Shannon Baglole

I had the privilege of working with Shannon M. Baglole when she was starting out in the law profession, and I would welcome the chance to work with her again. She was extremely knowledgeable, very attentive, personally engaging, professional, and well organized. I have no doubt that she has grown enormously over the past few years and I recommend her highly.

~Patricia

Wills, Estates and Trusts Review for Shannon M. Baglole

My husband and I worked with Shannon Baglole in 2013 when we decided to revise our will, create a family trust and revise other vital documents now that our children were all adults. Ms. Baglole was very helpful throughout the entire process, explaining our options, keeping us informed and turning documents around in a timely manner. I found her to be professional, knowledgeable and engaging, and could not have been more pleased with the services she provided. I highly recommend her to anyone seeking similar services.

~Marcia, an Estate Planning client

New rules for telemarketing calls and text messages

The Federal Communications Commission has adopted new rules that strictly limit telemarketing calls and text messages.

Businesses can no longer make pre-recorded calls to landline phones, and can no longer send pre-recorded calls, auto-dialed calls, or text messages to cell phones. The only exception is if the business has the “prior express written consent” of the customer.

This prior written consent must be very clear, and the customer must be told that providing a phone number is not a condition of making a purchase. The customer must actually provide the number; it can’t be “pre-populated” on a form.

Pre-recorded calls are now illegal without written consent even if the company already has an established business relationship with the customer. [Read more…]

Be careful if contracting work is ordered by a tenant

Businesses that perform contracting work at a property are generally entitled to a “lien” against the property to make sure they get paid. This means that if the property owner fails to pay, the contractor can in some circumstances foreclose on the property, have it sold, and collect payment from the sale proceeds.

These types of liens can benefit building contractors, laborers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, architects, engineers, and suppliers of materials (such as lumber yards). Sometimes liens also apply to cars and trucks, and can be claimed by mechanics and towing companies.

There are special rules for making sure there’s a right to such a lien, so it’s good to talk to an attorney if you have any questions.

For instance, if contracting work is authorized by a tenant, extra care is required. [Read more…]

‘Paid sick leave’ laws appear to be spreading

There are no federal laws in the U.S. that require businesses to pay workers for sick days. The closest thing is the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which requires larger companies to offer up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to workers with a serious medical condition.

But some cities and states are beginning to require paid sick time. Connecticut adopted such a requirement in 2012, and bills have now been introduced in the legislatures in Arizona, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and North Carolina.

In addition, paid sick time laws have been adopted recently by a number of cities, including New York; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Portland, Oregon; and Jersey City, N.J. [Read more…]

Sale of business interests can trigger surprise tax result

Did you know that if more than 50% of the interests in a partnership or a multi-member LLC are transferred within a 12-month period, the entity technically ceases to exist under federal tax law?

That’s true even if the business continues to operate as normal for all other intents and purposes.

This “technical termination rule” isn’t the end of the world, but it’s something you need to be aware of. For one thing, a special tax return is due within a few months after the “termination” occurs. Recently, one family business was hit with more than $12,000 in IRS penalties and interest because the family didn’t realize they needed to file such a return. [Read more…]

Don’t skimp on protecting your trademarks

You may have heard that you don’t actually have to register a trademark; you only have to use it in business to have a right to it. That’s true to some extent – but beware!

Before investing in a business name, symbol, type of packaging, or any other distinctive representation of your business, it’s worth paying to conduct a trademark search. Sure, you could look around on Google, but that’s not the same thing as a proper trademark inquiry. The consequences of discovering too late that someone else is already using your idea are very serious. You may have to defend against a lawsuit, or destroy all your marketing materials or merchandise and start over from scratch – or both. [Read more…]

Your non-compete agreements are protecting you, right? Maybe not

A lot of companies have a stack of signed non-compete agreements on file, and they assume that they will protect them in the event that a key employee leaves and wants to work for a competitor. But just because you have a signed agreement doesn’t mean it will work the way it’s supposed to.

The law concerning non-compete agreements changes frequently, and it’s a good idea to review these agreements regularly with an attorney to make sure they’re up-to-date. This is especially true if you have employees who work in more than one state.

Here’s a look at some of the issues that can come up:

Have the employee’s responsibilities changed? Last year a court in Massachusetts threw out a non-compete agreement signed by a staffing company COO who left to form a rival company. The agreement had been signed 15 years earlier when the employee was first hired as a branch manager. The court said the non-compete couldn’t be enforced because the employee had been promoted several times over a 15-year period, and his job simply was no longer the same. [Read more…]

‘Appearance’ policies can conflict with workers’ religion

Most employers value a professional-looking workforce. But problems can arise when a company’s idea of what constitutes a “professional look” bumps up against the religious customs and traditions of employees and job candidates.

For example, in one recent case a member of the Sikh faith applied for a sales job with a New Jersey Lexus dealership. The dealer’s dress code prohibited beards, but the man’s religion required him to wear a beard. The employer apparently told the applicant that he could have the job if he shaved, but the man refused. [Read more…]

Sports bar pays $6.8 million for breaking rules on tips

Under federal law, it’s legal to pay service employees such as waiters, waitresses and bartenders as little as $2.13 an hour, as long as they receive enough in tips to equal at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

The law also allows businesses to require employees to contribute to a “tip pool” in order to distribute tips more evenly among employees.

However, if there’s a tip pool in place, none of the money in the pool can go back to the company. Also, managers and supervisors are not allowed to share in the pool, even if they occasionally wait tables or tend bar and receive their own tips. [Read more…]

Severance agreements are challenged by the U.S. Government

It is very common for laid-off employees to be given a certain number of weeks’ salary as severance pay. Often, in return for the severance, the employee is asked to sign a contract promising that he or she won’t sue the employer and won’t make any public statements that would put the employer in a negative light.

While these types of agreements are common, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently suggested that severance contracts that go too far in limiting employees’ rights might be illegal. [Read more…]

Requiring a doctor’s note for ‘intermittent’ leave might be illegal

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act allows certain employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for health problems, or to care for a new baby or a sick relative.

The Act also allows workers with serious medical conditions to continue working while taking small, periodic increments of “intermittent” leave. This is allowed as long as the worker provides a doctor’s certification that includes dates of expected treatment, the medical necessity of the leave, and how long the leave is expected to last. [Read more…]

Employees who return from military leave have special rights

Employees who leave for military service with the National Guard or Reserves have important job rights when they return from duty.

These rights are guaranteed by the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, or USERRA. This law protects military veterans from workplace discrimination due to their service, and also gives them the right to get their job back when they return.

The law generally applies as long as the employee (1) gave the company adequate notice before leaving, (2) was away less than five years, (3) was honorably discharged, and (4) applied to get his or her job back in a timely manner after returning from service.

What is a “timely manner” can depend on the length of service. For instance, if an employee was on active duty for more than 180 days, he or she must apply to get a job back within 90 days after completing service. [Read more…]

Confidentiality agreements can help both sides – but be careful!

Recently, a private school in Miami called the Gulliver Preparatory School decided not to renew the contract of its 69-year-old headmaster, Patrick Snay. Patrick sued the school for age discrimination.

The school settled the case by agreeing to pay Patrick $80,000. As part of the deal, Patrick signed a “confidentiality agreement.” This was a written contract saying that Patrick wouldn’t tell anyone the details of the settlement other than his wife and his lawyers.

Not long afterward, however, Patrick’s college-age daughter Dana wrote on Facebook that “Ma and Pa Snay won the case against Gulliver,” and bragged, “Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer.”

The message went out to more than 1,000 of Dana’s Facebook friends, including a number of Gulliver students and graduates. [Read more…]

More businesses are using part-time workers

Recent job statistics indicate that more employers are using part-timers to deal with variations in workload and for short-term projects. Here are a few tips your business will find useful if you hire part-time workers.

  • Communicate clearly with the part-timer. Explain the person’s duties, the hours and benefits, and the individual to whom the part-timer will report.
  • Tell your full-time staff why you’re hiring the part-timer. Make it clear what that person will and won’t be expected to do.

[Read more…]

Self-employment gives you some tax breaks

When it comes to taxes, being self-employed has some advantages. Whether you work for yourself on a full-time basis or just do a little moonlighting on the side, the government has provided you with a variety of attractive tax breaks.

  • Save for retirement. When you’re self-employed, you’re allowed to set up a retirement plan for your business. Remember, contributing to a retirement plan is one of the best tax shelters available to you during your working years. Take a look at the SIMPLE IRA, SEP IRA, or Solo 401(k), and determine which plan works best for you.

[Read more…]

IRS repeats warnings about identity theft

The IRS is again warning taxpayers to be on the alert for tax scams. According to IRS Commissioner John Kaskinen, millions of taxpayers have already been taken in by scammers impersonating IRS agents.

Whether initiated by sophisticated overseas operators or homegrown con artists, all bogus IRS schemes have a similar objective in mind: to steal your identity and gain access to your accounts. Phony IRS agents often use common American names and fake badge numbers. To enhance legitimacy, they may provide limited personal information about you, such as the last four digits of your social security number or birth date. Others may manipulate caller ID to show that the call originated from Washington, DC. If you reply to a call-back number, an answering machine may announce that you’ve reached the criminal investigation division of the IRS. A fraudster may even become aggressive and threaten jail time if you don’t comply with his demands, then hang up and direct a co-conspirator to call back in the guise of a local policeman. [Read more…]