How to Protect Your Business from Copyright Lawsuits

Think your company has the next ‘big idea’, good enough to break into your industry? Chances are, someone else has had the same idea. At Von Esch Law Group, we’ve seen too many start-ups and business owners face patent litigation from companies waiting to file lawsuits against unsuspecting entrepreneurs. Here are 4 tips for avoiding copyright infringement throughout each stage of your development.

  1. Be cautious if it’s not your own.

 

You may think this goes without saying, but so many business owners get caught in this tricky copyright trap. If a piece of content was not created by you or your company, whether in person or on the internet, a high level of caution is required when deciding if it’s acceptable to reuse. If you find content you want to use for business purposes, especially photographs and music, check the permissions or license to see whether you can use it for free or need to pay a fee.

  1. Big companies do care.

With so many massive corporations pushing out content daily, it can be tempting to take a small piece of their content – like an Instagram post or 3-second video clip – for your business’s personal use. However, more often than not, they’ll be looking out for this small form of plagiarism. New software has made it possible for companies to monitor any content being republished on the web, no matter how small. Play it safe and avoid this type of copyright infringement.

  1. Don’t forget to look for “fair use”.

While these infringement laws may seem scary, there may be a way around them. “Fair use” is an exemption offered to those who wish to use a piece of content with a copyright license for educational purposes. While this option requires you to read the fine lines, it often allows you access to otherwise prohibited content for educational use.

  1. Start early.

Just had an idea for a business, product, or service? It’s never too early to start researching the current patents associated with your idea. Whether you assign it to your development team or look into it yourself, thoroughly researching the copyrights related to your product can help you avoid a major headache (and lawsuit) in the future.

In addition to following these tips, our team at Von Esch Law highly recommends hiring a legal team to walk you through each step of your business or product development. We specialize in business law and have helped countless clients avoid costly lawsuits. Give us a call today to schedule a consultation with our team!

Disability Discrimination in the Workplace

It is not an uncommon occurrence to find that the disabled in the society end up being discriminated in the workplace. But then again, it also isn’t a good practice to discriminate or undermine anyone who is disabled anywhere. Fortunately, California state laws offer protection for the disabled from any kind of discrimination at work.

Most of these state laws also prohibit an employer from subjecting any of their disabled employees to any kind of unequal treatment in regards to your actual or perceived disabilities. So, how will you know whether you are being subjected to any form of discrimination at work due to your disability?

Read below to find out.

What is disability discrimination?

If you are disabled in any way and working, then you can spot any kind of disability discrimination either from your employer or fellow employees quite easily. This unlawful habit may even start right from the moment you are applying for a new job. The moment you realize that you are being

treated unfavorably by your interviewer or employer qualifies as a disability discrimination. California also has laws that expect employers to provide reasonable accommodation to their disabled employees and/or applicants.

Definition of disability

A disability is a state of any medical condition which impairs activity. This can also include an employee’s ability to work optimally in the workplace. Disabilities can always take many different forms. Most disabilities are usually physical impairments. But you will also find situations where psychiatric conditions can hinder an employee or applicant from performing at work.

As a disabled applicant or employee, you also need to know that not all disabilities are protected by law. So, for you to be protected, you first need to qualify for a job, then see whether your California laws protect employees of applicants with your kind of disability.

Signs of disability discrimination in the workplace

Aside from the clear fact that California has put federal laws in place to protect the disabled from any kind of discrimination at work, disability discrimination occurrences still happen. The moment you realize that your employee is subjecting you to less favorable working environments due to your medical condition, you will know that you are being discriminated against. These forms of discrimination may include reduced working hours, denial of a raise and/or promotions, or even write-ups.

Common disability discrimination signs at work

  • Being threatened or even harassed due to your disability
  • An employer, not hiring you due to your disability
  • Being publicly shamed due to your disability
  • Verbal abuse by an employer due to your disability
  • Being cyber-bullied either by your employer or co-workers due to your disability
  • Being demoted as a result of your disability
  • Denial of promotions due to your disability
  • Being left out of staff meetings due to your disability
  • Contract termination as a result of your disability.

Do you have a question disability discrimination in the workplace? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

Basics of Wrongful Termination in California

When employers take it upon themselves to fire their employees in violation of the statute or policy of the business or state, it constitutes wrongful termination. You will always find that in almost every work situation, the employee always thinks that their continued employment in any business or company is under the sole discretion of their bosses and that they don’t have any protection from being fired whenever their boss/employer deems it necessary.

But, there are instances where the employer can be committing employment violation by terminating an employee’s contract. It is vital that you, as the employee, know all of your rights as a worker in any business, especially the ones that touch on your employment and termination of a contract. There are steps that you can take to protect yourself against any wrongful termination in your place of work. Sometimes, it is your ignorance that is what will end up getting you fired. Like not knowing the limits and situations with which your employer has the power to fire you.

Every business is different. Each business has a different set of rules and regulations which they need to abide by. And the employer also has his/her own set of rules and regulations which he/she must follow. Firing an employee may be among some of the powers that an employer is allowed and granted, but only under certain circumstances, and not at his/her own leisure and feelings.

That being said, here is some basic information that you need to know which might help protect you from wrongful termination of your contract at your place of work.

At-will employment

This is a type of employment where an employer and employee relationship at work is of an indefinite duration. This means that either of the parties has the power to terminate the relationship even for reasons that are not illegal. Maybe even for no reason at all. In most cases, you can find that some of the work relationships between the employer and the employee that start as at-will is usually transformed into an employment situation by the employer. From here, the employer can only fire the employee for a just cause, and either through oral statements or written material.

There are, however, some exceptions that count when referring to the at-will employment rule. In situations where an employer fires an  employee in violation of the stature and public policies of the business and of the state, it is referred to as wrongful termination. But the California prohibits employers from discriminating any employees based on employment decisions, wrongful termination inclusive, on the basis of factors such as, but not limited to the following:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Pregnancy
  • Medical conditions
  • Disability
  • Ancestry
  • Age
  • National origin
  • Religious creed
  • Sexual orientation

So, if an employer were to fire any of his/her employees based on any of these factors, then that would be considered wrongful termination. Wrongful termination can also occur if an employer fires his/her employee for refusing to break the law.

Do you think you have been wrongfully terminated? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

Financial Fraud Laws in California

Fraud is another way of referring to malicious or trickery behavior that one person or entity uses to gain a dishonest advantage over the other. So, financial fraud means that one individual, otherwise known as the fraudster, dupes another and gains some monetary advantage over the victim.

In California, for one, you will notice that people never hesitate one bit when they realize that they can gain some monetary advantage at the expense of some unaware individual. They will violate any rule there is regarding fraud at any time and day. These financial fraud cases are usually more prevalent among family members or someone related to the fraudster in a significant way. Engaging in acts that dupe another victim, which can end up injuring or harming him can also be considered fraud in California.

Fraudulent acts are usually driven by two motives and the first and most common motive is usually the financial gain aspect of it all. The second motive is when the fraudster is looking to try and escape some criminal activity of some kind and with those two in mind, you can ascertain that there are quite a number of fraudulent acts that require the attention of the laws in California. When you do enough study in this field, you will notice that even though most of these fraudulent acts may be based mostly on these two motivators, some are completely different and are not even linked to the said motivations.

Laws and penalties

In California, these fraudulent crimes are referred to as the “white collar crimes.” Any case concerning fraud is usually a very serious offense and need to be handled with care. In most cases, the fraudsters are usually subjected to very harsh fines or a substantial number of years in their prison sentences.

Fraud-related crimes always carry different and specific penalties for them. In fact, many of the fraudulent acts committed in California, called the California Wobbler offenses, are a short way of saying that they will all be charged using the California theft laws in relation to the perpetrator’s felony offenses or misdemeanors.

The degree of sentencing you are going to receive in regards to your fraud case depends a lot more on your criminal records and history and the facts that have been presented in the case. California also regards some types of fraud cases as automatic felonies like cyber fraud which are under the federal crimes department. If found guilty of such a fraud case, you stand a chance of being prosecuted in state or federal law courts and this will only subject you to even higher penalties than with the lower cases.

Fraud defense

Most of the time you find that many of the attorneys of the defense teams using serious legal defenses in an attempt to try and have the initial penalties that the defendant is expected to pay to be lowered. Most of them use defense strategies that many of the attorneys in the defense teams usually use is the matter of intent of the defendant. If the attorney can be able to prove that the defendant never really had any intentions of defrauding anyone, then the charges can be significantly dropped, and in some rare cases maybe even dismissed.

Do you have a question about financial fraud laws in California? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

Wage and Hour Laws in California

There are strict laws that protect Californian employees from violations by their employers. These are the wage and hour laws. Some of the common violations include:

  • Failure to pay overtime
  • Failure to pay minimum wage
  • Exempting employees from their wage/hour requirements
  • Demanding for “work off the clock”
  • Failure to provide the required rest and breaks

If you suspect that your employer may be violating your wage/hour rights, then you can always look for a trained California employment lawyer to guide you through the whole process to file a wage/hour lawsuit.

Do the California wage/hour laws apply to you?

The California wage/hour laws apply to the non-exempt employees of California. What this means is that some laws on overtime and meal breaks will probably not apply if you are a independent contractor or an “exempt employee.”

Employees vs Independent contractors

Because these laws only cover California employees, you should not expect to be protected if you are an independent contractor.

You can find some employers attempting to evade payroll taxes by classifying some of their employees as independent contractors. Doing this will also exempt the employers from having to pay up the employee overtime and minimum wages should they deem so.

Exempt vs non-exempt employees

The California state laws say that the wage/hour laws do not apply to the exempt employees. These laws also do not apply to the administrative, executive, and professional employees. The employees who work in the software field, licensed surgeons and physicians, and also teachers are part of the exempt employees category. It is also not a rare case to find many employers classifying their non-exempt employees as exempt.

Minimum wage

It is the law that all non-exempt California employees ought to be paid the minimum wage. There are special exceptions, however, like the inclusion of exempt employees minus the independent contractors to be paid the minimum wage as per the state laws. You also need to realize that different counties and cities in California apply different minimum wages.

Overtime

It is also a California state law that all non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay.

Time and a half

It is the law that employers pay their non-exempt employees 1.5 times the regular pay rate for any overtime work done.

Double time and overtime

All the non-exempt employees that work for more than twelve hours on a single day are entitled to double overtime as per the California state law on wage/hour.

Rest and meal breaks

The wage/hour law also entitles all the non-exempt employees to regular rest and meal breaks.

Meal breaks

If you are a non-exempt employee in California who works for more than five hours, then you should know that you are entitled to a meal break of no less than 30 minutes. If you work more than 10 hours a day, it is the law that you receive two meal breaks that should go for no less than 30 minutes each.

Rest breaks

For every four hours of work, the California wage/hour law entitles all non-exempt employees with a 10-minute break.

Do you have a question about wage and hour laws in California? Click here to contact the experts at Von Esch today!

 

Workplace Harassment Laws in California

Have you experienced harassment and bullying in a workplace in California? If your answer is yes, this behavior could be disregarding the California Labor Law. California was among the first states in the nation that introduced the anti-bullying legislation in the year 2003 and the Healthy Workplace Bill. It is sad that there is currently still an occurrence of workplace bullying in California.

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California Overtime Laws

All employees are entitled to overtime if they work more than 40 hours weekly or 8 hours in a day. Those who work more than 12 hours daily are owed double time. Double time is also available for employees who work seven consecutive days in a week with no day off. The rules are not applicable to caregivers who are required by law to work for 45 hours weekly or 9 hours daily to qualify for overtime. Overtime pay is only entitled to employees who are nonexempt. Read more

How To Spot a Ponzi Scheme

A Ponzi scheme occurs when a scammer uses funds from new investors to pay the returns to existing investors. There is no real money being generated and when the scammer is unable to get more new investors, the scheme eventually falls apart. Being able to recognize this type of investment fraud is imperative if you want to avoid losing thousands of your hard earned money to a scam. The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has laid out warning signs to alert potential investors to a Ponzi scheme.

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Parental Leave Expands for California Employees

California employees with blossoming families got an extra bit of good news this month. On October 12 of this year, Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law expanding the California’s leave of absence rules so that more workers can spend time and bond with their newborn babies. This law will take effect January 2018 and expand the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to cover smaller businesses with fewer employees.

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What are California’s Disability Discrimination Laws?

The topic of disability and what can be done to make accommodations for disability at work can sometimes be unclear. California employment law offers a wide range of legal protection for employees who can establish a valid claim for disability discrimination in the workplace. But what constitutes as disability discrimination in the state of California?

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