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Houston Business & Commercial Law Blog

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.

What is commercial real estate fraud?

As you may be aware, there has been an increase in mortgage and real estate scams in Texas, and throughout the U.S. While private homeowners are often the targets of these schemes, many businesses have also been taken advantage of in the commercial real estate market. In order to help protect yourself, and your business, it is important for you to have an understanding of real estate fraud.

Commercial real estate fraud schemes are often complex and can take on many forms. There may be multiple people involved, including appraisers, accountants and brokers. The aim of these schemes is to take advantage of, deceive or exploit you, or your business.

Contract issues: Terminating business contracts in Houston

We have previously discussed avoiding contract disputes in Houston. In some cases, however, a dispute may be unavoidable and businesses may want to terminate a contract. At The Jackson Law Firm, we are often asked if it is possible to end a contract before the term or work is completed. In this post then, we will discuss how business contracts may be terminated.

In most cases, contracts require one or both sides to do something. For example, a business may outsource the production of a product to another company. The business will have a contract with the other company that stipulates what is being made, how many items are being made and the cost of production. As such, fulfilling the specified obligations is perhaps the easiest, and least contentious, way to terminate a contract. Once the terms have been met, the contract often ends without dispute.

How can Houston business owners avoid contract disputes?

Even with the best laid plans, not all Houston businesses run smoothly all the time. At one time or another, you may face challenges that can have an adverse effect on the long-term health of your business. Contract disputes can be particularly difficult because it is often hard to predict their resolutions. At The Jackson Law Firm, we often consult with people who are involved in such disputes. In this post, we will discuss some guidelines you can take as a business owner to help avoid contract disputes.

Since most business agreements rely on contracts to spell out the terms, it is important for you to use caution when signing them. You will want to ensure that the terms of the agreement are clearly spelled out and that you fully understand them. Additionally, it can be helpful to ensure the contract includes the specific consequences that you, or the other party, will meet if you do not fulfill your contractual obligations.

Jawbone files lawsuit against Fitbit, alleges trade secret theft

As was discussed in previous post, companies in Houston, and elsewhere, may have certain information and plans that they wish to keep confidential. Generally known as trade secrets, the theft of this information by competitors may be used to provide advantages in the market. Therefore, businesses often take legal action when they suspect that trade secret theft has occurred.

Jawbone, a cellphone headset and wireless device manufacturer, recently filed a lawsuit against Fitbit for alleged theft of trade secrets and intellectual property. According to reports, lawyers for Jawbone claim that Fitbit has been poaching workers from its chief competitor. It is alleged that a number of these workers downloaded sensitive information regarding Jawbone’s future plans and products. Jawbone is reportedly requesting the court to prohibit the former employees from using this information, as well as financial damages.

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.

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