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Houston Business & Commercial Law Blog

What constitutes harassment?

Employers in Houston must be vigilant about preventing harassment for the good of their workers as well as their businesses. However, instances of harassment are not always cut and dry. In some cases, seemingly minor incidents can become huge legal hassles if not handled appropriately. To this end, it’s important for you to know exactly what constitutes harassment so that you can react accordingly.

As illustrated by The Balance.com, workplace harassment comes in many forms. It can even be present during the initial interview if the interviewer chooses to ask candidates inappropriate questions. This can include queries related to marital status, race, religion and many others. Doing so violates the law, and could result in legal reprisal if the candidate decides to file suit.

The difference between consequential vs. direct damages

When it comes to breaches of contract, Houston businesses can pursue a range of damages. However, there tends to be some confusion surrounding consequential and direct damages, both of which can be a very real concern for a commercial enterprise. Here at The Jackson Law Firm, we strive to provide clients essential information in a clear and concise manner. That includes the ins and outs of consequential vs. direct damages as they pertain contractual breaches.

According to the American Bar Association, a simplified classification of legal terms is often needed to create a greater understanding. While the actual definition of consequential and direct damages seems relatively straightforward, in practice they can become a bit more muddled. In general terms, direct damages immediately stem from the contractual breach, while consequential damages are still related to the breach but without a direct correlation.

What should I know about tipped workers in Texas?

If you are an employer in Texas, remaining in compliance with pertinent wage and hour laws is essential. This is especially true if your business employs tipped workers, who are subject to a separate set of rules in terms of how they should be compensated. Employers can easily run afoul of regulations without the right knowledge, which will quickly lead to legal trouble for you and your business.

The Texas Workforce Commission provides employers like you the basics on wage and hour laws for tipped workers. First and foremost, you should understand what constitutes a tip according to the law. Tips are provided at the volition of the customer, and can be cash, check or via credit card. It’s also important to know what is not considered a tip. Anything that is counted within your gross returns (such as mandatory services charges) should not be construed as tips.

Tips on buying commercial property

Investing in commercial property can be a great way for Houston entrepreneurs to expand their reach. However, it’s important to be vigilant when pursuing a potential purchase to prevent any issues from occurring down the line, including a loss of capital if the property ends up being unfit. Our legal team at The Jackson Law Firm believes in supporting local business owners by providing quality legal advice. Our knowledge of the legalities of commercial real estate can assist buyers in making an informed decision.

Entrepreneur recommends that those interested in purchasing commercial property keep a few important tips in mind. For instance, potential buyers can utilize a formula when undertaking thorough financial analysis of a property. Three key factors in this analysis are investment, total return on investment and any loans required to secure the property. These factors are extremely useful when the owner is using estimates to tout the property as a good sale, which can cause trouble if these estimates are too generous.

Top considerations when creating an employment agreement

Great employees allow a business to maintain success. Accordingly, it’s vital for Houston business owners to create comprehensive employment agreements to ensure they can retain their best and brightest for the duration. Here at The Jackson Law Firm, our legal team’s background in contract law allows us to counsel business owners on what makes a solid employment agreement.

According to Forbes, certain items must be included within an employment contract to ensure it remains acceptable to all involved parties. For instance, an employee’s job title, description and duties must be explicitly laid out to prevent confusion from occurring down the line. There should also be language included that indicates whether an employee’s duties can be decreased or taken away all together. Failure to do so could lead to legal issues if the employee is demoted.

How can I stop expense fraud at my business?

You value the hard work your employees put in, which is why you reimburse them for travel and other business-related expenses. However, Houston business owners must be wary of expense fraud, which can occur when employees take advantage of employers who are only trying to do right by them. Expense fraud can affect virtually every business, and over time costs can add up, thereby hampering future success.

According to Inc., there are several steps you can take to prevent expense fraud from occurring within your enterprise. For instance, instead of simply reimbursing employees for expenses paid out of pocket consider using a corporate credit card system. Issuing corporate credit cards will make it much easier for you to stay abreast of employee expenses, while also making it more difficult for employees to misrepresent costs.

What happens when a discrimination complaint is made?

As a Houston business owner, you no doubt want the best environment for your workers. However, discrimination claims can occur, and such claims are often extremely damaging to your business overall. Accordingly, it’s important for employers to be aware of the complaint process to ensure they remain in compliance.

The Texas Workforce Commission details the steps involved after an employee makes a discrimination claim. Claims can involve numerous factors, such as unfair practices related to a person’s age, race, nation of origin or disability. These occurrences are prohibited under current laws, and will be subsequently be reviewed by the Civil Rights Division as well as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

What should I know before signing a commercial lease?

If you are considering signing a commercial lease in Houston, you know that making the right decision is imperative. To this end, you must take some time to consider certain key points before fully committing yourself to a commercial property, or you could run the risk of making a very costly mistake.  

The Balance.com recommends a few essential considerations you should make before signing a lease. Terminology used in commercial real estate leases is usually quite complex, especially if this is your first foray into renting property. CAM is a typical example, which refers to a common area maintenance clause. Understanding CAM is crucial, as you could wind up paying a lot more than you are actually obligated. You can request a stop lease for CAM clauses (which is calculated by determining the percentage of space within in a building that you are renting), and this will limit the fees you are required to pay.

How can fraud affect my business?

When it comes to your business, there are numerous threats that can get in the way of success. This is especially true of fraud, which should be an ongoing concern of Houston business owners. While you most likely understand the definition of fraud, you may not be aware of the many different types and how they can ruin your business.

Entrepreneur lists a few common types of business fraud, including abusing an employer’s trust by ordering too many supplies and either trading in the excess for monetary gain or putting it to personal use. While it may not seem like office supplies will amount to much, over time this practice can total up to tens of thousands of dollars, which can be devastating for a small business.

Tips on devising a solid non-compete agreement

Houston employers know that non-compete agreements are a crucial aspect of ongoing business success. While it’s natural for employees to eventually move on from an enterprise, lacking the proper legal protections can result in valuable information falling into the hands of direct competitors. Here at The Jackson Law Firm, we’ve seen the fall out that can result when a non-compete agreement is not present or deemed unenforceable. That’s why we urge business owners to take a cautious approach when creating these essential contracts.

Entrepreneur offers some common-sense tips that employers must keep in mind when creating a non-compete agreement. So-called “ordinary competition” is typically not enforceable, which is why employers should look at standards within their industry for guidance. One example entails an employee that has a close working relationship with his or her customers. In this case, a customer-base may feel a sense of loyalty to the employee in question rather than the company as a whole. A non-compete agreement could be implemented that prevents a worker from drawing on a previous employer’s customer lists.

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