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As the historic November 2020 election approaches, the presidential race may dominate the headlines, but it is far from the only important race for New York City residents. In fact, congressional representatives, state and local officials, and elected judges and prosecutors may have a more significant and direct impact on your life and community. Unfortunately, local election voter turnout has been as low as 20 percent in recent years, but you have the opportunity to change that. An engaged voting population is crucial for a functioning democracy, and for promoting representation and equality within the national, state, and local communities, and all New Yorkers have a responsibility to do their part.

Important Down-Ballot Races in New York

In 2020, some of the important down-ballot elections for New Yorkers include:

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New York City job defense attorneyFor a few years now, New York has been in an ambiguous limbo regarding government and employer attitudes towards marijuana possession and usage. However, as of May 10, 2020, significant changes took effect that prevent job applicants from being discriminated against based on marijuana use. Although this does not fully legalize marijuana, it provides a significant amount of clarity regarding the vague legislation that is currently in place. If you face any charges for marijuana possession or use on or off the job, ensure that you get excellent legal aid from an experienced criminal and job defense attorney.

NYC Marijuana Laws

If you are not already aware, new rules regarding marijuana use in New York State were enacted in August 2019. These rules did not legalize marijuana, but it did lessen the severity of potential enforcement. For example, possession of marijuana up to two ounces is only considered a violation that could warrant a fine, but possession over that limit could still lead to criminal charges. This law ignores whether or not a person uses marijuana.

The Ban of Job Applicant Marijuana Tests

Given that New York seems to be slowly pushing towards the legalization of marijuana, this new measure provides more leniency than the somewhat superficial decriminalization imposed last year. Some states, like Maine, prevent employers from discriminating against employees for marijuana use, but this ban takes such efforts a step further. Now, public and private employers in New York City (even if their headquarters reside elsewhere) can no longer perform drug screening on any potential hires.

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NYC civil service job defense attorneysSo you have made it through several rounds of interviewing and you really hit it off with a prospective employer. You receive a job offer. Human Resources says if you pass the background check and drug screening, you will start working there within a few weeks. No problem: You do not do drugs and you have no criminal history. This should be a routine pass, right? But you do have one skeleton in your closet: a terrible credit report. The employer gets back to you and says the company cannot hire you because you did not pass the background check. You suspect it is due to your credit report, but are they even allowed to deny employment on the basis of poor credit? Actually, this scenario is against the law in New York, with some exceptions.

NYC Human Rights Law: Giving You the Credit You Deserve

Your credit report does not define you. You may have fallen on hard times—anything from dealing with an expensive, debilitating illness to managing extreme reductions in income or long-term unemployment— and failed to pay your bills. Or, you might have been married to someone who dragged your credit through the mud. You might have even had your identity stolen, and it has not been restored yet. The point is, any number of extenuating circumstances could have caused you to amass a disastrous credit report. That does not make you any lesser of a person. It does not mean that you are a horrible worker. It does not mean that you are untrustworthy. You could still do the job you are hired to do—maybe even better than most, regardless of your credit report. And that is why employers cannot consider it when making hiring, firing, and promoting decisions in New York.

The NYC Human Rights Law offers this legal protection. Specifically, the law states that:

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Manhattan domestic violence lawyersIn the state of New York, the list of domestic violence criminal offenses is broad and comprises a variety of acts. Domestic violence is a term that represents categories of these criminal acts, not a name for a single, particular crime, making it tricky to define at times. When any of these acts are committed, the courts treat the crime as a family offense, as defined by the state’s penal statutes. Victims of domestic violence incidents who are considered by law to be family may file a family offense petition against the alleged perpetrator, a claim that states an act of domestic violence has been committed against them.

Who Can File a Family Offense Petition Against You?

Any individual related by blood or marriage, or anyone who shares a child with you may file a family offense petition against you if they claim you have committed of any of the following acts:

  • Harassment
  • Stalking or menacing
  • Sexual abuse
  • Assault, including attempted assault
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Coercion
  • Strangulation, or any form of obstruction of breathing or blood circulation
  • Grand larceny

Other criminal acts that may warrant the filing of a family offense petition include identity theft, reckless endangerment, or any form of criminal mischief. 

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New York Labor Union LawyerA federal law known as the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) guarantees workers in the private sector the right to form a union and collectively bargain. Collective bargaining simply means employees, through their representatives, negotiating as a group with an employer regarding their wages and other conditions of work.

Employee representatives are usually unions organized by types of employment, and each union represents its members in negotiations with an employer involving a range of issues, such as wages, hours worked, grievances and other terms and conditions.

The NLRA law is pre-emptive, which means it is more overrides any state law covering the same area as it does. However, states are free to make their own laws in areas not covered by the NLRA. Some of these areas include public sector employees’ rights and private employees not involved in interstate commerce.

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