Have a Legal Issue? 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Wait Until the Last Minute

This is an ostrich with its head up, looking out into the horizon, rather than burying its head in the sand (although that’s just an optical illusion and they don’t really do that but you get the point). If you are served with a lawsuit or receive a letter from a lawyer or government entity, you want to be this ostrich and deal with issue head-on. I can understand the appeal of waiting as long as possible, whether it’s economics, time, or the philosophy that “ignorance is bliss.” But a legal issue is like cancer, the longer you wait to see a doctor, the worse the problem gets. Here are 3 reasons why you should consult with an attorney sooner rather than later: Litigation deadlines are important. This is one of the areas in life where deadlines are taken seriously. Most judges aren’t like that professor you had in college who deducts half a grade or so if you turn in a late paper. Judges have no problem saying #SorryNotSorry when you miss a big deadline.  This means that missing a … Continue reading

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Computer Fraud Prevention: How to Protect Your Company’s Information

In today’s business environment, companies live and die by the information and data you possess.  Your company’s confidential information is probably housed on a network that is accessible by some, or all, of your employees.  Are you doing enough to protect your company’s data from computer fraud leaving with an employee and winding up with a competitor? The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) The CFAA is a federal law that makes it illegal to “intentionally access a computer without authorization or exceed[ing] authorized access, and thereby obtain[ing] . . . information from any protected computer.”  18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(2).  Although commonly used to prosecute criminal hackers, the CFA is valuable to employers for the following reasons: 1) the CFAA captures a broader range of conduct than does a traditional trade secrets claim (it doesn’t require a showing that the accessed information rises to the level of a trade secret); 2) the CFAA is one of the few independent causes of action an employer can use to pursue a federal cause of action relating to such theft; and 3) the CFAA … Continue reading

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Wage Claim Process in California

In California, workers who believe that they are owed wages, overtime, or vacation pay may file their claims in court or with the Labor Commissioner. Claims filed with the Labor Commissioner are adjudicated by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) and is a much more informal process. If you recently received a Notice of Claim and Conference from the DLSE, here is an overview of what the process normally looks like. Worker Filed a Claim. The process began with an employee (plaintiff) filing a DLSE claim form alleging that his/her employer (defendant) failed to pay wages or other compensation owed to the plaintiff. After the claim is assigned to a Deputy Labor Commissioner (deputy), he or she will determine, based on the circumstances of the claim, how to proceed. Within 30 days of the filing of the complaint, the deputy will notify the parties as to which of the following actions the DLSE will take as to the claim: referral to a conference; referral to a hearing; or dismissal of the claim. Not all cases will go to a … Continue reading

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New Year Plan for 2016: Checklist for California Businesses

I love this time of year because in addition to the holiday parties and good cheer, it’s a time of reflection, taking stock of what we did well, where we could improve, and creating a plan for next year’s targets. You are probably doing the same thing for your business. Here is a checklist for business’s New Year Plan to help your California business prepare for 2016. Hiring Employment Applications – Check for compliance with California’s laws related to questions about arrest and criminal records. San Francisco is one of the 100 cities and counties that has implemented a “ban the box” law prohibiting those questions entirely. Interview and Hiring Protocols – Review your interview questions and hiring protocols to ensure that your hiring decisions won’t give rise to discrimination claims. Systemic discrimination is a hot enforcement area. Salaries – assess your starting (and incumbent) salaries to make sure that you can justify any pay discrepancies between people who perform similar duties. California’s new, tougher equal pay law goes into effect on January 1, 2016. Policies and Procedures Employee Handbook Review – make … Continue reading

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Responding to a Lawsuit in California – Anatomy of a Lawsuit Part V

This series applies to California lawsuits only. For rules regarding your state’s civil litigation procedure, visit the website for your specific state’s judicial branch. This is a very broad overview. Multiple considerations must take place and detailed analysis goes into each step. You wouldn’t operate on yourself so consult with a lawyer if you have a legal dispute. To recap, we’ve discussed some considerations before filing a lawsuit such as What is the Deadline to File a Lawsuit and Where to File a Lawsuit. We’ve also discussed How to File a Lawsuit. Here’s a quick orientation on filing a lawsuit in California.  This article discusses the actions within the blue circle. How to Respond to a Lawsuit? Get thee to a lawyer – as I mentioned in Part VI, lawsuits are very deadline driven and blowing the deadline to respond to a lawsuit could result in a default judgment against you, which translates to you automatically lose. What is the Deadline for Responding to a Lawsuit in California? Within 30 days after service of the complaint. The clock starts to run the day after … Continue reading

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10 Business Events that Should Trigger a Call to Your Lawyer

As an owner of a small business, I understand the external demands faced by small and medium-sized business owners.  Sometimes we think we can do it all . . . until we realize that we can’t.  At some point, a business owner wonders “when should I contact a lawyer?”  Unfortunately, many businesses wait until a problem that would have cost a few hundred dollars to fix turns into a $10,000 problem before finding a lawyer. Here is a list of when to call a lawyer for a quick consultation. As Desiderius Erasmus said, “prevention is better than cure.”  This is not an exhaustive list and the prevention is not absolute ,but at the very least, it will minimize your potential risks.  1.  Before hiring your first employee The Prevention: Violations of federal and California anti-discrimination laws; Misclassification of exempt and non-exempt employees; Violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and California laws on backgrounds checks and consumer reports; and Violations of federal and California employment laws on overtime pay, meal and rest breaks, and pay stub violations. 2.  Before firing an employee … Continue reading

In: California Civil Litigation, California Leave Law, Employment Law, Hiring a Lawyer | Leave a comment

Filing a Lawsuit in California – Anatomy of a Lawsuit Part IV

This series applies to California lawsuits only. For rules regarding your state’s civil litigation procedure, visit the website for your specific state’s judicial branch. This is a very broad overview. Multiple considerations must take place and detailed analysis goes into each step. Please consult a lawyer for help with your particular case. To recap, we’ve discussed some considerations before filing a lawsuit such as What is the Deadline to File a Lawsuit and Where to File a Lawsuit. I almost always recommend communicating with the other side and working together to find a win-win solution to a problem before going the lawsuit route. Sometimes you can do that yourself but other times you may need a California business lawyer or a civil litigation attorney to step in help you negotiate a solution. If that doesn’t work and you hit an impasse, you may have to file a lawsuit. Be prepared because lawsuits are expensive. Here’s a quick orientation on filing a lawsuit in California.  This article discusses the actions within the blue circle.   How do I sue someone? Hire a … Continue reading

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California Lawsuits – Anatomy of a Lawsuit Part III

This series applies to California lawsuits only. For rules regarding your state’s civil litigation procedure, visit the website for your state’s judicial branch. It’s been while since I wrote a post for the Anatomy of a Lawsuit series but I’m back. So far, we’ve discussed Statutes of Limitations and Where to File a Lawsuit. Today I will give you a broad overview of the trajectory a lawsuit. In the following weeks, I will discuss each part in greater detail. Filing a Lawsuit If you are considering filing a lawsuit or have been served with a summons and complaint and wondering “What to do after being served,” I would be happy to help you navigate through the complicated legal process.  Feel free to contact me here to call (949) 529-0007.   Next up, learn about Filing a Lawsuit in California.  Sign Up for Monthly Updates For Email Newsletters you can trust. Please read our disclaimer.

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Cultural Awareness In Business Is Vital to Your Success

Last year, I helped another attorney with a case and attended a client meeting with him. We waited for the client in the conference room with 3 other people. When the client arrived, he apologized from being late in a thick Russian accent and proceeded to shake everyone’s hand . . . except mine. I wasn’t imagining it. He shook hands with the lawyer to my right, skipped me, shook hands with the man to my left, the man next to him, and the man next to him. So I stuck my hand out and introduced myself. You bet that my head was half in the meeting and half mulling over whether this meant that he would dismiss everything I said in that meeting. He was paying me for my advice so ignoring me only hurts him. After the 2 hour-long meeting, I went straight to Google and typed: “women handshake in Russian culture” and found an article in The Moscow Times that said: “In Russia, I have learned not to shake hands with women unless she offers her hand first. … Continue reading

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Anatomy of a Lawsuit – California Statute of Limitations

This is the first post in a new series called “Anatomy of a Lawsuit” where I will explain the process, some legal terms, and considerations that go into a lawsuit.  Comments and questions are appreciated so that I can provide information that is most useful to readers. We’ll start with “when to file a lawsuit?” Today’s topic is the statute of limitations (SOL), which is a fancy word for deadline to file a lawsuit. It’s a simple equation.  Missing the SOL = you’re SOL. Different types of lawsuits have different deadlines to file a lawsuit (statute of limitations).  If you blow this deadline, you could forever lose your right to sue. Below is a non-exclusive list of the deadlines to file some of the most common types of lawsuits in California.  You should confirm with counsel what category your dispute falls under and whether there are special statutes of limitations that apply to your case. What if I want to sue a public entity such as a city, county, school district, or state university? There are additional requirements for suing … Continue reading

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