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Starting a Small Business Legal Tips

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Starting a small business in the US is a wise idea, as these small enterprises are the backbone of the American economy. No matter how exciting a new venture may sound, it may also be quite a challenge to establish a small business. After a business type has been identified, a business plan determined, the location chosen, and how the business is financed, you will be faced with the legal aspect of your project.

Legal Aspect of Starting a Small Business

Starting a Small BusinessIn business, legal matters are high up the ladder of importance and priority. One of the first legal steps you may have to take is to establish the legal organization of your business; whether it is a sole ownership, corporation, partnership, cooperative, limited liability company, or even a non-profit enterprise.

Doing Business As (DBA)

Legally, before you set up your small business, you are required to register the ‘Doing Business As’ name. If the name you choose for your business is your name, with no addition whatsoever, you can skip this step, but for all other names that are not your name, you must register with the relevant authorities. This, in the US, is done through the state authorities. Note that it is not a requirement in all states to register a DBA.

Business Tax

Once your chosen name has been approved, you will then need a specific tax identification number. This is acquired from the IRS, and also the revenue agency at the state level. Local taxes are mandatory, but each state has its own tax obligations. Almost all states impose a business income tax, which depends on how your business is legally structured; whether a sole ownership, LLC, and so forth. There are also federal employment taxes that are paid by business owners to the state. All US states require payment of workers’ compensation insurance as well as unemployment insurance taxes. If your small business is located in one of the below states, payment for temporary disability insurance is obligatory:

• New York
• Puerto Rico
• Hawaii
• California
• New Jersey

Generally, it is important to know about business tax, general tax, workers’ compensation insurance, and unemployment insurance taxes when setting up any small business.

Permits

After successful registration and tax compliance, you may require permits and licenses for you small business. Most of the time, permits are required for business activities that fall under regulation by federal agencies. Some of these include businesses dealing with firearms, alcohol, import of animal or plant products across states, aircraft operations, wildlife activities, commercial fishing, and the like.

EIN

When an employer-employee state exists in your small business, you must comply with employer responsibilities and regulations. Before you hire any employee, you must have a valid Employment Identification Number (EIN) necessary for taxation reporting to the IRS. As a good employer, you must keep employment tax records for no less than 4 years. You must submit your employees’ federal income tax withholding forms to the IRS and annually present wages paid to the Social Security Administration.

Commercial Zoning

As a major rule, look into zoning regulations, environmental laws, building codes, and taxation when setting up a small business. Information pertaining to legal matters in business is available in state government offices and online on the US small business administration website, which is also run by the government.

At Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson, we understand the challenges of dealing with legal issues for your business and we are here to help. Give us a call and we will be happy to answer all your questions. Call us today at (414) 273-1144.

Email, Phone, and Social Media Monitoring in the Workplace

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privacy law - Social Media Monitoring in the WorkplaceThe question of email, phone, and social media monitoring in the workplace, along with employee monitoring, has to be carefully contemplated whenever enforcement is to be undertaken. Ensuring that proper security protocol has been properly established, and put in place, will give business owners the peace of mind that they require to set their focus in moving their enterprise forward. Employees, on the other hand, are the backbone of any enterprise if it is to succeed.

Email Monitoring

Employee monitoring can be undertaken by adapting an email protocol based on the company’s email domain. Since each employee is assigned an email address for business communication, the corresponding username and password is stored in the company’s server so that email traffic can be filtered and monitored for quality assurance. Most company IT administrators can configure workstations in a way that only company assigned client email is accessible and no third party webmail can be used. By implementing this strategy, personal privacy will not be an issue in most cases, as these are all work related email communications.

Phone Monitoring

Employee monitoring by phone does work pretty much the same as an email monitoring process. A business phone system, technically known as a private branch exchange (PBX), will host all incoming and outgoing calls. A system administrator is usually assigned in the monitoring and maintenance of it, and would have the ability to filter and redirect calls and volume traffic depending on the company’s policy. Mobile and personal phones however are much more challenging for administrators compared to landline management. A personal phone is being used for private communication and such is protected by existing law and cannot be violated. But phones nowadays are no longer just phones. They are an audio and video recording device, a camera, and a gadget that are capable of sending emails. Modern phones have become the perfect gadget for industrial espionage, and if not taken care, of will cause big problems to a small enterprise.

Social Media Monitoring

It is understandable that social media monitoring is needed for the betterment of everyone. For a large organization to be successful, reputable and hardworking employees are needed. However, multiple state laws are now banning employers from asking workers for their user names and passwords of their personal social media accounts, or requesting that workers login to social media, in an attempt to monitor their activities via shoulder surfing. Employers are allowed to retrieve worker information under certain circumstances but you should consult an attorney before attempting to do so.

At Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson, we understand the challenges of dealing with legal issues for your business and we are here to help. Give us a call and we will be happy to answer all your questions. Call us today at (414) 273-1144.

Legally Claiming Made in the USA

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Legally Claiming Made in the USATo claim a product is “made in the USA”, not only must the product itself be assembled in the United States, but virtually all of its components themselves must also be made in the United States. To prevent deception and unfairness in the marketplace, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for enforcing this. FTC requires a product bearing the “made in the USA” to actually be “all or virtually all” made in the USA. If the product is fully produced in the USA it can be expressed with the label “made in the USA” or use an American flag on the label, advertising or in statements such as “true American quality”. The policy applies to products advertised or sold in the USA except those subject to country of origin labeling by other laws such as “made in china” or “made in Japan”.

Claiming Made in the USA

The FTC cannot pre-approve the usage of “made in USA”. It is the responsibility of the company making the “made in USA” claims. The product should contain no (or a negligible amount of) foreign content. Reliable and competent evidence must be substantiated that the product is “all or virtually all” made in the USA.

Final Processing – The US processing must be the last transformation in the manufacturing process, i.e. final processing and assembly of the product must have taken place in the United States. If a product is assembled in a different country, and sent to the USA for storage, the FTC would consider this to be a deceptive use of the claim “made in the USA.”

Assembled in the USA – A product where half of the components are made in China cannot bear the “made in the USA” title. However, when the principle assembly takes place in the US and the assembly is the last substantial transformation in the manufacturing process, the company can use the phrase “assembled in the USA”. The company must ensure that the product has a significant amount of US content or US processing and still exercise to be truthful in making such claims.

At Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson, we understand the challenges of dealing with legal issues for your business and we are here to help. Give us a call and we will be happy to answer all your questions. Call us today at (414) 273-1144.

Factors to Consider When Hiring Global Employees

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When we talk about hiring a global employee, we are referring to hiring workers from a foreign country. Many employers have the desire or need to hire employees from other countries, but they are usually faced with the challenge that they don’t know how to go about hiring the desired employee due to the complexities of hiring someone outside of their own country. Different countries have different laws regarding their workers which you are required to understand before hiring a global employee.

What to consider about foreign labor law

foreign labor lawTime Off Laws.

Some foreign countries, such as Europe and Australia, are very generous when it comes to vacation, maternity leave, and sick policies. Some countries even goes as far as to provide time off for career development or building a home.

Power of the Unions.

Contrary to what most Americans believe, the power of the Union at its peak during the 50’s was still below that of other countries around the world. Outside the United States, Unions carry a lot of weight; and employee benefits and work conditions are strongly controlled. You should note that you might not be able to change existing policy or conditions without union approval.

Non-Compete Agreements.

Many U.S. businesses will write non-compete agreements in the contacts of their employees, but most foreign countries prohibit the use of these non-compete agreements.

Notice.

If you are in need of laying off or firing your global employee, you must consider the time required to notify your employee before letting them go. The time given varies with different countries; just because you have the right to layoff an American employee on a Friday afternoon without notice does not mean you can do so with all global employees.

Employee Privacy.

Some countries put into place strict laws which govern what employee information can be shared publicly by an employer. Harmlessly publishing an employee directory could actually run the risk of violating foreign privacy laws.

At Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson, we understand the challenges of dealing with legal issues for your business and we are here to help. Give us a call and we will be happy to answer all your questions. Call us today at (414) 273-1144.

Does Your Business Advertising Claims Break the Law?

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Be it a small business, or a multinational company, the scrutiny and laws governing advertising claims are uniform to all. Always bear in mind that you need to do thorough groundwork before making brazen claims in an attempt to advertise and promote your product, store or services.

Does Your Business Advertising Claims Break the Law?

business laws

Have a thorough understanding of the Federal Trade Commission Act. In general, people say they did not have the legal prowess and understanding to either read or interpret the voluminous and confusing jargon of the laws. But, as it is famously said, ignorance of law is not an excuse to violate it.

If you are under-qualified to understand or interpret the laws, make sure you have credible help from your friends already in the business, or you hire the legal experts for the same. The main objective of the law is to protect the consumer and not the entrepreneur. You do not want, under any circumstance, your advertisement to bring harm to your business.

Advertise Your Business Legally

  • Never make over exaggerated claims which are impossible to believe – even with little application of common sense.
  • Never take a casual approach while advertising, make a detailed study.
  • Check in your line of business for any previous cases or consumer suits.
  • Do not make claims which are blatantly false, especially in cases related to health and safety.
  • Do not blindly believe your advertising firm.
  • Do not make a false claim, even if your main rivals or counterparts did so.
  • Always keep the consumer satisfaction in mind.
  • Never think that you will never be caught for fraud in advertising. A good deal of shopkeepers have got caught by the long hands of justice.
  • Get an idea of international best practices.
  • Go through the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) act line by line.

Consult with legal experts, and setup safeguards so you don’t enter into any problematic situations.  It will likely be less costly to work with the legal experts beforehand than to face large fines or legal battles afterwards. Even when one looks into the success stories of some great start ups and new businesses, their clever advertising gets the credit. A good advertising can pull in a large group of customers into your store or business. A bad one can have the FTC officials knocking at your door. So be clever and play by the rules, so that you do not end up being played by the rules.

At Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson, we understand the challenges of dealing with legal issues for your business and we are here to help. Give us a call and we will be happy to answer all your questions. Call us today at (414) 273-1144.

Non-Compete Agreements for Small Business

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Non-Compete Agreements for Small BusinessYou’ve invested everything into your business. When you bring in new employees you want them to help push your company forward. The last thing you want is for them to take all of the knowledge about how your business operates, and the clients it deals with, and leave. You want to train employees not competitors. That’s why carefully hand-crafting non-compete agreements and other employee documents is so important to your business.

Non-Solicitation Agreements

These documents are to prevent an employee from contacting clients that you work with. A client list is an extremely valuable asset that competitors would love to access and it should be protected. These agreements can also be modified to prevent former employees from recruiting your current staff to work for your competitors.

Non-Disclosure Agreements

These documents are to protect proprietary information. Your competition would love to know your trade secrets, but you want those to stay with your company. When an employee leaves the company, those secrets should stay secret. You need to make sure that the information is truly proprietary. Just because you “feel” the information is confidential, does not mean a court will agree with you.

Work For Hire Agreements

Intellectual property belongs to the person who created it. A work for hire agreement ensures that the ownership of inventions, documents, concepts, and other intellectual property remains with your company. This states that the employee was hired to create these items for you and not themselves.

Employee Handbook

These manuals are often used as a means of conveniently distributing all of the agreements in a single source. These handbooks cover all of the companies policies, specifically stating what can and cannot be done.

If legal issues arise, a court is not going to find in your favor simply because you write something down, for example Amazon recently sued a former employee over non-compete and lost. Crafting your documents requires very delicate wording and is not something you should not attempt without legal assistance.

At Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson, we understand the challenges of dealing with legal issues for your business and we are here to help. Give us a call and we will be happy to answer all your questions. Call us today at (414) 273-1144.

FDIC standard maximum deposit law

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Starting on January 1st, 2013, federal law stated that funds deposited in a noninterest-bearing transaction account will no longer receive unlimited deposit insurance coverage by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

This means that all of a depositor’s accounts at an insured depository institution, including any noninterest-bearing transaction accounts, will be insured by the FDIC up to the standard maximum deposit insurance amount. The current standard is about $250,000, for each of the ownership categories for deposit insurance.

For larger depositors, this means that they have to split up their deposits into several different banks.

“Most individual savers keep their money in interest-bearing accounts, where since the crisis the insurance coverage was raised to $250,000 from $100,000. Some families have gotten around the insurance limit by dividing money into separate $250,000 accounts under the names of different family members.” 

And according to the New York Times, when the banks were given insurance for these unlimited deposit accounts, the amount of money rose in these accounts by over 70 percent ($678 billion).

For those using smaller banks, this increases the chances of them failing. There is general belief that if a larger bank were to fail, the government would step in to ensure that it would not with bank bailouts.

For more information on what this means for you and your deposits, give us a call at (414) 273-1144 or use our web submission form.

 

Personal injuries

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Sometimes we run into a situation that is beyond anyone’s control and it ends up resulting in a personal injury. Other times personal injuries, or harmful accidents, occur because someone makes a mistake that could have been prevented.

When your life has seriously been altered or disrupted due to an accident resulting in an injury, your best bet is to find a personal injury lawyer to help walk you through your options.

Personal injury lawyers help you deal with (but are not limited to) the following personal injury cases:

If you have suffered from an injury because of the actions, or negligence, of another person it could become a serious and significant impact on your life in every aspect. A few of the main examples are restricting your ability to gainful employment, to the inevitable medical bills, costs of physical therapy,  emotional therapy, and the potential of ongoing treatment. All of these can be financially devastating.

When looking for a lawyer try to find someone who is straight forward and gives you honest answers while they are evaluating whether or not you have a personal injury case.

Results with Integrity
Wisconsin residents have trusted our award-winning lawyers to represent them and their loved ones for more than 30 years.  We’ve earned our clients’ trust — and the respect of the industry — by practicing law with the highest ethical standards in the legal professions.  Our extraordinary track record comes from a combination of experience, skill, hard work, integrity, and compassion.  With Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson S.C., you’re getting the best lawyers you can ask for. Give us a call today at (414) 273-1144.

Workers' compensation for construction workers

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The construction business is a dangerous way to make a living. The physical demands and the day-to-day risks of a construction worker is quite possibly the most dangerous and difficult profession. That’s why it is a good idea to be properly educated on workers’ compensation.

Worker’s Compensation

injured-construction-workers-compensationAccidents that happen during construction work more often than not result in workers’ compensation claims. There are laws that will help a construction worker get properly compensated if he or she gets injured during an accident on the job. In just about every state, construction companies are require to carry workers’ compensation insurance if they have at least one employee and do one of the following: demolish, repair, builds, or alters anything.

Rights of an Injured Worker

If an employer of an injured worker fails to carry the required insurance, there are specific processes the worker must do to collect to pay off medical bills. Remember, it is the liability of the company to have proper insurance. If they don’t have it, then you are still able to collect with funds such as the Second Injury Fund or programs that are similar.

If you have suffered from an accident and are not being properly compensated for your loss, you will want to speak to an attorney about your options.

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At Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson, we understand the challenges of dealing with a workers’ compensation claim and we are here to help. If you need help understanding  workers’ compensation laws, give us a call and we will help you get access to your benefits. Call us today at (414) 273-1144.

Workers' compensation for a reoccuring injury

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gutglass-workers-compensationRe-injurying yourself on the job is an incredibly difficult process to go through. After rehabbing through several months, you find yourself again, at home and unable to work.

Worker’s compensation was there for you the first time and it helped you cover your medical bills and you were able to pay off your mortgage or pay your rent. But what about this time?

Well if you re-injure the same body part, there are several questions you need to ask yourself:

  1. Was it your work that caused a re-injury?
  2. Is it your previous injury re-surfacing?
  3. Can you prove that your work was the main factor in what caused the new injury or re-injury?
  4. Who is liable?

Was it your work that caused a re-injury?

This question is important because it will help determine if a new claim needs to be filed or not. If you truly re-injured yourself, a new claim will have to be filed for compensation.

Is your previous injury re-surfacing?

If it is your old injury re-surfacing itself (it wasn’t healed properly before you went back to work), you are eligible to claim benefits and treatment off your original injury claim.

Other issues about your claim include:

  • Are your benefits from your original injury able to be attributed to your re-injury?
  • Have you filed a claim, settled the original claim or still within the time allowed for filing a claim?

Can you prove it was your work that was the main reason for your injury?

This is a major question as it will determine whether you are eligible for workers’ compensation or not. If you didn’t suffer an injury on the job, you aren’t eligible for workers’ compensation. Therefore, being able to prove that is very important.

For the most part, your employer will restrict the amount of work you can do when you come back on the job for a work-related injury. If a doctor clears you for handling a certain amount of workload and your employer allows you to do so, they are most likely responsible for any type of re-injury.

Who is liable?

If you slip and fall because of a mess from a coworker that didn’t clean up after themselves, you can easily prove that you are not liable. If you injure yourself from a mess because you didn’t clean it up and your business has documented that they told you to, it is possible they have saved themselves from being liable.

If you or someone you know has suffered a workplace injury or re-injury, it is time to apply for workers’ compensation benefits.  If you need to determine whether or not you need to file a new claim or pursue benefits on an existing workers’ compensation claim, you need to contact Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson today at (414) 273-1144.