Blogs

Can I Make My Workers Independent Contractors?

Posted by Jeanine Gagliardi on Fri, 03/01/2013 - 05:00

The dream of having no employees can be enticing. No employment taxes. No retirement benefits. No unemployment insurance. And it seems so simple. Make all workers independent contractors. Why hasn't everyone thought of this? Well, they have. And a recent case from Kansas reminds us why everyone isn't doing it.

Is It Illegal to Use Unpaid Interns?

Posted by Jeanine Gagliardi on Tue, 02/19/2013 - 05:00

A recent agreement to settle a New York lawsuit reminds us of the care that businesses must take when using unpaid interns. In the case, a group of individuals that had served as unpaid interns for Charlie Rose’s talk show sued Charlie Rose. The interns claimed that state law required Rose to pay them for the work that they performed. Rather than try the case, Rose paid $250,000 to settle the matter.

What Do I Do First When My Business is Sued? New Case Illustrates Importance of Litigation Hold

Posted by Edward Sharkey on Tue, 02/12/2013 - 05:00

A new case from New Jersey reminds businesses of the importance of acting promptly to identify and preserve relevant information when the prospect of a lawsuit arises. In the case, the judge granted a business's motion for sanctions against a New Jersey county for failing to properly preserve electronic evidence once it had notice of potential litigation. What did the county do wrong?

Business Crowdfunding Law Delayed by Inaction at the SEC

Posted by Edward Sharkey on Wed, 02/06/2013 - 05:00

We’ve been following developments concerning the new law allowing businesses to raise capital through crowdfunding. The law would permit companies to sell equity to any person (through a regulated intermediary that will serve a role similar to a stock brokerage) without having to register with the SEC. If this sounds familiar, you may be aware of Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, or Razoo: three popular crowdfunding websites that have helped get business ideas and creative ventures off the ground. These sites do not, however, allow creators to exchange equity for cash. “Equity crowdfunding” remains illegal as long as the SEC’s rulemaking is incomplete. Now, the implementation of the new law remains delayed.

New Case Protects Businesses’ Copyrights in Employee-Generated Content - Part II

Posted by Edward Sharkey on Mon, 01/28/2013 - 05:00

In November, we discussed a new case issued by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in which the court addressed a copyright dispute between a company and a former employee. In addition to reminding us that employers can claim content generated by employees “in the scope of employment”, the case also resolved issues concerning the copyright of derivative works. That is, whether work derived from earlier content is worthy of new copyright protection.

“Derivative works” are discussed in the Section 103 of the Copyright Act, and are given copyright protection subject to some restrictions. The 9th Circuit’s opinion sheds some light on when derivative works are eligible for a new copyright, distinct from the original work.

May a Company Take Over an Officer’s LinkedIn Account?

Posted by Jeanine Gagliardi on Mon, 01/21/2013 - 05:00

It seems far-fetched. Many corporate officers create LinkedIn accounts to promote themselves and their companies. They feel the account belongs to them, not the company. They would not expect the company could take the account upon their separation. This very issue arose, however, in a recent decision issued by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

May I Terminate An Employee Suspected of FMLA Cheating?

Posted by Edward Sharkey on Mon, 01/07/2013 - 05:00

Businesses continue to seek an efficient way to manage the effects of the Family and Medical Leave Act (the “FMLA”). The FMLA entitles employees to take leave to care for a sick family member. Sometimes, unscrupulous employees abuse this benefit. Employers are often uncertain about how to deal with an employee suspected of lying about the need to take leave. A new case decided by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals gives some guidance.

Can I Prevent Others from Using Domains that Contain My Business's Trademark?

Posted by Jeanine Gagliardi on Sun, 12/16/2012 - 05:00

An opinion recently issued by the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey reminds us of the value of using a domain name that corresponds to a business's own name or trademark.

The case concerns the registration and use of the domain names “nissanofedison.com” and “edisonnissan.com” by a car company who was not Edison Nissan. When this came to the attention of Edison Nissan, they rightly concluded that it would interfere with their marketing message. Edison Nissan sued for (1) trademark infringement and (2) violation of the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (“ACPA”).

Employers Take Note: EEOC Announces New Priorities

Posted by Edward Sharkey on Mon, 12/03/2012 - 06:41

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) calls itself “the nation’s…chief promoter of equal employment opportunity.” It is a law enforcement body with statutory authority to enforce anti-discrimination laws, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. With a few exceptions, the anti-discrimination laws enforced by the EEOC generally apply to businesses with 15 or more employees. The EEOC periodically gives guidance on where it expects to direct its focus going forward. The guidance is helpful to businesses in managing their affairs.

New Case Protects Businesses’ Copyrights in Employee-Generated Content

Posted by Edward Sharkey on Mon, 11/26/2012 - 05:00

A lot of businesses create content that they want to protect by copyright. This includes designers, architects, software developers, consultants, retailers, and publishers. In a recent decision issued by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the court was asked to rule on complicated questions regarding the ownership of copyrights to software created by a business's employee.

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