A newer version of the Small Business Bill of Rights has been passed in hopes of easing the barrage of tickets and violations mom-and-pop shops have been facing.
City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), who drew up a similar bill of rights in 2010, said at a recent Consumer Affairs meeting that the newer version has small but essential tweaks that better articulate the rights of small business owners.
“In 2010, I passed a business owners bill of rights,” she said. “It wasn’t worded that inspectors had to hand out a physical copy of the owner’s rights prior to or following each inspection, so people who are trying to make a living didn’t know it existed and didn’t know their rights. At the last Council meeting, I had to spell it out that every store owner gets the Bill of Rights.”
Many people, both officials and residents, have been critical of several city departments’ approach to handling violations, particularly in the outer boroughs.
“I get calls to my office about inspectors coming in from Consumer Affairs or the Health Department and giving out tickets all of the time to business,” Koslowitz said. “We all know times are very bad and business is not good and to get a ticket is really a hardship on many, many people. For instance, I had a florist who called my office hysterical because he got a $350 ticket and nowadays florists don’t make much money.”
Koslowitz said she hopes the update will help combat Consumer Affairs inspectors who have been accused by business owners of abusing their power and violating their rights.
“This is common sense,” said Koslowitz. “When owners are issued a document stating their rights at the time of the inspection, it will ensure a fair inspection process and make things easier for business owners who are integral to building a diverse and thriving economy.”
Mayor Bloomberg signed the updated bill into law on April 23.