Free Enterprise - FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog


Your business may wish to hire employees who are well suited to a physically demanding task. This may make you wonder if your applicants are healthy enough to perform these tasks -- so much so you would like to ask about their medical history.

Amsted Rail Co., Inc. and Amsted Industries, Inc. had similar concerns about its applicants having carpal tunnel syndrome, so it performed tests and asked about potential hires' history with carpal tunnel. Now the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is suing Amsted for violating the ADA with its hiring practices.

Can employers ask potential hires about their medical histories?

The specter of a Black Friday lawsuit can certainly cast a pall over what should be one of the biggest days of the year for many SMB retailers.

Fortunately retailers can certainly take precautions to keep shoppers safe and prevent the injuries or other incidents that have led to past Black Friday lawsuits

What can business owners learn from these previous Black Friday lawsuits? Here are three lessons:

By now, your business likely has some form of social media presence, whether on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or possibly all of the above.

But what about Instagram? This mobile photo- and video-sharing network is becoming an increasingly powerful way for businesses to market their products and services, reports The Associated Press. What should business owners considering or already using Instagram to market their businesses be aware of?

Here are five legal tips for small business owners on Instagram:

When hackers compromise your business' systems, you may want to bring every cyber-facet of your company on full lockdown.

That's certainly what the U.S. State Department recently did after it learned that cyberintruders had infiltrated an unclassified email network used by President Obama's close circle of aides. Your company may not have the resources that the federal government commands, but there are some hard lines you can draw to re-establish security after a cyberattack.

Here three all-or-nothing hacking remedies you may want to consider:

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, many business owners -- especially retail business owners swamped by holiday shoppers -- may have more important things to do than worry about than the weather.

But when cold weather hits, a little preventative maintenance and forethought can save you from an unwelcome holiday surprise, such as a flooded building or a personal injury lawsuit.

What can you do to (legally) protect your business during a cold snap? Here are three things to keep an eye on:

Like the song says, "It's the most wonderful time of the year."

For many business owners -- especially retailers -- the holidays are the busiest, and most important, time of the year. But even if your business doesn't pick up during the holiday season, you'll likely still have to handle many holiday-related issues, from employees taking time off to dealing with with icy sidewalks.

What are some of the important legal issues that business owners should be aware during the holiday season? Here are our Top 10:

Conde Nast, the publisher of magazines such as Vogue, Wired, and The New Yorker, has agreed to a $5.8 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed by former interns.

The interns claimed the company made them perform work, but failed to pay at least the minimum wage as required by law. The settlement agreement covers about 7,500 interns; under the terms of the settlement, these interns -- some of whom last worked for Conde Nast in 2007 -- will receive between $700 and $1,900, Reuters reports.

What led to the lawsuit and subsequent settlement?

Business owners and casual shoppers may recognize the presence of "You Break It, You Buy It" signs in various retail businesses.

Small businesses have a good deal of leeway to define the legal terms of how customers may interact with them and their merchandise, but this isn't to say that companies can act like mini-warlords on their own property.

So what exactly is the legal effect of a "You Break It, You Buy It" warning, and how can your business employ such a policy?

Your business may have a casual and fun atmosphere, which may border at times on juvenile. But you should think twice about letting your workplace become like a locker room or frat house.

Not only is the image of a locker room not consistent with a professional (and clean-smelling) workspace, but it may encourage misconduct that could open your business to liability.

So before you join in on a light-hearted office prank, consider these five ways in which a "locker room" office culture can get your business sued:

Your business may not welcome the idea of alcohol-abusing employees as part of your workforce, but are you legally required to get them treatment?

That's what former Telemundo Chicago anchor Edna Schmidt is claiming after she was allegedly fired for being drunk on the air. According to TMZ, Schmidt says she was fired for being sauced, despite those at Telemundo being aware of her alcohol problems. She's now suing under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Does your business have to give alcoholics treatment before giving them the boot?