Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

December 2017 Archives

Harvey Weinstein might've dominated the headlines this year, but the sexual assault allegations against the disgraced Hollywood producer were just the tip of a very large iceberg. Revelations of sexual harassment came to light from coast-to-coast and from industry-to-industry.

Here are the major workplace sexual harassment and assault stories from 2017:

Facebook has more personal data on its users than almost any other website, and certainly more than any other social media site. And that data is particularly valuable to advertisers, who like the ability to target ads as closely to their chosen demographic as possible. This goes for job ads as well, as employers want to reach people who live in a certain area or tout specific credentials like degrees or job experience on their profiles.

But there's a fine line between targeted ads and discrimination, and it can all depend on the individuals you're excluding from viewing your ad. A new lawsuit claims Facebook allowed major employers to target potential employees by age, allegedly discriminating against older users, some as young as 36.

When most of us think "human trafficking," we think of semi trucks loaded with immigrants, some tragically not surviving the journey. We're generally not thinking about $700/night Ritz-Carlton hotels in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

But human trafficking has many different faces, requiring many different people to be vigilant in the fight against it. Recently, the focus has turned to training employees and managers in restaurants, hotels, and others in the hospitality industry to prevent, spot, and report human trafficking. Here's why:

You don't need anyone to tell you that work isn't confined to the four walls of your office. Gone are the days of punching in and out at a time clock, and clients, customers, and employees will want contact no matter where you are or what time it is. This means doing a lot of business on the phone, and smartphones only increase the amount of work you can do away from your desk.

But is all this freedom a security risk? And does using a personal phone for work increase that risk?

Chicago pizzeria and beer garden Bottled Blonde first gained notoriety with a page-long dress code outlawing, among a litany of items, "plain white tees, long tees, denim, flannel (not even around one's waist) or zippers on shirts," "Jordans, Nike Air Max or Air Force Ones," or sports jerseys, and "Hawaiian, tie dye, floral, skull prints or anything else obnoxious."

The restaurant/bar/nightclub is now getting headlines for its fight against the city's liquor commission, claiming the revocation of its liquor license contravened state laws, which Bottle Blonde also contends are unconstitutional.

Just because your state legalized it doesn't mean it's going to be smooth sailing all the way to the bank for your cannabiz. First, there are the hundreds of pages of state rules and regulations for recreational pot sales. Then come the racketeering lawsuits.

Bloomberg reports that individuals, businesses, and even states frustrated with the teeming weed industry have turned to federal RICO statutes for help, including neighbors of a medical marijuana shop in Massachusetts.

Entrepreneurs are natural self-starters with a belief they can do it all themselves, including all of the incorporation work necessary to start a small business. (And with some of the resources available on the internet, sometimes they might be right.)

But incorporation can be a tricky thing to get right. And if you're starting a nonprofit to do good, make sure you do it well. That may mean hiring an attorney to help you with starting a nonprofit.

Gone are the days that small business owners can just focus on dollars and cents. If you're not on the lookout for crimes and scams, you stand to lose more than a little profit.

Scammers can destroy your small business' credit and reputation overnight, so you need to be vigilant when protecting what you've built. But you can't stop a scam if you don't know what to look for, so here are seven of the most common scams targeting small businesses.

While some small businesses are gearing up for the Christmas sale rush, others might be winding down for the holiday season. And whether you're anticipating a rush of customers into your business or a flood of employees out on vacation, you also have to be on guard for the annual holiday crime spike.

Whether its shoplifters who can't afford or don't want to pay for a gift, or staffing illegally adding to their year-end bonus, take these five tips to heart when trying to prevent Christmas crime at your small business.

Employers Prohibited From Asking 'What's Your Salary History?'

In certain states, cities, and municipalities, new laws prohibit potential employers from asking job applicants for their salary history. These laws may also require employers to disclose their salary range if the applicant requests that information. The purpose of these new laws is to protect applicants from employment discrimination.

Employers must comply with the new laws or face liability. However, according to Bloomberg, some states have enacted the prohibition about asking for an applicant's salary history, many have delayed an applicant's ability to sue or seek punitive damages, presumably to allow employers to learn how to comply with the new legislation.

Most have us, at some point in our daily lives or travels, have come across a shop serving its customers through bulletproof glass. Maybe it was a gas station or a convenience store, but the assumption is always pretty similar -- this must be a rough neighborhood, and this place probably has a good reason for having the glass up.

But Philadelphia is trying to bring the bulletproof glass down, at least in some of its establishments. And to understand why, it might be useful to explain how Philly's "beer delis" are a little different than your average corner store.

We might remember 2014 as the Year of the Data Breach. But 2017 saw what has the potential to be the most catastrophic hack in history. And 2018 might be the year when Congress cracks down on companies concealing data breaches.

Last week, three senators introduced new legislation that would require companies to report data breaches within 30 days, and even provide prison time for executives who knowingly conceal a data breach.

It's been a boilerplate part of every employment application for decades: "Have you been convicted of a crime?" For employers, it may have been an easy way to cull the list of job applicants, or an attempt to weed out any unsavory characters.

But there are movements afoot to remove the question from job applications, or, if not, to incentivize businesses to hire felons and ex-convicts. While small businesses may still be wary of hiring someone with a criminal record, there might be a few good reasons to do so. So here are a few legal angles to consider if you're thinking about hiring felons, from our archives:

The State of California filed a lawsuit last week claiming a janitorial company, responsible for cleaning retail stores like Ross, JoAnn's Fabrics, Burlington Coat Factory, and Toys R Us, violated state wage and tax laws.

One Source Facility Solution is accused of failing to pay workers the minimum wage, underreporting payroll taxes, and providing false payroll information to its workers' compensation insurance carrier. The lawsuit alleges One Source janitors "have not received and do not receive the state-mandated minimum wage for all of the hours they work."