Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog


You never know when an employee will call out sick, you'll be caught off guard by an unexpected rush of customers, or you'll otherwise suffer from a staff shortage. That's why it can help to have some of your workers "on-call," meaning that they're available to come to work at a moment's notice.

Clearly, this means that on-call employees are severely limited in what they can do while they may be called into work, so does that mean you need to compensate them for that time? And, if so, are those hours subject to overtime pay regulations?

Somewhere in between the time when Pabst Blue Ribbon was just Frank Booth's favorite beverage and when it became the go-to can of every skinny-jeaned hipster from Bushwick to Silver Lake, production of the beer itself was taken over by conglomerate MillerCoors. That production agreement, signed in 1999, is set to expire in 2020, and that may mean the PBR bubble is about to burst.

Pabst is claiming that MillerCoors is trying to put it out of business by not negotiating an extension on the contract brewing agreement in good faith. MillerCoors claims it can do whatever it wants with its breweries. Naturally, the two are now squaring off in court to determine our frothy future.

Cities and the FDA Crack Down on E-Cig Teen Vaping

Cities all across the country are putting pressure on various parts of the e-cigarette industry, in an attempt to dampen what is being called a "teenage vaping epidemic." For years, the federal government had been fighting traditional cigarette manufacturers, trying to eliminate sales and marketing to those under 18. But the e-cig movement blindsided officials, and though three steps behind, cities are ready to take on the fight to save youth from Nicotine Addiction 2.0.

In general, it's a good idea to keep personnel files for all your employees. You can track their interview and hire, promotions and bonuses, and any complaints or disciplinary action. These records can come in handy later if the employee is asking for a raise, or arguing against their termination.

But does keeping a file on every employee mean that each one has a right to view, copy, or keep their personnel file? Not necessarily, but a more definitive answer may depend on where your company is located.

Riot Games Sued for Pay Disparity, Sexual Harassment

Riot Games, the video game developer behind megahit League of Legends, has been hit with a proposed class action lawsuit by two female employees, one current and one former, for sexual harassment, discrimination, and violation of California's Equal Pay Act. This comes on the heels of a massive expose by Kotaku which details a strong sexist culture that puts "bro's before ho's" in a company that is over 80% male.

'Shark Tank' Entrepreneur Sued for $300M in Fraud Case

"Shark Tank" entrepreneur and guest Shark, Jamie Siminoff, has found himself in rough waters before, and here he goes again. Siminoff, founder of Ring, has been named as a defendant in a fraud lawsuit brought by former board member and investor, Russell Stephens, to the tune of $300 million.

If you're an entrepreneur or startup that's been banging on the doors of banks, best friends, and potential backers you barely know, it can be frustrating to see a Kickstarter campaign raise half a million bucks in just a few months. Especially when you think your idea or company is better than whatever silly thing all these strangers are throwing cash at.

But before you start salivating at the seemingly bottomless pool of internet investors, you need to figure out if crowdfunding is right for your small business or startup. Are you a software or app company? Have you failed to fully flesh out or vet your business plan? Do you lack something tangible for investors to grasp onto, either in prototype or potential reward? Crowdfunding might not be for you. But if you've already got a great network of fans and can show new ones something of value early on, you may be off to the financing races.

Here are a few other variables to consider before launching your crowdfunding campaign.

Bird Cries Foul Over Beverly Hills Ban

In an interesting about-face, Bird is now using the law to claim its rights were violated when the Beverly Hills City Council voted to ban the company's e-scooters for six months and subsequently rounded up and impounded 1,000 of the devices. Citing the law is a new tactic for a company that has run a business model of asking for forgiveness rather than permission to drop its scooters around towns all over America. Bird has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court to overturn the ban.

This year, New York City passed a law requiring all private employers with 15 or more employees to provide annual, interactive anti-sexual harassment training to certain employees. And while the law may not apply to all employers -- or even every single employee or contractor -- the city's requirements can be a model for other cities or states or any business that wants to reduce or eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace.

Here are some of the frequently asked questions about NYC's sexual harassment training requirements, and how they might apply to your small business.

Tips for Protecting Small Business Proprietary Information

In this day and age where business is fiercely competitive, and almost everything can be found on the internet, it's more important than ever to protect your proprietary information. Whether it's information on a patent you are developing, or "just" a hamburger recipe, you have a strong need to keep your private information private. Here's some information on why and how you should do that, not just when interfacing with third parties, but also when hiring and handling your own employees.