5 Ways to Protect Yourself From Business Fraud

Every company is susceptible to fraud. This is largely because there are so many different kinds of fraud.

Cybercriminals adapt their ways almost as quickly as cyber security firms make new products and services. It is almost impossible to protect against every type of attack.

1. Secure Your Accounts

If you have not made separate bank and credit card accounts for your personal life and company, you should do so now. If cyber hackers get their hands on one account, they will not have access to the other. Make sure to look into the security systems your bank uses online banking to be sure things like automatic logout are available. Make a monitored reimbursement policy for team member expenses and stick to it. If you are going to give credit cards to your employees,  be sure that the card provider has suitable fraud protections in place.

2. Safeguard your computers

Hackers are experts at cracking systems in computers. A firm firewall could help protect your business data, while antivirus software could help detect breaches early on. There are several cyber security vendors. Look for the product that best addresses your needs. You should set up strict protocols that require employees to make passwords that are hard to decipher. Make sure to have your employees change their passwords every sixty to ninety days.

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3. Do an employee background check

When you are expanding your workforce, it is critical to find people who are not only well-qualified but who are also trustworthy. Do not rely only on references and work history. Make sure to conduct a thorough background check.

There are companies that could provide this service for you. Many of them charge between thirty to fifty dollars per report. When you narrow down the list of potential hires to one or two, you could run a check on the finalists prior to making your final decision. You should make sure you obtain proper permission to run the check

4. Make a secure entry

A secure entry system could keep out unwanted visitors. Some key-card systems bring out time-stamped records of an employee’s entries and exits from your office.

Management can also limit access to specific areas to certain people. For example, you could use a key card system to only let the tech managers inside the server room. Limiting the access to sensitive areas will keep you and your business safer.

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

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Here Are Child Abuse Laws in California

If you’re a parent, you have most likely wondered at some point or another the things that exactly constitutes child abuse. Knowing the kinds of physical contact are acceptable could be very difficult to determine. It used to be that the parent who felt that their child needed a beating with a belt was not thought of any differently than a parent who felt beating their child was wrong. Physical punishment was actually widely accepted as an effective method of parenting.

In the present day, things are extremely different. Depending upon detailed circumstances, the smallest of physical contact could result in a criminal charge for committing child abuse. Different areas of the US have different laws governing physical contact between a parent and a child with penalties and definitions of abuse varying wildly.

The laws in California pertaining to physical child abuse are somewhat average when compared to laws throughout the United States. People facing criminal charges for committing child abuse are encouraged to contact our domestic violence defense law firm for a  free consultation. There are some instances in which parents are falsely accused.

Different Types of Child Abuse

What is considered child abuse could range from emotional, physical, sexual and neglect. There are different ways in a which a person could abuse a child. While some experts may say that emotional child abuse is as damaging if not more than physical abuse, there is no question that all different types of abuse could negatively affect a child throughout their lifetime.

The following are the types of child abuse are:

Emotional Abuse: When a parent consistently shames or humiliates a child in any way it can be considered emotional child abuse.

Child Neglect: If a parent constantly fails to fulfill their child’s basic needs, this will be considered child neglect.

Sexual Abuse: If a parent or another adult engages in physical contact with a kid’s genitals or coerces a child into creating contact with their own genitals, they are then committing sexual abuse upon a child.

Physical Child Abuse: A parent who physically hurts or injures a child on purpose they are considered physically abusive. The gray area is whether or not the parent was intentionally trying to discipline their child. If the purpose of the harm was to discipline, there are still instances in which discipline could go too far. In these cases, perpetrators could be charged and convicted for committing physical child abuse.

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Specific actions that can result in child abuse charges are making purposeful physical contact with a child that leaves a mark, getting involved in a physical fight with your child resulting in marks and bruises, and using a belt or another object to beat the child.

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

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Workplace Pregnancy Protection Laws in California

California law brings significant protection for pregnant employees.  In addition to prohibiting discrimination or harassment in regards to pregnancy status, the law California requires an employer to allow an employee disabled by childbirth, pregnancy or related medical conditions to take a leave of absence and to maintain her health insurance during the pregnancy leave.  It also mandates the employer to provide other forms of reasonable accommodation as necessary. The requirements to the pregnancy discrimination regulations that took effect seven years ago expanded the protections in several regards, including an expanded definition of the conditions that might render a woman disabled by pregnancy and the extension of protections to employees perceived as pregnant or disabled by pregnancy even if she is not actually pregnant.

The depth of protection for pregnant employees under the California law presents a challenge for companies and creates a number of varied issues and legal claims.  But one aspect of these laws that causes or contributes to some of the issues related to pregnancy we see has to do with a fundamental aspect of the laws that does not get a lot of discussion:  To stay compliant with the laws and avoid claims for pregnancy discrimination, an employer needs to have common sense.

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If a pregnant woman is unable to perform the essential functions of her job, the employer is mandated to treat her as a temporarily disabled employee. This means that the employer must make the same accommodations as it would for an employee who cannot perform some or all of his or her job functions due to a temporary disability. This might include changing some of the job functions, having the pregnant employee do alternative functions or offering the employee paid or unpaid leave.

Employers aren’t required to give pregnant employees preferential treatment. Their duty is to treat them equal to other employees and not to discriminate against them in any employment decisions because of the pregnancy. Employers are allowed to terminate pregnant employees for excessive absences from work, even if those absences were caused by reasons related to pregnancy.

California law requires that an employer does not act on those assumptions but to instead handle each situation as unique and not one in which the employer’s history might repeat itself. To many businesses and managers not as familiar with California law, making decisions that ignore experiences in the past and common sense may seem bad for business. But in dealing with issues related to pregnant employees, employers need to in some extent ignore what has happened in the past with pregnant employees and resist making decisions based on what it expects to happen no matter how likely the outcome will be predicted. A busy manager concerned about staffing and meeting the needs of the company might understandably find it hard to do so.  But even an absence of any hostility toward the pregnant employee and a singular focus on preparing for the very real possibility that the pregnancy and the employee’s plans after pregnancy will adversely affect business will not necessarily protect the employer. When dealing with pregnancy topics in the workplace, good intentions and reliance on past experience might not provide a defense.

Do you have a question about pregnancy laws in the workplace in California? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

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This is How Alimony is Determined in California in 2019

When it comes to finances and divorce, there is one topic that is more stressful and more emotional for parties to resolve than any other. Whether you call it spousal support or alimony during a divorce, California couples needing to come to an agreement that will require one ex-wife or husband to pay money to the other ex-spouse to support their lifestyle is challenging.

What is the real purpose of alimony in California and how does it work?

Alimony is intended to help the lower earning spouse in making the transition from married to single. To give them some time to get back on their feet and become self-sufficient after the split. How long that will take is a matter of much debate as it depends on how long you and your spouse were married – the answer might be never!

Alimony guidelines only apply to the temporary support payments.

In regards to child support, there is a mathematical formula that outputs a specific minimum amount each party should pay to support their children. And reasonably clear guidance on when it will finish. So at least divorcing couples have a good foundation from which to start their negotiations about that issue. But in the state of California, despite there being a guideline for the temporary spousal support, the amount of alimony you give or receive, and for how long it will last when your divorce is final, is left open for negotiation.

Do not forget about cost of living.

As if figuring out alimony in California was not difficult enough, there is yet another factor you need to bring into the mix. And that is the cost of living. Given the sheer size of California, the cost of living can vary widely from county to county or even town to town.

Finding an amount of alimony is just one piece of a larger picture.

Despite what you have heard about alimony in California after ten years, there is no set formula for finding out how many years you need to be married to get alimony in California or for how long it will last.

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What if you have kids?

You might have heard that California alimony amounts are based in part on the net income of the paying party. This means if you have minor children and there is child support involved, that will lower the amount of net income available to pay alimony. Now in a few states, alimony needs to be determined first before a child support amount. But in the state California, it is the opposite. Alimony could only be determined once a child support award has been agreed upon in California.

Many people think of the check in the mail approach.

But there are more creative ways to resolve this because some people just do not like paying the alimony. For instance, you and your spouse can agree that in exchange for not getting that monthly check in the mail, one of you will take a larger share of the community property to offset the amount of support that would have been paid out over time.

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

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Here’s A Basic Understanding of Workers Compensation Laws in California

Workers Compensation Law in California is a no-fault system developed to help both employees and company rights. The company needs to supply workers’ compensation advantages no matter the fault, since the employee gives up the right to sue the company. Workers’ Compensation laws are created to safeguard both the worker and the company in case of an injury on the job. California workers’ compensation laws offer insured coverage to employees for medical care for their injury and bring guaranteed compensation during and after the recovery of their injuries.

Even though these laws are primarily designed to protect the employee, the advantage to employers is that they put limits on the amount of compensation that can be collected from them. Many employers would ultimately rather pay for workers’ compensation insurance than be forced to pay a larger sum after losing a case. The laws also have benefits for dependents of workers who die on the job and help shield coworkers from virtually any liability.

You don’t need to have a workers’ compensation lawyer to file a claim. But it would be extremely helpful to talk with or get an attorney for your case. Our lawyers can assist you navigate the workers compensation law system the right way through court deadlines, representing you properly, managing disagreements, advising for additional resources and acting as your legal support through the court process. It can be especially valuable for you to talk to a lawyer if you are not sure the way to proceed with your claim. If you feel you are being dealt with unfairly by the insurance company or by your employer or if you have a disability long term, contact our office immediately.

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What is Workers Compensation?

California has its own system when it comes to comprehensive workers’ compensation. This system is the DWC Office or Division of Workers’ Compensation Claims office. The work related injuries laws exist to protect employees from financial burdens when they are unable to work because of job related injuries. Injured workers would be forced to sue their own employers in civil court without this system. It would be up to them to prove that their injury was due to the employer’s negligence. This could be a lengthy process and there is no guarantee that they would win.

Workers’ Compensation Law requires all employers with at least one employee to have California Workers Compensation Benefits insurance. This comprises of all temporary employees and corporate officers of the company. The law extends to employers who are out of state as well and who might have employees that regularly work in California. It covers both repeated exposure, one time events and certain psychological injuries caused by the job that are stress related.

Benefits generally have the following:

1.) Medical care covers tests, doctor visits, treatment services, medication and necessary travel costs related to care

2.) Temporary disability benefits covers any lost wages incurred during recovery.

3.) Permanent disability benefits cover injured workers who do not recover and are unable to return to work.

4.) Job displacement benefits helps pay for retraining if a worker is unable to qualify for permanent disability and unable to return to their old job.

5.) Death benefits distribute payments to an injured worker’s spouse or dependents if they pass away due to job-related illness or injury.

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What to Know About Divorce Laws in California

Navigating through a divorce can be a challenging and stressful procedure. There are a number of laws in the state of California that deal with divorce, and many of them can have a lot of information for you to digest.

People often wonder how they can make divorce proceedings as stress-free as possible while retaining control over their finances. Here’s a few key elements to keep in mind when it comes to the different divorce laws in California.

State law lays out a few rules for eligibility. At least one of the spouses in a divorce must have lived in California for at least six months. Additionally, one of the spouses had to have lived in the country that the divorce is being filed in for three months before actually filing. All divorce proceedings in the state must be filed through the specific county, not with the state at-large.

When it comes to divorce in California, the law regards each of them as no- fault. This means a person does not have to give a reason or otherwise prove how they were wronged by the other party while filing a divorce proceeding.

Judges in the state do not look at fault when it comes to splitting property and otherwise figuring out child support. This means actions like adultery by one spouse will not come into consideration by a judge during a legal ruling.

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There are a few steps for getting divorced in California. This process can be long because there is a six-month period between the initial filing and finalization that is mandatory.

One of the spouses can start the process by filing in the proper county superior court. Whoever files must give the other spouse copies of the divorce petition and any additional information.

After this, there are a few different avenues. Spouses who work together easily can often come up with plans for property division and child support without the help of lawyers. Otherwise, spouses can go into mediation to get some outside help for when it comes to splitting property.

Mediators can be a big asset when it comes to working through tough situations. Otherwise, the most expensive option is a divorce trial. This means both sides hire lawyers and then a judge will have the final say when it comes to the terms of the divorce. This process can be very messy and time-consuming.

California is a community property state, so two people in a marriage are considered as a single entity when it comes to owning property. This means both assets and debts are community property.

Spouses in a divorce can either decide on their own how to split community property, work with a mediator, or go to a judge and have them decide in court. An appraisal might be necessary to assign value to property so it can be divided between two people.

If spouses do not want to figure out what pieces of property go to each person, they can also arrange where one party ‘buys’ the other out on different pieces. Alternatively, some choose to just sell all property and then divide up the assets accordingly. Sometimes, couples with children decide to retain joint property over something like a family home so their children can have access to it.

Overall, the divorce process in California can be a time-consuming affair. A good lawyer is a useful advocate to have during a case since they can help navigate people through the different divorce laws and offer input as to the best course of action.

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

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Facts About Maternity Leave in California

Many people find maternity leave to be complicated and challenging. Even if the laws and regulations seem daunting, it’s easy to become well-educated on the topic and gain a strong understanding about your rights and privileges as part of maternity leave. Maternity leave in the state of California is much better than most other states and you will find a lot more protection than in other areas.

Here are a few important facts about maternity leave in California.

Most pregnant women are eligible for maternity leave, no matter the type of employment they have. You have the right to take maternity leave, but employers are not required to pay you during your time off.

However, pregnant women who do take maternity leave are often eligible to go onto California’s state insurance for disabilities while they are out of the office, since illnesses related to pregnancies are considered as a disability under state law.

There are a variety of resources out there for women who want to learn more about disability insurance payments and the corresponding laws as they pertain to disability insurance.

In general, maternity leave in California is governed under the California Family Rights Act and the Family Medical Leave Act. A few requirements have to be met in order to fall under the different laws.

Employees must work for a boss who has at least 50 workers within a 75- mile radius. Employees must also have been working for at least one year with the employer and must have at least 1,250 logged work hours in the past year.

If all of these stipulations are met, the employee may take up to 12 weeks of maternity leave in a year-long period. The idea behind this length of time is to provide an opportunity for a mom to bond with their child. In addition to maternity leave, employees also have a right to take time off for disabilities that are related to the pregnancy. Employers must give time off to pregnant employees if they are disabled by a pregnancy or childbirth, or have any medical condition related to pregnancy and childbirth.

This could include a loss of a child, postpartum depression, prenatal care, postnatal care, or gestational diabetes, along with a wide swath of other illnesses and conditions.

Laws in California give a right for up to four months of maternity leave based off of a disability due to childbirth or a pregnancy. This is a separate figure than taking time off for maternity leave for the purposes of bonding.

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As a result, women in California could have up to seven months of total maternity leave (depending on the circumstances of the disability associated with the pregnancy and childbirth). Maternity leave for bonding time can be taken after the leave related to pregnancy and childbirth disability.

California law allows for intermittent leave, where maternity leave can be broken up into different time periods and not taken all at once. Employers

are required to give reasonable accommodations for employees who are pregnant if a doctor has mandated it, but a doctor’s note will be required by bosses before they will make a decision.

Employers in the state are not allowed to wrongfully terminate employees due to pregnancy, and there are laws on the books against harassment that is based on pregnancy.

Do you have a question about maternity leave? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

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Learn 7 Steps to Avoid Business Fraud

All businesses should take the time to mitigate any risks of fraud. Smaller and mid-sized operations are vulnerable to business fraud, and the after effects can be devastating for everyone involved.

Business fraud usually falls into three different categories: theft, financial statement fraud, and asset misuse. The vast majority of business fraud schemes are related to outright theft, such as stealing cash or claiming fraudulent expenses, and asset misuse, like granting kickbacks.

Business fraud can be tough to tackle, especially for smaller businesses who might be tight-knit and incorporate many family members. Considering your employees as friends or family can make it hard to confront cases of business fraud and theft. Plus, smaller businesses usually have less financial oversight, less knowledge on fraud schemes, and remain vulnerable to even small instances of fraud (since they can completely derail operations).

If you are looking to avoid business fraud, keep these seven steps in mind as you operate your enterprise.

Separate Accounting: Smaller businesses usually have one person who works on everything pertaining to finance. This system makes it easy for people to skim the company and misdirect money to other places. All businesses should have at least two people working on the finance side, or develop a relationship with an accounting firm on the outside.

Learn About Employees: Most business fraud is carried out by an employee on the inside. Take the time to really understand an employee’s background and knowledge before hire. Background checks should be a necessity, along with occasional time off, since this could expose a scheme in place.

Run A Tight Ship: All businesses need to be very careful about who has financial knowledge. This means restricting access to account information, building a verification system for reimbursements, and carrying out audits on accounting books.

Watch Your Bank Accounts: Online banking makes it easy to check out accounts and statements at any time. Be sure to compare the online data with your paper copies to make sure everything is on the same page. Watch out for checks that are not in order and strange payment recipients, who could be the benefactors of a scam.

Properly Train Employees: One of the best ways to avoid business fraud is to train workers on how to spot it. Encourage them to report strange behavior through an anonymous system and craft a business code of ethics to keep everyone accountable.

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Protect All Credit Card Numbers: Credit card fraud is becoming a popular way for people to steal money from businesses. A good way to ward this off is to separate all business and personal accounts. This keeps funds safe on both sides if the other accounts are breached by credit card fraud. All businesses should be very careful about who they give out credit card numbers too and use online payment services to mitigate any risks.

Audit Regularly: Businesses should subject themselves to regular audits on all financial activity to stay accountable. Non-scheduled audits, especially if they are from an outside source, can help detect fraud that might have gone unnoticed otherwise. Many companies are experienced at carrying out audits for businesses of all sizes and will give valuable advice about warding off business fraud in the future.

Keep the above seven steps in mind to fight against business fraud. It can strike a business of any size, but good due diligence will keep your operations safe and protected.

Do you have a question about business fraud? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

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Here Are 2019 Changes to Alimony Laws in California

Alimony law is often very confusing and comes with a lot of moving parts. There are a few changes in California alimony law that have come into effect for 2019 and should be taken note of.

One of the biggest 2019 changes has to with spousal support. Previously, spousal support was tax deductible for the spouse that way paying and was taxable income for the spouse that was receiving it. Now, alimony will no longer be tax deductible, and the recipient spouse will not have to pay any taxes on it.

This big change to alimony law came due to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which scrapped a 75-year old spousal support payment tax stipulation. The new law came into effect on January 1st . Divorce agreements signed on or before December 31st, 2018, will not be affected by the new rules.

The change of the law relating to taxation and alimony means divorce negotiations will most likely become trickier, especially if the spouses were wealthy, since these types of people often benefited the most from the tax deductions pertaining to alimony.

Some think it will lead to smaller spousal support payments because the tax advantages with a larger sum are now lost. The alimony tax deduction before the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act change was a strong bargaining tool in divorce proceedings, but many see this advantage as a relic of the past due to the new stipulations.

If you signed an agreement of separation or divorce before the end of 2018, and the support order is modified after the start of 2019, the pre-2019 tax rules still remain in effect. The only exception to this rule would be if there is a specific clause in the agreement that says otherwise. You will want to have a lawyer review the separation or divorce agreement if you are not sure which tax law you will be subject to.

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All payments must qualify as spousal support or alimony in order to be tax deductible under the pre-2019 legal standards. Payments that qualify as spousal support only are eligible if the spouses do not file a joint tax return, if the payment is made under a legal divorce agreement, and if the actual funds are in the form of cash, a check, or a money order.

Additionally, spousal support must not be treated as child support and is not able to be part of the settlement of any property.

Some have questioned if they are able to pay more in child support to offset any of the changes under the new alimony law. Child support is never deductible and it is not counted as taxable income by the person who is receiving it.

Divorce proceedings are a tricky affair that can often take a lot of time and energy to move through. A good lawyer will not rush the process but will make sure that everything is taken care of and both sides are satisfied with the arrangement. However, the changes to alimony law can be very confusing and can change a lot of the divorce aspects depending on your situation.

As a result, be sure to speak with an experienced and professional divorce and alimony attorney as soon as possible so you can get up to speed with the new changes, especially if your divorce agreement is dated on or after January 1st, 2019.

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

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This New California Law That Changes Pet Custody Options

Getting a divorce is a difficult situation for everyone involved, especially if two partners have children who are in the middle of the divorce process. Many people also have pets that are considered a member of the family, but their circumstances can be drastically different in the event of a divorce.

Traditionally, pets are viewed as personal property when it comes to divorce law. This means people must discuss where the pets will go once it comes time to divide up property. Unfortunately, this can mean that pets will go to a home that is not the best fit for them.

A new law in California has been put in place to change some of these practices. Pets are still considered property, but a judge will have the final decision about where a pet will live.

This creates a similar arrangement to how a child custody case is decided. The law also treats pets more like a member of the family and less like a piece of property or a household good, which is how it can often come across as under old legislation.

Under the new law, people will still have to decide how to split pet ownership rights since the law still considered pets as community property. If two spouses are not able to agree on a division of ownership, then the courts will step in to facilitate a decision.

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The judge will have the chance to review a variety of factors and then come up with a solution that is the best choice for the pets and people involved. Each spouse will have ownership rights over a pet if it was adopted or obtained after marriage, unless something else is spelled out in a prenuptial agreement.

Judges will ask questions in order to get an idea of where the pets should go after a divorce. Questions could include inquiries into who spends more money on the pet’s food and toys, who actually adopted the pet, who takes care of it on a daily basis, and who spends the most time with the animal.

Judges will also review any allegations of domestic abuse or animal abuse as they come up with a decision about what spouse should have ownership rights.

Sometimes, a judge might decide to share custody of a pet, where one spouse would have a pet for a certain amount of time, and then the pet would go live with the other spouse for a while. The new law is designed to make pet custody cases easier to manage and speed up the process of awarding ownership.

Pets are a difficult kind of property when it comes to legal proceedings since it is hard to “divide” one pet up between spouses. It is also pretty hard to divide community property that is personal or of a high value, as many pets are to their families.

If you are in the divorce process and have at least one pet, you should seek the services of an experienced lawyer who is up-to-date on the new California pet custody law.

A good lawyer will help you navigate the process of securing or giving custody of a pet away and will be able to advise you on how the judge might look at your particular circumstances and what evidence they could review to make a decision about custody.

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

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