Articles Posted in Corporations

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It is always advisable for employers to have an employee handbook, which will contain important information that protects you legally. Even if a company only has a few employee, without a handbook, it might expose itself to the greater risk of a lawsuit regarding sexual harassment, wrongful termination, and other wrongful treatment of employees.

What to Include in Your Handbook

A handbook is a great reference for employees, who can return to the handbook if they have questions. A handbook also forces employers to carefully consider their philosophy and the rules of the business. An adequate handbook should contain:

Fotolia_75565417_Subscription_Monthly_M-300x200If your business employs workers in California, you need to be aware of California laws that govern employer obligations and employee rights regarding overtime. Employer compliance is strictly enforced, and a failure to comply can result in a class action lawsuit against your business. California courts are known for being very employee-friendly, which can mean extensive liability for employers in overtime claims. At Structure Law Group, we can help your business understand the obligations regarding overtime and assist it with a plan to help manage those obligations.

Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Employees

California law requires overtime to be paid to all non-exempt employees. An employee is only exempt if they fit into a specific category codified by the State of California Department of Industrial Relations. The list includes many professions and occupations, but some of the more common business classifications for an exempt employee includes:

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Starting a business partnership can be very exciting. You are ready to hit the ground running with your new venture. However, you will want to pause and make sure you have your legal interests well documented and in order before you jump into starting the business. The corporate attorneys at Structure Law Group understand the intricacies of forming a partnership and putting safeguards in place should a problem later arise.

California Partnership Legal Classifications

General Partnership

Fotolia_206780729_Subscription_Monthly_M-300x129Hiring a new employee is an important business decision that can impact your business’s success. You must take the necessary steps to protect both your business and keep your employee happy, especially today when the unemployment rate is at a historic low . If your San Jose business is considering hiring a new employee, there are some things you might consider.

Confidentiality Agreement

Your business likely has certain information it must keep confidential. This might be company trade secrets, business methods, and sensitive employee or customer data and information. Liability concerns and legal compliance with laws (e.g., HIPPA) require a business to have safeguards in place. One of these safeguards might include a confidentiality agreement.  A confidentiality agreement is a specially crafted legal agreement that an employee signs upon acceptance of his or her employment, or inherently agrees to through the employee handbook. The agreement should include remedies if an employee breaches the confidentiality agreement. A skilled San Jose business attorney can assist your business in drafting the necessary agreement tailored to your business’s needs.

Fotolia_180008799_Subscription_Monthly_M-300x200Startup companies often use stock options to attract new quality talent. If you have decided to do so, there are some special considerations when deciding the best approach to compensate your employees. Two common approaches include restricted stock and stock options.

What is Restricted Stock?

Restricted stock is a stock plan that gives particular employees a right to purchase stock shares. These restricted shares may be at a discounted value, fair market value, or even at no cost. Despite the right to buy the restricted stock, the shares are not actually owned by the employee until a particular triggering event occurs. For example, a company may restrict the transfer of the stock until a particular amount of time has elapsed (e.g., three years from the date of hire). Another example would be a condition regarding company performance (e.g., $1m in gross revenue). The employee then takes possession after the triggering event occurs, thereby lifting the “restriction” on the stock.

Fotolia_194134312_Subscription_Monthly_M-300x200It may seem simple to try and put together a shareholder agreement on your own. However, a carefully drafted shareholder agreement is imperative to how your business functions in the present, but more importantly how you might need to handle things in the future. You will want your shareholder agreement to be carefully drafted to match your business’ specific needs. Even though every shareholder agreement will be different, there are some common components that most shareholder agreements include.

Governance Procedures

The shareholder agreement can outline how often meetings should be held. It can also describe the process for general or special meetings, quorum needed for specific types of matters, and how notices for the meetings should be sent. The addition of theses details not only spells out the procedural process, but also notifies members of their duties and rights as a shareholder.

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It seems almost once a week there is data breach in the news-Facebook, Experian, Target, Delta Airlines. The list goes on and on. San Jose business owners have a legal obligation to protect their customers’ personal information (also called Personally Identifiable Information or PII). Every business, regardless of the size, should have a privacy policy and measures to safeguard PII. This is especially true if your business collects user information online or stores sensitive employee information.

What is Personally Identifiable Information (PII)?

PII is any information that can be used to identify an individual’s personal identity. There are many definitions, but most often the following list is considered PII:

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Uber is almost an institution in many of our daily lives, much like Google, Amazon, or Apple. But even though many of us may simply think of Uber as the name that fulfills many of our transportation needs, it is still a company – it has offices, hires people, fights for its rights, and makes corporate policies and decisions. To this end, over the last several years Uber has been making headlines, and one reason for this is that the way in which Uber classifies its drivers has come under heavy scrutiny. In the past, Uber has been involved in heavy litigation in order to classify its drivers as “independent contractors” as opposed to employees (discussed further below), and a recently settled case involving this very issue will have a lasting effect on this classification.

Independent Contractors vs. Employees

The IRS treats independent contractors and employees very differently for tax purposes. According to the IRS, an independent contractor is a person who has a high degree of control over their work . Independent contractors are also typically not offered benefits.

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In the tech-rich culture of San Jose, protection of intellectual property and consumer data is a constant concern for business owners. How can owners invoke legal protection for these assets in order to protect their legal interests and reassure customers that their data is secure? The answer depends upon the different types of liability a business can face when consumer data is compromised.

Contractual Liability

Contractual liability arises when one (or more) parties in a contract fail to fulfill their responsibilities agreed upon in the contract. Many technology companies have contracts with consumers. These are often contained in the Terms of Service issued to users of mobile apps or software. Some can be more detailed – especially when the company is hired to perform a specific service to the customer. For example, when a company provides customers with secure data storage based on a private server or the cloud, the Terms of Service are typically very inclusive. If such consumer data is compromised, a technology company can face contractual liability for failing to provide the secure data storage offered by the terms of the contract.

Fotolia_183822998_Subscription_Monthly_M-300x176Many San Jose business owners find themselves embroiled in legal disputes with vendors, clients, employees, contractors, and other business relationships. It is highly likely that a legal dispute will arise at some point during your business operations. It can be difficult to know how to resolve such a dispute. Litigation can subject a business to unnecessary time, effort, and costs which will not always be reimbursed after a trial. Yet in some cases, litigation remains the only method of effectively preserving important legal rights.

Mediation and arbitration provides clients with the ability to settle their claims quicker and for less expense. However, one of the biggest cons of mediation and arbitration is the fact that neither party will be totally satisfied as the result of settlements is a compromise.

The experienced San Jose corporate attorneys at Structure Law Group have extensive experience in litigation, mediation, and arbitration.They can help you determine how best to protect your financial and legal interests in a business.