Free Enterprise - FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

A recently filed lawsuit that involves the Hooters restaurant chain, sex discrimination, and retaliation, has been making headlines. But unlike the discrimination and retaliation lawsuits against Hooters we've become accustomed to seeing as a result of the adult entertainment aspect of the establishment, the restaurant isn't actually being sued here. Rather, a biomedical company is in the hot-seat due to a senior vice president's request to hold a meeting at a Hooters restaurant.

The high ranking executive proposed having a one-on-one lunch meeting with a female employee at Hooters. As shocking as that may be, in and of itself, what's more is that the executive allegedly stated that he liked the restaurant because he liked being served by attractive women. Although the employee suggested an alternative, and the meeting was not actually held at the Hooters, the employee, and her boss, were both terminated shortly after she filed a complaint about the proposed meeting location.

Time is running out to get your tax filing in, but there's good news for all you procrastinators: We've rounded up all our best tax advice for small businesses to help make sure that filing is correct, and help you find any deductions or benefits you might've overlooked.

And if you've already filed and are already looking ahead to tax time next year, these articles can help prepare your startup or small biz for 2018's filing.

As individuals and small business owners prepare for tax season, it’s a good time to review some of those weird and wacky deductions that small business owners and professionals have tried to squeak in. From concealed weapons to petting zoos, what can be considered a deductible business expense is rightfully considered a rather large moving target, with some items being easier to hit than others.

What an individual or small business owner can deduct will generally depend on the nature of their business, and whether the expense is necessary and ordinary for the business. While a necessary expense is not required to be an essential expense, at the end of the day, deductions need to make sense.

The story has become so common, it's hard to even distinguish the cases: same-sex couple goes to wedding vendor; vendor refuses service based on religious beliefs; same-sex couple sues for discrimination; and a court rules in favor of same-sex couple.

This time is was the Washington State Supreme Court, ruling that a florist's refusal to provide flowers for a former customer's same-sex wedding violated state civil rights laws. Here's a look at the ruling at how it might affect your small business.

President Trump has been bullish on immigration reform, even if his efforts thus far have been more reminiscent of a bull in a china shop. After an initial executive order banning refugees and even visa holders from seven majority Muslim countries was blocked by federal courts, Trump is looking to re-issue a revised order and appears to be targeting other immigration programs as well.

Next up on the chopping block might be the H1-B visa program, through which American business -- many of them the biggest tech firms in the country -- can hire skilled foreign workers. Last month, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said a possible executive order on work visas "is part of a larger immigration effort" based on "an overall need to look at all of these measures." So what could H1-B visa reform mean for your small business or startup?

Email. Social media. Even personal cell phones. There is a lot of employee activity that employers my legally monitor. But what about their actual movements throughout the office? Most employers can install and run video surveillance in the office, but that's yesterday's technology. Nowadays, bosses have employee badges fitted with microphones and sensors that can track physical and verbal interactions, all through an app.

So is this kind of movement monitoring legal? And does it depend on the reasoning behind the surveillance?

Florida lawmakers introduced a controversial gun bill this month that increases the burdens on private businesses within the state that want their premises to be "gun-free zones." Under state law, in Florida, and most states for that matter, businesses can prohibit customers from bringing firearms onto the premises, even if the customer has a valid permit for carrying the weapon.

The proposed legislation would still allow businesses in Florida to ban guns from their premises, but it would create statutory liability against the business if a gun owner is injured by violence in gun-free zones. While the bill still has not passed, for Florida's businesses, it is far and away the most relevant piece of Florida's current slew of reverse gun-reform legislation currently being proposed.

Unicorns, at least in venture capital circles are very real. Defined as a startup that hasn't actually brought a product to market, yet is somehow valued at more than $1 billion, unicorns have real employees, and thus real employee problems. And Magic Leap, "one of the most well-funded startups of all time," looks like it has more real problems than most.

Tannen Campbell, Magic Leap's former Head and Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Brand Identity who was hired to make the company and its products more female-friendly, is now suing the company, claiming "hostile environment sex discrimination and retaliation." Her lawsuit is a laundry list of inappropriate comments, behavior, and sexual stereotypes in the tech industry, and even includes some discussion of wizards.

A recent trademark violation lawsuit explains why the burger chain In-N-Out is steamed at a Wichita, Kansas dry cleaner. The dry cleaner, which opened last year, decided to more than just fluff before folding, it decided to go by the name In-N-Out Cleaners, and also used a logo and had signage that was stunningly similar to the famous burger joint.

The dry cleaner, since being notified, has taken down their similar looking signs, both in real life and online, and has also stopped using the name In-N-Out. Nevertheless, the burger chain's lawsuit is persisting, seeking not just compensatory damages, but also punitive damages.

As a small business owner, your profit margins are already probably thin. So when tax time rolls around, you're probably trying to take advantage of every legally allowable tax deduction. But after already deducting your legal fees, holiday gifts, tithing, and even donuts, what's left for you to write off?

Quite a few things, actually, according to Forbes. Here are a few they highlighted for small business owners this year.