Category Archives: Small Business

How Long Must an Employer Keep Employment Records?

Attorneys serving Cocoa, Florida

If you are an employer and you are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork you must maintain, you are probably wondering if you can get rid of your old employment records. Before you start shredding all those former employee’s records, there are a few factors you should consider.

There is no strict rule that sets forth a required period of time an employer must retain all employment records. This is true whether the documents are kept in paper or digital form. Because there are a variety of different retention rules, many employer follow a general guideline of retaining an employee’s file for four years after the employee has left his or her employment.

While maintaining an employee’s records while they are employed with you plus an additional four years covers you under most laws, there are three types of documents you should retain for a longer period. Thus, before you dispose of an employee’s file, you should remove these records:

  • If the employee incurred an on-the-job injury, any first-aid documentation should be retained for five years
  • Documents regarding the employee’s pension or welfare plan information should be maintained for six years
  • If the employee was the victim of toxic or chemical exposure while on-the-job, all safety data sheets must be retained for 30 years

In today’s age of technology, retaining employment records in a digital format makes it easier for employers. However, it is important that you properly file, index and store the records so they can be located and accessed if needed. Having them saved “somewhere” on your network is not sufficient. Thus, all employers should implement procedures for ensuring employment records are properly maintained.

If you have questions regarding an employment or business law matter, contact us to schedule an initial consultation.


Understanding Electronic Contracts

Today’s technology has impacted the way we negotiate and revise contracts. The use of email makes the process much easier and quicker, but it can also lead to unexpected liability. There has been a drastic increase in the use of “electronic evidence” in litigation cases across the nation. In fact, many lawyers are using email conversations as evidence to prove that a binding contract was created between the parties.

Understanding Electronic Contracts | Brevard County Bankruptcy Attorney

Attorneys serving Eau Gallie, Brevard County

Uniform Electronic Transactions Act of 1999 | Electronic Contracts

The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act of 1999 provides that binding contracts can be formed by the use of electronic records. The basic requirements of a contract must still be met for it to be enforceable. To learn more about the basic requirements of a contract, please read our blog titled “Breach of Contract Basics.” If an email exchange demonstrates that there was an offer, acceptance, consideration and the intent of the parties to be legally bound, the court may find that an enforceable contract exists.

Tips to Safeguard Yourself When Negotiating an Agreement via Email

So, the question is, how do you safeguard yourself when negotiating an agreement via email? Here are a few tips:

  • State your intentions clearly and concisely. This may include a statement that your email is intended for negotiation purposes only and does not constitute an agreement until a formal agreement is signed by the parties. This statement should be included in every email.
  • Provide your employees with proper training regarding your company policies and procedures for electronic correspondence. You should consider requiring all employees to have their emails generate an automatic blanket disclaimer stating that they do not have the authority to bind the company.
  • If the other party indicates that it is relying upon the email conversation as creating a valid and enforceable contract, set the record straight immediately. The quicker you take action and clarify any misunderstanding or confusion, the better. You don’t want the party to rely on your email exchange and incur damages that could lead to litigation. Better to be safe than sorry!

Contact a Brevard County Bankruptcy Attorney at Faro & Crowder, PA

If you are interested in learning more about how a bankruptcy filing will impact your debt, contact Faro Crowder, PA to schedule an appointment. We are located in Melbourne, Florida on Sarno Road and serve residents and businesses of the Space Coast and Brevard County.

Services Areas

We provide services throughout Central Florida including: Melbourne, Titusville, Palm Bay, Merritt Island, Cocoa, Cocoa Beach, Satellite Beach, West Melbourne, Cape Canaveral, Viera and Eau Gallie.

Get In Touch with Faro & Crowder, PA

Faro & Crowder, PA
Phone: 321-784-8158
Address:
1801 N. Sarno Road, Suite 01
Melbourne, FL 32935
Email: info@farolaw.com

The information on this blog or any blog is not intended as, and should not be taken as, legal advice.

Breach of Contract Basics

In today’s face-paced world, handshake deals are a thing of the past. Now it is not unusual for business agreements to be outlined in 50+ page contracts. But, even with detailed written contracts, parties still break their promises. It can be even more complex if you are somewhere between a handshake deal and an executed contract. Can you still sue the other party for breach?

Breach of Contract Attorney in Melbourne, Florida

In determining if a contract exists, the court will ask several questions, including:

  • Was there an offer and acceptance? An offer is a promise to do something, or to forbear from doing something, within a specified amount of time. An offer can be accepted by either a promise or through performance.
  • Was there consideration? There must be consideration exchanged between the parties in a contract. Consideration must be legal, adequate inducement exchanged for the promise to do something that the party is not legally required to do or not do.
  • Is the agreement in contract form? The law sets forth certain requirements that must be met for certain types of agreements. For example, if real property is to be transferred, the contract must be in writing.
  • Was there capacity to contract? For a contract to be valid, the parties must have the legal capacity and competency to enter into the agreement.
  • Is the contract legal? The law requires the subject matter of the contract to be legal and not against public policy.

Not all contracts must be in writing to be enforceable. However, having your agreement in writing can save you from spending a lot of time and money in trying to resolve disputes. It can also increase your chances of recovery if there is a breach of the contract.

If you have a contract that you believe meets the above elements and you are interested in learning more about pursuing a breach of contract claim, contact us to schedule an appointment.


How to Prevent Employment Lawsuits

Scales-of-Justice

While there is no magical formula for preventing employment lawsuits, there are certain preventative measures every employer should take. Litigation can be time-consuming, costly and damaging to your reputation. Below are a few pointers for how to avoid litigation with your employees:

  • Provide every employee with a current employee handbook and any updates or changes
  • Pay your employees for all of the hours that they work – this is a “hot topic” in employment law cases
  • Ensure that your employees are given breaks, including an appropriate amount of time for eating a meal, if necessary
  • Confirm that you have properly classified your employees as exempt or nonexempt, and treat them accordingly. Treating employees as if they are independent contractors or vice-versa can result in class action lawsuits as well as you owing unpaid taxes.
  • Understand all of the legal requirements of your specific industry and verify that you are in compliance with federal, state and municipal laws.
  • Educate yourself regarding the required accommodations for disabled employees.
  • Train your supervisors and managers on what your company’s policies are and how to implement them properly.
  • Stay current on the ever-changing law governing your business. One of the best ways to do this is to work with a seasoned employment attorney to help your business with all of its legal needs.

There are numerous other topics that should be considered, but the above list gives you an idea of some of the hot topics in employment law litigation. If your company if facing a lawsuit, contact us for the advice and guidance you need. Our office is located in Melbourne, but we proudly serve businesses across the State of Florida.


Is it Time to Sell Your Business?

As a business owner, you may be trying to decide when or if to sell your company. Do you wait for it to hit a certain size? Does it need to be worth a certain amount? These are common approaches, but maybe there is a better way to determine when to hang out the “for sale” sign. Put simply, when you reach the point where you can sell your business and amass sufficient funds after the taxes are paid to live “comfortably” for the rest of your life, it is time to sell. Otherwise, prolonging the sale has no meaningful upside.

Sell Your Business | Brevard County Attorney

How do you know when you have reached this point? First, you must determine how much money you need to live on each year for the rest of your life. Most people overestimate this number, so try to be realistic.

You must also determine what your company is worth. There is no clear-cut formula for calculating its worth, but it is important to at least have a rough estimate of its value. You may want to hire a professional to help you with this task.

It is important to understand how much money will belong to you after the sale. Thus, you should make sure you understand your tax liability and the expenses related to the sale. Again, you should seek the assistance of a professional with this task. It may be possible to take certain steps before the sale, such as restructuring your company, to decrease your tax liability before you sell.

Once you have the full picture, you can make a smart decision on whether or not to sell your business. If you can meet your financial goals by selling now, prolonging the sale will only subject you to risk. It is important to ask yourself if there is some reason beyond simply funding your retirement that justifies holding on to the business.

Contact a Brevard County Bankruptcy Attorney at Faro & Crowder, PA

If you are interested in discussing your business, contact Faro Crowder, PA to schedule an appointment. We are located in Melbourne, Florida on Sarno Road and serve residents and businesses of the Space Coast and Brevard County.

Services Areas

We provide services throughout Central Florida including: Melbourne, Titusville, Palm Bay, Merritt Island, Cocoa, Cocoa Beach, Satellite Beach, West Melbourne, Cape Canaveral, Viera and Eau Gallie.

Get In Touch with Faro & Crowder, PA

Faro & Crowder, PA
Phone: 321-784-8158
Address:
1801 N. Sarno Road, Suite 01
Melbourne, FL 32935
Email: info@farolaw.com

The information on this blog or any blog is not intended as, and should not be taken as, legal advice.

What Should you Look for in a Contract?

We have all heard that it is important to read a contract before you sign it. However, many contracts are full of legal mumbo-jumbo that doesn’t make sense even if you do read it. Yet, the law assumes that when you sign a legally binding document, you have read and understood it. As a result, if you read a contract and you don’t understand its terms, it is important to ask questions or seek the assistance of a lawyer before putting your signature on it.

You should never rely on oral promises that are used to persuade you into signing the contract. The entire agreement must be contained in the written document because it will be controlling. This includes all types of contracts including purchase orders, employment agreements and any other type of agreement.

Keep A Copy Of the Signed Contract

It is also imperative that you keep a copy of any contract that you sign. Failure to do so could result in the other party trying to take advantage of you. Additionally, it is difficult for you to verify that the other party is keeping its side of the agreement if you don’t have a copy of the agreement.

Contract Review | Melbourne, Florida Brevard County

What To Look For: Items That May Be Outlined In Your Agreement

There are many different types of contracts, but below are a few suggestions for items that should be outlined in your agreement:

  • The full purchase or sales price
  • Any finance charges should be set forth in dollars and cents
  • Any services to be provided
  • Deadlines for payments to be made
  • Detailed explanation of each party’s duties and obligations under the contract
  • No blanks should appear in the contract
  • Read the fine print – it is important too

Contact Faro & Crowder, PA

Entering into a binding contract is an important decision. Take the time to closely read the terms of the agreement. If you do not understand it or you have questions regarding how it will impact you, contact us to schedule a consultation.

Faro & Crowder, PA is located on Sarno Road in Melbourne, Florida.  We offer free initial consultations for Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Defense.

Contracts Every Business Needs

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If you own a business, it is imperative that you take precautionary measures to protect it legally. In other words, you need a great business attorney and contracts that protect your best interests. There is no easy answer for what legal agreements are the most effective, because every case is different. However, there are three main types of contracts that most businesses can benefit from having in place.

Owner Agreements

If you own the business with another party or parties, it is important to have a written contract between all of the co-owners. This is true whether you are a LLC, partnership or corporation. Common examples of this type of agreement are operating agreements, shareholders’ agreements, founders’ agreements and partnership agreements.

The purpose of ownership agreements is to solidify the deal made between the co-founders. They should cover topics such as ownership percentages, salaries, capital contributions and what happens to the business if the co-owners part ways.

Worker Agreements

Most businesses only use agreements for their employees, not for their independent contractors. However, an independent contractor may have access to your network, databases, website or financial information. Thus, having a formal agreement is essential to protect you by outlining the job to be performed, a confidentiality agreement to prevent disclosure of your proprietary information and non-solicitation provisions. You should also confirm with legal counsel that you are not treating your independent contractors like employees, because there can be stiff penalties for improper classification.

Vendor/Supplier Agreements

Depending on your industry, you may depend upon vendors and suppliers to meet your customer’s needs. Thus, it is important to have a carefully drafted agreement that helps ensure that your (and your customer’s) needs will be met and that protects if you they are not. You may also need a contract with your customers outlining the business relationship and providing legal protections.

There are other types of contracts that may be necessary to help ensure the success of your business, but the above contracts provide a good place to start. If you have questions regarding the agreements discussed above or you would like to learn more about the legal services we provide, call us to schedule a free consultation.


Legal Pitfalls Your Business Must Avoid

Businessman and banana skin

When you are starting a new business, there are many pitfalls you want to avoid. The difficult part is that most of the time you never see them coming. If this business is your first one, understanding the legal risks and taking preventative action can save you money, time and heartache. Below are a few obstacles to be aware of:

Don’t rely on oral agreements. When your business is first starting out, people will make promises you want to rely upon. However, having a personal relationship with the other party does not eliminate the need for a written agreement. Don’t think you will be able to just “work it out” if disputes arise. Having a written contract is well worth the time and money.

Patent infringement. Before you spend your life savings on your new idea that is going to take the world by storm, you’d better make sure the idea doesn’t already exist. Patent infringement lawsuits can be expensive. Also, losing your idea after you are heavily invested in it can be devastating. Have a lawyer perform a search to determine if your idea has already been patented or if you should obtain a patent to protect it.

Unfair competition. If you hire employees from your competitor, it can be a huge benefit. However, if your new hire is converting business from his old employer to you, it can cause legal troubles for you. It is important to make sure you are not violating the unfair competition laws that prevent you from using protected information to obtain new accounts.

The business world is full of legal traps, so it is imperative that you get help from a seasoned attorney that can protect your best interests. Contact the skilled attorneys at Faro & Crowder to schedule a free consultation. We are located in Melbourne and proudly serve all of Central Florida.


How Entrepreneurs Can Ensure Their Business is a Success

success and growing graph

If you are starting your own business, you are probably excited, scared and a bit overwhelmed. Below are a few tips on how you can help ensure that your business is a success:

Retain a good attorney

Don’t just find a lawyer – do some research, interview several candidates, and select the one that you deem the most trustworthy and knowledgeable. If you go with the cheapest one, you might be sorry. Having a seasoned attorney with experience representing businesses similar to yours can make or break your company.

Work with an accountant

. It is important to get financial advice from the very start from a professional experienced in helping start-up businesses. A good accountant or CPA will prepare you for your financial obligations so you aren’t caught unaware. For example, your business can be running along smoothly until it gets hit with a large tax bill. Additionally, having a tax professional assist you with preparing your returns can help you find opportunities to save.

Hire “up.”

Don’t settle when it comes to hiring your team. This can be difficult initially when funds are low, but you should expect a certain level of quality when hiring. The team you work with can help your business soar, but the wrong group can cause your business to suffer. It is okay to be picky. You want to work with individuals who make you and your business better.

Network

As a new business owner, you are on the job 24/7. Promoting your brand is a full-time job. Fortunately, social media is making this task easier, but don’t forget to target the professionals and organizations that can help your business. In short, be prepared to network at all times and connect with anyone you meet. You never know where your next client or big deal may come from!

Contact us for a consultation

If you are a new business owner or you would like to learn more about the legal services we provide, call us to schedule a free consultation. We are located in Melbourne and proudly serve all of Central Florida including the cities of Palm Bay, West Melbourne, Satellite Beach, Titusville, Eau Gallie and Orlando.


What Employers Should Know About Jury Duty

courtroom

What should an employer do if they have an employee that is consistently away from work for jury duty? What if the employee is chosen for a trial that is expected to last several weeks? Can an employer discharge this employee because they are not available to perform their job? This is one of those rare circumstances where the answer is simple – an employer cannot fire an employee for being away from work due to serving on a jury. In fact, an employer who fires (or threatens to fire) an employee for missing work for jury duty is subject to being sued for compensatory and punitive damages.

In Florida, the employee is required to provide you with the “Employer’s Copy” of the summons. This document will provide you with the date your employee has been selected to serve as a juror. It will also list the laws outlining an employer’s obligations and responsibilities. Your employee should deliver the Employer’s Copy of the jury duty summons to you at least five days before the date the employee is required to serve.

An employer should also have a policy that sets forth whether or not an employee will be paid while serving on jury duty. A Florida employer can opt to either pay an employee his or her normal wages while they are away serving on a jury, or to not pay anything. Additionally, if you decide to pay normal wages for employees who are serving jury duty, you have the ability to deduct the amount your employee is paid for juror compensation from their wages.

If you are considering firing an employee for legitimate reasons that are separate from the employee serving on jury duty, you should consider holding off until the employee’s jury service has concluded. Otherwise, the employee may have grounds for bringing a lawsuit against you and it will be difficult for you to prove jury duty was unrelated to the firing.

Contact us to schedule a free consultation. We will provide the advice and guidance you need to protect you and your employees.


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