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When you need a collection agency

It’s a real drain on a business when you can’t get clients to pay. It’s ideal when you can take matters into your own hands and see results, but when you’ve tried everything else, sometimes you need to hire a collection agency. A collection agency is helpful if you haven’t been able to successfully contact the debtor on your own, if several debts have been difficult to collect or if a debt is too big to

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Supreme Court ruling likely to restrict public access to business records

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a ruling that is likely to make it harder for the public to access confidential business records. The court ruled on a longtime exemption under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), known as Exemption 4, which allows the government to withhold “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person [that is] privileged or confidential.” While federal law doesn’t define the term “confidential,” courts have regularly said

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Preventing suits over website accessibility

Suits claiming that business websites and/or mobile apps aren’t fully accessible to people with disabilities are increasing rapidly. In 2019, a quarter of such suits were brought against companies that had already been sued under the same cause of action. The suits were brought under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. The key to protecting your business from such lawsuits is to ensure that your website complies with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. In a recent

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Supreme Court: Businesses can register scandalous trademarks

The Lanham Act, a federal law that prohibits scandalous and immoral trademarks is unconstitutional, according to a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. Registering a trademark has its benefits. Someone who owns an registered trademark can use it in commerce and enforce it. Registering a trademark provides “constructive notice of the registrant’s claim of ownership,” thereby protecting the owner against certain defenses if a patent infringement action arises. With a registered trademark, the owner has constructive

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U.S. Supreme Court to discrimination defendants: ‘Don’t delay’

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employees can take employers to court for discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. But the law requires that an employee first file a charge with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 180 days of the supposed violation (300 days if a state or local agency is investigating under state or local law). Only after receiving EEOC clearance can an employee sue the employer

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Parental leave discrimination can cost you

A recent class-action suit highlights the importance of ensuring that your parental leave policies do not discriminate against fathers. In the case, a male bank employee asked for 16 weeks of parental leave after his child was born. The bank’s parental leave policy allotted that amount to “primary caregivers,” but allowed only two weeks for “nonprimary caregivers.” The bank allegedly told the employee that, under the policy, birth mothers were considered the primary caregivers unless he

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Court recognizes ‘hostile work environment’ claims under ADA

A “hostile work environment” claim is one in which an employee claims an employer maintained a workplace so unbearable due to discriminatory actions of coworkers or supervisors that it was impossible for the employee to do his job. Courts have long held that under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers can be held accountable for harassment and discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin that create a hostile work environment. A

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Noncompetes for low-paid workers? Not so fast …

Loss of a good worker means the hassle of hiring a replacement, training the new person and getting other workers to pick up the slack in the meantime. It’s even worse if the departing employee had specialized skills, intimate knowledge of your operations and information such as customer lists or trade secrets that you want to keep confidential. That’s why many employers have workers sign noncompetition (or “noncompete”) and nondisclosure agreements, contracts under which workers promise

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Nursing mother claims on the rise

The case of Autumn Lampkins should serve as a warning to employers to be mindful of the needs of nursing mothers. Lampkins, an assistant manager of a KFC in Delaware, gave birth to a son and needed to pump breast milk. At first, her employer told her to use the restaurant’s single-stall bathroom. After a while, the employer became fed up with the bathroom being occupied, so Lampkins allegedly was made to express milk in the

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Ease the Pain of Repaying Student Loans

Student loan debt is a hot topic and for good reason. Managing the burden that comes during repayment is very difficult. Fortunately, there are ways to get some relief while taking advantage of timely tax breaks at the same time. Here are four ways to help lessen the strain of repaying your student loans. Deduct your student loan interest. The IRS allows you to deduct up to $2,500 in student loan interest payments on your tax

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