Free Enterprise - FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

Ben & Jerry's has stepped definitively into the gay marriage debate by signing on to an Employers' Amicus Brief to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Much like a formal legal petition, the amicus brief states various legal reasons why the High Court should take on the issue of gay marriage and once and for all lay down a consistent rule for same-sex marriage. Ben & Jerry's now joins dozens of other well-known corporations that have signed on to this Employers' Amicus Brief.

Should your company be next to sign?

Corporations should be worried about their employees becoming sedentary and unhealthy, and the solution in many cases has been to add a fitness center to the business.

But making effective use of a corporate fitness center doesn't just mean slapping together some ellipticals and barbells in your break room, your business needs the legal underpinning to make it a success. Done properly, Forbes reports that "fitness centers can become a profit center as well as a retention amenity."

Here are five tips for making your business' fitness center work out for you:

Following the success of Google, Facebook, Snapchat and other high-tech companies originally started by college entrepreneurs, college campuses continue to churn out innovative and lucrative new businesses.

College entrepreneurs are certainly full of game-changing ideas and industry-disrupting business models. However, they may not be quite up to speed on how to legally protect their newfound business interests. This can come back to bite budding businesses big-time in the form of future litigation, such as the lawsuit filed against Snapchat by an ousted co-founder, settled last week for an undisclosed (but likely substantial) sum.

What legal tips should college entrepreneurs bear in mind? Here are five to consider:

A new law signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown will require most employers to give workers at least three paid sick days a year.

The governor's signature on the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014 will provide paid sick leave to over 6 million workers starting in July 2015, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Here's what California business owners need to know:

Businesses with storefront steps may be worried about ADA liability, but a recent federal court case suggests that steps aren't necessarily a problem.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that the popular teen clothing store Hollister, with its beach-property-style stepped entrances, did not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to The Denver Post, the court ruled 2-1 that because Hollister provided alternative entrances for the disabled, its stores did not violate the ADA.

What should business owners do about steps in their storefront entrances?

With the job market tighter than ever, more and more Americans are turning to freelancing as a way to put their skills to use.

According to freelance worker advocacy group the Freelancers Union, a recent survey found that 53 million Americans are freelancing, working as independent contractors for clients as a "small business" of one. But along with unique benefits -- such as scheduling flexibility, being able to choose the projects you work, and being your own boss -- there are also several legal issues that freelancers in particular should be aware of.

Here are three legal tips for freelancers to follow:

An increasing number of companies, both big and small, are using contractors to fill positions that would traditionally have been held by full-time employees.

While this may provide benefits in the form of saved time and money, using contractors can also pose a significant risk if done improperly. FedEx found this out this hard late last month, when a federal appeals court ruled that thousands of delivery drivers the company had claimed were independent contractors were actually employees, meaning the company may be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid overtime.

How can you avoid the potential pitfalls of hiring contractors? Here are three legal lessons for employers from the FedEx case:

"Public benefit corporations" may sound like charitable organizations, but they're actually a great way for small businesses to make a difference while staying in the black.

Take the Curious Iguana bookstore as an example. It opened last September in Frederick, Maryland, under the state's benefit corporation statute, choosing to hold itself to strict standards of charitable giving, environmental impact, and employee welfare, reports Southwest: The Magazine.

Where else is this type of corporate structure available, and what are the benefits of your small business becoming a "public benefit corporation?"

With the death of comic and pop-culture stalwart Joan Rivers, many are mourning the loss of her quick wit and fearless comedic style.

But along with a healthy supply of laughs, Rivers' winding path to stardom and ability to remain in the limelight well into her twilight years can also provide a number of lessons for those who are seeking their own path to success.

Here are five lessons business owners can learn from Joan Rivers:

A handful of California business owners were dealt a legal loss in federal court this week on their class-action Yelp extortion lawsuit.

A veterinary hospital, a dentist, an auto-body shop owner, and a furniture restoration store owner had joined in a class action suit against Yelp, claiming the online service had violated California's unfair business practices law and had extorted them, reports Courthouse News Service. The business owners claimed that Yelp manipulated the appearance of positive or negative reviews in order to pressure the employers into purchasing advertising through its site.

Why did their Yelp extortion suit flop in federal court?