Free Enterprise - FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog


Online real estate marketplace Zillow was hit with five new lawsuits this week alleging employee discrimination, retaliation, and other mistreatment of workers.

The five lawsuits were all filed by the law firm of Geragos & Geragos, reports LAist. Geragos & Geragos is the same law firm representing a Zillow employee who sued the company earlier this month for sexual harassment. In that lawsuit, former Zillow employee Rachel Kremer described the company's Irvine, California office as having an "adult frat house" culture. The latest lawsuits also involve employees who worked at the Irvine office.

What can small business owners learn from these employment lawsuits filed against Zillow? Here are three lessons:

Websites are pretty much a necessity for any business that wishes to remain relevant, and advertising prices on that website can be a good way to draw consumers in.

But what happens if you make an error in advertising your prices online? Is your business guilty of fraudulent advertising or deceptive business practices? Do you need to give a refund?

Here are a few things that can happen if your business lists the wrong prices on its website:

The National Labor Relations Board ruled last week that employees should be permitted to use work email for union organizing activities.

The ruling represents a reversal of a 2007 NLRB decision allowing employers to prohibit such communications through company email, reports Reuters. The case involved employees of Purple Communications, a sign language interpreting service based in California. A workers' union had challenged a company policy prohibiting employees from using work email to "engage in activities on behalf of organizations."

What led to the NLRB's reversal on employees' rights to organize over company email?

The EEOC has announced that storage and security product manufacturer Justrite will pay $418,000 to settle claims of disability discrimination.

In an EEOC press release issued Wednesday, the agency noted that this settlement was the result of years of investigation into disability discrimination complaints at Justrite, based in Mattoon, Illinois. It resulted in some troubling findings about how the company treated employees seeking reasonable accommodations.

What three lessons can your business learn from this Justrite settlement?

Your small business may not get complaints often, but failing to respond to them properly can be costly.

A Chinese restaurant in Brookline, Massachusetts, got a taste of customer dissatisfaction from a Harvard business professor who claimed he had been overcharged by all of $4. As Boston.com explains, what followed was an email back-and-forth between the restaurant and the patron -- an exchange that went viral.

Want to make sure your small business deals properly with customer complaints? Check out these five ways:

For most business owners, social media has now become a necessity for interacting with customers. But social media can also quickly become a source of trouble.

Some social media mishaps, like the Florida Chili's restaurant worker who posted pictures of himself posing shirtless in the restaurant's kitchen, can be more embarrassing than serious. But social media is also increasingly subject to regulatory scrutiny: As you may recall, retailer Nordstrom received a warning from the FTC after a company-sponsored "TweetUp" party ran afoul of FTC disclosure rules.

What can you do to avoid legal trouble on social media? Here are five suggestions:

The Supreme Court has determined that Amazon warehouse workers don't have to be paid for time spent in security screenings.

The Court's unanimous decision Tuesday clarifies what federal labor law requires for workers during off-the-clock security checks. According to Reuters, Amazon, CVS, and Apple have all had lawsuits brought against them for unpaid security-screening time, all of which may evaporate in light of this new ruling.

Here are five things your business should know about this Amazon security screening ruling:

A promotional stunt at a New York TGI Fridays restaurant nearly ended when a drone crashed into a photographer, lacerating her nose with its unguarded rotor.

The restaurant was flying the drone as part of a "Mobile Mistletoe" promotion in which the remote-controlled helicopter-style drone was adorned with mistletoe to inspire patrons to kiss on camera, reports Brooklyn Daily. But the holiday cheer was in short supply after one of the drones went out of control and took a chunk out of the nose of a photographer there to cover the event.

As the photographer's injuries did not appear to be serious, the restaurant may have narrowly dodged being involved in a potential personal injury lawsuit. But what lessons should business owners take from this close call with a drone?

Legal Sea Foods, a seafood restaurant chain based in Boston, is facing two class-action lawsuits over its tipping policies.

Those behind the suits feel that Legal Sea Foods violated Massachusetts' state laws on tipping by allowing those who "rolled silverware in napkins" to share in the tips earmarked for servers and bartenders. These workers are paid less than minimum wage and are entitled to a share of the pooled tips, but with the tip law violated, employees are demanding the regular minimum wage -- $8 an hour, reports the Boston Globe.

How can your business legally deal with tips in light of Legal Sea Foods' potentially perilous predicament?

Pirate Brands, the makers of Pirate's Booty, succeeded in having six class-action lawsuits that had been filed against them by the same law firm before being consolidated dismissed this week.

The lawsuits had claimed that Pirate Brands misled consumers by labeling the company's products as "all natural." But the dismissals offer some lessons in how to combat an increasingly common form of class action lawsuit in which lawyers try to drive up the costs of litigation in order to promote a settlement, reports Forbes. These settlements often result in millions of dollars in legal fees for the law firm, but meager damages for class members.

What did Pirate Brands do to help themselves come out on top? Here are three lessons for business owners: