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Huntington Beach Law Blog

State moves to reclassify Lyft and Uber drivers as employees

California’s Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued an order this week that drivers for transportation network companies (TNCs) qualify as employees under the hotly debated AB-5 law, which specifically makes it more difficult for companies to classify workers as independent contractors. Contractors do not receive paid leave or healthcare, nor has Lyft and Uber needed to abide by minimum wage laws.

Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma wrote in a statement, "For now, TNC drivers are presumed to be employees and the Commission must ensure that TNCs comply with those requirements that are applicable to the employees of an entity subject to the Commission's jurisdiction."

Supreme Court rules on LGBTQ rights

Many watched with concern as the United States Supreme Court appointees have become increasingly conservative with a strong push from the president and the Republican U.S. Senate. So civil rights advocates were pleasantly shocked when the court handed down a 6-3 ruling that protects gay and transgender workers from discrimination in the workplace.

The ruling answers the question regarding the meaning of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination at businesses with 15 or more employees based on race, national origin, sex, or religion. A complication was trying to define sex or gender of transgender and gay workers. “It is impossible,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote, “to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.”

At-will employment does not prevent wrongful termination suits

Being an employer is a stressful job. Whether you own a small business yourself or are in a management position for a larger corporation, you have a lot on your plate when it comes to ensuring that daily operations run smoothly. Your responsibilities include monitoring employees, making sure they carry out their duties and, when necessary, firing workers.

Though California is an at-will employment state, that does not necessarily mean that you can fire a worker for any flippant reason or that you are exempt from facing potential wrongful termination claims from former employees. As a result, it is important to know when dismissing an employee could violate the law.

Minneapolis’s plans to defund police as Californians consider options

Minneapolis has been rocked by violence since the death of George Floyd on Memorial Day night. Floyd was restrained by an officer who placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes. The victim, who allegedly tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill, would later die in an ambulance.

Floyd and other black people’s death while in police custody has given voice to a rallying cry to defund the police. The Minneapolis City Council announced that it had a veto-proof supermajority with nine (of a total of 13) members pledging that they will vote to defund the Minneapolis Police Department.

What is an insurance appraisal?

Insurance appraisals are a tool used here in California and other states to resolve disputes carriers and policyholders regarding coverage. The areas in question often revolve around whether the policy covers the claim, the details of the claim, what was damaged and how much is the claim worth. The two sides may opt to resolve their differences through litigation. Still, they can address the issue using an insurance appraisal, an onsite inspection of the property by a panel with all interested parties present.

Due to the number of people involved, it could take months to finalize the appraisal's date. Moreover, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it likely adds additional time because of stay-at-home orders and business closures. There may also be necessary arrangements in the format that uses social distancing, masks or other precautions to ensure that the parties can attend and conduct the appraisal in relative safety.

Restaurants file business interruption lawsuits

Many restaurant and bar owners invested in business interruption coverage in case there is a forced shutdown to a business. Here in California, the thinking was that the closure would be due to a fire. Of course, this catastrophe has now come to pass with the spread of the coronavirus causing COVID-19. Policyholders took comfort once the shutdown occurred because they thought they could get money from their carriers to pay bills and payroll.

Many were not surprised that the virus was dangerous, and the government’s response would be insufficient, but the policyholders were shocked when carriers denied claims over businesses shut down.

Is buying a franchise the right business investment?

Many dream of one day owning their own shop, but starting from scratch can be daunting. One alternative to building a business from the ground up is to buy a franchise. The starting costs will be much higher, but the franchisee also gets established products or services as well as guidance for running a successful business.

Before signing on the dotted line, business experts recommend researching your business opportunity to make sure it is a good fit for the franchisee and whether the franchiser's deal is fair and equitable.

What is the minimum that goes into an operating agreement?

You decided to form a limited liability company for your new business. You choose a name and go through the process of creating and filing your Articles of Organization. After taking care of everything else you needed to, you feel you are ready to open your business.

However, you have one more important task to complete before can consider your business formation tasks completed. California law requires that you have an operating agreement. You don't have to file it, but you do need to create and execute one.

Women's unemployment rates higher than men's

The world is facing its largest economic crisis since the Great Depression. This is, of course, tied to the coronavirus and the stay at home order embraced by governors around the country. Many businesses closed, perhaps never to reopen, leaving upwards of 15 million to file for unemployment as of May.

Unfortunately, women are filing at a higher rate than men. Statistics in the United States put women's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for April 2020 at 16.2% while men sit at 13.5%. These numbers are both up from 3.4% for women and 3.6% for men in February 2020.

Mistakes to avoid when reopening a business

State governments around the country are grappling with decisions about reopening businesses. Nevertheless, it is the businesses themselves that will have the final say on if or when they will reopen.

Many owners and managers are chomping at the bit to get back to work if the company has been closed, but there may also be a lot of pressure on this decision: some employees are struggling to pay bills and want to come back while others are concerned about their safety.

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