Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog


Fewer Female CEOs on Forbes 500 List

We generally think of the progress of women in the workplace as being on an upward trajectory. There are laws against gender and pregnancy discrimination in employment, and companies are under pressure to deal with their sexual harassment problems, especially in light of the current #MeToo movement. 

Along these lines, many women also occupy leadership roles within powerful companies. However, according to the latest Fortune 500 list, the number of female CEOs has actually declined from last year.

No business owner wants to find themselves litigating employment issues in court, and larger companies especially don't want to be facing off with an organized group of upset employees. That's why many employment contracts include a clause requiring employees to waive their right to resolve disputes through joint legal proceedings, and instead arbitrate their claims individually.

These mandatory or "forced" arbitration clauses have come under increasing legal scrutiny over the past decade, but the U.S. Supreme Court just handed business owners an "Epic" victory in finding that such clauses don't violate federal employment laws and are thus enforceable.

With so much technology at our fingertips, more employees are working from home (and anywhere with WiFi) than ever before. But what if you're thinking of taking telecommuting to the next level, and starting your own business out of your home? Seems simple enough, right?

Not so fast, my friend. Between neighborhood zoning laws and tax deductions, there are quite a few legal considerations to take into account before your home business takes flight. Here are the most important:

AT&T Mobility Sued for Pregnancy Discrimination

There's no denying companies need a way to keep track of and deter excessive absenteeism by their employees. After all, they have businesses to run and they rely on their employees to get the job done. But they should probably differentiate between someone who's absent because they were doing keg stands the night before, and someone who's absent because they're growing a human inside their body.

According to a federal lawsuit filed by two women, they were fired for their pregnancy-related absences. Now they're suing the company, alleging that their attendance policy discriminates against pregnant women.

This week, two women filed a federal, class action lawsuit against AT&T 's mobile phone subsidiary, AT&T Mobility, claiming the company's attendance policy violates both the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. The case could have national implications for employers and the legal boundaries of demerit-based attendance policies like AT&T's.

It can be difficult putting together family leave policies for employees in general, and especially for pregnant employees or those on maternity leave. How do you treat all employees equally? How do you make sure all the work gets done? And how do you avoid getting sued for pregnancy discrimination?

Is It Time for Your Biz to Rethink Its Drug Testing Policy?

It makes sense. You run a business and you want your employees to show up, work hard, represent the company well, and stay safe. And that's why many business owners have drug testing policies in place. After all, drug use can be accompanied by absenteeism, reduced productivity, and accidents. But laws and perspectives are changing, causing some employers to rethink their drug testing policies. Here are some factors to consider before you do.

Ridesharing is all the rage these days. And if you've got a bunch of employees all stuck in traffic commuting to work, why not get them all in the same car? Employers are not only recognizing the environmental benefits of carpooling, but the positive effects on office relationships from staff sharing their commute. And technology is making ridesharing that much easier.

But does that mean it's a good idea for your company? And should you be incentivizing employees to carpool?

Best Places to Start a Business

There are a lot of things to consider when you're starting a business. How will you cover the startup costs? Will your title be "CEO" or "grand master?" How snazzy can your business cards be? And while you may hope to start your business right where you live, you might want to consider moving to a more business-friendly city with lower startup costs and more resources. Cities in Oklahoma, Texas, and North Carolina -- among others -- might be calling your [business] name.

Maybe you're just not all that familiar with the Civil Rights Act. Maybe you thought your HR and in-house legal teams were getting bored and needed a little extra action in their day. Or maybe you're just racist.

There could be any number of reasons why you'd think installing a no-Spanish policy at your workplace and then harassing Hispanic employees would be a good idea. Regardless of your reasoning though, you should know you'll probably get sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, just like this San Diego Albertsons did.

Economics Reality Test: Overview for Startups

There are a lot of decisions to make as a startup. Where to get funding, how to get your name out there, and how to run your day-to-day operations are just a few. With companies like Uber and Lyft depending on the gig economy, and states like California cracking down on who can be considered an independent contractor, these personnel decisions may seem even more daunting. One piece of guidance in this realm is the Economic Realities Test.