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The elements of a breach of contract claim

When a Florida employee or business promises to do something, you are inclined to expect that it will be done. If it is not completed, the results can sometimes be damaging and often cause you to lose money. If this has happened to you, you may be wondering whether you should file a breach of contract claim. We at the Law Offices of Levi Williams have provided this guide to help you determine if your situation has all the elements necessary for this type of case.

According to Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute, the first step is to determine whether or not there was in fact a valid contract. If you were promised something in a verbal contract, it may be more difficult to prove than if it is written on paper.

What exactly is considered sexual harassment?

The concept of sexual harassment in the workplace is not anything new to most people in Florida. Much has been said and heard about this topic for several decades. However, sexual harassment can still be somewhat misunderstood even today. This is because what can constitute sexual harassment is not always as clearly defined as many people may think. Some may believe that sexual harassment is when one person makes overt sexual advances toward another person at work. While this may be one form of sexual harassment it is far from the only thing that comes under the sexual harassment umbrella.

The Balance explains that sexual harassment may involve physical or non-physical actions, comments and even expressions or behaviors that are in some form sexual in nature. At the heart of determining whether or not something may be deemed as sexually harassing is the result. Anything that leads a work environment to be hostile or make someone feel unsafe could be sexual harassment. Another key factor is that the action, comment or behavior is unwanted and may even be overly rejected. It may happen only once or multiple times.

Bank increases presence in Florida with acquisition

For many businesses, one strategic way of expanding operations and grow profits is to merge with other businesses or even buy them outright. One bank headquartered in the northeast with some branches in Florida has been looking to expand its presence in the sunshine state. Recently that bank, Valley National Bancorp has announced that its board of directly voted unanimously to approve the acquisition of USAmeriBancorp Inc.

USAmeriBancorp Inc is headquartered in Clearwater, Florida and also has operations in Alabama. Once the merger is completed, Valley National will increase its branches from the current 209 across New Jersey, New York and Florida to 239 in those three states and Alabama as well. The deal is expected to be finalized sometime in the first three months of 2018.

DOJ reversal: LGBT employees are not protected

A recent change in the position being taken by the Department of Justice could leave some Florida employees vulnerable to termination. As Business Insider reports, the DOJ has filed a briefing arguing that sexual orientation is not protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects against workplace discrimination.

This is a reversal from the position the Obama administration took, which was that employees are not to be discriminated against based on their "race, color, religion, sex and national origin," understanding sex to include both an employee's sexual orientation and gender identity. Federal appeals courts have not come to any sort of consensus on this issue in the past, and the brief filed by the DOJ in the case Zarda v. Altitude Express is currently in the U.S. Second Circuit Court, which ruled in a previous case that sexual orientation was not considered a protected class. However, the Seventh Circuit Court ruled that discriminating against an employee based on his or her sexual orientation does violate the law.

Protecting your trade secrets

Your company has no doubt dedicated a good deal of resources to developing those practices and products that distinguish you from your competition in Fort Lauderdale. To have those leaked to competitors could be a potentially devastating blow to your business. Most of the corporate clients that we here at The Law Offices of Levi Williams, P.A. have worked with in the past have seen such leaks occur when former employers have left their organizations. You may have a non-disclosure agreement that prevents employees from sharing your trade secrets, yet have you truly aware of what qualifies as such? And if such secrets did get out, what can you do to stop their proliferation?

Florida’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act states that for information to qualify as a trade secret, it must meet three criteria:

  • It must be determined to be a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique or process
  • It must derive economic value from not being known by others who could profit off of its use
  • The means undertaken to maintain its secrecy must be reasonable

Understanding the IPO process

Florida entrepreneurs who have successfully built up new ventures may at some point consider turning their privately held companies into publicly traded companies. There is no rule as to when or why this may be done and it is certainly not the route for every business but it can have some advantages.

As CNBC explains, going public through the initial public offering process may provide a business with access to a lot of usable, liquid money. This allows the company to afford or financial substantial changes whether those be in expansion or basic infrastructure changes. Having stocks may also give a business more leverage during a potential acquisition or merger down the road. When it comes to recruiting new talent, especially at the management or executive level, the ability to offer stock options may help employers to win the employees they want and need to further their business growth.

Non-profit agency seeks government money per contract

It is not only private, for-profit Florida businesses and organizations that regularly engage in contractual relationships but governmental and non-profit organizations as well. As with any contract, a dispute can arise at any time, pitting two entities at odds against each other. It is during these situations that the power of an original contract can truly be put to the test.

An example of this can be seen in a case regarding a contract between the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a non-profit group called Rebuild Northwest Florida. The latter is an entity that seeks to help people and communities not only recover from hurricane or tornado damage but guard their structures against future damage in the eye of these natural disasters. As part of its work, Rebuild Northwest Florida received federal grant money from FEMA to complete mitigation work. The goal was to work on as many as 14,000 homes overall.

Nondisclosure and noncompete agreements

While not every employed person in Florida has an official employment contract, it is not unusual for a person to be asked to sign individual contracts with very specific provisions or protections for the employer. Two types of these contracts are nondisclosure agreements and noncompete agreements.

Monster indicates that the increase in technology as a basis for so many organizations today has in part fueled the increase in reliance on these types of contracts between employers and employees. While similar, they do focus on different areas both designed to protect businesses against competitive forces. A nondisclosure agreement basically restricts what information an employee may use or share with another person or entity. A noncompete agreement limits future professional opportunities for employees.

Identifying a good business partner

Florida entrepreneurs looking to start a new venture may not always want to go it alone. A business partner can bring a lot to the table but it does not always require that a business to be structured as an official partnership. Even if a new company is ultimately created as a limited liability company or a corporation, there may be an interest in having a partner to get things off the ground.

When searching for a business partner, Business News Daily suggests that a person's existing professional network be tapped into as this may bring many potential candidates to the table. One thing people should watch out for is the tempation to find someone just like themselves. It is actually better to find a partner with different strengths, talents and experience so that together you may actually complement each other. This may boost the company's chance of success.

How can I succeed with a merger?

There are any number of reasons that may lead a business owner or executive to pursue a merger with another company in Florida. Mergers and acquisitions may well provide just what a company needs to not only remain competitive but to leapfrog the competition. A deal may also be the only way in which a particular company can actually stay in business. Whatever the reason, there are certain things that company leaders should know and be aware of in order to ensure success with their mergers.

According to Forbes, engaging with a business' customers early on in the merger process is essential. Customers will no doubt have concerns when they hear of a major change and it is necessary to quell those fears and ensure customers feel secure in continuing to do business with a merging company. Getting customers involved and informed may also help to avoid them from using a merger as a point of leverage in negotiations.

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