Shay joins Ashley Cox's podcast, The Ripple Effect, to discuss the legal potholes of small businesses.
Excerpt: We discussed the complexities of employment laws, where Shay emphasized the importance of having legal support to help you protect your business from potential lawsuits and reputation damage.
We dove into an important conversation about the differences you need to know between hiring 1099 Independent Contractors and W-2 Employees, understanding Exempt vs. Non-Exempt compensation structures, as well as the legal challenges of hiring workers in multiple states.
We’re currently monitoring the Federal Trade Commission’s proposed rule that would ban the use of noncompete agreements with workers nationwide, including with independent contractors. If the rule becomes final, existing noncompete agreements will have to be rescinded within 180 days, and employers will have to send individual notices to their current and former workers that the noncompete is no longer in effect. The proposed rule is expected to be widely challenged, but it’s definitely one to keep an eye on.
We regularly try to remind business owners and nonprofit directors that they should not do business on a
handshake. Too many problems creep up when the terms of the deal aren’t documented in writing,
especially as time goes on. But a recent case involving text messages illustrates not only when a written
conversation might serve as a binding contract but when the terms of that communication might also be
construed as a personal guarantee by the person sending the message.
We frequently tell clients and prospective clients that no matter what kind of business you own and no matter how much time you’d like to spend developing your products or providing your services, the thing that will take up most of your time as an entrepreneur is really marketing. You have to let potential customers and clients know about your products or services and why they should choose you over the competition. But how much can you really say about the competition in your advertising materials?
Everyone we talk to is struggling to hire new employees. Among other hiring challenges is the question of whether your job description should disclose the pay range for the position. As legal counsel, we’re not here to wade into the debate over whether it’s more equitable to disclose a pay range (it is*) or whether you’re in a better bargaining position if you require candidates to disclose first. But we do want to make small businesses and nonprofits aware of the changing legal landscape.
Increasingly, states and local governments are passing pay disclosure laws requiring employers to share either the minimum level of compensation for the position or a pay range.
A federal law known as the Lanham Act is often used for a variety of unfair competition claims brought by competitors, including infringement of unregistered trademarks. (At the state law level, most states have some version of a Deceptive Trade Practices Act that also prohibits unfair competition.) You should never assume that a cursory search of exact matches in the USPTO or Secretary of State databases can provide the all-clear to proceed with a brand idea.
Being an entrepreneur requires you to wear many hats. Not only do you have to provide a great product or service, but you’re also responsible for all of the financial details like setting prices, learning how to use accounting software, managing expenses; long term strategic planning, especially if you plan to grow the business; and human resources and the never-ending challenging of managing people. But no matter what kind of business you run, it seems like your “real” job is sales and marketing. After all, none of the other staff matters if you can’t get customers or clients to buy what you’re selling.
As a law firm, we can’t solve all of your marketing problems. But we can make sure your marketing plan doesn’t land your business in legal trouble. Like most things legal, advertising isn’t covered by a single law with simple rules but instead by a complex framework created by federal, state, and local laws, industry regulations, and common law restrictions on commercial speech. In this series, we’re looking at just what small businesses should know about advertising laws.
If you’ve ever considered starting a nonprofit organization, then you’ve probably taken a look at the IRS’ Application for Recognition of Tax-Exempt Status. IRS Form 1023 is a daunting application to say the least. At one point, the IRS estimated that for the average person to properly complete and submit the form would take more than 100 hours. It is the equivalent of getting audited before your organization even gets started. And after putting in all of that work, nearly 15% of applications never get approved.
What are some of the common mistakes that could hinder or delay your application, effectively destroying your mission-driven project before it even gets off the ground?
'The Copyright Office has a new registration option for what it is calling “short online literary works,” which includes blog posts, social media posts, and other short online articles. If your business provides content via the Internet, should you be using this new registration option to protect your work? What about online courses, podcasts, and other content?
The early days of entrepreneurship are all about proving your concept and turning that concept into a profitable business. Then you start thinking about growing and scaling and what that means both for you, the individual entrepreneur, and for your larger team. But eventually your thoughts will extend to the long term:
Whatever you might be envisioning, what do you need to consider to position your company for sale or investment? You may be surprised to learn that you need to spend a year or two getting your house in order before the business is ready for a potential sale.