Free Enterprise - FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

Depending on the size and location of your business, you may have a few windows on the front of your building or hundreds of windows looking out on all sides.

In either case, broken windows at your business can require costly repairs and will likely need to be boarded up in the meantime -- not exactly the look most business owners are going for. Some business owners on Virginia's Eastern Shore are learning this first-hand after the catastrophic explosion of a NASA rocket shattered the windows of several businesses, reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Whether it's a sudden explosion or criminal vandalism that shattered your windows, what legal options do business owners have to make repairs? Here are a few you may want to consider:

Construction contractor Vamco Sheet Metals Inc. has settled a sex discrimination case with the EEOC, and for some very good reasons.

In a press release, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that Vamco will pay out $215,000 to settle allegations of sexual harassment on a project at a Manhattan construction project. Accusations included pretextual firing, assigning women only menial tasks, and denying women a clean place to pump breast milk.

Although the settlement means that Vamco will admit no liability for these allegations, there are three good lessons to be learned from this settlement:

A Minnesota ad agency has come up with a novel way to encourage employees to turn in their timesheets.

Minneapolis-based Colle McVoy has begun offering the company's employees a free pint of beer upon completion of their timesheets, dispensed by a one-of-a-kind machine called the TapServer. The TapServer uses employee RFID cards and custom software to reward on-the-ball employees with a beer of their choice, selected via iPad interface.

But while the TapServer is an impressive bit of technology, is serving employees alcohol on the job a good idea?

Giving a job reference for a former employee who left on good terms is rarely a problem for employers.

But what about giving a bad reference for a former employee who was fired or otherwise left your employment on bad or unpleasant terms? Employers may be torn between warning a future employer about the person they are considering bringing on board and the potential consequences of giving a negative reference.

But what are those consequences? Can a bad reference result in an employer getting sued?

After a year filled with news stories about data privacy breaches, including Target and Home Depot, it seems that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is finally doing something about it. On Friday, the FCC proposed a $10 million fine against two telecom companies for data breaches that potentially affected 300,000 customers, The Washington Post reports.

How did this happen? And what does this mean for small business that store customer data?

Broadcast network NBC has agreed to settle claims filed by former interns who claimed the network's unpaid internship program violated federal and state labor laws.

A group of interns led by ex-"Saturday Night Live" intern Monet Eliastam filed the class action lawsuit last year alleging that unpaid interns were being used in place of normal workers at NBC. The suit also alleged that NBC's internship program failed to provide academic or vocational training. If approved by the judge in case, the $6.4 million settlement would be distributed among thousands of former interns, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

What can business owners learn from NBC's settlement in this case? Here are five things to remember when it comes to unpaid interns:

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or device -- such as a brand name or logo -- which identifies your business or product and distinguishes it from other similar businesses or products.

The owner of a trademark can enforce his trademark rights to prevent others from infringing upon it by using a similar name or selling the same goods or services under a different name. But how are those rights established?

Do business owners need to register a trademark in order to protect their trademark rights?

If you're starting a new business, there are probably any number of things that require your immediate attention. But among your foremost priorities should be educating yourself on the local laws that may affect your business.

Putting off potential legal issues until after your business is already open may end up costing you big in the long run.

What local laws do you need to know before you start your business? Here are three to get you started:

Today is National Flex Day, an occasion to celebrate the benefits and importance of flexible work arrangements: telecommuting, flex time (no more 9-to-5), and compressed work weeks (longer shifts, fewer days). Flex time is great for employees seeking work-life balance, especially those with dependent family members (children and the elderly) whom they have to care for.

It's also surprisingly important for employers. Here are three reasons why:

A worker at a Florida Chili's restaurant was fired after posting a series of shirtless pictures of himself in the restaurant's kitchen on Facebook.

The pictures, posted by a man calling himself Justin Speekz on a publicly visible Facebook profile, were labeled "Sexy Cooks of Chili's," reports Tampa's WFTS-TV. The pictures were discovered on Facebook by a customer of the restaurant.

Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which regulates restaurants, said there did not appear to be any violations in the photos, as no food was being prepared at the time they were taken; the employee was nonetheless terminated.

What lessons can employers learn from this latest employee social media stunt?