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Slander of title

If someone makes or publishes a false statement about commercial real estate that your business is trying to sell, it could affect your property’s value and cost you the success of the transaction. According to Texas law, this malicious act is known as slander of title. At the Jackson Law Firm, we understand that the result of slander can cause devastating loss for your business, and being able to rectify the damage of the false claim and recoup the financial loss can be critical to your company’s future.

To prove that you have been the victim of slander of title, you must be able to provide evidence to the court that the statement published was known to be false, or at least that the person should have known it was false. There must also be proof that the statement directly affected the sale of your property, and that you suffered damages because of it.

Former analyst claims wrongful termination, sues Fox Sports

There are state and federal laws in place, which prohibit employers in Texas, and elsewhere, from firing workers for certain reasons, including their race, religious beliefs or sex. Even in cases when employers act in accordance with the law, some terminated employees may feel that they were let go without proper cause. As such, they may choose to take legal action, which could be costly and disruptive to business.

According to reports, Craig James, a former football analyst, recently filed a lawsuit for wrongful termination against Fox Sports. The network hired James to participate in its college football coverage. He worked in the studio on the season’s opening day, but he was fired the next day. James purportedly believes his alleged wrongful discharge was religious discrimination as a result of opinions he voiced regarding gay marriage during his 2012 U.S. Senate run.

The role of severance pay in an employment contract

When a company in Houston, Texas is offering an executive compensation package, severance is one aspect that is often included. It is not required, and according to the Texas Workforce Commission, severance pay is only enforceable when it is part of a written wage agreement. Earned wages, vacation time and sick leave do not count as severance pay because they are part of what the employee has already earned.

A severance package is often added to the executive compensation contract so that the prospective employee will feel more comfortable signing a noncompete agreement. The employee promises not to use or share company trade secrets for a pre-determined amount of time after leaving, and in return the business continues to provide a salary and benefits so the person does not suffer hardship while seeking employment that does not violate the noncompete.

What are deceptive trade practices?

Like other business owners or marketers in Texas, you may make grand assertions about the effectiveness of your produce or the quality of your services. While this is not generally a problem, business disputes may arise if you are overly deceptive in your claims. As a result of false advertising, you could face drawn out business litigation, which may adversely affect your bottom line.

If you engage in activities that are meant to mislead the public, it may be considered a deceptive trade practices. This may include claiming that goods are original or new when they are actually used, altered or second-hand; misleading consumers as to the geographic origin of the products or services you provide; or passing off others’ products as your own, or your products as those of others. Additionally, the use of unfair provisions in your contracts, engaging in coercive sales and collection tactics, and taking advantage of certain circumstances may also qualify as deceptive trade practices.

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.

Determining employer ownership of intellectual property

Trade secrets can be the most vital aspects of an organization’s edge in the market, but it can be difficult to safeguard these from employees who leave to work for another company or start their own. Noncompete agreements can provide some measure of protection. However, the focus of the state’s Business and Commerce Code is to prevent the monopoly of trade and unfair competition, and Texas courts may rule in favor of the employees when these agreements end in litigation.

U.S. copyright law outlines the rules governing ownership of intellectual property and can be helpful in defending the validity of a noncompete agreement. Works prepared during the course of employment are owned by the employer rather than the creator as long as the creation of the works occurred within the scope of the job duties. This is known as a “work made for hire.” The employer-employee relationship is critical in determining the ownership, though, and courts often consider the following questions:

New legislation would protect employers’ faith-based decisions

Federal laws regulate employment in Texas and around the country. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect employees from discrimination based on race, sex, nationality or religion in the workplace. In light of the new U.S. Supreme Court ruling that makes same-sex marriages legal, many wonder how employment regulations will be affected. A proposed House bill called the First Amendment Defense Act seeks to allow employers to make employment decisions based on their religious beliefs regarding marriage, according to its supporters.

Theoretically, employers would be able to make decisions regarding workers who are in same-sex marriages based on personal religious beliefs because the proposed legislation uses a definition of marriage that limits the union to a man and woman and reserves sexual activity for those who are in this type of legal relationship. If this bill passes, companies that get federal funding would be able to make these faith-based choices without fear of retribution.

Drafting a non-compete agreement with reasonable time limits

The court will rule a non-compete agreement unenforceable if it is not drafted correctly. One critical aspect of enforceability is the inclusion of a reasonable time period that the covenant is in effect. According to Texas Business and Commerce Code §15.50(a), the time limitation is not reasonable if it is vague, or if the restriction it imposes goes above the amount of time needed to protect the interests of the business.

The time necessary to protect the company’s interests should be considered and set carefully. There is not a specific time frame that works across contracts within the same industry, company or job title. Instead, when an employer is preparing to offer a position, the prospective employee’s duties and the knowledge specific to those duties should be considered in relation to how time will affect their application to business. For example, if the company produces computer software, the relatively quick obsolescence of the product may render a limitation of even one year unnecessary.

What is Title VII and how does it affect Texas employers?

State and federal laws grant workers in Texas, and elsewhere, certain protections. One such law is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Actual or perceived violations of this law could result in disputes between you and your employees.

Whether a private, state, government or education institutions, you are subject to Title VII compliance if you have 15 employees or more. A federal law, this portion of the act prohibits most workplace discrimination and harassment. Under Title VII, Texas employers are banned from doing the following:

  •        Refusing to hire people based on their national origin, religion, color, race or sex
  •        Discriminating against workers based on their compensation, conditions, privileges or terms of employment
  •        Classifying, limiting or segregating employees or employment applicants that would deprive them or limit their opportunities based on their sex, race, color, religion or national origin

New study focuses on CEO pay gains

In the business world, a company’s success often depends on its leadership. The right CEO or executives can turn a small company into a global leader. Because of this important role they play, it is not uncommon for Texas companies to pay their CEOs a substantial income and provide other perks. However, some people are calling for more employment regulations when it comes to CEO compensation. A recent study focused on whether CEO pay gains are justified.

A recent study from the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank, echoes other studies that show a negative impact from high inequality in pay. The authors build on previous research to reach the conclusion that the pay of top CEOs over the country’s largest corporations is not necessarily based on the talents and abilities of those executives, nor is the pay scale directed by fair competition in the marketplace. If this is correct, then lowering the pay of the top CEOs would not affect the corporations’ ability to excel in the marketplace, according to the study.

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Houston, TX 77027

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