What Lawsuits and Disneyland Have In Common: The Emotional Costs of a Lawsuit

Whether you came to the decision to look for an attorney because you’ve been served with a lawsuit and have no choice but to defend yourself, or if you have reached an impasse in a dispute and have no choice but to say “see you in court,” what happens after this point is likely a mystery for you. If that’s the case, this is what a lawsuit looks like. But there’s also an emotional part of a lawsuit. Therefore, in addition to the obvious considerations of finding a capable attorney that you like and trust and the financial costs, you should also prepare for the emotional costs of a lawsuit. Since Disneyland’s just up the freeway, I’ll liken it to a day at Disneyland. It’s a Long Process If you’re traveling into town specifically to visit Disneyland with the kids, you expect to get there when the park opens, stay for the parade and fireworks, and even until the park closes. You may expect to do that for 3 days in a row. Why? The Lines are Long If Disneyland … Continue reading

In: Anatomy of a Lawsuit, California Civil Litigation, Hiring a Lawyer, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Support Animal as a Reasonable Accommodation

New regulations related to the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) went into effect on April 1, 2016. Among the various additions, which touch on a broad range of discrimination issues in employment, is a discussion about support animals as a reasonable accommodation in the workplace. As a servant to my 3 dogs and lawyer who has worked on dog bite cases, this was of particular interest to me. The new regulations specifically discuss assistive and support animals in the area of disability accommodation and provides that an assistive animal, including support animals, may constitute a reasonable accommodation in certain circumstances. What is an “Assistive Animal”? According to the new regulations, an “assistive animal” is defined as an animal that is necessary as a reasonable accommodation. These include: guide dogs for the visually impaired, signal dogs for the hearing impaired, and trained service dogs that meet the requirements of the Civil Code related to training and licensing. Additionally, a “support dog” or other animal that provides emotional, cognitive, or other similar support to a person with a disability, including, but … Continue reading

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What to Do When a Client Doesn’t Pay

This is the first post in a new series called “What to Do” where I will discuss “what to do” in various common situations that come up in small and medium sized businesses. Feel free to send me your “what to do” question. Today’s topic is what to do when a client doesn’t pay. This is a common problem that businesses big and small face and if you’re in business, you’re selling services or products in exchange with the expectation that you will be paid for those services or products. The cost to your business of unpaid invoices is not just the dollar amount on each invoice but the opportunity cost of the investment you could make in your business from that income. Additionally, it costs your business time and money to collect on unpaid balances. Thus, the cumulative effect of multiples unpaid invoices, even for small outstanding amounts, is detrimental to your business’s viability and growth. Before starting work: For the proactive business here are some tips to help you avoid or minimize the change of having a client … Continue reading

In: California Civil Litigation, Contracts, Starting a Business, Uncategorized, What to Do | Leave a comment

Overtime Rules for Inside Salesperson Commissions

If your business sells products or services, it is likely that you have at least one inside salesperson who earns commissions on the sales that the inside salesperson makes. If this inside salesperson has the potential to earn a decent amount in commissions, your company may have classified this salesperson as an exempt commissioned employee. This means that you are not paying this person overtime pay for overtime hours worked. If this is the case, you may be incorrectly paying your inside salesperson and exposed to a potential claim for wage theft. Exempt vs Non-Exempt Classification Certain commissioned inside sales employees may be exempt from overtime pay in California if the employee earns more than one-and-a-half times the minimum wage each workweek, and more than half of the employee’s compensation represents commission earnings. (Outside salespeople do not need to meet the minimum salary requirements.) The calculation on the second prong could get complicated where the employee gets a draw on commissions. In addition to the two prongs, in order for an inside salesperson to be exempt from overtime pay, a … Continue reading

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New Overtime Rules Under FLSA Approved – What You Need to Know

The Department of Labor recently approved changes to the overtime rules under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that will have a significant impact on California employers and workers. According to the Department of Labor, the new rules will affect over 300,000 California workers who will either be entitled to overtime pay or receive raises to maintain their exempt employee status. Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about the new rules. Who is affected by the new rules? Employees who are exempt from minimum wage and overtime pay protections under the executive, administrative, and professional (EAP) exemption and the highly-compensated employee (HCE) exemption of the FLSA. (Learn about exempt vs non-exempt employees.) The FLSA covers a majority of workers. Details on who is covered by the FLSA are available from the Department of Labor. What are the changes made by the final rule? In addition to meeting the duties test, in order to meet the EAP exemption requirement, the employee must receive a salary of at least $913 per week or $47,476 annually. HCEs must receive $134,004 annually … Continue reading

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Mediation – Anatomy of a Lawsuit Part VII

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. 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, Responding to a Lawsuit, and Discovery. Here’s a visual representation of what a lawsuit looks like. This article focuses on the phase within the blue circle.   Although represented in the above flowchart as happening after the discovery phase, a case may go to mediation before a lawsuit is even filed or litigated (early or pre-litigation), at any other time, or may not go to mediation at all. It is an entirely an optional process aimed at settling the dispute before the parties spend the time and money to prepare for trial. However, if the parties are serious about settling a dispute, discovery gives each side a better sense … Continue reading

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Discovery Phase in Litigation – Anatomy of a Lawsuit Part VI

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. 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 and Responding to a Lawsuit. Here’s a visual representation of what a lawsuit looks like. This article focuses on the phase within the blue circle.   Once the initial pleadings are filed in the case and assuming that the case survives the first phase, it will move into the discovery phase. This is a big chunk of the lawsuit and one of the most expensive phases of litigation and has numerous components some of which are: Research and Strategy Litigation is a dynamic process and no two cases are exactly the same. Therefore, research and strategy is an ongoing component of any lawsuit and will take place from the … Continue reading

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Year-End Bonus: What You Need to Know

It’s time for reviews, year-end bonus, and raise determinations. I thought this would be the perfect time to get a better understanding of bonuses. What is a Bonus? A bonus is something “extra” that an employer provides to employees without the obligation to do so. Nevertheless, they are considered wages and are governed by state and federal wage and hour laws. Why give Bonuses? As an employer, employee bonuses are a great idea if you could afford it. Although money is not the only motivator in employee performance, it is nevertheless an effective motivator. More importantly though, a bonus demonstrates your appreciation for your employees’ hard work and performance throughout the year. Different Types of Bonuses Bonuses may either be “earned” or “discretionary.” A business may have a compensation plan that incentivizes employees with a bonus of they hit a certain yearly sales goal, work a certain number of hours in a year, or based on the company’s profits for the year. When there is a criteria that an employee has to meet, then employees earns the bonus when they … Continue reading

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What You Need To Know When Hiring a Domestic Worker – AB 241

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had many conversations with members of the “sandwich generation” and baby boomers about the challenges they face as their parents age. The heartbreak of watching parents age and lose their independence coupled with raising their own children is stressful enough. Yet, many are now finding themselves as employers for the first time (or first time in a long time) and must navigate the complicated terrain of employment regulations. If you are personally hiring your first live-in caregiver, here are a few basics you should know. You must pay at least minimum wage  As of January 1, 2016, the minimum wage in California is $10.00 per hour. Caveat: San Francisco’s minimum wage is currently $12.25 per hour and goes up to $13.00 per hour in July 1, 2016. Domestic Workers Entitled to Overtime Pay AB 241, also known as the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights defines a domestic worker as any person who provides services related toe the care of people in the home, or maintain private households or their premises. Domestic workers includes nannies, … Continue reading

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Hiring an Employee – “Have You Ever Been Convicted?”

I received a lot of questions from employers who have read my post on job application questions related to arrests and criminal records. The main concerns that businesses have are related to managing risks in hiring an employee and the desire to ensure that they do not engage in negligent hiring. Most wanted to know whether they could ask about criminal convictions. The answer is yes, but . . . Inquiries into criminal convictions must: Come after you’ve determined that the applicant meets the qualifications for the job; Not be related to marijuana convictions two years or older; Be accompanied by a statement that a conviction will not automatically prohibit employment (unless it is for a position that where federal or state law prohibits one with a criminal conviction from holding); Be job related and consistent with business necessity.  There are 3 factors to consider when making the determination: The nature and gravity of the offense or conduct Careful consideration of the nature and gravity of the offense or conduct is the first step in determining whether a specific crime may be relevant to concerns about risks … Continue reading

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