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Rocco DePersia Joins WGP

By: RDKInteractive

Haddonfield and Atlantic City NJ and Philadelphia Pa – November 11, 2020 – The partners at WGP are proud to announce that Rocco DePersia Esq. has joined Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt and Flores, LLC (WGP) in an “Of Counsel” capacity for the firm. He will continue to concentrate his focus on Plaintiff’s Personal Injury, DWI/DUI and Municipal Court work. One of the most recognizable figures in the South Jersey legal community, Mr. DePersia brings his 40 years of significant and successful trial experience to WGP. Among his achievements, he is a former president of the Camden County Bar Association and a former chairman of the New Jersey Supreme Court District IV Ethics Committee which was responsible for handling complaints regarding attorney ethics in Camden and Gloucester Counties. “I really feel the time is right for me to bring my practice to WGP. As many of my clients have been with me for years, I wanted to be with a firm that could properly service and support them; and, I believe WGP has the personnel and resources to do just that. In addition, Len Baker and I were partners for over 15 years in the long-standing firm of Mitnick, Josselson, DePersia and Baker; and, it is certainly great to be working with him again,” said Mr. DePersia. WGP’s managing partner, Ronald Greenblatt, said, “It is really an honor that Rocco has chosen to merge his practice with ours. I have long admired both his legal ability and the way he deals with people. He is not just an amazing lawyer, but he is an amazing person. We have worked on cases together for years, and to now work with him on an everyday basis is really a special moment for everyone at the firm.” Mr. DePersia, a native of Camden, New Jersey, is also a true renaissance man. He was a producer, writer, and the former lead singer and co-leader of Latin Soul recording artist, CINTRON. He has also arranged, produced, and promoted hundreds of concerts and dances throughout the Philadelphia/South Jersey area; and, he opened, owned, and operated Camden’s iconic Nice Little Bar. In addition, he advised and managed numerous professional boxers culminating in 1995 when one of his fighters, Bruce Seldon, became the WBA Heavyweight Champion of the World. He has also provided both soundtrack contribution and a recurring acting role to the current Amazon TV Crime Drama, Chase Street. A father of two successful daughters, Mr. DePersia lives in Voorhees, New Jersey with his wife, Lydia. Founded in 1996 as an aggressive criminal defense law practice, Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt and Flores, LLC has grown into a full-service law firm offering individuals assistance in virtually all areas of criminal, employment, personal injury, civil rights, and family law. The firm has three offices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Visit gpffstaging.wpengine.com for more information.

COVID-19 Unemployment Update

By: devweb

April 30, 2020 – An update to your legal rights for unemployment and sick leave in Pennsylvania in New Jersey during the coronavirus pandemic, by Joyce L. Collier, Esq. Under the Federal Cares Act of 2020, emergency assistance has been provided to state unemployment programs to help workers and persons who find themselves without any or enough employment or work due to COVID-19. The Federal Cares Act temporarily supplements state unemployment benefit amounts and extends the duration of those benefits. The following is a brief overview of unemployment benefits currently available in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We recommend applying online so you that will have a record of your application. Beware of fraudulent unemployment websites. Always ensure that you are on the following websites when filing for benefits, changing your personal information, or signing up for direct deposit: Pennsylvania Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) https://www.uc.pa.gov/unemployment-benefits/file/Pages/Filing%20Instructions.aspx These are “regular” unemployment benefits for persons who are considered “employees” whose hours are reduced by more than 20%, who are laid off or terminated due to COVID-19. In addition to state unemployment benefits, you will receive a separate check of $600 per week as a supplemental unemployment benefit through July 25, 2020, regardless of whether you were a part-time or full-time employee. You do not need to file a separate application for the $600 benefit. You are be eligible for an additional 13 weeks of unemployment beyond the standard 26-week period, for a total of 39 weeks. This is called a “PEUC” benefit. Other changes from “standard” unemployment: no work search requirements and no waiting week. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) https://pua.benefits.uc.pa.gov/vosnet/Default.aspx PUA recipients are eligible for 39 weeks of benefits from $195 – $572, plus the $600 benefit (mentioned above) every week (PUC) from April to July. Eligible people include:
  • Freelancers and gig workers, such as Uber drivers;
  • Self-employed people, like painters and hair stylists with their own salons;
  • Other owners of small businesses;
  • People who do not have adequate recent work history to qualify for UC.
The application process for PUA is not simple; documentation of employment/self-employment and wages/earnings must be attached. Do not apply for “regular” unemployment benefits. Workers are not eligible for PUA if they can either telework with pay or are receiving paid sick days or paid leave. This program runs from January 27, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Workers will be eligible for retroactive benefits. New Jersey Pandemic Unemployment Compensation https://myunemployment.nj.gov/labor/myunemployment/schedule.shtml These are “regular” unemployment benefits for persons who are considered “employees” whose hours are reduced by more than 20%, who are laid off or terminated due to COVID-19. In addition to state unemployment benefits, you will receive a separate check of $600 per week as a supplemental unemployment benefit through July 25, 2020, regardless of whether you were a part-time or full-time employee. You do not need to file a separate application for the $600 benefit. You are eligible for an additional 13 weeks of unemployment beyond the standard 26-week period, for a total of 39 weeks. This is called a “PEUC” benefit. Other changes from “standard” unemployment: no work search requirements and no waiting week. PUC is also not income for purposes of eligibility for either Medicaid or CHIP. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) https://myunemployment.nj.gov/labor/myunemployment/assets/pdfs/UI_process_selfemployed.pdf PUA recipients are eligible for 39 weeks of benefits from $195 – $572, plus the $600 PUC benefit every week from April to July 25, 2020. Eligible people include:
  • Freelancers and gig workers, such as Uber drivers;
  • Self-employed people, like painters and hair stylists with their own salons;
  • Other owners of small businesses;
  • People who do not have adequate recent work history to qualify for UC.
The application process for PUA is not simple; documentation of employment/self-employment and wages/earnings must be attached. In New Jersey, you may have to apply for “regular” unemployment benefits and be rejected before you are eligible for PUA.

COVID-19 Sick Leave Update

In response to COVID-19, Congress has also enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which includes the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act. The FFCRA covers private employers with less than 500 employees and certain public employers. The FFCRA is effective April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Under the FFCRA:
  • An employee who is ill or quarantined by a physician or government order is eligible for up to two weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay (up to a maximum of $511 per day)
  • An employee who cannot work because he/she is caring for someone with COVID-19 or a child whose school/day care is closed is eligible for up to two weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave at 2/3 the regular rate of pay (up to a maximum of $200 per day). This leave may be intermittent if the employee and employer agree.
  • Employees who have worked 30 days are eligible for up to 10 additional weeks of partially paid leave (2/3 of the employee’s regular rate of pay, up to a maximum of $200 per day/$10,000 max)
NOTE: Employers with less than 50 employees may seek an exemption from these child-care related provisions of this act if the leave payments would jeopardize the viability of their business as a going concern. Employers may also exclude health care providers or emergency responders from taking paid sick leave. If you are a full or part-time employee in New Jersey, you may be eligible for paid sick leave under state law. https://www.nj.gov/labor/worker-protections/earnedsick/ Employers of all sizes must provide employees with up to 40 hours a year of paid sick leave per year to full-time, part-time or temporary workers (*regardless of immigration status). This law also covers taking off due to school closes because of a public health emergency Should you have any questions about unemployment or the applicability of the FFCRA, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

James Funt Talks Mask Culture in COVID World on KYW Newsradio

By: devweb

Philadelphia –April 23, 2020 – Partner James A. Funt of Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt and Flores, LLC was a featured guest this week on “Flashpoint,” a weekly show produced by KYW Newsradio where area business and community leaders share their perspective on how local and national news issues affect Philadelphians. The program discussed the impact of the mandatory masking order for Pennsylvania that went into effect on April 19th. While employees and customers of businesses are now required to wear facial coverings to curb the spread of coronavirus, the question is this: can those same facial coverings have a negative impact on behavior? Funt, a noted civil rights attorney, was joined by psychotherapist Amy Morin and Philadelphia City Council member Isaiah Thomas. Funt was asked about the legality of enforcing something like this. “Certain civil liberties are being curtailed, for sure,” he admitted, adding that “this is being done in a larger context of providing safety for all citizens… to protect everybody.” Morin’s perspective was of the psychology of masks – both the perception on individual behavior and the perception of others wearing them. She explained that for some, wearing of masks is not simply compliance with a law, but a sign of control and of purposefully taking an action to prevent the spread of the virus. She also pointed that there can also be a downside: when the face of a human being is not seen, they become more of an object than a person. Just as when one exhibits road rage directed at another car, the act is because we “forget there’s a human being behind that barrier and treat them differently.” Thomas noted that some Philadelphians feel such differences on two levels: “Philadelphia is the poorest big city in the entire country,” where the necessity of purchasing masks for entire families – often at a premium surcharge due to the demand – can be a burden. He added that, for many young black men, it falls into a perception issue. “We’ve been taught to not wear masks and hoodies [and] this is contrary to everything we’ve ever been taught,” Funt offered that there is still a tremendous amount of personal power in the choice to comply. “Yes [the law has] limitations, but this is still by and large a voluntary thing. By being denied entry [into a store for not wearing a mask], that is your choice,” adding that this is “an opportunity where we are all in this together, working toward the common good. We’re all doing our 320 millionth part to try and prevent the spread, to keep our collective health together and to reopen the economy.” To listen to the full program, click here. James A. Funt has spent his entire career helping those who have been the victim of discrimination. His work includes blue collar and white-collar criminal defense, civil rights issues, and plaintiff employment discrimination matters. Founded in 1996 as an aggressive criminal defense law practice, Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt and Flores, LLC has grown into a full-service law firm offering individuals assistance in virtually all areas of criminal, employment, personal injury, civil rights, and family law. The firm has three offices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Visit gpffstaging.wpengine.com for more information.

Patricia Pierce and Ron Greenblatt File Wrongful Termination & Whistleblower Lawsuit on Behalf of Former Montgomery County Chief Public Defender Dean Beer

By: devweb

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PA – March 19, 2020 This week Greenbelt, Pierce, Funt and Flores LLC (WGP), on behalf of former Montgomery County Chief Public Defender Dean Beer, sued the county for violating Beer’s First Amendment rights and his right to independence under Pennsylvania law. According to the lawsuit, the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners wrongfully terminated Beer after he filed an amicus curiae brief challenging the county’s money bail practices. “Since the day I was hired to be the Chief Public Defender, I worked to build an office that zealously represented our clients, both inside and outside of the courtroom,” said Beer, the plaintiff. “The role of a public defender includes fighting for our clients by defending them against systemic injustice. Montgomery County’s actions effectively seek to take away our independence and make us another arm of the state. This robs the community of their only constitutionally mandated, uniquely dedicated protection.” On February 3, 2020, Beer filed an amicus curiae brief in a 2019 case before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, exposing Montgomery County’s unlawful bail practices. The brief highlighted several examples of how the county’s bail practices left defendants poorly represented, including a breastfeeding teenage mother with a job, supportive family and no prior record was jailed over one month solely because her bail was set at $50,000 with no attorney present to speak on her behalf– an amount she could not afford. On February 26, Montgomery County fired Beer because he filed the brief. “Dean Beer was fired for taking aim at a bail system that routinely and unjustly penalizes poor and marginalized people of color,” said Patricia V. Pierce, chair of WGP’s employment law practice group. “A prime example is given in the brief that was filed, of a teenaged mother who was breastfeeding when arrested and an onerous amount of bail set without regard to her ability to pay at a time when she had no advocate present to speak for her. Dean is to be congratulated for trying to end such an unjust system, not fired for doing so.” Pierce has over thirty years of experience representing individuals and groups of workers who have suffered employment discrimination and workplace harassment. She has litigated employment lawsuits and employee benefits cases in the state and federal courts in Pennsylvania, California, Delaware, Maryland, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and New Jersey. Beer seeks an injunction reinstating his position as Chief Public Defender, compensation for his firing, and a contract stating any future disciplinary action may only be taken for “just cause.” To read the full complaint filed in Beer v. Montgomery County et al, click here.  Founded in 1996 as an aggressive criminal defense law practice, Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt and Flores, LLC has grown into a full-service law firm offering individuals assistance in virtually all areas of criminal, employment, personal injury, civil rights, and family law. The firm has three offices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Visit gpffstaging.wpengine.com for more information.  

Michele Morgera Named Partner

By: devweb

Philadelphia –March 3, 2020 – Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt and Flores, LLC (WGP) has promoted Michele Morgera to partner. Ms. Morgera handles criminal defense matters, including white collar criminal defense and corporate investigations, in the firm’s New Jersey office. Prior to joining WGP, Ms. Morgera was assistant prosecutor in the Camden County Prosecutor’s office. In that role, she served as chief of the Grand Jury Unit, chief of the Career Criminal Unit, chief of the Fugitive Section, chief of the Major Crimes Unit, and Police Legal Advisor. She has conducted over 100 jury trials, addressing some of the most complicated criminal cases in the region, and has had supervisory authority over thousands of other cases. “Michele’s clients benefit from her unique perspective as a seasoned prosecutor within the state’s criminal justice system,” said Ronald L. Greenblatt, managing partner. “She has helped our criminal defense practice become known throughout the region. We know she will continue to serve our clients while upholding the highest standards in legal representation.” Ms. Morgera holds a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration from LaSalle University and a law degree from Rutgers Law School. She also earned a Master’s in Public Administration from Rutgers Newark. Since 2014, Ms. Morgera has donated her time with the Literacy Volunteers of Camden County. She resides in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. Founded in 1996 as an aggressive criminal defense law practice, Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt and Flores, LLC has grown into a full-service law firm offering individuals assistance in virtually all areas of criminal, employment, personal injury, civil rights, and family law. The firm has three offices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Visit gpffstaging.wpengine.com for more information.

Noah S. Cohen Rejoins WGP

By: devweb

Philadelphia –February 19, 2020 – Attorney Noah S. Cohen has rejoined Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt and Flores, LLC (WGP) as a Senior Associate in the firm’s Civil Litigation Unit. He will focus his work on Employment Law, Civil Rights Litigation, and Personal Injury. Mr. Cohen first worked for WGP after graduating law school in 2012, working on complex Employment, Consumer Fraud, and Civil Rights cases for over four years before leaving to work at the Defender Association of Philadelphia. During that time, he gained invaluable experience successfully protecting the rights of his clients in hundreds of trials, including jury trials on major felony cases. “Noah is passionate about fighting for the rights of those who have experienced discrimination in the workplace,” said Patricia V. Pierce, partner and chair of WGP’s Employment Law practice group. “He is a skilled and dynamic litigator, with a proven track record, earning settlements for his clients in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. His enthusiasm and unique background are assets to our team.” Born and raised in Gloucester, Massachusetts, Mr. Cohen graduated from Brandeis University and Villanova University School of Law. Before attending law school, he worked with the United States Peace Corps in the Philippines where he served as a small business advisor, managing two successful water filter businesses, initiating a micro-finance expansion for a cooperative bank, and teaching economic development and entrepreneurship classes at Partido State University. Mr. Cohen is licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the State of New Jersey, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the District of New Jersey. He resides in Philadelphia. Founded in 1996 as an aggressive criminal defense law practice, Greenblatt, Pierce, Funt and Flores, LLC has grown into a full-service law firm offering individuals assistance in virtually all areas of criminal, employment, personal injury, civil rights, and family law. The firm has three offices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Visit gpffstaging.wpengine.com for more information.