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San Jose employment discrimination defense lawyerTwo words that can strike fear into the hearts of business owners are: Discrimination Lawsuit. Why? One reason is that many business owners have little or no insurance coverage to help pay the cost of a discrimination claim from an employee or customer. 

Another concern is that the quantity and variety of discrimination claims keep growing. California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, for example, handles between 10,000 and 20,000 discrimination claims per year. In addition, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission handles between 80,000 and 100,000 discrimination claims per year. 

One of the latest issues in employment law involves the hiring of people with a criminal record.

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Silicon Valley business formation attorneyMany people begin a tech start-up or other small business as a sole proprietorship or simple partnership. But as a business grows, you may begin to wonder whether it is time to think about a more formal business structure, such as a limited liability company or corporation. Here are three questions to consider when deciding whether your business should become a limited liability company (LLC).

1. To What Extent Are Your Personal Assets at Risk if You Are Sued By a Customer, Creditor, or Employee?

Sometimes, the money starts flowing in a business and seems like it will never stop. But when your business spending or borrowing reaches six or seven figures, you need to think about what will happen if you run short of cash. You do not want to risk the chance of losing your home or other personal assets to creditors. 

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San Jose EB-5 visa attorneyFor foreign nationals with substantial assets, the EB-5 investor visa program can provide one of the quickest paths to United States permanent residency and citizenship. This EB-5 visa--also known as the “golden visa”--is especially attractive to investors who want to give their children the opportunity to be educated and work in the U.S. The program’s current extension through September 2018 is good news, but the program’s future remains uncertain.

How the EB-5 Investor Visa Program Works

The EB-5 immigration program gives foreign nationals an opportunity to obtain a green card--that is, a permit to live and work in the U.S. permanently--if they make a qualifying investment in the United States. 

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San Jose employment discrimination defense attorneyCalifornia’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) requires employers to prevent harassment in the workplace and avoid discrimination in employee hiring, promotions, and compensation on the basis of:

  • Ancestry, color, national origin, or race
  • Physical or mental disability, medical condition, or genetic information
  • Sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Military and/or veteran status

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing is charged with enforcing this civil rights law and issuing regulations that clarify exactly what businesses must do to comply with the law.

One of the latest regulations, which takes effect July 1, 2018, clarifies the definition of the term “national origin” and thus the kinds of employer actions that would be considered national origin discrimination.

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Silicon Valley employment law attorney employee benefitsWhen you think about the employee benefits offered by top tech firms, what comes to mind? Free snacks, game rooms, and stock options? In the competition for highly-skilled employees, do you see many job candidates asking about your retirement savings program?

It is not uncommon for tech startups to skimp on retirement savings plans, on the assumption that their younger-than-average employees have other priorities. In addition, setting up a 401(k) program may seemingly involve too much administrative hassle and expense for a small business owner. On the other hand, employers play a valuable role in educating workers about important matters like health care and financial planning.

So, what should a Silicon Valley business owner do? Here are a few things going on in the arena of retirement savings that California employers should be aware of:

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San Jose breach of contract attorneyMost contracts that your business signs will be fulfilled without issue. The weekly cleaning service keeps your office spotless, and you pay them on schedule. You provide technology services to your customers that meet or exceed the specifications defined in your contract, and your customers give you plenty of lead time to implement changes and are never late with a payment.

But what happens when one party fails to meet their contractual obligations?

Defining Breach of Contract: Material Versus Non-Material

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San Jose intellectual property litigation attorneyThere are many paths to fame and fortune for Silicon Valley startups, and so too there are many paths to an intellectual property infringement lawsuit. The very diversity of ways that two companies can get into a dispute over IP is noteworthy in itself. The following cases can serve as fair warning to business owners who may come in contact with a competitor’s IP during merger discussions or via former employees of a competitor. 

Merger Talks Can Lead to Patent Infringement

In one case, two makers of ambient light sensors (we will call them M1 and M2) exchanged confidential information while discussing a merger that ultimately did not take place. M1 subsequently released a new product that mimicked a design that M2 had shown them during the merger negotiations. M2 sued M1 for patent infringement, trade secret misappropriation, breach of contract, and tortious interference with prospective business relations. The case was tried before a jury in 2015, and plaintiff M2 was awarded damages on all four claims totaling over $88 million. A federal appeals court, however, reversed part of the lower court’s decision in May 2018, significantly reducing the damages awarded.

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Santa Clara County intellectual property attorney trademark patentYou may think your business’s primary assets are your building, the computer equipment you own, or perhaps a vehicle fleet. And you surely have insurance on those assets. But what about your intellectual property assets? Are you giving them due consideration and protection? 

What Counts as Intellectual Property?

When you think of intellectual property (IP), what comes to mind first? For most people, they think of the research and development division and patented inventions, including proprietary algorithms, processes, and methods. But your sales and marketing departments also have IP, in the form of copyrighted documents, trademarked logos, your website domain name, and client lists. 

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San Jose wage and hour disputes attorney minimum wageCalifornia provides its workers a thicker blanket of legal protections than most other states, particularly when it comes to that number-one employee priority: the paycheck. 

Business owners operating in Silicon Valley must stay up-to-date on both state and local wage and hour laws in order to avoid employee pay disputes. Such disputes can take the form of a wage claim filed with the state Labor Commissioner’s Office (also known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement) or a lawsuit filed in Santa Clara County courts. In addition, the Santa Clara County District Attorney has the power to prosecute cases of wage theft and to bring civil enforcement actions.

Here is a basic overview of California’s 2018 minimum wage laws:

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San Jose, CA employment lawyer workplace violence policiesHave you ever wished that you could skip work because you were worried about what might happen that day? Maybe you were anxious about having to give an employee a poor performance review or worried about being laid off yourself. But have you ever been afraid of being killed or injured by someone you encounter at your workplace? 

This is not just an issue for healthcare workers or teachers. Workplace violence has become a serious issue for all American employers. Consider, for instance, that the number of workplace homicides in the U.S. rose from 404 in 2013 to 500 in 2016 (the latest year for which figures are available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). These trends demonstrate the need for employers to take steps to protect their employees’ safety.

Address the Issue of Workplace Violence in Employee Handbooks

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Silicon Valley H1-B visa attorney immigrationSuppose you are trying to hire for a position that requires a very specific skill set, and you find a candidate who is perfect in all respects but one: they are not authorized to work in the U.S. Does it make sense to sponsor that person for an H1-B or other type of work visa? Here are three questions you should ask before making that decision:

1. What Is the Company Policy on Sponsorship?

U.S. employers are not required to sponsor employees for immigration. You can freely specify “no sponsorship” in a job ad and refuse to consider people who are not already authorized to work in the US. However, if you choose to consider candidates who require sponsorship, you should have a written company policy and act in accordance with it to avoid being accused of discrimination. For example, you may have one policy applicable to all positions, stating that you do not sponsor employment visas. Or, you may have a policy that lists specific hard-to-fill positions that are eligible for sponsorship.

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San Jose business debt collection lawyerIf your body’s blood flow is obstructed, you can die. Likewise, without good cash flow, your business can die. This is no exaggeration, particularly for tech start-ups and other young businesses. No matter how hard your sales team and operations staff work, if your customers are not paying you in a timely manner, you will soon have a deadly serious cash flow problem.

If you are lucky, most of your customers are good payers, and friendly reminders are all that is needed to collect on debts owed to your business. But what if you have a debtor who becomes deliberately evasive over a lengthy period of time? Or what if a customer withholds payment due to a contract dispute, or someone you have sued has fraudulently transferred assets in order to become judgment-proof? In such difficult situations, there are a variety of ways in which an experienced commercial debt collections attorney can help.

Proactively Avoid Commercial Collections Problems

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San Jose breach of contract litigation lawyerWhen two parties agree to combine their respective resources or knowledge in a business venture, it is important to first draft, finalize, and sign a legally binding contract. Retaining outside counsel experienced in the practice of business contracts may be a good way to avoid the later need for business litigation. One recent example of a contract litigation case illustrates the importance of creating a clear and enforceable contract.

Video Game Royalties Subject of Suit and Countersuit

The Grand Theft Auto series of video games is one of the most popular and successful examples electronic entertainment in the past few decades. However, both sides of the team responsible for the development of the games are facing lawsuits stemming from a royalties contract that is alleged to have been breached.

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Silicon Valley breach of contract attorneyLegally binding contracts are a vital element of doing business, regardless of the industry in which one operates. Agreeing to and formalizing the criteria under which a business relationship will proceed provides a measure of protection for everyone involved. However, when one party fails to abide by a signed contract, it is important to understand the steps one might take to restore order.

Types of Contract Breaches

Business contracts are put in place for a variety of valid reasons. Companies place employees, contractors, suppliers, distributors, researchers, and other contributing parties under contract in an effort to build, maintain, and protect a competitive edge in the marketplace. When a contract is broken, it usually falls into one of the following categories:

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San Jose wage and hour dispute lawyerDefending and settling wage and hour lawsuits can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor for any company. The rise in such filings requires business owners, executives, managers, and supervisors to ensure the employees in their workplace are being compensated fairly and in accordance with the law.

An Increase in Lawsuit Filings

In recent years, the number of lawsuits related to the Fair Labor Standards Act, which establishes the country’s minimum wage and overtime pay rate criteria, have risen sharply. A review of compiled statistics revealed that there were more than 8,800 wage and hour lawsuits filed in 2015, which represents a 358 percent increase over the same type of filings that occurred in 2000.

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Silicon Valley employment discrimination claim defense lawyersPerhaps the best way to avoid lawsuits and civil litigation related to claims of employment discrimination from former, disgruntled employees is to create, promote, and nurture a workplace that encourages diversity and acceptance. However, try as you might, it is always possible that a single incident may evolve into a costly and frustrating experience.

Employment Discrimination Suits On The Rise

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently revealed statistics indicating that the number of employment discrimination suits being filed against employers is increasing. During Fiscal Year 2010, for example, that number reached an all-time high. Information about this trend from the EEOC indicates that:

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Posted on in Employment Law

Silicon Valley wrongful termination lawyerFrom the moment a company hires its first employee, it must be prepared to face a claim of wrongful termination. Small businesses can be impacted more severely in these cases, as their resources to fight such claims may not be as deep as their larger counterparts. Having a strategy and working with experienced legal professionals is a step in the right direction.

Set Your Business Up for a Successful Defense

In most states, California among them, there are usually clearly defined criteria for terminating a worker’s employment status. It is important for managers and human resources professionals to be aware of the laws and implement proper procedures when initiating the employment termination process. Taking the following measures can help support your business’ case in the event a wrongful termination claim is filed against it: 

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Posted on in Business law

San Jose mergers and acquisitions lawyersRecently, we used this space to present a few ideas on how to avoid the pitfalls that could stall, slow, or even destroy merger activities. As a follow up to that discussion, we are presenting a few ideas you might find helpful in maintaining a smooth transition and integration following a successful merger.

Moving Forward After the Merger Requires a Plan

Once the contracts are all signed, the handshakes take place, and the deal gets done, it may appear that the merger process has come to a successful completion. Some might say, however, that the hard work is just getting started. Managing the marriage of two companies and their individual operations, even if they do business in the same or similar industries, will require a great deal of thought, competency, and attention. Here are a few things to keep in mind that may help smooth the transition process:

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Posted on in Employment Law

Silicon Valley employment law attorney performance reviewIt is not uncommon for any business, in any industry, to experience conflict with one or more of their employees. Whether their actions are disruptive in the workplace, disrespectful to co-workers, or damaging to the business’s reputation, it is critical to respond to and quickly resolve matters through sound employment counseling practices.

Establish Expectations

Working proactively to correct the attitudes and behaviors of a difficult employee is a better strategy than waiting and reacting to a situation that has become untenable. Allowing even a single difficult employee to disrupt the workplace can have a negative impact on morale, productivity, and even profitability. Consider implementing some of the following employee performance review tips to help set clear standards and expectations for your employees:

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Posted on in Business law

San Jose business mergers lawyerWhether to increase geographic expansion, take advantage of economies of scale, or for any number of other reasons, a business merger can be an important strategy in the growth and success of your company. Taking on such an endeavor includes a number of important legal, financial, personnel, and ethical matters that must be addressed before, during, and after the completion of the merger process.

Merger Mistakes To Avoid

As a way of providing some guidance regarding the merger process, here is a summary of some of the mistakes a company’s merger team must avoid to ensure the successful transition of multiple entities into a single, cohesive, and profitable unit:

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