Los Angeles Business Law Blog

What to Include in an Effective Dispute Resolution Provision

Disputes are almost inevitable in the business world. There are big decisions to make as well as risks that business owners may take to stay in or grow their business. Sometimes those decisions can lead to disagreements with partners, employees, vendors and customers.

Business owners should understand this eventuality and plan for disputes in advance. Almost every business contract-whether it is an employment agreement or a partnership agreement-addresses how the parties should resolve a dispute.

What can employers do when their employees plan a strike?

The word "strike" is not one that employers want to hear from their employees. However, it is one that Uber-faced earlier this year.

Los Angeles Uber drivers organized the strike to protest their low wages and benefits, which spread to several cities nationwide. Some California employers may worry that their own company could suffer the same fate, so here is a brief primer on union employee strikes, which are governed by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

There are three fundamental things that employers should do if they are facing an employee strike.

Retaliation laws for employers

Employees have the right to report labor violations in good faith. And if they file a complaint or a report, they also have state and federal protections against retaliation from their employers.

Most employers understand that retaliation is illegal. However, there is much more to know than that. Here is a quick summary of California's anti-retaliation laws for business owners.

Take a close look at soil before building

California boasts various unique terrains. The landscape and climate are often major factors that draw many new residents here, and with more people comes more building projects - particularly during a strong economy.

Developers and contractors are typically under severe pressure to complete a project as quickly as possible due to lender required milestones and contractual requirements among the many subcontractors and suppliers. Generally, the longer a project takes, the greater the chance it will cause delay penalties and the smaller the profit. However, this should not distract from following proper building procedures.

Tips for defending against a discrimination claim

Few things can evoke concern in a business owner like an allegation of discrimination. Whether it’s an internal notice from an employee, or a letter from either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), such a claim represents a potentially serious issue.

It happens even to the best-run businesses, however, and is no reason to panic as long as you act quickly and do the following right away to minimize or eliminate the discrimination claims.

Hacked real estate listing raises new concerns for developers

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of bringing a real estate development to the market. After you’ve arranged all the financing, licensing, design and construction, you’ve finally hit the last stretch. You’re almost ready to realize your profit. But the recent hacking of one developer’s Zillow listing shows this last stretch may come with new dangers of its own.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the developer of a $150 million luxury home sued Zillow for falsely reporting two sales that were nearly $60 million below the property’s list price. The phantom sales were “self-reported” by someone with a Chinese IP and fake phone number who claimed to be the former homeowner. And as the developer claims the forged records will cost him tens of millions of dollars, the hack reminds us that developers often take great risks in pursuit of their rewards.

Protecting your business’ trade secrets in California

With California’s unemployment rate down significantly since this time just a few years ago, many employers have started taking new measures to land skilled workers. They’ve increased wages and adjusted their benefits packages and workspaces. We have also seen an uptick in cases where businesses are poaching their competitors’ executives and employees.

Even if you go the extra mile to keep your employees happy, you might not fend off all the poachers, in which case you might find yourself forced to defend your trade secrets against former employees.

What will the law requiring women on boards mean for businesses?

A couple months ago, we wrote about SB 826 - a new California law requiring publicly traded companies to include at least one woman on their board of directors. The law is intended to address gender inequality in the workplace and is the first of its kind in the nation. According to the California Secretary of State’s office, as of the end of 2018, nearly one-quarter of the State’s 445 publicly traded companies did not have a woman on their boards.

The law went into effect on January 1, 2019. All public companies based in California must be compliant by December 31, 2019. The legislation does not stop there. By July 31, 2020, public corporations with five directors must have at least two women on their board, and those with six or more directors must have at least three women on the board.

Is the gender pay gap narrowing?

It should not come as a surprise that a wage discrepancy exists between men and women. Research shows that women earn an average of 15 cents less per dollar than men in the same job. In recent years, however, there have been enormous efforts to bring attention to and eliminate this unfair gap. Are these efforts working? The short answer is yes.

Efforts to eliminate the gap are proving to be effective, especially among certain workers in certain industries. For instance, as this Pew Research Center article notes, the wage gap is narrowest among young adults ages 25-34.

3 mistakes you must avoid when entering into a contract

As a business owner, you will likely be party to numerous contracts with employees, independent contractors, vendors, customers and landlords. Needless to say, it's important that these contracts protect your business, minimize potential disputes and maximize profits.

This is why it is crucial to work with an attorney to ensure the contracts are fair, enforceable and necessary. Failure to secure legal guidance can facilitate unwise decisions and missteps that can have costly consequences, including those we discuss below.

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