay stubs, you may have an overtime claim that attorneys can sink their teeth into. Provide them will all the information regarding your employment and complaint, and they will be able to give you a fair assessment of your case under federal law.

 

 

 

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A Legal Solution to Unmanageable Business Debt

Settling your debts after they have become unmanageable can be an extremely difficult task to accomplish. But no matter how bad your financial situation is, there is almost always a solution appropriate for your particular case. Consulting a bankruptcy attorney with regard to your insurmountable debts and expecting him or her to help you find the solution that will best work for you can be one of the best decisions you can make in these circumstances.

With the guidance of a skilled business and bankruptcy attorney, one potential option for resolving debt problems is to file for bankruptcy, the fastest legal way of liquidating or managing your debts to help you get your finances back on track and have control of your financial life again. Bankruptcy is a legal declaration of your own or your business’ inability to pay debts. Once the court recognizes your filing, you can enjoy its immediate effects, such as cessation of creditors’ attempts from making further collection, or from taking hold of your properties, to pay for your debts. This will also mean no more threatening calls and notices from law firms, and no creditor will also be able to have your bank account levied or your wages garnished.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Code offers different avenues which you can use to help erase your debts. If you’re a business owner, for instance, you can file for business bankruptcy and choose either chapter 7 or chapter 11 to get rid of your debts and, potentially, emerge healthier through bankruptcy reorganization.

Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case will virtually cancel all of your dischargeable debts, like debts from doctors, hospitals, and credit card companies. However, in return for this favorable treatment, you or your business will have to undergo a process of asset liquidation.

Chapter 11 business bankruptcy, which is otherwise called business reorganization, is also a wise option in erasing your debts. After the court has approved your application for Chapter 11, it will discharge some of your debts, completely saving you from needing to pay them, and will design a payment scheme for your other debts to make payment easier and more affordable. Chapter 11 will also allow you to keep your business running throughout this process.

 

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Depakote Lawsuit: Fighting for Your Rights and the Rights of Your Child

The best way to treat a disorder is usually through medication. This is especially true when it concerns bipolar or manic-depressive disorder, a psychiatric condition wherein a person experiences disruptive swings in behavior, energy, thinking, and mood. Though many bipolar patients live happy and successful lives, through medication, regular treatment, and healthy living, others still experience mood disorder shifts which lasts for days or even months. From mania, an emotional high, to deep depression, these swings, if not treated well, will impact the person’s job, academic performance and relationships.

One medication that was supposed to treat manic-depression, as well as seizures due to epilepsy, anxiety, depression and other problems involving mental health, is the prescription drug Depakote. This prescription drug proved to be an effective solution to a number of disorders and ailments. Unfortunately, medical research found that Depakote’s side-effects can cause long-term problems to patients’ health.

Depakote particularly affected pregnant women, so much so that the babies born to Depakote users were found to have severe birth defects. Some of the flaws found included defects in the brain, face or skull deformities, deformities of the cardiovascular system, and spinal defects, such as scoliosis and spina bifida. Scoliosis, which causes the deformation or curving of the backbone or the spine, may still be treated and corrected. Spina bifida, on the other hand, which is the failure of the neural tube (an empty, hollow structure in the embryo from which the spinal cord and the brain form) to close, leads to more severe complications, like defects of the limbs, chronic pain, impaired mobility, and incontinence (involuntary urination or bowel movement).

These and other consequences associated with the use of Depakote during pregnancy can have a substantial impact on the lives of mothers and their children. As a result, both mother and child have the right to pursue compensation for the damages that the use of this medication may have caused. By filing a Depakote lawsuit, with the assistance of a highly trained and experienced lawyer, you may be able to receive compensation for the harm caused to you and your child.

It is important that pharmaceutical manufacturers be held accountable for the consequences that their products can have. Filing a Depakote lawsuit can help to both provide financial security to those who have been harmed as well as reducing the likelihood that others will have to suffer this type of unfortunate circumstance.

 

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How Mental Illness May Affect Your Divorce

Divorce is a fairly common occurrence. Half of all marriages in the US end in divorce court. In many instances, divorce is filed when one or both of the spouses consider the marriage broken beyond repair. Occasionally, the divorce is amicable: everything goes smoothly with a minimum of fuss, and a divorce attorney hardly seems necessary. But more often than not, divorce is a traumatizing and expensive experience. Much more rarely, divorce proceedings may result when one of the spouses is deemed mentally incapacitated.

It must be noted, though, that there is a difference between mental incapacity and mental illness when it comes to divorce law. Mental incapacity refers to the failure of a spouse to comprehend that his or her actions may not be acceptable, rational behavior. This could be due to brain injury because of an accident, age or disease, or delayed or faulty mental development. This incapacity must be determined by a trained professional such as a psychiatrist before it can be used as a basis for divorce. It is not a fault-based divorce, however. This is important to note because it underlines its distinction from mental illness.

Mental illness is routinely used as a defense by a spouse to excuse behavior that falls under the fault-based divorce proceeding. The position for this common law defense is that the defendant did not know that adultery, abandonment, cruelty, etc., was legally wrong.

When mental illness is used as a defense, the burden of proof is on the defendant.  The success or failure of a fault-based divorce filing will have significant impacts on child custody, alimony and division of property decisions. Whether the divorce attorney is on the side of the defendant or the plaintiff, the process remains complex and the stakes high. These types of cases should only be handled by an experienced lawyer with a proven track record in divorce cases.

 

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