Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

February 2015 Archives

We all want to have workspaces that our employees enjoy, but sometimes we can take it a bit too far. And a couple of recent stories illustrate the injury risk of office play areas.

So read on before you install your company carousel in the lobby.

Walmart has settled a lawsuit brought by the EEOC on behalf of David Moorman, a former manager at a Walmart store in Keller, Texas. The suit alleged age and disability discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

According to Moorman's claims, his direct supervisors frequently called him "old man" and "old food guy". After he was diagnosed with diabetes, he requested reassignment from a manager position to an assistant manager position. Moorman alleged that Walmart refused to consider his request for a reasonable accommodation and eventually fired him.

With disability and age discrimination claims on the rise, here are three lessons business owners can take away from this case:

Our workplaces are becoming more diverse, a reflection of changing national demographics and federal and state anti-discrimination statutes. And employers can help facilitate diversity in the workplace by providing certain employment forms in Spanish.

Two of the most important forms you can provide Spanish-speaking prospective employees are an employment application and an independent contractor agreement.

As wintry conditions persist across the country, we've all heard the warnings about trying to avoid slip-and-fall injuries in our stores. But nobody's perfect. So what happens if someone does slip and fall on your business' premises?

While we might know what to do to prevent slip-and-fall injuries from happening, we may not be up to speed on what to do after a slip-and-fall happens -- and especially what not to do after a slip and fall at your place of business.

So here are a few tips to consider, to keep an escalator slip from escalating into a lawsuit:

As long as we have employees and employees have access to social media, we run the risk of those employees misusing social media and embarrassing our companies -- or worse, exposing the company to legal risks. All of your social media staff training may not be able to save your employees from themselves.

So when the inevitable happens and an employee posts something offensive on social media, what's next? Here are a few tips that can help your company save face and possibly avoid litigation:

Whether you’re freelancing, telecommuting, or your own CEO, you may be eligible for some substantial tax deductions if you work from home.

From incorporating your small business and deducting your home office to expensing coffee and donuts (and the weight loss program to work them off), here are five tips to get you started:

The Federal Aviation Administration has released a proposed set of regulations regarding the use of commercial drones that could likely outlaw most drone delivery services. The rules would only apply to non-recreational operations, and the agency is seeking public comment regarding the regulations before they become final.

So what could the new rules mean for and your business?

Your employees are going to watch movies, and most likely they are going to discuss those movies at work. And with the majority of movies, this is fine.

But judging from the book and early reviews, "Fifty Shades of Grey" is not most movies. And a workplace discussion of the movie could get as racy as the silver screen adaption.

In a time when even hugging at work can be cause for concern, and with all employers trying to maintain healthy work environments and avoid sexual harassment claims, the prospect of loose talk about sexually explicit topics around the water cooler could have bosses worried. So here are a few ways to keep the movie's steamy subject matter from boiling over at your workplace:

Can You Require Employees to Be Vaccinated?

Here's a timely legal question for employers: Can you require employees to be vaccinated?

The recent outbreak of measles at Disneyland, coupled with the fact that many parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children, is leading to new workplace policies designed to forestall damage from highly communicable diseases.

This led NPR to wonder whether an employer can legally require employees to be vaccinated as a condition of employment. Can employers really force employees to be vaccinated?

Breach of Employment Contract: What Remedies May Be Possible?

Employment contracts are written or implied agreements between employees and employers setting forth the terms of a worker's employment. But what happens when one of these contracts is breached?

An employment contract can be breached by either an employee or an employer. A breach occurs when one side fails to live up to the obligations provided by the contract, such as when an employer wrongfully discharges an employee in violation of a valid employment contract.

What are some of the typical legal remedies for a breach of an employment contract?

Anthem's Big Security Breach: 3 Lessons for Small Business Owners

Anthem Blue Cross, the nation's second-largest health insurance company, announced Thursday that a hack into its systems may have exposed the records of up to 80 million customers. This breach included Social Security numbers, addresses, and health care information, but no credit card numbers (which is really immaterial, with all that other information).

Small businesses, just as much as large businesses, need to take steps to ensure the security of customer data. Here's what business owners need to know:

Ashley Furniture's $1.7M OSHA Fine: 3 Things Employers Should Know

Earlier this week, the Labor Department announced that it would levy $1.7 million in fines on Ashley Furniture, one of the world's largest furniture companies. The fines stem from a number of health and safety violations the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found at Ashley's factory in Arcadia, Wisconsin.

What do small business owners need to know about this penalty?

In Gay Couple's Wedding Cake Lawsuit, Ore. Bakery Loses Again

Sweet Cakes by Melissa isn't so sweet, after all. Last year, the Oregon bakery got into trouble with the state's Bureau of Labor and Industries for violating a state law prohibiting sexual-orientation discrimination in places of public accommodation.

Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of the bakery, refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, citing their religious beliefs. After an investigation, the Bureau determined that their business had violated the law.

Last week, the Kleins suffered another legal setback.

Kmart Settles EEOC Discrimination Suit Over Urine Drug Test

We all know that federal law requires employers to provide accommodations when employees have a religious requirement or a disability. But what if the disability conflicts with an established hiring policy?

As a recent EEOC settlement involving Kmart demonstrates, even a seemingly non-discriminatory hiring practice can discriminate, given the right set of circumstances.