Los Angeles Business Law Blog

Rethinking arbitration clauses

Over the years, the use of arbitration clauses in employment contracts has become more common. These clauses specify that in the event of a dispute between an employee and employer, the matter will go to arbitration, not court.

However, arbitration agreements are controversial. Employers often see the benefits of using arbitration clauses, including keeping certain matters private and avoiding the cost of litigation. Employees, on the other hand, argue that these clauses unfairly benefit employers and perpetuate a cycle of workplace violations.

How big of a problem is trademark infringement?

Protecting intellectual property is an important priority for many California businesses. Securing ownership of innovative and creative ideas can be the determining factor in whether your business moves from start-up to successful entity.

As such, it is crucial for business owners to understand the scope of problems that can come with violations of intellectual property ownership. This includes trademark infringement.

Protecting yourself against construction defect claims

Nothing about building a new property is simple, and the bigger the project, the more there is usually to think about. The architect, engineers, general contractor, subcontractors, project manager, site supervisors and more, all working with the property owner or developer, who generally work with the lender. Potential buyers, tenants, suppliers and others are in play as well.

A major issue all of these individuals and entities face is the prospect of substandard design or construction that lead to defects, which can be exponentially more expensive to remediate than the original construction.

Wage and hour violations in the construction industry

A California construction firm called RDV Construction was recently found to have committed the biggest wage theft violation by a private company in the state’s history according to regulators. The firm will be fined almost $12 million for underpaying and withholding wages from employees. The company used workers for apartment, hotel and other building projects throughout Southern California.

Unfortunately, wage and hour violations are common in the construction industry for smaller projects. The massive citations that this company is now facing illustrate why it is important for businesses to put correct payment practices in place before issues occur.

Do discrimination laws cover hairstyles?

No employer should allow or encourage discrimination in the workplace. Discrimination violates a person's rights under state and federal laws, and it can lead to costly legal battles.

Sometimes it's hard to determine what is and is not discrimination. This can be the case when it comes to physical traits, like hairstyles. Currently, state and federal laws do not specifically include hairstyles on the list of traits that employers are prohibited to use to make employment decisions. Accordingly, an employer can theoretically terminate or not hire someone based on their hairstyle.

What does it mean to prove "use" of a trademark?

Protecting intellectual property with a trademark is an important step in securing ownership and exclusive use of unique creations like brand names and logos. However, simply getting the trademark does not mean that the goods or services in question have indefinite protection. In fact, other parties can lawfully use the protected name or creation if the trademark holder does not meet use requirements.

Proposed bill urges businesses to 'skip the slip'

California is typically on the forefront of legislative changes that affect (arguably adversely) small- and medium-sized businesses. In numerous industries, California companies set trends and priorities for the rest of the country, which is why people often pay close attention to the changes happening here.

As a recent example, for instance, California passed a law prohibiting many restaurants from using plastic straws unless a patron specifically requests one. Now, lawmakers are proposing a similar measure: offering only electronic receipts.

Employers: Don't make these age discrimination mistakes

People over the age of 40 face challenges when it comes to finding jobs and working their way up in a company. One especially troubling challenge is age discrimination.

Age discrimination is subjecting someone to adverse treatment because of his or her age. It is illegal in this and every state, so it is crucial for California employers to take steps to avoid age discrimination. This includes avoiding the following discriminatory acts and behaviors:

Overlooking contracts can be a costly mistake

A Colorado hospital faces a hefty settlement after failing to have an essential contract required under HIPAA rules. Pagosa Springs Medical Center neglected to cut-off availability to a remote access system for a former employee. The former employee filed a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights stating that they still had a working username and password to an electronic health information system. This system gave them the ability to see an online patient scheduling calendar, which included protected health information of 557 patients.

The Office for Civil Rights launched an investigation into the former employee’s complaint, unveiling that the hospital failed to have a business associate agreement with the online scheduling vendor. Any business working with an entity that requires access to protected patient information is required to have a business associate agreement under HIPAA. These contracts are intricate and important to keep the public’s information as secure as possible.

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