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NOVA Legal Beat: Unequal Treatment for Reserve Military?

by Ethan Rothstein | July 16, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 402 views | No Comments

NOVA Legal Beat logo

Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Mathew B. Tully of Tully Rinckey PLLC, an Arlington firm that specializes in federal employment and labor law, security clearance proceedings, and military law.

Q. My supervisor hates the fact that I have to miss work every so often so I can fulfill my obligations to the Reserves. Lately, he’s been reducing my responsibilities and pushing me to change my hours or move me to another department so I do not have to work under him. What should I do?

A. Members of the National Guard and Reserves already sacrifice much in their service to America; they should not have to sacrifice more because an employer resents their obligations to the military. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) prohibits employers from denying members of the armed forces from any benefit of employment because of their military obligations.

The term “benefit of employment” is fairly broad in that it is not limited to the usual set of employee benefits, such as a health plan, pension plan, bonuses, and vacation. A benefit of employment also includes “any advantage, profit, privilege, gain, status, account, or interest (including wages or salary for work performed) that accrues by reason of an employment contract or agreement.” Reductions in responsibilities, shift changes and transfers strike at the very benefits of employment that USERRA aims to protect.

USERRA violations occur “only if the employee’s military status is a ‘motivating factor,’” the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in Francis v. Booz Allen & Hamilton, Inc. (2006).

“To establish a certain factor as a motivating factor, a claimant need not show that it was the sole cause of the employment action, but rather that it is one of the factors that a truthful employer would list if asked for the reasons for its decision,” the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia said in Baylor v. Comprehensive Pain Mgmt. Ctrs. (2011).

Given that “discrimination is seldom open or notorious,” USERRA cases often rely on circumstantial evidence. Such circumstantial evidence could include the timing between the adverse employment action and the employee’s military service, differing explanations for why such actions were taken, negative comments made toward or about service members, and more favorable treatment of non-service member employees, according to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Sheehan v. Department of the Navy (2001).

Employees who believe their employer has discriminated against them because of their military duty should immediately consult with an experienced federal employment law attorney who can prepare for them a USERRA lawsuit and represent them in federal court.

Mathew B. Tully is the founding partner of Tully Rinckey PLLC. Located in Arlington, Va. and Washington, D.C., Tully Rinckey PLLC’s attorneys practice federal employment law, military law, and security clearance representation. To speak with an attorney, call 703-525-4700 or to learn more visit fedattorney.com. 

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Cyclist Struck at W&OD Trail Crossing

by ARLnow.com | July 16, 2014 at 1:30 pm | 5,780 views | No Comments

A bicyclist was struck by a car today at a W&OD trail crossing in Arlington’s East Falls Church neighborhood.

The incident happened just past noon near the intersection of N. Little Falls Road and N. Four Mile Run Drive, on the border with Falls Church. Initial reports suggest a cyclist was struck by a car and suffered a head injury.

The cyclist was reportedly conscious and alert following the accident and was transported via ambulance to a local hospital. The driver remained on scene.

Damage to the bike and to the car’s windshield was visible following the collision. No word yet on whether any charges will be filed. Police on the scene declined comment.

Renovations Coming to Iconic Clarendon Office Building

by ARLnow.com | July 16, 2014 at 12:15 pm | 3,869 views | No Comments

It’s arguably the most recognizable office building in Clarendon, and it’s currently vacant.

The office building at 3100 Clarendon Blvd, across from the Clarendon Metro plaza, was built in 1987 and, until recently, housed the high-security Defense Intelligence Agency. Now that the DIA has moved to Reston, property owner Piedmont Office Realty Trust is reportedly planning exterior and interior renovations to the building in an attempt to attract new tenants to fill its 250,000 square feet of space.

The renovations will include adding more glass to the building — on the second floor, above the ground floor retail that runs along the entire block, and down the middle of each side of the tower, according to an individual familiar with the plans who spoke to ARLnow.com on the condition of anonymity. Also set for a refresh: the street-level courtyard that currently includes outdoor seating for Mad Rose Tavern.

The exact plans and timeline for the renovations are not clear — a representative of the leasing agent, Avison Young, declined to comment, saying that additional information would be made available within “the next few weeks.”

‘Orangetheory Fitness’ Plans to Open in Rosslyn

by Morgan Fecto | July 16, 2014 at 10:00 am | 1,353 views | No Comments

Orangetheory Fitness, an interval-training gym with heart rate-focused workout sessions, plans to open a location at 1776 Wilson Blvd by the end of the August.

Orangetheory employees have been signing up passersby for discounted memberships this week in the storefront next door to its planned location, near Ray’s to the Third restaurant. The gym is offering specials ranging from $8 to $17 per session to those who sign up for a month of group classes between now and its planned grand opening opening at the end of the summer.

Franchise owner Mark Steverson told ARLnow.com that the gym plans to have a soft opening the week of August 18, and will offer free sessions to curious parties. The gym will also celebrate its grand opening with a weight loss challenge, with a $2,500 cash prize, in early September.

The group workout sessions with Orangetheory combine cardio and strength training by using blocks of treadmills, indoor rowing machines and weight-training. Steverson said the goal is for members to reach between 81 percent and 94 percent of their maximum heart rate for 12-20 minutes of their workout, to maximize calorie burn for 36 hours post-workout.

“So you’re still burning calories when you go to Ray’s next door or Ben’s Chili Bowl or wherever,” Steverson said.

The closest current Orangetheory location of its 110 U.S. gyms is in Fairfax. Orangetheory says those interested in pre-sale memberships should call 571-431-6140.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | July 16, 2014 at 9:05 am | 2,589 views | No Comments

Interior of the former Tom Sarris' Orleans House in Rosslyn (photo via Yelp)

Tom Sarris Dies — Tom Sarris, proprietor of former Rosslyn restaurant staples like The Covered Wagon and Tom Sarris’ Orleans House, has died. Sarris died in Arlington on Saturday at the age of 89. [Dignity Memorial]

Sparket Launches Today — Crystal City’s arts and crafts market, dubbed the “Sparket,” launches today on the sidewalk in front of 1900 Crystal Drive. It will open from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The market is run by the same management company that runs the flea markets at Eastern Market and on U Street. [Crystal City]

Metro > NYC Subway? — When complaining about Metrorail, many critics like to compare it unfavorably to New York City’s Subway system. However, Arlington County’s Mobility Lab points out that there are at least five ways that Metro beats the MTA. [Mobility Lab]

Photo via Yelp

Arlington to Consider School Bus Stop-Arm Cameras

by Ethan Rothstein | July 15, 2014 at 4:35 pm | 1,680 views | No Comments

School buses in the Shirlington yard. (File photo)Arlington is looking into installing traffic cameras on the stop arms of its public school buses.

The Arlington County Board will consider advertising a public hearing on the issue at its meeting this Saturday. The proposal follows about six months of work from Arlington Public Schools Security Coordinator Kevin Reardon to develop a plan to install the cameras on 10-20 percent of APS buses with no additional expense to the county.

Virginia passed a law in 2011 that allows municipalities to install cameras on school buses and issue drivers tickets for $250 if they are recorded passing a bus when its stop arm is out. Last fall, Falls Church installed cameras on eight of its 12 school buses, Reardon said. Fairfax County is considering installing the cameras and they are also in use in Montgomery County, Md., where 300 tickets were issued in three months earlier this year.

If the County Board approves the request to advertise, it likely won’t be able to approve the cameras until September, since there is no meeting in August. If it’s approved, APS is expected to seek an outside vendor to install, maintain and operate the cameras. The vendor would receive a substantial percentage of the revenue from the citations as payment, Reardon said.

“In Falls Church, in their first year, the vendor got between 60 and 70 percent of the fine,” Reardon told ARLnow.com today. Another chunk of the revenue will pay the police, who will review the footage and issue the citations.

“I’m sure someone will look at this and say, ‘It’s just the school system trying to make a lot of money,’ and that is not the case. By the time you pay the police and vendor, most of the revenue is gone.”

Reardon said he proposed to earmark the remaining revenue to pay for school safety expenses. The cameras would reduce police expenses, he said, because police will occasionally follow school buses on their routes to ensure drivers aren’t going around the stop-arms.

Falls Church has averaged about one ticket per bus each day, Reardon said, but the citation rate fell essentially every month. Once a motorist is ticketed, a repeat offense is far less likely. He also suggested a 30-day grace period once the cameras are installed — there’s no estimate for when that will happen until the full item goes before the County Board — which would send citations to drivers but not charge them with a fine.

Despite some people’s reluctance to put traffic cameras on the road, Reardon said in his research, reactions to the cameras have been generally positive.

“Most places are very happy with it,” he said. “If you’re passing a school bus on Lee Highway and a child pops out, the child will be hurt severely. Previous to this, the only way we could enforce it is to have the school bus driver jot down the tag and go to court, or the police department is used to follow school buses. Now we’re automating that part of school safety, and we’re going to free the police up to do something else.”

File photo

Board Could Lift Ban on Signs for Rosslyn Developments

by ARLnow.com | July 15, 2014 at 3:45 pm | 1,038 views | No Comments

Central Place construction and 1812 N. Moore StreetThe Arlington County Board will decide this Saturday whether to lift a ban on building signs higher than 50 feet for two major Rosslyn developments.

The lifting of the ban — which impacts JBG’s Central Place development and the new, currently vacant office building at 1812 N. Moore Street — could have positive economic implications for the county.

It could help spur construction of the office tower component of the Central Place development (the residential component is currently under construction), and could help Monday Properties in its efforts to find an anchor tenant for its 1812 N. Moore building, which is currently the tallest building in the D.C. metro area.

The Arlington County Board previously banned signs above 50 feet on the buildings as a condition for allowing them to be built taller than otherwise allowed by zoning. County staff has recommended lifting the ban and also redrawing a map used to determine sign regulations in the Rosslyn and Radnor/Ft. Myer Heights area.

Both Monday Properties and JBG Cos. support the measure.

The recommendation is proposed to bring the regulations for that area of Rosslyn in line with the county-wide sign ordinance passed in 2012 that details regulations for signs more than 35 feet high. In addition, it will no longer be required that the developers in question must seek a site plan amendment — a process that can take more than a year in some cases — to erect a sign more than 35 feet high; if approved, those requests can be handled administratively, with more specific guidelines.

“The revised sign regulations include objective standards upon which to base an approval of signage at the roofline,” the staff report states. “Indeed, many of these sign requests can now be addressed administratively. Staff is therefore proposing to remove the specific prohibition on signs above a height of 50 feet within the Central Place area, as there now exists a clearer, County-wide standard for the review and approval of roofline signs that was not in place in 2007 [when the ban was approved].”

Ask Adam: Tear Down or Rent Out?

by ARLnow.com | July 15, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 1,358 views | No Comments

Ask Adam header

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

Q. Our house in 22207 would be considered a teardown. We may move in a year or so when my husband retires. Our question is: would it be better to do some remodeling and then rent it out for a few years to benefit from possible future appreciation, or better to take advantage of the current developer demand and sell? Of course it will depend on specific details of the house, the neighborhood, and other family considerations, but do you have a general suggestion?

A. Cash in or let it ride… This is the classic question of gamblers and investment owners. In this case I’m inclined to advise you to cash in. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Alhough I have confidence in the direction of our real estate market, there is no guarantee that the current level of demand for tear down properties will continue. In the current market, you may be able to orchestrate a bidding war that will outperform what your property will return during more conservative times. Many builders are buying with their own cash and they have been burned by past markets. I imagine that the slightest hint of slowdown in the luxury market will directly affect the demand for teardown properties.
  2. You have mentioned remodeling the home before renting it out. This is going to require investment in the home that is not going to provide any value to the person or developer looking for a tear down. Your investment will become a sunk cost that eats into the additional profit you hope to gain by holding onto the property longer.
  3. You’ll want to carefully explore the tax implications of holding the property. For example, renting the property out for too long can create substantial costs in the form of your capital gains tax.

If you were my client, I would provide you with an estimated sales price and strategy for the current market. I would also do my best to project the appreciation or depreciation you may experience by holding onto the property. This exercise would help you make a decision based on the unique value and estimated performance of your home. You can compare these numbers to the estimated costs of holding on to the property as a rental.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

More Thunderstorms Expected Tonight

by ARLnow.com | July 15, 2014 at 1:50 pm | 1,237 views | No Comments

Heavy rain from storm in Arlington on 7/14/14The National Weather Service has issued another Severe Thunderstorm Watch for Arlington and the D.C. area tonight.

The watch is in effect from now until 9:00 p.m. Forecasters say more storms with damaging winds and heavy downpours are possible.

Yesterday a similar watch was issued, and was followed by a storm that knocked out power to more than 5,500 Dominion customers in Arlington County.

From NWS:

THUNDERSTORMS ARE EXPECTED…ESPECIALLY THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING. THUNDERSTORMS WILL BE CAPABLE OF PRODUCING DAMAGING WIND GUSTS AND HEAVY DOWNPOURS THAT COULD LEAD TO LOCALIZED FLASH FLOODING.

Startup Smackdown One Week Away in Crystal City

by ARLnow.com | July 15, 2014 at 12:55 pm | 505 views | No Comments

ARLive flyerNearly 20 Arlington-based startups will duke it out over wine, beer and appetizers in Crystal City next week.

Crystal City BID, in association with ARLnow.com, will be hosting the ARLive Startup Smackdown next Tuesday (July 22) from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. The event is being held at the offices of Crystal Tech Fund, at 2231 Crystal Drive.

Attendees can check out the products and services being offered by local startups, and will be given play money to “invest” in the company or companies they like best. The winning company will receive an exclusive lunch with venture capitalist Paul Singh.

For those attending, there’s no need to bring real cash — all the food, drink and professional networking you desire will be provided with the cost of admission.

Tickets for the event are $20.

The event is being co-sponsored by ClickDisruption CorpThe Falcon Lab and Grade A Marketing.

Dance Celebration Planned for Colombian Independence

by Morgan Fecto | July 15, 2014 at 11:45 am | 835 views | No Comments

El Tayrona dance ensemble. El Tayrona dance ensemble.

The dance ensemble El Tayrona will showcase “folklore in a passion of feelings,” at the annual Colombian National Day event at Gunston Arts Theater One (2700 S. Lang Street) this Saturday.

The event celebrating Colombian independence will start with Colombian cuisine from Restaurante Monserrate at 3:00 p.m. before dance performances begin at 6:00 p.m. The dances will depict Colombian folklore by reflecting its different regions, El Tayrona founder and choreographer Marta Chiari said. Some dances will embody the Andean region and the Pacific and Caribbean coasts.

Tickets cost $15 before Saturday — there’s a $50 special for groups of four that buy before Saturday — and $20 at the door. El Tayrona is selling tickets for the event by phone, at 571-435-5527.

This will be the 28th Colombian National Day event hosted by Chiari and El Tayrona, and it will include a new addition to the performance lineup.

The Colombian instrumental trio Confónica will perform for the first time in the event’s history. For the second year in a row, “Los Tayronitas,” the children’s ensemble of the El Tayrona dance group, will perform a dance routine and sing.

“All of them have been memorable,” Chiari said of the annual celebration. She and her mother have organized the events since the beginning after founding El Tayrona in 1981. “But they have been very special since the children have started performing.”

Colombia National Day celebrates Colombia declaring its independence from Spain on July 20, 1810, with the formation of the People’s Junta.

Photos courtesy of Marta Chiari

County Could Spend $500,000 on Oakgrove Park Improvements

by Ethan Rothstein | July 15, 2014 at 10:45 am | 1,288 views | No Comments

Oak Grove Park (photo via Google Maps)

Oakgrove Park (1606 N. Quincy Street) is slated to get a new entrance, a new trail and other features.

The park, at the southern edge of the Cherrydale neighborhood, has a bit of a visibility problem — it’s not very noticeable from street level. A new entry feature is designed to help, with an artificial, metal tree holding a sculpture of an owl and a sign that says “Oakgrove Park.”

The Arlington County Board is scheduled to vote on a contract for $488,915 with a $48,891 contingency to construct the new entrance on 17th Street N. along with a new circular walking/jogging path on the park’s perimeter, benches, bleachers and bike racks.

The 3.51-acre park’s grass field is planned to be replaced in a separate project, and that work brings the total cost to Oakgrove Park improvements to about $680,000, paid for with 2012 and 2014 pay-as-you-go funds.

The new entrance will give park visitors increased access to the gazebo and “tot lot,” and will have improved ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessibility to the walking trail. There are several mature trees lining the perimeter of the park, and Arlington County Parks and Recreation staff said in their staff report that the trail was designed to have minimal impact to the existing trees.

Photo via Google Maps

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | July 15, 2014 at 9:45 am | 2,893 views | No Comments

Lightning over D.C. and Long Bridge Park (Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber)

NBC4 ‘Celebrates’ Arlington — NBC4 reporter Angie Goff anchored a series of segments about Arlington this morning. Goff broadcast live from Bob & Edith’s Diner on Columbia Pike, and had a number of on-air guests. One segment — “celebrating romance in Arlington” — featured a bartender from Carpool in Ballston, County Board Vice Chair Mary Hynes and a rousing game of cornhole. [NBC Washington]

Neighbors Remember Boy Killed By Car – Neighbors are remembering 8-year-old Ashlawn Elementary School student Eli Sachar, who was killed over the weekend when he and other family members were struck by a car in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. No charges have been filed against the driver so far, though the crash remains under investigation. [WJLA]

Arlington Teens Injured in Charlottesville Stabbing — Two 19-year-old men from Arlington were stabbed in Charlottesville Saturday night. The victims were both visiting friends at UVA for the weekend. A witness said the incident started when someone threw a beer can in the direction of the two suspects. [NBC 29]

Board to Consider Art Grants — The Arlington County Board this weekend is set to consider nearly $200,000 in art grants. The Arlington Commission for the Arts has recommended the grants be distributed to 20 different local recipients. [Arlington County]

Bus Lights Bush on Fire — Firefighters responded to the Exxon station at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Rhodes Street in Rosslyn yesterday for a report of a bush on fire. The fire was quickly extinguished, though a section of bush was denuded by the combination of flames and high water pressure. The fire was caused when a bus backed into the bush and the heat from the engine caused the shrubbery to combust. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber

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