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Houston Business & Commercial Law Blog

Keeping your edge: Protecting trade secrets from theft

Many businesses in Texas, and throughout the U.S., have trade secrets, which contribute to their operation and success. Sometimes, a business’ competitors may seek to obtain this information through nefarious means in order to catch up or gain a competitive advantage in the market. At The Jackson Law Firm, we often consult with businesses that have information that must be kept confidential. In this post then, we will discuss trade secrets and how they can be protected.

In general, trade secrets are confidential devices, techniques or information that a company uses to manufacture, distribute, sell or advertise its products. This could include food recipes or beverage formulas, as well as manufacturing techniques or marketing strategies. When the owner of these types of information makes an effort to keep them confidential, they may be protected by federal trade secret law. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, this law prohibits the theft or unauthorized disclosure of trade secrets.

Tips for preventing sexual harassment in your Texas workplace

Employers in Texas, and throughout the U.S., have a responsibility to protect their employees. This includes ensuring that workplace does not become hostile or uncomfortable as a result of sexual harassment. At The Jackson Law Firm, we understand how allowing sexual harassment to occur unchecked in your workplace can result in decreased productivity, low employee morale and costly employment litigation.

In general, sexual harassment occurs when one employee makes persistent, unwelcome sexual advances towards another worker, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Furthermore, requests for sexual favors from employees against their wishes or displaying sexually explicit images may also be considered sexual harassment. So too can other physical and verbal conduct that is sexual in nature. Often, this type of harassment includes a connection between sexual activity and benefits, promotions and employment reviews.

More industries utilizing non compete agreements

Recently we have been discussing the topic of non-compete agreements. In order for such a contract to be considered enforceable by most Texas courts, it should be fair to all parties involved – namely, the employee as well as the employer. Some people may argue that signing a non-compete agreement limits an employee in his or her future career options.

According to the Texas Workforce Commission, enforceable non-compete agreements in the state should be reasonable as to the time limit, geographical area and type of work after an employee leaves a business. The employer must demonstrate that the former employee’s work could harm the company, rather than promote healthy competition. It should also not unfairly restrict the employee from earning a living.

How is executive compensation typically structured?

In the corporate world, the many terms and procedures of a contract can be confusing and daunting even for the most seasoned professional. Whether you are an executive or the company owner, it can help to go over the terms of an employment contract with a business attorney who has experience in executive compensation.

What exactly is executive compensation? To put it simply, this is the financial package that is developed by your company’s board of directors to compensate the executives of your company for the specialized work they do. According to the Center on Executive Compensation, a compensation package will usually include most or all of the following points:

  • An executive’s salary
  • Yearly bonuses and long-term incentives
  • Benefits
  • Severance packages or change of control agreements

Keeping non-compete agreements ethical and fair to both parties

Non-compete agreements are a common element to employment contracts that sometimes catch a prospective employee off guard. Is it ethical, and even legal, for a contract to state that the employee is not allowed to work in a specific field after he or she has left the company? The simple answer is that yes, non-compete agreements are a normal part of many Houston companies’ operations, and it is legal to uphold the terms of these agreements as long as they have been drafted correctly. At The Jackson Law Firm, we understand how a non-compete agreement can be beneficial to your company, as well as the proper way to word such an agreement so a former employee cannot hold it against you.

Even so, a potential employee might bristle at the idea of a non-compete agreement restricting his or her business prospects in the future. The employee might be taking the job in your company to increase experience in a field that he or she has a passion for and a desire to start up a similar business later on. Under many circumstances, this can take business away from your own company. Non-compete agreements are meant to prevent too much competition undermining your business, or to keep former employees from changing your customers’ loyalties.

Former CFO convicted of embezzling from employer

When it comes to high-ranking employees in a business, there must be some measure of trust. Many of these people have access to money and significant assets, and there is little to stop them from abusing this trust. Most Houston executives in positions of authority perform their jobs with high ethics; unfortunately, there are others who can’t resist the temptation of making some easy money in the form of embezzlement.

Embezzlement is a form of theft that is committed by a person who generally has an elevated form of responsibility within the company. This often occurs in corporate offices or within the financial division of a company. Accounting embezzlement is one example. Many employees will attempt to cover their tracks by only stealing small amounts over a period of months or years, but others are bolder and might take large sums of money at a time.

Appropriate times to withhold payment from a subcontractor

It's always in a company's best interests to adhere to the terms of a contract, especially when it comes to payment. Failure to pay someone for the work or service they do can result in business litigation. This can include Houston business owners who don't pay fair wages to their employees and subcontractors. It also pertains to the payment terms outlined in a contract between a business and a subcontractor company.

In most cases, the law requires businesses to pay subcontractors for their work. According to the Texas Constitution and Statutes, company owners have 35 days after a written request for payment to pay a subcontractor for work or services that were performed according to contract specifications.

Employer-employee legal troubles in the workplace

Dealing with labor or employment litigation issues can be a troubling endeavor. You may be concerned about worsening your situation at work accidentally. You may even have concerns that you could end up fired if you bring attention to a bad situation. However, there are protective measures that you can take to ensure that you don’t have to keep suffering in a poor work situation in silence.

Employees like you can face a number of issues in the work place. Even though there are many labor laws in place in a number of states that are meant to fight against discrimination, aimless termination or other similar issues, that does not mean every employer will heed these laws. The number of legal issues in business that you may face can include:

  •          Intellectual property infringement
  •          Title VII disputes
  •          Retaliatory discharge allegations
  •          Wrongful termination
  •          Discrimination in the workplace based on gender, race or age
  •          Sexual harassment
  •          Wage claims and unemployment
  •          Wage and hour disputes

What is a breach of contract?

The term “breach of contract” is not entirely uncommon and many people may have heard of it before. However, familiarity does not mean that everyone understands its definition. Despite how straightforward the term may seem, there are actually several requirements that are necessary in order for something to be deemed a viable breach of contract.

According to the Judicial Education Center, a breach of contract means that any part of a contract has been broken, or any terms of the contract have not been fulfilled. If there is no legal excuse for the aforementioned things to have happened, then any party that was part of the contract can claim a breach. At this point, the argument is usually taken to court in order to settle it properly. However, a breach can also be called even if the terms of the contract were met. If the terms were not up to industry standard or a warranty, then it is considered a breach.

Different areas of real estate litigation and their documents

If you find yourself needing to deal with matters of real estate litigation, it can be complicated and confusing. Real estate litigation usually comes with a lot of paperwork and terminology that is unique to the topic. This can make it difficult for you to understand what you need to do.

First of all, you may wish to determine what area of real estate litigation your particular case would be filed under. There are many different types and each type comes with its own set of documents and requirements. Some types of real estate litigation can include boundary or construction disputes, lease agreements, slander of title, quiet title actions, mechanics liens, nonpayment, commercial leases, or disputes from commercial landlords or tenants. Commercial and residential real estate also fall under the real estate litigation section.

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