Articles Posted in Employment Law

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The prime objective of a start-up is to get work done quickly. In doing that, most of the time they do not execute an appropriate background verification and criminal check before hiring the resources. This could be extremely hazardous and might lead to various legal issues. This acts as a blemish to the reputation of the company and might lead to a cancellation of the business license. But at the same time, companies must be incredibly careful about how they go about this process.handcuffs.jpg

Understanding the Law

Perhaps most importantly, local companies should be aware that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently released guidance on businesses using arrest and conviction records in the hiring process. This is a common practice, and many startups may have assumptions about how the law does or does not apply to these matters. At the very least it is critical to be aware of the basics of the law and how they might apply to you.

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Countless studies show that a more diversified workplace can lead to increased productivity, creativity, and employee satisfaction. Prudent California small business owners know that productive, creative, and satisfied employees are essential to a profitable business venture. However, many small business owners are unaware that efforts to create a diversified workplace are not just desirable; they are the law of the land. The best way to understand equal opportunity employment laws is to consult a Sacramento business attorney for an overview of what you, as the employer, can and cannot do.help.jpg

There are a host of federal laws in place that aim to reduce discrimination in the workplace. The preeminent law that applies to every employer in every industry is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under this law, an employer may not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Another is the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits sex-based wage discrimination for men and women who perform substantially similar work. Age discrimination is prohibited under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which aims to protect workers who are 40 years of age or older. Finally, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 states that no qualified individual with a disability shall face discrimination in employment.

Compliance with these discrimination laws is governed by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. According to the EEOC, it is illegal to discriminate in any of the following aspects of employment:

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It’s a dreaded reality that some business owners may have to face. In fact, in some areas of the California, it’s a reality that a firm majority of new businesses have to face. We’re talking about the prospect of closing. And whether you’re making the decision to close the business because it isn’t bringing in the profit you had hoped, or whether you’re planning to retire with no one to take up the reigns, closure of the business has several serious legal implications.closed.jpg

First and foremost, you will need to break the news to your employees. Depending on the structure of the business, those employees may be entitled to severance pay, temporary health insurance benefits, and notice of the date of their final paycheck. Regardless of the time of year in which you close, your employees will need to be provided with W-2 forms for whatever portion of the fiscal year they worked. The bad news is best delivered sooner than later so that employees can begin the job search process as soon as possible.

Another legal implication has to do with existing contracts. If, for example, a failing restaurant has an existing contract with a food supplier for fresh vegetables each week, the company operating the restaurant still has the obligation to adhere to the terms of the contract for the duration of the contract period. Contracts are legally binding promises that usually do not expire just because one of the parties becomes insolvent. An experienced California small business attorney can help renegotiate contract terms in this situation so that you’re not paying for deliveries of fresh vegetables well beyond your closing date.

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Any California small business attorney would tell you that a small business owner should make workplace safety a top priority. It is not only morally right to care for the safety of your employees and customers, but the time and energy a small business owner invests in workplace safety can reap dividends in the form of avoided litigation, better employee productivity, and enhanced reputation with customers.caution.jpg

Many business owners are familiar with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and its guidelines for a safe workplace based on the type of business you are operating. These guidelines are a good starting point for workplace safety, but it is important to remember that complying with the bear minimum standard does not necessarily safe your business money in the long term. The following are some ways in which you, the business owner, can take personal responsibility for the safety of your workplace and lessen your legal exposure at the same time.

First and foremost, remind yourself to conduct frequent visual inspections of the areas in which your employees and customers are most likely to occupy. In addition to the aesthetic properties of the areas you are inspecting, ask yourself, “Am I observing something on my premises that could remotely result in a lawsuit?” If you see some kind of defect or hazard, be proactive in remedying the problem. If you have to delegate the work to someone else, be specific about what is wrong and exactly how you would like it to be fixed, as opposed to saying, “Take care of it.”

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Most large corporations, non-profits, and public sector organizations employ an army of human resources professionals to handle all types of personnel matters. These matters can range from training to payroll to employee relations. The common denominator among these large organizations is that the managing officers delegate these responsibilities to a human resources department so that they can focus on the broader goals of the organization. The owners of small businesses in Sacramento do not have this luxury. The business owner (or perhaps one trusted employee) is the human resources department for a small business.personnel-handbook.jpg

Be that as it may, there is no reason that a small business cannot have many of the same human resources features that a larger organization has. One of the most important of these features is a solid and robust personnel policy. And make no mistake: the best personnel policies are written by Sacramento business attorneys.

Think of a personnel policy as your employees’ handbook. It serves as a guide for what is expected of all employees. It outlines the rights and responsibilities of both the employee and the business itself. It provides clarity on what to do if certain circumstances should arise. Finally, it supplements the labor and employment laws of the jurisdiction in which the business operates.

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The question is simple enough. You have people whom you “employ” to perform work for your business. Are they technically your employees, or do they fall into a similar category as independent contractors? It may seem like a matter of semantics, but any Sacramento business attorney would caution you that the technical classification of those who perform work for you can have a tremendous impact on your business’s legal exposure.6a01053697c8b6970b014e5f679488970c-800wi.jpg

Unfortunately, there is no settled definition of what makes an independent contractor different from a typical employee. Their classification depends on a number of different factors, some of which can vary by jurisdiction. Moreover, there is no single factor that trumps all others in making the determination.

Generally speaking, independent contractors engage in a business that is distinct from your own, even if you both perform substantially similar work functions. An independent contractor likely operates under a different name than your own, likely has multiple clients, and advertises his or her business services independently from your own. He or she typically works his or her own hours, is not subject to your direct supervision, and utilizes his or her own tools or workspace. An independent contractor would likely provide you with an invoice for the value of the services performed. Some common examples of independent contractors include: attorneys, doctors, engineers, architects, construction contractors, and accountants. However, the classification is not limited to these listed service providers.