Category: PPK Legal News

Benefit corporations attract millennials

The Wisconsin legislature has passed new legislation allowing Wisconsin businesses to incorporate as benefit corporations, which focus not only on shareholder profits but also on their impact on the environment, the community and society.

Tax law treats benefit corporations and C Corps equally, but a benefit corporation requires its corporate directors and officers to consider all stakeholder interests when making decisions.

Incorporating as a benefit corporation may give companies a leg up in the competition to attract top talent. Studies show that millennials want to work for a company that shares their values, and are willing to accept a pay cut to do so, Forbes reported. They’re also more willing to buy products from socially responsible brands.

Some colleges, such as Princeton, even forgive or reduce student loans for graduates working at a benefit corporation, per Forbes.   

Millennials want their work to be meaningful, and to have a positive impact on the world through their work, Business Insider reported. Workers who feel they are making a difference through their work will stay with a company longer and be willing to work more hours.

They feel working for a company that shares their values is more important than a higher salary or flexible hours, per Business Insider, and only slightly less important than the chance to work with talented people, which they deemed most important.

Forbes reported there are more than 5,500 benefit corporations in the United States, and that 34 U.S. states have passed the benefit corporation legislation.

The Miami law firm Pollack, Pollack & Kogans LLC represents clients in all areas of business law. The business litigation firm acts as local counsel for out-of-state and foreign attorneys, in the fields of complex civil and commercial litigation, probate litigation, injunctive relief, judgment and debt collection, contract litigation, landlord- tenant disputes, legal ethics dilemmas, securities arbitrations, and all business concerns and disputes.

Florida is among best states in which to do business

Florida has ranked within the top 10 states in which to do business in a list compiled by Forbes magazine.

Florida ranked number seven and North Carolina first in the Forbes best states for business in 2017 list, based on seven criteria and published by the magazine last month.

North Carolina ranked second lowest in business costs, high in offering incentives, and boasted a young, educated workforce. Rates of people moving into the state are high, and the state is the only one to rank among the top five for 12 straight years.

Texas, with the second largest economy in the United States after California, came in second. The state has strong employment, and 10 percent of the 1,000 largest public and private companies in the United States are based in the state.

Utah, formerly first, came in third this year because of rising labor costs and a weaker economic forecast.

Nebraska and Virginia round out the top five on the list. Nebraska has a low unemployment rate of 2.9 percent, which is among the lowest in the United States. Virginia offers strong incentives and government policies that are friendly to businesses.

Florida followed Georgia on the list. Rounding out the top 10 were Colorado, North Dakota and Indiana.

West Virginia ranked as the worst state on the list for the third year in a row. Also low-ranking were New Mexico, Vermont and Alaska.

The rankings were based on business costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, economic climate, growth prospects, quality of life and population.

The Miami law firm Pollack, Pollack & Kogans LLC represents clients in all areas of business law. The business litigation firm acts as local counsel for out-of-state and foreign attorneys, in the fields of complex civil and commercial litigation, probate litigation, injunctive relief, judgment and debt collection, contract litigation, landlord- tenant disputes, legal ethics dilemmas, securities arbitrations, and all business concerns and disputes.

Follow these etiquette guidelines for your office party

Nearly 70 percent of employers say they’ll have a holiday party this year, according to a CareerBuilder survey. But office parties can be dangerous to navigate for both employees and employers.

A holiday party should be a voluntary event and employees should be assured that their attendance is not mandatory. But if you do decide to attend and  want to have fun yet still want have a job come Monday morning, consider these guidelines developed by Business Insider:

  • Make an effort to show up at the office holiday party. It shows your commitment to your job and company. But if you’re an employer, don’t retaliate against employees who don’t attend; they may have a legitimate reason.
  • Don’t be the first person to leave. It makes it look like you have better things to do and never wanted to be there in the first place.
  • Dress appropriately.  Just because the party is after work hours, that doesn’t mean you should wear something that’s not work appropriate.
  • Make sure your significant other knows what kind of attire is expected and if there are any topics they should avoid discussing.  Their behavior will reflect on you.
  • Don’t be antisocial. Talk to people you don’t know and use the party as an opportunity to meet new people.
  • Don’t get drunk. Set a limit for yourself before going to the party. Make sure you eat something to lessen the effects of alcohol..
  • Keep your conversation positive. Don’t complain about your job or company. You never know who’s listening.
  • Don’t talk about work. This is social time. Read about current events or topics from professional journals ahead of time so you have some conversation starters ready.
  • Don’t flirt. You don’t need a sexual harassment claim against you.
  • Don’t make a fool of yourself. You don’t know who’s taking video or where it will wind up. Likewise, avoid posting negative comments and inappropriate photos of others to social media.
  • And finally, make sure you say thank you to the host or party organizers.

For questions about how business law might apply to planning your office holiday party, contact the Miami office of PPK Law firm.

A Thanksgiving reflection on Colonial law

A business in need of legal help today has the option of strong representation by Miami litigation law firm Pollack, Pollack & Kogan. 

But as we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, let’s pause to reflect on the origins of our legal system during Colonial times and give thanks for the rights and freedoms that developed from it.

American Colonists relied on the 1215 English document, the Magna Carta, to outline individual freedoms, yet sought to develop a system that would ensure social order. Because of their strong religious beliefs, they believed in repentance and the return of the defendant back into community life.

Because of the Colonists’ Puritan beliefs, offenses were considered to be against God as well as against society. Puritan laws often included religious messages and quoted Bible passages.

Heresy was a major crime that could lead to being forced to leave the colony. Blasphemers could be whipped have a hole made in their tongue. Not properly observing the Sabbath or skipping religious services was also considered breaking the law.

Witchcraft was considered a very serious crime. People who practiced witchcraft were believed to have made pacts with the devil, and were sometimes put to death.

Other actions considered a crime included lying, idleness, drunkenness, playing such as shuffleboard or cards, and flirting.

There was no professional police force at the beginning of the colonies’ development, although there were often constables and night watchmen.  Later, as colonial governments became more established, the governor would appoint a sheriff to enforce laws, run the jail, select juries, and manage prisoners.

Shame, scorn, and humiliation were used to teach lessons for misbehavior, as well as whipping and placing the guilty in stocks.

Happy Thanksgiving from PPK Law firm!

Pollack, Pollack & Kogans  LLC – a litigation law firm – represents clients, and acts as local counsel for out-of-state and foreign attorneys, in the fields of complex civil and commercial litigation, probate litigation, injunctive relief, judgment and debt collection, contract litigation, landlord- tenant disputes, legal ethics dilemmas, securities arbitrations, and all business concerns and disputes.

Jones threatens lawsuit against NFL

NFL owners plan to extend the contract of league Commissioner Roger Goodell despite Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ threat to file a lawsuit to block the deal, according to The Washington Post.

During a conference call last week, Jones told the NFL committee that will negotiate Goodell’s contract extension through 2024 that he intends to file a lawsuit if the committee proceeds with its plans, per the Chicago Tribune.

Jones believes that Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, chairman of the NFL compensation committee, provided “misleading” statements about his group’s negotiations with Goodell. Jones has hired attorney David Boies to file a potential response.

In a letter to owners on the compensation committee and NFL counsel Brad Karp, Jones said he “has discovered a number of very concerning issues” while engaged as a committee member, per CBS News. Jones was recently expunged as a de facto member of the committee.

One objective of a lawsuit would be to use the pretrial discovery process to expose any wrongdoing by Goodell and NFL owners. During pretrial proceedings, Goodell and NFL owners would have to provide sworn statements, emails and texts relevant to Jones’ legal claims.

In May, Jones and 31 other NFL owners unanimously voted to authorize the compensation committee to extend Goodell’s contract. Jones would likely ask the court for an injunction that to block Goodell’s services beyond the existing contract and seek to prove that Goodell and the other owners have caused him financial harm and owe him monetary damages, per the Tribune.

But the Post reported that the committee intends to ignore Jones’s threat and plans to have the Goodell deal in place by December, or March 2018 at the latest.

Sources say one reason Jones wants to block the extension is because he is angry that the NFL suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games under the personal league’s conduct policy.

Goodell’s current contract expires in 2019.

For assistance with contract negotiations in your business, contact PPK law firm.

Intellectual property theft threatens businesses

Intellectual property in the digital age is complex. But understanding intellectual property provides an advantage to businesses that know how to protect themselves against threats of infringement.

Intellectual property often is more valuable to a company than its physical assets. But according to the National Crime Prevention Council, more than 45 percent of all U.S. businesses have reported losses due to intellectual property theft. Digitization of industries has increased the threat exponentially, and the cost to companies was recently estimated at $250 billion a year.

There are human costs associated with intellectual property theft as well as people are losing jobs because companies lose profits to pirates.

Another cost is personal freedom, as companies struggle to keep their secrets and not have them leaked because of an intellectual property crime.

The business litigation attorneys at PPK Law Firm in Miami counsel clients in domestic and worldwide protection and risk management, cutting across a variety of copyright, trademark, service marks, trade dress, trade secret, and internet-related matters.

IP infringement and counterfeiting is a threat that is widespread across industries. With a strategic IP plan that optimizes protection across multiple markets and streams of communications, companies can remain focused on their innovation, creativity, and maximizing investment strategies without having to spend time and resources on ongoing management of intellectual property issues.

The attorneys at PPK law firm attorneys understand that threats of misappropriation and counterfeiting pose very real harm and costs to any business.  Therefore, when negotiation fails, or litigation becomes unavoidable, our attorneys are prepared to take decisive action to enforce IP rights and to quickly secure emergency injunctive relief, and recover monetary damages.

PPK practices intellectual property law in the areas of copyright; trademarks, trade dress and service marks; licensing agreements; and cybersquatting and internet litigation. The attorneys at PPK help clients navigate these complex matters in a way that is most advantageous for their business and to ensure they are protected against infringement threats.

Tesla

Was Tesla factory atmosphere toxic?

Tesla
Tesla’s car factory is at the center of alleged discrimination.

The factory where Tesla makes its futuristic cars was a hotbed of old-fashioned discrimination, former workers who have sued the automaker allege.

Some ex-workers claim the factory was hostile to African Americans, saying it was, “straight from the Jim Crow era.” Another worker claims she endured catcalls after filing a gender discrimination suit. Another claims he was harassed for being gay. The Guardian reports:

Soon after he started working on the assembly line at Tesla, Jorge Ferro said he was taunted for being gay and threatened with violence. “Watch your back,” a supervisor warned after mocking his clothes for being “gay tight”, Ferro said.

The harassment didn’t stop after he reported it to a manager, and days after he made a second complaint, Ferro was punished, according to his account. An HR representative took away Ferro’s badge, claiming that he had an “injury” that prevented him from working and saying there’s “no place for handicapped people at Tesla”, he alleged.

Tesla repeatedly failed to stop the anti-gay harassment and fired Ferro in retaliation for seeking protection, according to a wrongful termination lawsuit, the latest discrimination scandal to roil Elon Musk’s electric car company.

According to CNN, Ferro’s suit is one of four filed against the company over issues at the Fremont, California, factory. CNN reports:

Four lawsuits filed in recent months describe a toxic culture at the plant in Fremont, California, where Tesla manufactures its electric cars and where about 10,000 people work.

The suits also make Tesla the latest Silicon Valley company to come under scrutiny after workers alleged discrimination. The best-known example is Uber, where complaints of sexual harassmentultimately forced out the CEO.

In statements, Tesla told CNN Tech that it takes all complaints seriously. But it said that, “in the history of Tesla, there has never been a single proven case of discrimination against the company. Not one.”

Meanwhile, The Verge reports that Tesla is at odds with the United Autoworkers, which claims pro-union workers were targeted for dismissal.

 

Opioid epidemic

Drugmakers, distributors, face avalanche of opioid epidemic lawsuits

Opioid epidemic
Local governments line up more lawsuits over the opioid epidemic.

Local governments from Detroit to the mountains of North Carolina and everywhere in between are lining up lawsuits against drugmakers and distributors over the opioid epidemic.

In the past week, various publications report that Wayne and Oakland Counties in Michigan, Sauk County in Wisconsin, Saratoga County in New York and Buncombe County in North Carolina all either sued drugmakers and distributors or took a step along that path.

Crain’s Detroit reports:

Wayne and Oakland counties on Thursday filed a lawsuit against a dozen drug manufacturers and distributors, alleging deceptive marketing and sale of opioids.

The joint lawsuit is the first of its kind in Michigan, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said at a news conference Thursday at the Guardian Building in Detroit.

“This is a full-blown health crisis from which the drug companies made billions,” Evans said in a statement. “People are dying and lives are being ruined by addiction as this horrible tragedy unfolds.”

Opioids are a highly addictive and sometimes lethal class of painkillers, including OxyContin and Fentanyl.

In Buncombe County, N.C., county commissioners hired Baron and Budd, which has been a part of 45 lawsuits nationwide over opioids. The Asheville Citizen-Times reports:

“(Our community is) devastated on a resource level,” Commissioner Ellen Frost said. “Our paramedics having to respond to overdose after overdose after overdose. Families losing loved ones. (It’s) a drain on our resources. “It is a crisis. It’s a horrible, horrible crisis.”

And the lawsuits aren’t likely to slow down any time soon. Fortune reports:

Cases against distributors like Cardinal and opioid manufacturers like Purdue and Teva, which are accused of negligence and aggressive sales tactics, have proliferated across the country in recent months. All levels of government, hurting from the toll the public health crisis has had on budgets, are taking action, from municipalities (Kermit, WV; Chicago, Il, Everett, WA) to counties, to states (Mississippi, Ohio, New Mexico). And that’s just a sampling. There’s also the multi-state investigation into various opioid manufacturers that a bipartisan coalition of 35 state attorney generals launched in June, and Congressional and Senate investigations into the matter underway.

commercial litigation - pollack, pollack & kogan

Supreme Court hears arbitration arguments

commercial litigation - pollack, pollack & koganWe gave a preview of this fall’s Supreme Court session here, but wanted to go into just a little detail about an issue that’s very important to businesses—whether they can use arbitration to bar employee class action suits.

The high court heard arguments over the issue earlier this month. Previously, the court’s conservative majority has allowed some consumer facing companies to include arbitration clauses with class action waivers for cell phones, credit cards and other goods and services.

Of the latest arbitration argument, the New York Times writes:

The question for the justices on Monday was whether they should use a different approach for employment contracts. The answer depends on the interaction of two federal laws. One, the Federal Arbitration Act, favors arbitration. The other, the National Labor Relations Act, protects workers’ rights to engage in “concerted activities.

Workers seeking to sue their employers for overtime pay and the like say the second law prohibits arbitration clauses that require class-action waivers.

Tech companies, including ride-sharing pioneer Uber, number among the most important observers of this issue, Wired reports:

Uber has much riding on the outcome, because it includes a mandatory-arbitration clause in its contracts with drivers, who are not employees. A group of California drivers filed suit against Uber for violating minimum-wage and overtime laws, and sought class status to represent 240,000 Uber drivers in the state. Citing the arbitration clause, Uber wants the suit dismissed and wants the drivers to arbitrate their claims individually. The 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals put the case on hold pending the Supreme Court’s decision.

The Times reports that the court’s swing vote, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, seemed ready to side with employers.

The court’s liberal justices seem lined up on the side of employees. The Economist reports:

When Justice Stephen Breyer took up this theme, he too left little doubt where he stands: “I’m worried…you are…overturning labour law that goes back to, for FDR [Franklin Delano Roosevelt] at least, the entire heart of the New Deal”

In addition to its work in litigation Pollack, Pollack & Kogan, LLC provides representation in arbitration cases.

U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court fall term jam packed with business law

U.S. Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court’s busy fall session is in full swing.

The United States Supreme Court has a full plate beginning this week, and several of the cases slated for arguments have a big impact on business.

Those cases range from whether a baker must make a cake for a gay wedding if he or she opposes gay marriage on religious grounds to whether New Jersey can allow sports betting in casinos.

The lawyers at Pollack, Pollack & Kogan, LLC will be watching these cases closely. The firm focuses on litigation, representing clients in complex civil litigation, probate litigation, injunctive relief, judgment and debt collection, contract litigation, landlord- tenant disputes, legal ethics dilemmas, securities arbitrations, and other matters involving business disputes.

Here’s a look at high court cases this term—the full term for Donald Trump appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch—with a direct bearing on business:

Group Arbitration

The court heard arguments Monday in the case of NLRB vs. Murphy Oil and two related cases. At issue is whether companies can require workers to waive the right to join class action lawsuits against their employer and instead rely on arbitration to settle disputes. The Obama Administration argued that arbitration requirements were illegal under the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. The Trump Administration reversed that position, saying such waivers were legal under the Federal Arbitration Act of 1925.

Wedding cake for gay wedding

One of the more polarizing cases pits Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado. At issue is whether a baker can refuse to make a cake for a gay wedding based on religious beliefs or whether the state can require businesses to provide “full and equal” services to all customers. In the case the court is hearing, the Trump administration wants the court to allow free speech exemptions from such state requirements for those such as bakers, musicians and photographers whose work is “expressive.”

Sports betting

In the case of Christie vs. NCAA, the court will hear arguments over whether New Jersey can allow sports betting at casinos or must follow federal law that prohibits such betting outside Nevada.

Discrimination

The court will hear arguments over whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids employers from firing people because of their sexual orientation.

The 7th Circuit Court in Chicago has ruled that the Civil Rights Act applies to discrimination based on sexual orientation. The 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta has come down on the opposite side.