News

Brendon Friesen, Mansour Gavin LPA shareholder and Business and Corporate Services Group chair, recently secured two major victories for his clients, Ancient Roots of Wilmington, Ohio and Cielo Processing of Euclid, Ohio.

In January 2019, the Medical Marijuana Control Program (“MMCP”) of the Ohio Department of Commerce (the “Department”) denied both companies provisional licenses to process medical marijuana despite scoring high enough to qualify. Following the administrative appeals, the Department agreed with the legal arguments of Mansour Gavin and awarded both companies licenses. The licenses constitute two of just a handful of the coveted Ohio medical marijuana licenses won on appeal. The processor licenses will ultimately permit both companies to produce and sell products such as vape cartridges, edibles, tinctures, and other cannabis extract products approved by the MMCP.

Mansour Gavin represents Ancient Roots, Cielo Processing, and other companies in the legal cannabis markets of Ohio, the U.S. and abroad. If you have any questions on how we can assist your legal cannabis business, please contact Brendon Friesen or one of our other Business and Corporate Services attorneys.

By: Kenneth E. Smith

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – the federal law that prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion – also applies to discrimination against gay and transgender persons. The ruling is one of the most impactful for employee rights since the enactment of Title VII.

The case, Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, examined whether discrimination against gay and transgender persons was inherently based on “sex,” thus triggering Title VII’s protections for sex-based discrimination. In a 6-3 decision, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that “An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex…[s]ex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling addresses a circuit split over whether discrimination on the basis of sex also includes discrimination on the basis of one’s sexual orientation. The Sixth Circuit – which includes Ohio – had previously held that discrimination against a transgender employee was prohibited under Title VII, while the Eleventh Circuit, for example, had explicitly held that Title VII did not apply to discrimination against gay or transgender workers. Moreover, less than half of the states have laws prohibiting discrimination on account of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Now, there is clear federal guidance that such discrimination is, in fact, discrimination based on sex and is thus prohibited under Title VII.

Employers should take note of yesterday’s ruling and ensure their anti-discrimination policies prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Anti-discrimination training should include discussion of discrimination against LGBTQ employees and no adverse hiring or employment decisions should be made against a person based upon their sexual orientation or gender status.

If you have any questions on how we can assist your business with anti-discrimination policies or training, please contact one of Mansour Gavin’s Labor and Employment attorneys.

Cleveland, Ohio (May 20, 2020) Kenneth R. Callahan has joined Mansour Gavin as of counsel and is a member of the firm’s Civil Litigation and Corporate and Business Services groups. He possesses over 30 years of legal experience as a public defender, a judge, and attorney, specializing in a wide array of legal matters including complex commercial litigation, receivership, guardianship, and white-collar criminal defense. His vast experience and perspective are highly regarded and leveraged as an arbitrator serving as a private judge in the state of Ohio.

Equal to his depth of experience is his commitment to and support of local professional legal associations and community organizations serving as a Board member, leader, and founder to champion their causes. Ken has been recognized in a variety of ways for the many contributions he has made to the legal community and his alma maters.

Ken earned his J.D. from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and B.A. from John Carroll University.

Mansour Gavin LPA is a 22-attorney law firm founded in 1954 with offices in Cleveland and Independence, Ohio.

 

In an effort to assist employers and employees as they navigate a new terrain in the American workplace, the Department of Labor issued an updated Q&A concerning responsibilities and rights under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“Act”).

The Act’s paid leave provisions went into effect April 1, 2020 and requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide two weeks of paid sick leave for employees who are quarantined or seeking a medical diagnosis due to COVID-19 symptoms and/or taking care of individuals/children for reasons related to COVID-19. The Act also provides two weeks of unpaid and 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave for employees caring for children due to school or childcare provider closures.

Small businesses concerned with how the childcare-related paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave will jeopardize the viability of their business may be able to take advantage of the small business exemption. Small businesses, including religious and nonprofit organizations, with fewer than 50 employees, may be exempt from the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave if the leave requirements would jeopardize the viability of a business as an ongoing concern.

Which small businesses qualify for the small business exemption?

1. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees including religious and nonprofit organizations; and
2. An authorized officer of the business has determined that at least one of the three conditions is satisfied:

3. Leave is requested because the child’s school or place of care is closed, or childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 related reasons; or

4. Leave is requested because employee is unable to work due to:

 What information must be documented by small businesses?

1. Regardless of whether a small business grants or denies a request for paid sick leave or expanded medical leave, small businesses must document the following:

2. Small businesses may request that the employee provide the following information that must be documented upon an employee’s request for leave to care for their child whose school or place of care is closed, or childcare is unavailable:

The Department of Labor encourages employers and employees to collaborate to reach the best solution for maintaining the business and ensuring employee safety.

We will continue to provide updates on any additional guidance from the DOL. Our attorneys are always available to discuss any questions you may have. Learn more about Mansour Gavin’s Labor and Employment group or contact us today.

Brendon Friesen, Mansour Gavin LPA shareholder and Business and Corporate Services Group chair, recently secured a major victory for his client, Cielo Jardin LLC of Euclid, OH.

In December 2017, the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (MMCP) denied Cielo Jardin one of 24 coveted provisional licenses to legally cultivate medical marijuana in Ohio. Despite Cielo Jardin scoring in the top ten among hundreds of applicants in the highly competitive merit-based application process, the MMCP disqualified the company on what it perceived as a legal technicality. Mr. Friesen represented Cielo Jardin throughout the appeal process, both at the administrative level and in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. On February 7, 2020, Judge Hollie L. Gallagher found that the MMCP should have awarded Cielo Jardin the provisional license and ordered the MMCP to reconsider.

On March 31, 2020, the MMCP issued the provisional license to Cielo Jardin. Mr. Friesen is one of just a handful of attorneys to successfully obtain a MMCP provisional license on appeal. Cielo Jardin will work through the build-out process in the coming months and is extremely excited to be part of the MMCP as a Level II cultivator.

As of March 31, 2020, there are twenty operational medical marijuana cultivation facilities in Ohio, none of which are in Cuyahoga County. Since the program’s first sales began in January 2019, Ohioans have purchased over $60 Million in both processed and plant material marijuana products. Mansour Gavin LPA proudly represents Cielo Jardin and other companies in the fast-growing legal cannabis market in Ohio and in other states.

If you have any questions on how we can assist your business, please contact one of our Business and Corporate Services attorneys.

Like all of you, Mansour Gavin LPA, its attorneys and staff are living through unprecedented times. On March 27, 2020 the U.S. federal government signed into law the $2 trillion CARES Act. Beginning today, small businesses can apply for the nearly $350 billion earmarked for loans available through the economic rescue plan. U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) approved lenders expect a flood of applications for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, which make up one of the three financial rescue packages available to small businesses. To qualify for a PPP loan, a business must meet the following criteria:

  1. Have fewer than 500 employees;
  2. Be operational as of February 15, 2020; and
  3. Certify that due to the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the loan is required to maintain operations, among other stipulations.

A qualifying business is eligible to receive funds up to 2.5 times their average monthly payroll expense from 2019, accounting for up to $100,000 for each individual employee’s salary, with a maximum loan value of $10 million.

PPP loans accrue 1% interest and mature after 2 years. However, the borrower can apply for forgiveness of the loan up to 100% if the funds are used on certain qualifying expenses (e.g. payroll, rent, mortgages), they retain its employees and meet other important criteria. Borrowers may only be able to seek loan forgiveness up to 25% of non-payroll expenses.

The SBA recently made a draft application available online. For more information on PPP loans, the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) or other resources available to small businesses, please visit https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options. You can always contact an attorney from our business group for guidance.

In response to the numerous challenges Ohio is facing due to the Covid-19 crisis, the Ohio House and Senate passed House Bill 197 on March 25, 2020. While the bill contains numerous relief measures relating to businesses, schools, and state institutions, of particular note in the legal field are the amendments to state law statutes of limitations and court procedures.

HB 197 applies retroactively to March 9, 2020, the date Governor DeWine declared a state of emergency due to Covid-19. The bill tolls any statute of limitations that was or is set to expire between March 9, 2020 and July 30, 2020, which includes the statutes of limitations for civil, criminal, and administrative claims.

Further, the bill automatically tolls any discovery deadlines in any active civil, criminal, or administrative suits or filings. It also tolls the time a plaintiff has to effectuate service of a complaint on a defendant.

The tolling period for each of the above expires on the date the Covid-19 emergency period ends or July 30, 2020, whichever is sooner. HB 197 will take effect on the date Governor DeWine signs the bill, which he has indicated will be on March 27, 2020.

The Department of Labor has issued a Question and Answer page designed to assist employers in complying with the recently passed Families First Coronavirus Act:

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions.

The Q&A provides answers to some initial questions relating to reaching the 500 employee mark; how to determine if an employer is a single or joint enterprise; and the interaction and combined use of sick leave and paid family leave while at home caring for a child.  Importantly, and without explanation for the change, the effective date of the Families First Coronavirus Act has been moved up to April 1, 2020 (formerly April 2, 2020).

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“Act”) was recently passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Trump on March 18, 2020. The final version of the Act contains some changes compared to the version first passed by the House of Representatives on March 14, 2020, but is still designed to provide support for employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19 quarantines, school closings, and closing of childcare facilities.

The Act allows for employees to receive paid family and medical leave (FMLA) and sick leave through December 31, 2020. Both the FMLA and sick leave protections apply only to private employers with fewer than 500 employees. Critically, the final version of the Act allows for the U.S. Department of Labor to exempt small businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the Act’s requirements, but only in the Department’s discretion and where the provision would jeopardize the viability of the business to continue.

A summary of the Act’s provisions are as follows:

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act – applies to all employers with less than 500 employees and allows all employees sick leave as follows:

The Act entitles full-time employees up to 80 hours of leave and part-time employees with leave equal to their average number of hours worked over a two-week period. An employee will be compensated at their regular rate for leave, except that they will be paid for two-thirds of their regular rate to care for a child whose school has closed. There are new caps in the final version of the Act that limit pay to employees at a maximum of $511 per day and $5,110 total. For those that are caring for a child whose school has closed, those caps are reduced to $200 per day and $2,000 total.

The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act – a new federal emergency paid leave program will require employers with less than 500 employees to provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave for those unable to work because they are caring for a child due to coronavirus-related school closings. Leave will be unpaid for the first ten (10) days, unless the employee chooses to substitute paid time off. After the first ten (10) day period, employers will be required to provide employees with partially paid leave at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate. Moreover, the employer must restore the employee to the same or equivalent position after leave expires. This provision does not apply to an employer with fewer than 25 employees if the employee’s position has been eliminated due to economic conditions caused by the public health crisis during the leave period.

Now that the Act has been signed into law, it will go into effect no later than fifteen (15) days following the President’s signature (or by Thursday, April 2, 2020).

If you have any questions on how to prepare your business for these changes, the Labor and Employment team at Mansour Gavin is available to assist you.