Articles Posted in Employment

He may have looked the part, spoken well in the interview, and had the right experience. In fact, he seemed like a great fit for your company. It’s only after a few months that you realize why he was available in the first place. Employees who clearly engage in wrongful conduct such as sexual harassment, violation of company policies, or constant tardiness are often easier to terminate than employees who aren’t the right fit for the corporate environment. San Jose businesses may fear wrongful termination litigation after firing an employee for causing dissent among the staff or failing to embody corporate values. California, like most states, is an “at will” employment state. This means that absent a contract, you have the right to terminate an employee at any time and for any reason that doesn’t violate state or federal law.

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Avoiding Wrongful Termination Lawsuits in California – 2 exceptions to the rule

1. Although California is an “at will” employment state, there are two notable exceptions to this rule. First, an employee with an employment contract may be protected from a termination “without cause.” This means that there must be a justifiable reason for her termination as defined in the employment contract. The employee may also be entitled to certain notice and disciplinary warnings before termination. We can review any employment contracts at issue to ensure a termination complies with these provisions.

In the Silicon Valley technology sector, intellectual property is more than just a buzzword. It is an asset with the potential to generate significant income for years to come. Intellectual property includes patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Many employers protect their intellectual property with invention assignment agreements and confidentiality agreements.

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What types of Agreement can be used to protect my company’s intellectual property?

There are many different types of agreements that employers can use to protect their intellectual property. The appropriate one for your business depends on what specific protections your business wishes to enact. An invention assignment agreement is a contract that establishes the employer’s ownership over all creations (including patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and other inventions) that are created at the employer’s expense on company time.

Options When Faced with a Legal Dispute

When faced with a legal dispute, it is important to know what your options are. A San Jose business owner typically juggles multiple commercial relationships on a regular basis – vendors, clients, employees, contractors, and business partners. Given the nature of running a business, it is likely that a legal dispute will come up at some point. When this happens, it is very important to educate yourself on what your options are. Litigation can subject a business to unnecessary stress, be huge time sink, and cost you significant legal fees and expenses. Alternative dispute resolutions like mediation and arbitration are processes that may allow you and the other side to reach a solution that you both can live with without the substantial causalities that litigation typically entails.

The experienced San Jose corporate attorneys at Structure Law Group have extensive experience in litigation, mediation, and arbitration. They can discuss the pros and cons of each option with you and help you pick the best course of action for your business.

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How Can a Founder be Removed as an Employee?

You may expect the founder of a company to remain in charge of the enterprise until it the founder either retires or the company closes up shop. After all, the company would not exist without the founder, so they should retain control over their own business, right? However, there are situations where founders and CEOs are removed from their positions in an organization.

It may not seem fair that a founder starts a business from scratch, work long hours every day to build the business, find investors, and then have the investors decide that someone else should lead the company in further growth. When money is on the line, however, investors will make sure to do what is best for the company. Ousting founders seems particularly common in the tech industry, and the following are only some examples of removed founders:

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Technology is an integral part of our business in this fast-paced world. This is true no matter the size of your organization, especially in the Bay Area. Managing contracts efficiently and effectively can be a burdensome task, but a critical one. Contracts form the basis for almost every deal we do. They are inherently important. Nowadays, there is software for virtually almost any application, including contract management. Considering a system to manage your Bay Area contracts can help to streamline your business.

What is a Contract Management System?

Contract management can mean different things to different businesses. In the general sense, contract management is the process a company uses to create, negotiate, execute, and track contracts. A contract management system is an automated system that helps streamline various components of contract management. There are many Bay Area and national companies that offer various software to manage contracts. At the heart of these systems is the ability to use it as a repository for legacy and new contracts, increase the operational process of contract drafting, and automate as much of the process as possible.

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For decades, the traditional 40-hour per week work schedule has involved working five eight-hour days per week, often Monday through Friday. However, in recent years, many companies have realized the benefits of offering alternative work schedules for employees. Such benefits include improved job satisfaction, employee morale, additional opportunities for public service, reduced time off work for medical appointments and child-related obligations, and more.

Employees have many reasons for preferring an alternative schedule to the traditional nine-to-five. A popular schedule is working four 10-hour days in a week and having a consistent three-day weekend. However, California overtime laws traditionally required employers to pay overtime rates – time-and-a-half regular hourly pay – for any hours worked over eight in a day. In recent years, the legislature adapted California law to address new employment trends to allow and even encourage employers to offer alternative workweek schedules (AWWS) to employees without paying overtime rates.

Employers should be careful to comply with all relevant laws when offering an AWWS to employees in order to prevent liability. If you are considering offering an AWWS, it is always wise to first consult with an experienced employment and business attorney.

Fotolia_69411638_Subscription_Monthly_M-300x200Contracts are essential to any business deal. No matter how close the parties and no matter how clearly the terms are spelled out, there is always a possibility of the other party breaching the contract. Whether a contract is with a vendor, another business, an employee, or any other party, a breach can cause financial harm to your company.

Fortunately, a contract should also dictate your rights and options to seek legal remedies in the event of a breach. Our experienced business and contract attorneys can help you through each step of this process to ensure the matter is resolved as efficiently and favorably as possible.

  1. Talk to the other party. Sometimes, a party to a contract may not even realize they are in breach of the agreement. If the breach involves non-payment, there may be ways to agree on a payment plan or another arrangement to fulfill the contract without taking legal action. It is always a good idea to speak with a party – or have your lawyer do so – to explore options to resolve the issue.

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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:

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.