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In many industries, salespeople earn a living thanks to commissions, which can often get characterized as kickbacks. However, sometimes commissions or kickbacks aren't necessarily a good way to sell. They may not even be a legal way to sell, particularly in heavily regulated sectors.

In short, a kickback is illegal when there is a law prohibiting it, or similar conduct. These will often exist in the context of consumer protection laws, as well as government funding. And if you aren't sure whether your commissioned sales team is being paid legit commissions or illegal kickbacks, you'll want to read on.

"Oracle's suppression of pay for its non-white, non-male employees is so extreme that it persists and gets worse over long careers." Not exactly something you want to hear about your business in any context in this day and age, and certainly not something you want to read in a complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Labor.

And these are not new allegations. Federal labor officials are updating a 2017 lawsuit, now claiming that discriminatory hiring practices at the software giant cost women and people of color more than $400 million in lost wages.

Bird Scooters Ordered Out of Santa Cruz and San Francisco

Some companies never learn, and that has led to one grueling week for Bird. They were kicked out of San Francisco and Santa Cruz, California. All because of their mistaken belief that it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

Employer Sued by Woman Fired for Flipping Off the President

Remember that photo of the cyclist flipping off President Trump's motorcade in Virginia? You may also remember that she was forced to resign just days after the photo went viral. Now the Virginia woman is suing her former employer, claiming they violated her right to free speech.

We all know that it's a free market, for the most part, and small business owners are willing to compete for customers and clients. Entrepreneurs often have faith that their product or service will be preferred, or at least they're willing to win some and lose some, without too much complaint, as long as they believe the playing field is level.

What about when circumstances that are out of your control, an "act of god" for example, cause you to lose business? Can you sue?

Google currently appears to be in damage control mode in order to defend itself against Federal Labor Department allegations of a gender pay gap. However, Google has brought all this on itself. For nearly three years, the tech giant has refused to comply with federal compliance investigators' document requests. While the official labor department complaint indicates a preliminary finding of a gender pay gap, the primary issue comes from Google's failure to turn over documents and information.

While Google isn't well known as being a government contractor, the company does in fact receive quite a bit of money for doing government work. However, unlike other federal contractors that accept being subjected to federal compliance reporting to prevent discrimination, Google is asking the court, and world, to just take their word for it, that the tech giant does not discriminate against women when it comes to pay.

This year, President Obama issued an executive order preventing businesses that are awarded federal contracts from retaliating against employees who discuss their wages with each other. Prior to this executive order prohibiting retaliation for employees being transparent regarding their pay, an employer (that has more than $10,000 in annual federal contract work) could prohibit employees from discussing their wages with each other.

The issue of pay transparency is somewhat controversial and not everyone agrees that it is the best method of closing the gender wage gap. Under the new rule, employees may share information about how much they make, and if they learn how much others make, they can disclose and discuss that too (so long as that information is not provided as part of their job function). The purpose of this new rule is to allow employees of medium to large sized federal contractors to close the gender pay gap through transparency.

High Court Says VA Must Open More Bids to Veteran-Owned Businesses

Sometimes but not that often everyone on the US Supreme Court agrees on a topic. That is what happened last week when the eight justices had to consider government contracts for veteran-owned businesses. The nation's highest court decided last week that the Department of Veteran Affairs must set aside more contracts to be filled by veteran-owned small businesses, and that it's not optional as lower courts ruled.

The court's reasoning was remarkably simple and straightforward, and its decision turned on one word: "shall." The hope is that veterans in business will be awarded more government contracts as a result. Let's consider the case, reported by The Washington Post.

Doing business with the government can have its advantages. Longer contracts more prone to renewal with a customer who pays on time are a dream come true for most small businesses.

But there are only so many local, state, and federal government entities with which to contract and competition can be fierce. So how do you qualify for government contracts and then set your small business apart? Here are three keys:

In what seems like an annual occurrence at this point, the federal government is nearing another potential shutdown over budget squabbles. And while this might all sound like political wrangling to you, there are some real ways a government shutdown could affect your small business.

So what can you do to prepare? Here's how to gear up for a potential government shutdown: