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Business Law Articles

Handwritten contract leads to $10.5 million verdict

A contract that an executive quickly scrawled on two pieces of notebook paper was not only binding, but was the basis for a $10.5 million jury verdict. This case goes to show that just because a business agreement isn’t contained in a formal document doesn’t mean you can’t be held to it. The chairman of a telecom company met at his office with a former employee who was considering starting a new venture. Unexpectedly, the chairman

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Employees can sue even if they’re only ‘perceived’ as disabled

Employees don’t have to be disabled to sue under the Americans With Disabilities Act – they merely have to be regarded as disabled by their employer. That’s why it’s essential, whenever you have an employee with any sort of impairment, to fully understand the nature of the impairment and not leap to conclusions about what the employee can and cannot do. A recent case illustrates the potential problems. An electrician at an aluminum can factory suffered

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Congress outlaws genetic discrimination

A company can’t refuse to hire people because they are genetically disposed to develop a particular disease or condition, even if this would cause the company’s health care costs to skyrocket. That’s the result of the federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which was recently signed into law by President Bush. The law also prohibits insurance companies from using genetic information to deny coverage or increase premiums.

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Supreme Court limits out-of-state taxes

A new ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court is good tax news for companies that operate in multiple states. The case involved a packaging company that was based in Ohio and did business in Illinois. The company had a separate Ohio-based subsidiary with an unrelated information-technology business. When the company sold the subsidiary, it had a significant capital gain. Illinois wanted to impose a tax on a part of the capital gain. It said it should

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Your business loan could mess up your estate plan

If you own a business and you plan to leave it to one of your children when you die, be aware that taking out a business loan or line of credit could affect your estate plan. The reason: Many wills that provide that a child will inherit business assets don’t specify whether the child will inherit the assets subject to any debts, or whether the child will inherit the assets free and clear and any debts

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$100 million Starbucks verdict shows danger of ‘tip pools’

A recent $100 million verdict against Starbucks for the way it required employees to participate in “tip pools” should jolt employers with all the force of a Venti extra-shot Caramel Macchiato. Tip-pool lawsuits have been filed recently not only against restaurants, but also against hotels, transportation companies, delivery services, casinos and sports facilities. Recently, many companies have been tempted to expand the number of employees who participate in tip pools. This can seem like a good

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Supreme Court limits out-of-state taxes

A new ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court is good tax news for companies that operate in multiple states. The case involved a packaging company that was based in Ohio and did business in Illinois. The company had a separate Ohio-based subsidiary with an unrelated information-technology business. When the company sold the subsidiary, it had a significant capital gain. Illinois wanted to impose a tax on a part of the capital gain. It said it should

Read More »

Your business loan could mess up your estate plan

If you own a business and you plan to leave it to one of your children when you die, be aware that taking out a business loan or line of credit could affect your estate plan. The reason: Many wills that provide that a child will inherit business assets don’t specify whether the child will inherit the assets subject to any debts, or whether the child will inherit the assets free and clear and any debts

Read More »

$100 million Starbucks verdict shows danger of ‘tip pools’

A recent $100 million verdict against Starbucks for the way it required employees to participate in “tip pools” should jolt employers with all the force of a Venti extra-shot Caramel Macchiato. Tip-pool lawsuits have been filed recently not only against restaurants, but also against hotels, transportation companies, delivery services, casinos and sports facilities. Recently, many companies have been tempted to expand the number of employees who participate in tip pools. This can seem like a good

Read More »

Glitches on credit card receipts are getting companies in trouble

A new federal “identity theft” law prohibits merchants from printing more than the last five digits of a credit or debit card number on a customer’s receipt. The law is triggering a lot of class-action lawsuits against companies that haven’t updated their receipt systems. For instance, many companies still print credit card expiration dates on receipts, which is prohibited by the law and can easily lead to a lawsuit.

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