Small Business Alert: Congress Clears Major Hurdle and Senate Reaches Agreement on Principle Terms of S.3548, “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.” Phase 3.

At 1:00 a.m this morning, Senate leader McConnell announced an agreement in the Senate on the principle terms of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or “CARES” Act, S.3548, subject to minor and technical revisions. A vote in the Senate is expected soon. Much of the relief proposed in the bill would be accomplished through amendments to the tax code, so we urge our clients to consult early and often with their tax professionals.

The Senate bill could affect small businesses in a number of ways.

  1. The bill would expand lending to small business through the SBA and participating lenders. The bill would make “small business interruption loans” available to employers with fewer than 500 employees. Loan payments would be deferred for up to one year, and loan amounts used for “maintaining payroll continuity” March 2020 and June 2020 would be eligible for forgiveness. The amount of loan forgiveness would be reduced pro rata, however, for reductions in workforce.
  2. The bill would provide payments to individuals, including small business owners, in the nature of refundable tax credits. The bill would provide up to $1200 for individuals ($2400 for couples filing jointly). The credit would be reduced by 5% of adjusted gross income in excess of $75,000 ($150,000 for joint returns), but would not be less than $0. And additional $500 credit would be provided per taxpayer dependent.
  3. The bill would provide cheaper access to qualified retirement funds. The bill would eliminate the 10% tax penalty on early withdrawals from qualified retirement plans for coronavirus related distributions, up to a maximum withdrawal of $100,000. If withdrawals are repaid within three years, then the early distribution would be treated as a rollover (i.e., a direct transfer to a trustee) for purposes of capital gains taxes.
  4. The bill could permit certain employers to defer payment of payroll taxes due in 2020 for up to two years.
  5. The bill places some limitations on the recent coronavirus related amendments to Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, which was passed as part of Congress’s Phase 2 response. If enacted, the bill would cap an employers’ obligation to pay for coronavirus-related sick leave at $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate per employee for that employee’s government or doctor ordered self-quarantine or self-care and at $200 per day and $2,000 in the aggregate per employee for that employee’s absence to care for others as a result of coronavirus or coronavirus related school closures.

Laredo & Smith’s Matt Kane is closely monitoring any additional changes and will keep you informed of emerging items that could impact you and your business. Please do not hesitate to to reach out to any Laredo & Smith attorney with questions or concerns about your small business. We are here to help.

Small Business Alert: Families First Coronavirus Response Act Phase 2

On Wednesday, March 18th,  the Senate passed a slightly revised version of H.B. 6201 and the President signed the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” into law. The relevant revisions narrow the application of the Act’s leave provisions to exclude employees caring for any persons other than immediate family members due to COVID19 related illnesses or closings. The Act goes into effect on April 2, 2020. Thus, it concludes a so-called “Phase 2” of the federal government’s coronavirus response (Phase 1 was a supplemental appropriations bill with direct impact on small businesses).

As things escalate in the United States, Congress is already pivoting to Phase 3: a fiscal stimulus package that could top $1.5 trillion. A draft bill has yet to be published, but we expect it to include up to $250 billion in funding for small business loans, as well funding for direct cash payments to individuals. A draft bill could be published before the end of the week, at which point new details will emerge.

Laredo & Smith’s Matt Kane will closely monitor Phase 3 and keep you informed of emerging items that could impact you and your business. In the interim, please do not hesitate to contact any Laredo & Smith attorney with your questions. We are here to help.

Small Businesses Alert: Families First Coronavirus Response Act

The COVID 19 pandemic is slowly stopping the U.S. in its tracks. As governments find ways to flatten the curve, the U.S. House did its part by passing H.B. 6201, entitled “Families First Coronavirus Response Act.” H.B. 6201 is not yet the law, but we anticipate versions of the bill’s most significant provisions will become law as early as this week. This will have significant implications for small businesses. Below is a summary of those potential impacts:

  1. The bill incorporates the proposed “Emergency Paid Leave Act of 2020,” which establishes a federal emergency paid leave benefits program to provide payments to employees taking leave due to the coronavirus outbreak retroactive to leaves begun on or after January 19, 2020. Under this proposed act, subject to certain exceptions, employees who take a coronavirus related leave, including for purposes of caregiving in connection with a school closing, would be eligible for payment of 2/3 of their monthly wages, up to $4,000 per month, for up to three months. This federal benefit would be reduced dollar-for-dollar, however, for any State or private payments for leave over the same period.
  2. The bill will expand the employee protections the Family Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2611 et al., to include employees absent due to a “public health emergency leave.” Additionally, the bill would expand application of the FMLA for “public health emergency leave” to allemployers, regardless of number of employees, and cover employees with only thirty days of service, rather than twelve months. An employee would be permitted to elect to substitute an accrued paid leave benefit, but an employer would not be permitted to require the employee to do so. For employers with fewer than twenty five employees, the requirement to hold the employee’s position open would be relaxed under certain enumerated circumstances.
  3. The bill incorporates the proposed “Paid Sick Days for Public Health Emergencies and Personal and Family Care Act.” This act would require employers to provide their employees with at least 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to at least 56 total hours of paid sick time. Importantly, employers with existing paid sick time policies (including those that are imposed by state law) that are as good or better than the proposed federal program would notbe required to provide any additional sick time benefits under federal law. The act would require, however, that employers notify each of their employees and include in any employee handbook certain information concerning the new federal law.

As with the pandemic, the situation is still fluid. And these rules are still subject to revision before passage. Laredo & Smith will be monitoring the bill closely over the next week and communicating information as it becomes known.  In the interim, please do not hesitate to contact your Laredo & Smith attorney with any questions. We are here to help you ride this out.

Conklin Presents BBA Program: Representing Students in Title IX Proceedings

Jessica Conklin presented on a panel covering the special considerations of representing complainants and respondents in sexual misconduct proceedings in high school, college and university settings. The group will cover:

  • fact gathering
  • preparing your client for an interview or hearing
  • handling a parallel criminal and civil matter
  • trauma informed advocacy
  • preserving issues for subsequent civil litigation
  • recent due process court decisions

Sponsored by the White-Collar Crime section of the BBA, this program took place on March 4th.  If you missed it and would like more information about the subject matter, please contact Jessica Conklin.

Salsburg Speaking at BBA “Do’s and Don’t for Depositions” Program

Payal Salsburg will co-present a Boston Bar Association program that teaches about effective depositions. Sponsored by the Business & Commercial Litigation Section and the New Lawyers Section, the panelists will discuss their experiences taking and defending depositions and will share valuable insight into excellent preparation, effectively questioning of deponents and objecting while defending a deposition. Panelists will participate in a mock deposition, and the program will conclude with a Q&A session.  This program takes place on Friday, February 21st from 12-130pm at 16 Beacon Street in Boston.

Payal Salsburg Presenting CLE Video for the Federal Bar Association

The Federal Bar Association will present a live video broadcast featuring partner Payal Salsburg entitled, “Advanced Strategies & Tactics in Drafting Complaints & Answers.”

Payal will lead this CLE program, providing practical tips in drafting pleadings in accordance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and is designed for junior and mid-level litigators. Key topics to be discussed include:

•   The basics of pleading, and restrictions on content
•   Identifying your audience(s) and their needs
•   Telling your story in the complaint and counterclaim
•   Going beyond plain denials and canned affirmative defenses
•   Protecting against attacks on the sufficiency of pleading

The course is co-sponsored with myLawCLE and takes place in Miami, Florida on February 24th at 11am Eastern, 10am Central, 9am Mountain and 8am Pacific time.

Two Laredo & Smith Partners Appointed Hearing Officers for the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers

Matthew Kane and Payal Salsburg have each been appointed to three-year terms as hearing officers for the Board of Bar Overseers. Both attorneys will act as uncompensated volunteers on behalf of the Board of Bar Overseers, an independent administrative body established by the Supreme Judicial Court to investigate and evaluate complaints against attorneys in Massachusetts. 

In their roles, Matthew and Payal will participate in fact-finding tribunals for disciplinary proceedings brought against individual attorneys by the Office of Bar Counsel. They will hear testimony, take evidence, make adjudicatory rulings, and with the assistance of a Board attorney, prepare written reports and recommendations of action for the Board of Bar Overseers.

Their colleagues at Laredo and Smith are pleased to have both partners selected for this important position. Marc Laredo comments: “Payal and Matthew are very dedicated individuals and they will be excellent in these roles. I speak on behalf of all of us at the firm that we are proud to see them devote their time to public service, preserving the integrity of our very profession in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

Matthew Kane represents banks and other financial institutions, businesses and individuals in an array of business law matters and disputes concerning consumer finance, employment, construction, real estate and general litigation as part of the firm’s business litigation practice. He has considerable experience in consumer financial services litigation, including mortgage and title litigation, civil check fraud, and fair debt collection matters.

Payal Salsburg focuses her practice in the areas of business litigation, corporate advice and counsel, and white collar criminal defense. She represents corporations, small businesses and individuals in connection with an array of matters including contract and business disputes, False Claims Act litigation, and government and internal investigations. She also routinely advises closely-held businesses on corporate and employment matters.

Laredo & Smith Growing the Firm’s Corporate/Business Law Practice

Laredo & Smith, LLP, an established law firm with a collegial practice located in downtown Boston, is looking to hire an attorney for its corporate/business law practice. Candidates must have at least three years’ experience, including familiarity with closely-held entities. The firm is open to a part-time or flexible hours arrangement. Some portable billings or interest in developing a practice would be a plus.

Please send a cover letter and resume to Matthew Kane, Laredo & Smith, LLP, 101 Federal Street, Suite 650, Boston, MA  02110 or by email to kane@laredosmith.com

Payal Salsburg Elevated to Partner with Laredo & Smith, LLP

Laredo & Smith, LLP is pleased to announce Payal Salsburg’s promotion to Partner as of January 1, 2020.  Payal is an integral part of the firm’s practice, and she will continue to focus her practice in the areas of business litigation, corporate advice and counsel, and white collar criminal defense. Payal works with large and small businesses and their executives in connection with an array of matters including contract and business disputes, False Claims Act litigation, State Ethics Commission inquiries, and government and internal investigations. Payal also routinely advises closely-held businesses on corporate and employment matters.

Payal joined the firm as an Associate in 2016 and was elevated to Senior Counsel in 2018. She is a frequent contributor to the Boston Bar Association’s mission. She speaks often on a range of substantive and practice-related topics and sits on the BBA/BBF Joint Planning Committee, the standing Ethics Committee, and the Steering Committee of the Business and Commercial Litigation Section. Payal is also a member of the Women’s Bar Association, Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts, and the South Asian Bar Association of Greater Boston. She was recently named to the Board of Directors of the South Asian Bar Association.

Outside of the legal community, Payal is highly active in the greater Boston area through her volunteering, and as Secretary of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Governance Committee of Boston CASA, a non-profit that ensures a safe and permanent home for court-involved children in Suffolk and Middlesex Counties who have experienced abuse and neglect.  Recently awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award (PSVA) through Boston Cares, she was recognized for her tireless advocacy, logging in over 100 hours of service in the last 12 months for people in need.

Please join us in congratulating Payal on her promotion!

Payal Salsburg Moderates CLE on Litigating Derivative Suits in Closely-Held Businesses

Payal Salsburg will moderate a panel of speakers for a Boston Bar Association program entitled, “Litigating Derivative Suits in Closely-Held Businesses.” This CLE covers considerations of bringing derivative claims versus a direct claim on behalf of shareholders in a closely-held business. The panelists will discuss particular considerations under Massachusetts Law as well as strategies through differing goals for resolving disputes, whether recovery of damages on behalf of a company or a business divorce. They will also discuss special issues in shareholder litigation in the context of limited liability companies. The event takes place on Tuesday, December 10th from 3-430pm at 16 Beacon Street in Boston. For more information and to register, please visit the BBA website.