COVID-19 UPDATE from Bellas & Wachowski

eviction1-300x251

Tenant Evictions

Updated October 19

Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order on October 16 extending the statewide moratorium on residential evictions for another 30 days. Pritzker first put a hold on residential evictions through an executive order on March 20, the same day he issued a statewide stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Chicago Business Lawyer George Bellas answers questions for business owners.
Updated October 19

The Chicago area and Illinois business owners are facing a number of challenges and the CoronaVirus pandemic is threatening the continued viability of their business.   Here are some of the more frequently questions asked by business owners.

  • Safe Opening of Office Procedures

SBA-Ending-Self-Certification-for-Women-Owned-Small-Businesses-300x251

Women-Owned Small Business Ends

Starting October 15, in a stepped-up effort to ensure that all applicants are eligible, the U.S. Small Business Administration will no longer allow women-owned small businesses or economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses to self-certify that they meet the requirements for the Procurement Program for Women-Owned Small Business Concerns.

That program enables these categories of businesses to compete for set-aside or sole source contracts with the goal of awarding at least 5% of contracts to these businesses, a goal that the government surpassed in 2019 with $26 billion in total contracts awarded. Women-owned small businesses are defined as those at least 51% owned by one or more women who are U.S. citizens, while the separate economically disadvantaged category includes those with a net worth of less than $750,000, not including primary home equity and interest in the business.

Is Chicago Commercial Real Estate set to rebound after 2020?

Is commercial real estate set to rebound after 2020?

The pandemic and resulting stay-at-home orders from governments and private employers has upended the commercial real estate market on a number of fronts.  And we are now looking square into the Pandemic Recession which has just begun.

For now, it’s merely a matter of unpaid rents and empty spaces, which means short-term losses for building owners. But if working at home has lasting appeal—and the sometimes-resistant culture of American business changes—or if shopping from home stays at its currently heightened level of prevalence, commercial real estate could lose longer-term value.

https://www.businessattorneychicago.com/files/2020/09/Going-incognito-on-your-phone.-1-300x251.png

How private is your cell phone?

Smartphones provide all kinds of information that advertisers might find useful, including the user’s locations throughout the day. While this information is aggregated and anonymized—excluding names and other identifiers—it’s possible that hackers or other malevolent actors could gain access to a user’s raw data.

Location tracking can be useful for a number of reasons, ranging from targeted advertising from stores and brands, to traffic monitoring and reporting on the part of GPS apps, to analyzing the growth of potential coronavirus hot spots. But people often don’t know their information is being tracked, and disclosures that providing their location for use in a weather app might lead to their data being sold, for example, are often buried in the fine print.

Chicago Business Lawyer

The Dangers of Payroll Tax Deferment

As part of a series of executive actions rolled out in early August, President Trump ordered Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to allow the deferral of the 6.2% payroll tax on employees from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31 for workers making less than about $104,000 on an annualized basis.  The plan was brought forth by the White House after it became clear that Congress did not plan to play ball with the President and pass an actual payroll tax cut.

After a hard look at the plan, it is obvious that small business owners should not be tempted by President Trump’s offer to defer paying some employee payroll taxes until next year.    Established through a non-binding Presidential Memorandum, this offer does *not* constitute a tax cut. 

Chicago Small Business Lawyer

The Key to Surviving as a Small Business

How can your business – and you – survive the COVID-19 pandemic?

It’s a tall order.   But small business owners have means of surviving.   The corollary shutdowns have impacted 20% of small businesses, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and restrictions have affected a far greater number. A study by the University of Illinois, University of Chicago and Harvard University and its business school estimates more than 100,000 small businesses are permanently shuttered. Not a surprise since many small firms don’t generally have more than a few months’ cash reserve.

startup-300x251

Entrepreneurial Business Concepts 

Companies like GE, Disney and HP got their start during the Great Depression, while Airbnb, Uber, Slack and Venmo launched in cyberspace during the Great Recession.   Taboola’s analysis of more than 8 billion page views, along with data from the aggregated readership among 1,000 of its publisher partners, collected in March and April, shows several promising growth markets, as Singolda noted in an article published on CNBC.com.

Creating the next great videoconferencing platform is an idea that’s probably already taken, but the Taboola analysis of search engine terms revealed others:

cyber-security-1805246_1280-300x200

Cyber Security Insurance

UPDATED AUGUST 23, 2020 –  A federal judge in Kansas has ruled that three Missouri restaurants can proceed with their claims against Cincinnati Insurance Company alleging that the policies also covered “physical loss,” which the insurers failed to define in the policies.  The insurance company’s argument is that the policies provide coverage “only for income losses tied to physical damages to property, not to economic loss caused by governmental or other efforts to protect the public from disease.” In other words, they cover direct physical damages or losses from events like storms or fires.  This argument was rejected by the federal district court judge.

August 10, 2020 –  The sudden expansion of remote work arrangements in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis has created a buffet of opportunities for would-be cyber criminals. And the newly reconfigured, decentralized satellite workplaces in people’s homes look to be with us for some time.   In addition to protecting themselves from the network vulnerabilities created by these off-site offices, businesses need to undertake a thorough review of their cyber insurance policies to ensure that if a malicious actor causes them harm, they are protected on the fiscal front.

downloadThe Supreme Court decided two years ago in Carpenter v. United States that the Fourth Amendment requires police to obtain a warrant, in most circumstances, to access GPS location information spanning seven days or more from a cell phone user.   Prior to that decision, the court had held that voluntarily providing this information to third parties like technology companies did not have Fourth Amendment protections and thus litigants did not have any reasonable expectation of privacy.

Although the court majority labeled the decision “narrow,” it nonetheless led to questions about where else Fourth Amendment protections might be applied in future decisions related to various forms of technology. Dissenting Justice Samuel Alito predicted the decision “guarantees a blizzard of litigation.”

While Justice Alito was correct that some new cases have come forward, but for the most part lower courts have followed the contours of the Carpenter decision when asked whether users can be granted Fourth Amendment protection for such non-content data as financial and billing records, IP addresses, subscriber records, and lists of devices that accessed a wireless network.   Most recently, in June, the First Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling granting Fourth Amendment protection to eight months’ worth of video feed recorded by a pole camera, labeling this a “conventional surveillance technique” and thus not analogous to collection of cell-site location data.