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Many of P.K. Hammar Legal’s clients are commercial or residential landlords, and many of our clients rent space in both commercial and residential buildings. While the law presumes that commercial landlords and tenants have equal knowledge and bargaining power, residential tenants are often afforded extra protection because of the perceived unequal bargaining power between residential renters and the supposedly more savvy rental real estate owners. While this is not necessarily the case, residential landlords and tenants alike should make every effort to educate themselves as to their respective rights and responsibilities regarding the lease agreements they must enter into in order to rent or occupy real property.

Security Deposit...

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To follow up our article regarding the use of lie-detector or polygraph examinations in the workplace, we now examine another form of workplace testing that can create liability issues for Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. employers: drug and alcohol testing.

Whether you are an employer thinking of instituting a drug-testing policy or an employee who may be subject to drug screening, it’s important that you know your rights and obligations under federal and state law. Having knowledge of the pertinent laws and regulations can prevent an employer from exposing itself to liability, and can keep an employee from being unnecessarily denied a business opportunity.

Federal law neither requires nor entirely prohibits the administration of drug...

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Few employers currently use lie detector tests in the course of hiring, retaining, or dismissing employees due to current legislation limiting their ability to use such tests. However, it is important for both employers and employees to know their rights regarding the use of lie detecting or polygraph examinations. Having knowledge of the pertinent laws and regulations can prevent an employer from exposing itself to unnecessary liability, and can keep an employee from being illegally punished for refusing such a test.

Do you have to take a lie detector test as a condition of employment?

Both federal and state laws may affect an employee’s rights regarding the use of lie detector tests in the course of employment. The Employee Polyg...

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To address the issue of payment during natural disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes, snow), we must first understand the large scope and laws that govern employment in the United States. Americans aren’t strangers to hard work and dedication. Because of that spirit and history of working hard, checks and balances are required to ensure that employers don't take advantage of employees' eagerness to work. To address this problem, the federal government enacted legislation after the Great Depression to establish standards and guidelines for the workforce and employers throughout the country.

The Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was enacted to establish standards for minimum wage, overtime, sexual discriminati...

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In the wake of the Donald Sterling scandal, in which the LA Clippers’ owner was outed for racist comments made to his ill-chosen confidante and alleged mistress, the National Basketball Association issued the harshest set of sanctions in the league’s history. Sterling’s punishments include a lifetime ban from attending NBA events, a $2.5 million fine, and a vow from NBA commissioner Adam Silver that he will try to convince the other 29 owners to vote and force Sterling to sell his team. With Silver’s public threat to force a sale have come questions regarding the powers of the Commissioner over the League, and the League upon its owners. To answer those questions, one needs to examine the NBA’s organizationa...

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All real property is subject to assessment and taxation on a periodic basis. In Maryland, for example, assessments are performed once every three years and values are phased in over the three-year assessment period. It is not uncommon for values to rise by tens of thousands of dollars per year even in a troubled real estate market. The stated goal of the assessment of real property is to determine its “fair market value,” which is defined as the amount a buyer, willing but not obligated to buy, will pay to a seller, willing but not obligated to sell, in an arms-length transaction. Since by definition the only way to truly determine fair market value is by a sale of the property, unless a property has sold recently the challen...

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When you or your business receives a check with language such as “payment in full” on the front or back but the amount is less than what is actually owed, what are the ramifications of that statement’s presence on the check? More importantly, should you or your company cash the check? What if you already have? Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia have all enacted laws adopting language from the Uniform Commercial Code that addresses such situations. Understanding the basics of how, practically speaking, these laws can work for or against you and why may be able to save you both money and the hassle of a lawsuit.

Accord and Satisfaction

Often, contracting parties fall into a dispute over some aspect of their ...

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Small business and politics have been intertwined throughout our American history. Whatever your politics may be, it cannot be disputed that government regulation on all levels has enormous effects on small businesses. This is true of the Federal Government and especially true of our state and local governments. It is imperative that business owners be engaged in their local government to be aware of and informed about regulations, laws and other instances inwhich government affects private industry.

Recently, a bill was passed in Montgomery County that could have a large impact on private industry in general and small businesses in the contracting world in particular. Bill 19-12, Human Rights and Civil Liberties - Displaced Service Work...

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In an earlier post, we discussed one aspect of the Maryland law concerning the amount residential landlords may charge tenants to ensure the good and faithful performance of their lease obligations. We said that if a landlord charges more than the equivalent of two months’ rent as a security deposit, no matter what these monies are called in the lease (i.e. a “pet deposit”, last month’s rent”, etc.), the landlord could be found liable for up to three times the wrongfully withheld amount plus reasonable attorney’s fees. This is but one example of how even the most well-meaning landlords can get into trouble during the course of their business. Another pitfall that snags many an unwary landlord is the la...

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What qualifies an entity for non-profit status is its dedication to the greater good rather than monetary gain. This is sometimes referred to as a “charitable purpose”, but the Internal Revenue Code refers to it as an “exempt purpose”. The exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code are as follows: charitable, religious, education, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to animals or children. According to the IRS, “the term charitable is used in its generally accepted legal sense and includes relief of the poor, the distressed or the underprivileged; the advancement of religion; a...

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