Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

February 2018 Archives

Firing People Over Sexual Orientation Is Illegal, Circuit Court Rules

It's time to add another reason to the (lengthy) list of reasons why businesses shouldn't discriminate against LGBT workers. Besides turning off customers and courting controversy, it's now illegal under federal law in New York, Connecticut, and Vermont. There's a reasonable chance that the U.S. Supreme Court could soon extend that decision nationwide as well.

Casino Changes Policy to Check Hotel Rooms Every 24 Hours

Caesars Entertainment will check guests' hotel rooms every 24 hours even with a 'do not disturb' sign on the door, under a newly announced policy. The company, one of the largest casino operators in the world, joins a growing list of hotel and casino operators that have taken similar steps following last October's mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada.

This raises familiar questions for balancing guest security and business liability against guests' privacy interests. So what does it mean for other business owners?

Do I Need a Lawyer to Get a Liquor License?

Starting a business takes time, money, and knowledge of not only the area of business that you'll be engaged in, but also of laws and regulations that apply to your type of business. For example, most businesses are required to obtain various licenses and permits in order to legally operate in a particular area. Additionally, if a business is looking to sell alcohol, it will need to obtain a liquor license.

Lawsuit Claims Vice Media Pays Women Less

Vice Media, which operates the Viceland cable channel, is the latest company to face allegations of discrimination against female employees. Elizabeth Rose, a former employee of Vice Media, has filed a lawsuit against the company alleging that Vice Media discriminates against its female employees by "systematically and intentionally paying them less than their male counterparts."

The complaint alleges that as part of her job, Rose received internal memos showing the salaries of approximately 35 Vice Media employees, which showed that women "made far less than male employees for the same or substantially similar work."

Can Your Company Avoid Biometric Privacy Lawsuits?

Biometrics has been all the rage the last few years, offering a good way to ditch your "Password1" password for something uniquely identifiable and entirely yours. Businesses have increasingly adopted biometrics to replace tickets, employee ID badges, time clocks, and customers struggling to remember a password before purchasing a product.

So what's the catch? Recently, there's been a rise in class action lawsuits alleging companies are misusing biometric data belonging to patrons, employees, and more. It's gotten some business facing unwelcome attention and potential legal liability as a result.

Applebee's Fires 3 for Racial Profiling

An Applebee's restaurant has fired three employees and temporarily closed after admitting to racially profiling two diners. It's a lesson for all small business owners in the importance of properly training employees, being sure about your facts before accusing people of stealing from you, and social media's power to quickly embarrass you.

Do Businesses Have to Give Federal Holidays Like President's Day Off?

The third Monday of February has been declared by the federal government to be President's Day. This means that government workers generally get that day off. But what about people in the private industry? While a day off is nice -- whether you're an employee or the owner -- it may not be the best choice for your business. After all, when there are other people who have the day off, it may be a prime day for your business. So, which holidays do businesses have to give off to their employees?

New Uber Policy: Drivers Must Rest 6 Hours After Driving 12 Hours

Your Uber experience is getting a little safer. In a nod to the old adage that injured customers and cranky employees -- I mean, independent contractors -- are bad for business, the ride-sharing company is rolling out a feature forcing Uber drivers to take 6 hours off after driving for 12 hours.

Can Restaurants Serve Marijuana in Food?

As more states legalize marijuana, more people are asking about the future of restaurants serving 'edibles' to customers. It's an interesting question touching on a number of tension points in the law, among them state vs. federal drug laws and regulation of the food and restaurant industry.

Lululemon CEO Resigns Over Misconduct

Usually when people are fired, it's because of their work performance. Maybe they took lunches that were too long or kept showing up late to work or simply couldn't perform the job up to the company's standards. But sometimes, it's also possibly to fire an employee for off duty conduct.

It appears that this may have happened in the case of Lululemon's CEO, Laurent Potdevin, who resigned over misconduct. It's not clear exactly what Potdevin did, but according to reports, Lululemon expects "all employees to exemplify the 'highest level of integrity and respect for one another,' and Potdevin failed to meet these standards." But, what's the best way to fire an employee to avoid a wrongful termination lawsuit down the line?

When to Fire an Employee for a Crime

While there may be several reasons for wanting to fire an employee, it's important to make sure that you're doing it for the right reasons. There are, after all, illegal reasons for terminating an employee's job. Generally, however, employees are fired for work performance, which can include anything from not doing the job well to being late or absent too often.

As long as you follow the correct procedure, firing an employee for work performance reasons is usually legal. But, there are also other reasons that may lead to firing an employee, including certain extracurricular activities. One reason you may want to fire an employee is because he or she committed a crime.

CA Brewery Faces Legal Claims by Thelonious Monk Jr.

Intellectual property rights can seem like invisible property rights. They're out there, but that never seems to stop businesses and enterprising individuals from running afoul of them. That's apparently true for the North Coast Brewing Company, out of Mendocino, California.

A federal judge refused to dismiss a trademark infringement suit brought against the company on Wednesday, alleging that the company improperly used the likeness of jazz legend Thelonious Monk to sell beer-related merchandise without permission.