Tag Archives: Legal

United Passenger Blames Airline For Drunk Man Who Urinated On Him During Flight

Airline passengers have to deal with all manner of human menace — whether it’s that inconsiderate person in the aisle seat eating a tuna sandwich, the charming child repeatedly kicking the back of your seat while his parents pretend not to notice, or the dude next to you voiding his bladder on your leg. At what point does another passenger’s transgression become the fault of the airline? A United passenger who says another traveler used his leg as a urinal during a June flight from Los Angeles to Newark is now blaming the airline in a lawsuit [PDF] filed in a New Jersey court accusing United of allowing a visibly drunk passenger to board the plane in the first place. The plaintiff says that when he boarded the aircraft, he noticed the stranger in the next seat was “heavily intoxicated prior to entering the flight, and had fallen into a drunken stupor.” According to the complaint, “a powerful odor of alcohol was emanating from the passenger’s breath and body.” The lawsuit states that just as the flight was preparing to take off, the man seated next to him took out his penis, aimed it at the plaintiff, and “proceeded to urinate all over [the man’s] leg” while he was confined to his seat due to the “imminent departure of the flight.” Not only did his seatmate smell of booze, but “upon being soaked in the passenger’s urine,” the plaintiff says he noticed the stuff “also emitted a powerful scent of alcohol.” “Shaken and disturbed by these events,” the man claims he tried to wake the other passenger up, but couldn’t because he was too drunk. He says that no flight crew members had done anything to intervene throughout the experience. He notified a flight attendant and asked to be moved, “to avoid the continued humiliation, assault, and inhumane experience of sitting in urine-soaked clothes on a urine-soaked seat.” The lawsuit claims United refused that request at first, but eventually relocated him to another seat. However, he was then “forced to endure the remainder of the flight” to New Jersey while remaining in his urine-soaked clothing. The man says he got in touch with his father during the flight to let him know what happened, and that he then notified law enforcement. The lawsuit claims that if he and his father hadn’t contacted police, no one would have intervened. Upon arrival, both men were removed from the plane and interviewed. The complaint claims that during an FBI interview, the allegedly intoxicated passenger said he didn’t remember anything from the flight, and only recalled being at a bar inside LAX. He believed he’d consumed at least four rum cocktails while at the airport bar prior to the flight, the lawsuit says. The passenger’s “unresponsive state upon being seated should have been a clear indication to United of the passenger’s heavy intoxication,” the passenger’s lawsuit claims. “United failed and refused to change the flight itinerary as a result of the assault and thus risked the health and safety of not only” the passenger who’s suing, but the man accused of peeing on him and other people on the flight. The complaint points to United’s own contract of carriage, which requires that members of the crew remove passengers who “appear to be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs to a degree that the passenger may endanger the passenger or another passenger or members of the crew. The lawsuit alleges negligence and assault, as well as breach of contract and emotional distress. We’ve reached out to United for comment on the lawsuit and will update this post if we receive a response. The anonymous passenger accused of urinating on the man’s leg is also named as a “John Doe” defendant in the case. He’s accused of assault and battery, negligence, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Company Ruling: Firing Employees In The Time Of Social Media

 
With the advent of social media, the public now has the ability to elevate or tear down a brand’s reputation with shocking speed. As such, it’s mission critical for contemporary founders and their teams to behave in a manner consistent with their company’s core values. In instances when a team member falls short of those expectations, founders need to respond decisively to protect the firm’s reputation. Here are a few tips on how to fire an employee in the time of social media.
   
Establish a clear code of conduct The most effective way to protect your company from an employee-related public scandal is to take steps to prevent one from ever occurring. Before taking on any new team members, you need to inform them that they’ll be held to a clear code of conduct. They need to understand that if their poor behavior impacts the company’s reputation, on or off the clock, they will be disciplined or terminated. Doing so will influence your team to be mindful of their public behavior, and consequently, less likely to engage in activities that could result in major blowback for themselves and their employer.  
Don’t wait to react Because of the various federal and regional employment regulations that apply to small businesses operating in the United States, executives may feel hesitant to take action in the event of a public relations crisis. While the impulse is understandable, following it can have disastrous consequences. Being perceived as slow to react to a scandal will be perceived as weak leadership at best and a tacit approval of the bad acts at worst. In dealing with incidents of public employee malfeasance, suspend the offending worker immediately pending an investigation and release a statement to that effect as soon as possible. Showing decisive leadership in times of crisis is always received favorably by the marketplace.  
Understand the nuances of social media Obviously, flagrant violations of the company’s social media policy, like insulting specific team members or customers in a post, will warrant disciplinary measures. However, in cases where the issue is more ambiguous, such as a staffer expressing concerns about how management’s actions are affecting their ability to perform, employers need to acknowledge and address the employee’s concerns. Retaliating against employees for casting the company in a bad light and in a public forum in this instance could be a violation of the National Labor Relations Act. As this recent Harvard Business Review article points out, small businesses should be careful, but definitive in how they deal with their employees’ problematic social media activity.    
This article was written by Mario McKellop for CBS Small Business Pulse
 

Company Ruling: Firing Employees In The Time Of Social Media

 
With the advent of social media, the public now has the ability to elevate or tear down a brand’s reputation with shocking speed. As such, it’s mission critical for contemporary founders and their teams to behave in a manner consistent with their company’s core values. In instances when a team member falls short of those expectations, founders need to respond decisively to protect the firm’s reputation. Here are a few tips on how to fire an employee in the time of social media.
   
Establish a clear code of conduct The most effective way to protect your company from an employee-related public scandal is to take steps to prevent one from ever occurring. Before taking on any new team members, you need to inform them that they’ll be held to a clear code of conduct. They need to understand that if their poor behavior impacts the company’s reputation, on or off the clock, they will be disciplined or terminated. Doing so will influence your team to be mindful of their public behavior, and consequently, less likely to engage in activities that could result in major blowback for themselves and their employer.  
Don’t wait to react Because of the various federal and regional employment regulations that apply to small businesses operating in the United States, executives may feel hesitant to take action in the event of a public relations crisis. While the impulse is understandable, following it can have disastrous consequences. Being perceived as slow to react to a scandal will be perceived as weak leadership at best and a tacit approval of the bad acts at worst. In dealing with incidents of public employee malfeasance, suspend the offending worker immediately pending an investigation and release a statement to that effect as soon as possible. Showing decisive leadership in times of crisis is always received favorably by the marketplace.  
Understand the nuances of social media Obviously, flagrant violations of the company’s social media policy, like insulting specific team members or customers in a post, will warrant disciplinary measures. However, in cases where the issue is more ambiguous, such as a staffer expressing concerns about how management’s actions are affecting their ability to perform, employers need to acknowledge and address the employee’s concerns. Retaliating against employees for casting the company in a bad light and in a public forum in this instance could be a violation of the National Labor Relations Act. As this recent Harvard Business Review article points out, small businesses should be careful, but definitive in how they deal with their employees’ problematic social media activity.    
This article was written by Mario McKellop for CBS Small Business Pulse
 

L.L. Bean Sued For Using The Word “Outsider” In Ad Campaign

L.L. Bean is arguably the apparel brand most widely associated with the outdoors, but when the plaid-clad company dared to use the term “outsider” in a marketing campaign, it put its duck boot into a bit of a legal mess. Alfwear Inc. is the corporate name of outdoor apparel company KÜHL. In Aug. 2017, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office granted Alfwear’s trademark for “The Outsider,” a brand to be used on “Rugged outdoor clothing, namely, belts, bottoms, hats, jackets, pants, shirts, shorts, T-shirts, tops.” KÜHL says it has been selling “The Outsider” pants since June 2015: Having the registered trademark would preclude competitors from using “The Outsider” brand for their apparel items, but can the trademark be used to stop L.L. Bean and others from simply using the term “Outsider” in a marketing campaign that doesn’t sell any specific clothing item? Alfwear thinks so, and has sued [PDF] L.L. Bean in a federal court in Utah, alleging trademark violation for Bean’s “Be an Outsider” (get it? “Bean Outsider”?) ad campaign. This is also a matter of competing trademark applications. In June 2017, L.L. Bean applied for the mark “Be An Outsider,” for the purpose of retail store services and apparel. It’s used the phrase in ads and as part of a new company manifesto, as well as on its gimmicky full-page ad in The New York Times. According to KÜHL’s lawsuit, this could be confusing to people, and they may be led “to incorrectly conclude” that L.L. Bean’s “goods or services originate with, or are authorized by” the company, which would damage both KÜHL’s business and the public. The complaint alleges that L.L. Bean used this phrase to intentionally mislead, deceive, or confuse customers, “while trading on Alfwear’s reputation and good will.” KÜHL notes that it requested in writing that L.L. Bean cease and desist from its allegedly infringing actions. The apparel company claims it has suffered as a result of the alleged trade trademark infringement, and will continue to “suffer loss of income, profits and good will,” while its competitor “has and will continue to unfairly acquire income profits and good will.” The lawsuit accuses L.L. Bean of violating the Lanham Act, and claims that its actions constitute federal unfair competition. It’s seeking a court order requiring L.L. Bean stop using the line “Be An Outsider” in any publications, ads, or websites; damages, and all profits the Maine company made as a result of its alleged infringement. L.L. Bean declined to comment, citing pending litigation, but a spokesperson told The Bangor Daily News that the company firmly believes it is “well within” its legal rights to “use the call to action Be An Outsider,” and that it looks forward to resolving the issue.

Government Jobs Sprouting As Legal Pot Looms In California

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Scientists. Tax collectors. Typists. Analysts. Lawyers. And more scientists. Recreational marijuana use becomes legal in California in 2018, and one of the things to blossom in the emerging industry isn’t green and leafy – it’s government jobs. The state is on a hiring binge to fill what eventually will be hundreds of new government positions by 2019 intended to bring order to the legal pot economy, from keeping watch on what’s seeping into streams near cannabis grows to running background checks on storefront sellers who want government licenses. Thousands of additional jobs are expected to be added by local governments. The swiftly expanding bureaucracy represents just one aspect of the complex challenge faced by California: Come January, the state will unite its longstanding medical cannabis industry with the newly legalized recreational one, creating what will be the United States’ largest legal pot economy. Last January, just 11 full-time workers were part of what’s now known as the Bureau of Cannabis Control, the state’s chief regulatory agency overseeing the pot market. Now, it’s more than doubled, and by February the agency expects to have more than 100 staffers. The agency is moving into new offices later this year, having outgrown its original quarters. It’s expected new satellite offices will eventually spread around the state. There also will be scores of jobs added to issue licenses for sellers, growers, truck drivers, manufacturers and others working in the projected $7 billion industry. The state has taken to Facebook to lure applicants. The bureau is using a video snippet of actor Jim Carrey, hammering his fingers into a computer keyboard, to catch the eye of prospective applicants online. “Get those applications in … before this guy beats you to it,” it reads. “New job just ahead,” reads another post. “We’re hiring.” This year’s state budget contained about $100 million to fund regulatory programs for marijuana, which includes personnel to review and issue licenses, watch over environmental conditions and carry out enforcement. Planned hiring into 2018 covers a range of state agencies: Fifty people are bound for the Public Health Department, 65 are slated to join the Water Resources Control Board, and 60 new employees are expected at the Food and Agriculture Department, which will oversee licensing for cultivators. Some of the work is highly specialized. Environmental scientists will be responsible for developing standards for pot grows near streams, to make sure fertilizer or pesticides do not taint the water or harm fish. An engineer will monitor groundwater and water being diverted to nourish plants. Lawyers are needed to help sort out complex issues involving the state’s maze of environmental laws. Pay varies with position but can be attractive, with some scientist posts paying over $100,000 annually. Special investigators with the Consumer Affairs Department could earn in the $80,000 range. Policing cannabis cultivation, legal and not, has been a long-running concern in the state. Recently, Republican state Sen. Ted Gaines of El Dorado urged Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency in Siskiyou County because of what he called rampant illegal marijuana grows. Gaines said criminals are treating the county as “their own illicit greenhouse” while polluting waterways with pesticides and other waste. Meanwhile, the state and local governments are rushing to enact rules to govern the new pot economy, a process that so far has produced mixed results. The state says it will be ready to begin issuing licenses in January, albeit temporary ones. In coastal Mendocino County, about 700 cultivators have applied for local permits, though it’s estimated thousands of people grow pot in the county north of San Francisco. The fear is that many growers and sellers will remain in the black market, undercutting legitimate sales. “My biggest concern is that the state regulations may prove to be so onerous that it will discourage people who want to be legally compliant from coming forward,” said John McCowen, who chairs the county Board of Supervisors. “And that will mean greater opportunity for those operating in the black market,” McCowen added. While the state is adding jobs to oversee the marketplace, law enforcement will face new demands that come with a price tag, from keeping roads free of stoned drivers to helping weed out illegal operators. The California Highway Patrol is expanding training for officers to identify “buzzed” drivers. In cities that permit cultivation, manufacturing or sales, police duties could also include protecting legitimate operators from gangs intent on pushing them out of business. And a key issue will be keeping legally grown pot from moving into the black market. To combat illegal activity, whether through code enforcement or police, “we are going to have to invest,” said Gardena Police Chief Edward Medrano, who heads the California Police Chiefs Association. (© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

4 Online Tools That Can Help With Your Small Business Taxes

 
As a small business owner, you’ve got enough to worry about. Instead of stressing out about your taxes, let these online tools help do all the heavy lifting for you. From maximizing your tax deductions to getting tips on managing your payroll withholding taxes, these four online tools will be your new end-of-the-year go-to.
   
IRS Virtual Small Business Tax Workshop The IRS Virtual Small Business Tax Workshop is exactly what it sounds like. It is a self-paced, interactive online tax information training tool created to help small business owners navigate and understand their tax obligations year-round. The workshop includes nine lessons that cover important topics, such as federal tax obligations for new business owners, tips on how to set up and run your own business, and a step-by-step guide on how to manage payroll withholding.   IRS Small Business Calendar Navigating the tax year is a pain, even more so if you’re a business owner, which is why the free IRS Calendar for Business and Self-Employed is the perfect tool to keep your dates in check. Available as an online or desktop application, the calendar marks important business tax dates and reminders. The calendar is also automatically updated each year, so you’ll never be out of the loop.   TurboTax TurboTax is a well-known, easy-to-use online tax software designed specifically for self-employed tax payers and small-business owners. TurboTax gives users the option to find industry-specific deductions as well as track their audit risk. If your business is new, TurboTax will display which startup costs, if any, can be deducted. TurboTax also makes it easy for preexisting business owners by allowing them to import their tax information from previous years. If you’re a loyal QuickBooks user, TurboTax will import your income and expense information for you.   H&R Block Like TurboTax, H&R Block is another easy-to-use, online tax software for small business owners. H&R supports most tax forms and promises accurate tax calculations, so you’re almost guaranteed to get your maximum tax refund. H&R Block also has several retail locations throughout the country, so if you’re unsure about something, you can stop in and speak with a real person instead of a computer.
     
This article was written by Tabitha Shiflett for CBS Small Business Pulse
 

4 Online Tools That Can Help With Your Small Business Taxes

 
As a small business owner, you’ve got enough to worry about. Instead of stressing out about your taxes, let these online tools help do all the heavy lifting for you. From maximizing your tax deductions to getting tips on managing your payroll withholding taxes, these four online tools will be your new end-of-the-year go-to.
   
IRS Virtual Small Business Tax Workshop The IRS Virtual Small Business Tax Workshop is exactly what it sounds like. It is a self-paced, interactive online tax information training tool created to help small business owners navigate and understand their tax obligations year-round. The workshop includes nine lessons that cover important topics, such as federal tax obligations for new business owners, tips on how to set up and run your own business, and a step-by-step guide on how to manage payroll withholding.   IRS Small Business Calendar Navigating the tax year is a pain, even more so if you’re a business owner, which is why the free IRS Calendar for Business and Self-Employed is the perfect tool to keep your dates in check. Available as an online or desktop application, the calendar marks important business tax dates and reminders. The calendar is also automatically updated each year, so you’ll never be out of the loop.   TurboTax TurboTax is a well-known, easy-to-use online tax software designed specifically for self-employed tax payers and small-business owners. TurboTax gives users the option to find industry-specific deductions as well as track their audit risk. If your business is new, TurboTax will display which startup costs, if any, can be deducted. TurboTax also makes it easy for preexisting business owners by allowing them to import their tax information from previous years. If you’re a loyal QuickBooks user, TurboTax will import your income and expense information for you.   H&R Block Like TurboTax, H&R Block is another easy-to-use, online tax software for small business owners. H&R supports most tax forms and promises accurate tax calculations, so you’re almost guaranteed to get your maximum tax refund. H&R Block also has several retail locations throughout the country, so if you’re unsure about something, you can stop in and speak with a real person instead of a computer.
     
This article was written by Tabitha Shiflett for CBS Small Business Pulse
 

What To Do When One Of Your Employees Is Pregnant

 
A pregnancy can be a wonderful and exciting time for a woman, but as an employer, what does it mean for your business? How should you proceed when an employee announces a pregnancy? Here are some tips to help ensure your expectant employee is comfortable in the workplace.    
Know the law Laws such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Family Medical Leave Act protect pregnant women, making it illegal to fire or otherwise discriminate against a woman due to her pregnancy. In addition, other state and local laws may apply. Make sure you’re familiar with the law and don’t do anything, even unintentionally, that would treat a pregnant woman unfairly. Also familiarize yourself with maternity-leave laws, as these can also vary by state, so both you and your employee know how much time she can take off.  
Personnel Ask what you will need for the business while your employee is on maternity leave. Can the position be left vacant until she returns? Can other staff take over her duties? Would it be best to hire a temp to fill her job? Be sure to consider the employee’s needs as well, including the fact that she’ll be concerned about the health of both herself and her baby. If the employee is in a high-stress position or works long hours, discuss with her how, if at all, she would like her role to change during pregnancy, and keep in mind the impact stress can have on health. A 2009 study found that stress on a mother in the early months of pregnancy can affect the development of the baby’s brain, as well as increase the chance of preterm labor and low birth weight.  
Leave Paid maternity leave is becoming a hot topic, with more and more companies offering it. Consider the benefits of not just recovery time after childbirth, but also the importance of a mother and child having time to bond before she returns to work. As Fast Company points out in the article, “How Small Businesses Can Offer Paid Maternity Leave,” paid maternity leave is a small and infrequent business expense that could actually attract and retain quality employees. It is a high commodity as only 12 percent of non-government employees have access to the benefit.    
This article was written by Janelle Sheetz for CBS Small Business Pulse
 

What To Do When One Of Your Employees Is Pregnant

 
A pregnancy can be a wonderful and exciting time for a woman, but as an employer, what does it mean for your business? How should you proceed when an employee announces a pregnancy? Here are some tips to help ensure your expectant employee is comfortable in the workplace.    
Know the law Laws such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Family Medical Leave Act protect pregnant women, making it illegal to fire or otherwise discriminate against a woman due to her pregnancy. In addition, other state and local laws may apply. Make sure you’re familiar with the law and don’t do anything, even unintentionally, that would treat a pregnant woman unfairly. Also familiarize yourself with maternity-leave laws, as these can also vary by state, so both you and your employee know how much time she can take off.  
Personnel Ask what you will need for the business while your employee is on maternity leave. Can the position be left vacant until she returns? Can other staff take over her duties? Would it be best to hire a temp to fill her job? Be sure to consider the employee’s needs as well, including the fact that she’ll be concerned about the health of both herself and her baby. If the employee is in a high-stress position or works long hours, discuss with her how, if at all, she would like her role to change during pregnancy, and keep in mind the impact stress can have on health. A 2009 study found that stress on a mother in the early months of pregnancy can affect the development of the baby’s brain, as well as increase the chance of preterm labor and low birth weight.  
Leave Paid maternity leave is becoming a hot topic, with more and more companies offering it. Consider the benefits of not just recovery time after childbirth, but also the importance of a mother and child having time to bond before she returns to work. As Fast Company points out in the article, “How Small Businesses Can Offer Paid Maternity Leave,” paid maternity leave is a small and infrequent business expense that could actually attract and retain quality employees. It is a high commodity as only 12 percent of non-government employees have access to the benefit.    
This article was written by Janelle Sheetz for CBS Small Business Pulse
 

Legal Matters: How To Manage A Lawyer For Your Business

 
If unmanaged, lawyers can begin acting similar to an employee or service provider, which is why it’s important to set requirements and boundaries. After finding a lawyer that fits your business, budget and objectives, develop and manage basic requirements to maintain the relationship. This can be demanding, however, doing your due diligence will result in a winning affiliation. These traits are fundamental and must also go both ways. Some no-brainers that need no justification, include guidelines of communication, making yourself available, and being responsive. Since failure to promptly reply can result in minor setbacks on your matter or case, prompt replies of queries and requests are crucial. It also helps if both parties are both cooperative, transparent, and open to options and suggestions. Finally, before securing your lawyer, discuss and routinely plan before drafting significant thoughts and briefs. Managing a lawyer can be complex, but it doesn’t always have to be. These three tips will help you maintain and manage a lawyer.
   
Set a clear budget Lawyers usually bill by the hour, so having a set budget with your lawyer prevents financial surprises or conflicts from arising in the future. You’ll be able to determine upfront what your project or case costs and whether to adapt or prepare yourself financially. In addition it allows your lawyer to focus on what really matters, since it’s common for legal issues to unintentionally shift and expand at any given moment.  
Set a clear end goal Understand that your lawyer and you, as an executive or business owner, have two different objectives in order to meet your end goal. So it’s important before meeting with a lawyer to collect and gather as much information about your business as possible. Have a list of questions ready, and most importantly, set a clear end goal. This will make every meeting and engagement with your lawyer more fruitful, transparent and productive.  
Document everything While your lawyer may be responsible of keeping track of your legal matters or case, it’s worthwhile to keep your own records. Documenting does not only apply to the updates and developments of your legal matters, it also applies to the relationship between you and your lawyer. Keep track of your progress, conversations, and developments with your lawyer so you both are on the same page.
   
This article was written by Marie Flounoy for CBS Small Business Pulse