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Huntington Beach Law Blog

California teachers challenge union fees

The repercussions Supreme Court of the United State’s (SCOTUS) ruling of the Janus v. AFSCME continues to be felt. The latest example involves five teachers launching a class action against the California Teachers Association and its local union affiliates as well as five school district superintendents and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. SCOTUS ruled in its last term that public sector unions needed to discontinue its decades-long practice of collecting fair share fees from non-union members for negotiating collective bargaining agreements. This practice, it said, violated an employee’s First Amendment Rights.

The plaintiffs from different districts claim that they were not told that could opt out of joining the local teacher's unions. When the teachers subsequently quit their membership, the union told them that they would have to continue until a specified withdrawal period ended.

Addressing negative online reviews

One of the pillars of our society is freedom of speech. Regardless of whether we agree with other people, they are entitled to voice their opinion. However, it gets more complicated when someone voices their opinion via Yelp or another consumer platform, stating the products or services your business provides to customers seriously lacks in some way.

One bad review can ding a business, and many can put the company’s good name in jeopardy. Defamation may be an option in some cases, but the California Supreme Court has ruled that Yelp is immune to defamation suits and does not need to take down bad reviews. However, there are other options.

Employee flexing muscle on moral grounds

There are traditionally two different power structures in place for businesses. One is a top-down mindset where the owner or the board dictates the work to be done and how long it will take. The other is the bottom-up union or employee approach where the workers or their representatives exert considerable power.

In the era of flat management structures, employees now seem emboldened to confront management on issues, particularly at technology companies were these flat structures are embraced because the innovation, coordination, communication, and speed are a prized part of the business culture.

The time to create a paper trail is when you don't need one

Running a business here in California or elsewhere leaves you vulnerable to disputes, complaints and litigation. These issues can arise from within your company as easily as from the outside. If you have employees, then the possibility of problems will exist.

This does not mean that you absolutely will have problems with your employees, but the potential is there when you mix different personalities and work ethics. For this reason, you may want to keep detailed records about all of your employees from the initial applications and beyond.

The benefits of benefits

Smart business owners and human resources managers are always looking for new ways to attract top talent and then keep them from straying to competitors. One of the eternal questions in this important challenge is trying to figure out the priorities of the staff and it often comes down to a good benefits package.

Some business owners may baulk at providing a long list of benefits to employees, but many employees believe that benefits are more desirable than pay. Today’s employee understands that health insurance is a safer plan than a six-figure income if there is cataclysmic health issue that bankrupts the employee without good health care. Surveys are also finding that a work-life balance is increasingly important across the board in all professions. Whatever the benefits, it is now a given that happy employees call in sick less often and can flourish to be dynamic contributors. Some will say, that it really is a matter of the employer reaps what they sow with a better and more successful company in the long run.

Important considerations for partnership agreements

One of the first important decisions when starting a business is picking the business's structure. Choosing the right plan can be the difference between profitability and insolvency. For many, partnerships are a good option, but going this route should always include a strong and binding partnership agreement. This can help ensure that all partners involved understand everyone's responsibilities, financial obligations and legal liabilities.

While some states require a partnership agreement when filing papers to establish a partnership, California does not. Nonetheless, a strong and binding partnership can provide a solid foundation and also outline in advance how certain challenges and disputes can be addressed and resolved.

Disability accommodations cost less than many employers think

More employers are hiring workers with disabilities these days. This is likely in part due to increased awareness of how to best work with disabled employees. In fact, employers are pleasantly surprised to learn that the cost for appropriate alterations to the workspace are less expensive than they feared. According to studies at the dation Network, a majority of these changes cost less than $500.

The impact of the Americans with Disabilities Act

PG&E Files Chapter 11 to manage liability

The San Francisco-based utilities company PG&E has filed bankruptcy to protect itself from liability for wildfires in Northern California in 2017 and 2018, including the Camp Fire last November. The biggest power utility in the country with listed assets of $71.39 billion and liability of $51.69 billion employs 24,000 people and provides services to 16 million customers. As is usually the case with Chapter 11, the company plans to pay all its suppliers of goods and services it receives after the filing.

New liability costs force the issue

Is a business partnership dispute putting you in a tough spot?

A partnership is a popular type of business structure. You may have considered this structure your best bet because you had another person who helped you create your company, whether through ideas or other investments. As a result, your business has grown over the years.

Now, however, you face problems with your partner that have you worried about the future of your company. Unfortunately, individuals do start seeing certain aspects of business operations differently as time goes on. You may want to take more risks and your partner wants to continue to play it safe, or vice versa. Whatever the problems may be, it is wise to address them as needed before the company suffers too drastically.

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