MPL General Counsel Corner – And now for something completely different

Over my career, I have read about and been involved with a number of situations that business owners never thought would happen.  It reminds me of the famous saying from Monty Python:  “…and now for something completely different.”  Check out some of the stranger things below:

  1. A professional service provider was served with a demand letter from a California-based law firm because their company website had copyrighted photos placed on it.  You could not get to these photos from any links on the main page, but if you typed in the long address, there was a page added which contained the unintentionally used copyrighted photos.  Clearly, the company website was hacked, but unfortunately, the way the law is written and the cost of defending the suit more than outweighed the amount of money that was being negotiated.  End result:  a settlement for a few thousand dollars.
  2. A manufacturer of consumable goods was served with a demand letter threatening a class action suit because their packaging contained language which could mislead California consumers.  It turns out the use of the term “All Natural” along with some of the ingredients being treated with glyphosate (a key chemical in Roundup) was too much for the plaintiff.  The demand was to have all their goods removed from the State of California, repurchase any goods that were purchased by California consumers and pay for attorney’s fees.  End result:  Nothing has moved forward with this threat, but it is very real.
  3. An online retailer was served with an actual complaint filed in Federal Court (Southern District of NY) claiming their website was not ADA compliant and also violated the applicable NY state and NYC regulations.  The complaint was very real and was one of 50+ filed since 2019 by the same Plaintiff against other companies with an online retail presence.  End result:  To be determined, but I can tell you that others in the same predicament settled for $10,000-$50,000

You may be saying that there is no way these things can happen to your business.  You have protections in place.  Well, these companies did as well and still got caught.

The bottom line:  Please make sure you understand who you are working with as vendors or suppliers and who is responsible when things go wrong.  Please schedule regular updates with your insurance agent, attorney, accountant, or other professional service providers.  Your business changes over its life cycle and they are there to give you the best perspective on things that could happen or protections that should be in place.

That’s it for me this week.  I am off to Spamalot!

Here are a few other things that may be of interest:

 

Please see all of our prior updates at this link or if you would like to be added to our email list, please click here.  

As always, please don’t hesitate to email myself (jsanders@mpl-law.com), Andy Miller (amiller@mpl-law.com), Christian Miller (cmiller@mpl-law.com), Erik Spurlin (espurlin@mpl-law.com) or anyone in our office with questions or comments.  

MPL General Counsel Corner – Jumping into the Employment Pool

When I owned a business, not in the legal industry, one of the biggest challenges I faced was finding and keeping qualified employees.  Today, as many of you know, that challenge still exists and if anything has only amplified.

On the low end of the pay scale, you can lose an employee or candidate to as little as a few quarters per hour.  On the high end you compete with not only higher salaries, but more comprehensive benefit packages which can be offered by larger organizations.

However, putting all that aside, let’s say you are ready to extend an offer to the perfect candidate.  How do you hire them?  What is the difference between a W-2 employee and a 1099 contractor.  If you think you can onboard someone as a 1099 and they are really a W2 employee, you are putting your company at risk if an audit were to occur.  On the flipside, if you have a true 1099 contractor and you don’t memorialize that arrangement with certain contractual protections, you are also jeopardizing your firm as well.

I am not trying to dissuade you from bringing more staff on board.  Your employees are the lifeblood of your organization.  However, some due diligence and thought into your hiring process is needed to protect your company’s interests.  Below are some helpful tips to consider when you are jumping into the employment pool:

Best of luck with this process and don’t forget that your professional advisors, business mentors and existing staff can be some of your best sources for advice.

Here are a few other things that may be of interest:

Please see all of our prior updates at this link or if you would like to be added to our email list, please click here.  

As always, please don’t hesitate to email myself (jsanders@mpl-law.com), Andy Miller (amiller@mpl-law.com), Christian Miller (cmiller@mpl-law.com), Erik Spurlin (espurlin@mpl-law.com) or anyone in our office with questions or comments.  

MPL General Counsel Corner – The “Return to Work” Conundrum

More and more businesses are looking to bring back their employees to the office.  As States move toward easing the shutdown restrictions, the rules seem to change on a daily basis.  As I talk with business clients, the same three questions keep coming up:

  1. Do I need a plan?
  2. What rules do I follow (local, state, federal)?
  3. What is my liability?

Each answer to the question above certainly brings forth more questions.  However, I can tell you that there is not a standard plan to follow.  If anything, you will probably hear the following, which every law school student learns on day one in law school:  “It Depends”

So, to make things a little easier, I have pulled together some helpful resources that can help you navigate the “return to work” conundrum. 


Ultimately, you will put together a “return to work/office” plan that makes the most sense for your business, employees and clients.  I highly recommend that you lean on your professional advisors, senior leaders, industry trade organizations and even your competition to come up with the best process.

Here are a few other things that may be of interest:

 

Please see all of our prior updates at this link or if you would like to be added to our email list, please click here.