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Fort Lauderdale Business and Commercial Law Blog

What is religious discrimination?

Faith and religion are important aspects of many cultures, including those found in American communities. As such, the law protects people of faith from being harassed and discriminated against during their employment or while applying for jobs. You and other Florida business owners should understand religious discrimination and reasonable accommodation laws to protect your company from adverse legal action by employees and applicants.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, religious discrimination violates employment laws. This protection extends to practices regarding hiring, creating religious exclusions as a condition of employment or making an adverse employment decision, including firing an employee, based on the employee’s religious beliefs or practices. Discrimination and harassment are defined as behavior and comments that create an offensive or hostile work environment. Isolated incidents that are not severe or simple teasing might not qualify as discrimination.

College basketball star embroiled in legal battle with agency

For many people in Florida, college sports offer a high level of excitement and entertainment, especially when it comes to football and basketball. For many college student athletes, their performance in the NCAA can be an essential stepping stone to playing their sport at the professional level. With the 2019 National Basketball Association draft just around the corner, many people are excited to see which college stars will end up being selected to play in the NBA. 

One of those stars played his freshman year at Duke in North Carolina last year. Early on, he was heralded to be one of the best players around. In the middle of April, after the NCAA tournament had completed, the player announced he had signed a deal with a sports marketing agency based in Florida. The agency was to represent the player for a term of five years. However, less than six weeks later, it was announced that he had signed with another sports marketing agency.

How can a nondisclosure agreement help your business?

There may be trade secrets and other elements to your company that you do not want getting out to your competition and the public. When you employ people, there is a risk that your employees can talk about these things, inadvertently or not, or that they can later leave your employment and work for a competitor. Understandably, you and other Florida business owners may want to know how to reduce the chances of confidential information being leaked.

Suppose you just started a cookie company with a top-secret recipe for sugar cookies that helped launch your business into popularity. You would not want your employees to share the recipe with a competing bakery or even their family members and friends. Additionally, you would not want a former employee taking information about your clients and starting a competing cookie bakery. You may address this risk by including a nondisclosure agreement in your employment contract. According to FindLaw, an effective NDA should include the following points:

  • Specific confidential information – your secret recipe and clients’ contact information
  • The time period the agreement remains effective – usually up to five years
  • Those agreeing not to disclose the confidential information and from whom the information must be kept – competitors, associates and customers
  • Those exempt from confidentiality – those who already know the recipe

The pros and cons of business arbitration

Arbitration can be a useful tool for business owners hoping to avoid litigation to resolve a dispute. At the Law Offices of Levi Williams, P.A., our goal is to assist Florida businesses in running smoothly and avoiding costly litigation. While we know that arbitration can serve a valuable purpose, we also know that, like other tools of law, there are negative as well as positive aspects to this dispute resolution method. You may be interested in learning about the different arbitration pros and cons.

As FindLaw explains, many business owners include arbitration clauses in their customer contracts because arbitrating a dispute may be faster and more cost-effective than court litigation. You and customers may also appreciate the impartial nature of choosing arbitrators to resolve a dispute, as well as confidentiality. Arbitration is also generally a simpler process than a courtroom trial and the results are usually final, which can protect businesses.

How can I prevent workplace violence at my company?

If you employ people, there is a risk of workplace violence. There is a potential for attacks and assaults at any establishment, whether large or small. You and other Florida business owners may be interested in learning about workplace violence and the ways in which to protect your employees, as well as your legal interests.

According to the National Safety Council, 18,400 people were injured and 458 were killed across the United States in 2017 in violent incidents in the workplace. Healthcare, the service industry and education are environments especially prone to workplace violence. Violence at work generally falls into the categories of criminal intent, client/customer, worker-on-worker and personal relationship. How can you prevent violence at your workplace and protect your staff? The following tips may help:

  • Recognize the signs an employee may become violent, including changes in behavior or reacting badly to recent discipline.
  • Adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward violence in the workplace.
  • Provide training and informational material about workplace violence, protective strategies and coping.
  • Consider conducting mock training sessions with law enforcement to address different workplace violence scenarios.

How to protect your small business from lawsuits

As a small business owner, you have most likely worked hard to create a working environment that is friendly to all employees. After all, having happy and loyal employees is key to business production and efficiency. The last thing you want is to be put in a situation where you are fighting a lawsuit for an otherwise preventable issue. Lawsuits can harm your business’s reputation and compromise a smooth working flow. You can minimize your risk of getting sued by following a few simple rules.

First, make sure you provide proper training for your employees, including a written form that outlines all rules and responsibilities of the job. Be sure sexual harassment training is provided for all employees. Watch what you do and say as an employer. You should avoid situations where a conflict of interest may occur, as this can lead to a lawsuit. Avoid speaking or making statements in public regarding your business.

What are some of the different types of mergers?

There are many different ways in which your Florida company can join together with another business to create an entirely new organization. According to The Street, the potential benefits of a merger include further market penetration, sales growth and cost-cutting.

The objective you want to accomplish by joining with another company determines which type of merger you choose. Your options include the following.

Identifying unfair competition as it occurs

Floridian business owners have a lot of hurdles to clear in order to have a successful, sustainable business. While a lot of those hurdles are to be expected for anyone journeying into entrepreneurship or self-employment, some issues are unexpected, like unfair competition from an opposing business.

Cornell Law School defines unfair competition as an act in which someone (a business owner or a company on a whole) uses deceptive trade practices to unfairly influence the market. Actions that can be defined as "unfair" differ depending on the facts of each unique case, such as the action a business is being accused of and how it fits within the context of the business itself.

Fla.-based business faces discrimination, harassment allegations

Truly Nolen is a pest extermination business founded in Florida with locations all over the country. A former employee of the office in Broward County has filed a lawsuit against the company alleging that she received discriminatory treatment from superiors on the basis of her race, gender and disability status. She also alleges sexual harassment by male co-workers and implies the company fired her in retaliation for complaining about the treatment she allegedly received. 

The former employee, who is black, claims that her manager required her to keep her camera running in her sales vehicle at all times, an imposition she alleges was racially motivated. She also claims that the manager denied her reasonable accommodations for her disability and assigned her work as a technician, for less pay than her male counterparts received, despite hiring her as a sales associate due to his reported discomfort at giving a technician position to a woman. 

Is blacklisting unlawful in Florida?

Nearly any business owner deals with some employees they would never want to work with again, and they might not wish them on their worst competitors, either. However, Florida business owners should understand that while it is permissible to fire an employee for an acceptable reason, such as being combative with co-workers or consistently being late, there are rules surrounding blacklisting that could land a company in legal hot water if they were found to engage in this practice.

What exactly is blacklisting? The Houston Chronicle explains it as business owners or hiring managers trying to prevent someone from working elsewhere after they left employment or applied for a job. This could be done for numerous reasons, including the following:

  • An employer wanting to “get back” at an employee for quitting
  • An applicant missing a job interview or lying on a resume
  • An employer wanting to prevent others from having to work with someone who is incompetent or poorly behaved

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