Illinois Upholds the Right to Yelp – What Business Owners Should Know About Online Reviews

DuPage County business law attorneysBusiness owners are used to word of mouth publicity. They even know how to encourage it in the right context – but today’s consumer is different. He or she uses social media and the internet to determine where they will shop, eat, or purchase goods. Online reviews, such as those left on review sites like Yelp, play a key role in their decisions.

Many business owners have struggled with this new platform, and some have even attacked the right to leave reviews online, claiming there is no way to verify that the consumer even visited their establishment. However, the law has upheld a consumer’s right to use such sites. Learn what this could mean for your business in the following sections, and discover how an experienced business law attorney may be able to help boost your company’s bottom line.

The Consumer’s Right to Yelp and Your Business

Because consumers have the right to leave online reviews without the fear of retaliation, business owners should handle their bad reviews carefully. Never address a customer or reviewer in a negative fashion, and attempt to rectify the issue if you can. Other consumers may see this and make a different decision about your company, based on what they see. Business owners should also avoid making any retaliatory statements, and they should understand that they do not have any form of recourse against reviews.

Using a Bad Review as Constructive Criticism

In addition to respecting the consumer’s right to leave a review and addressing the issues they experienced at a business establishment, business owners can attempt to use the review as a form of constructive criticism. Doing this can ultimately improve the experiences that your consumers have, and it can boost your company’s bottom line. It may also clue you in as to whether an employee should be terminated, coached, or needs additional training.

There may also be gaps in your employee handbook that have created confusion about an employee’s job duties or your expectations of them. Again, you can use the review to mitigate and potentially solve such issues within your company. In areas such as this, a skilled attorney can help.

Contact Our Wheaton Business Law Attorneys

Whether your company needs help with clarifying its employee handbook or you need assistance in dealing with a legal matter, contact Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC. Dedicated and experienced, our Wheaton business law attorneys have more than 40 years of experience and knowledge in the small business sector. Call 630-665-2500 to schedule your personalized consultation with us today.

Source:

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2018/01/02/illinois-law-negative-yelp-reviews/

Is Your Small Business Violating Federal Labor Laws?

DuPage County business law attorneysAll businesses – even small ones – must comply with applicable federal labor laws. How do you know if your small business is violating one? The first step is to examine the four most commonly violated labor laws. The second is to ensure you have an experienced attorney on your side. Learn more with help from the following information.

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family Medical Leave Act is meant to provide employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for certain medical or family issues (i.e. death, birth or care of a newborn child, placement of an adopted child or foster child, and caring for an immediate family member with a serious health condition). However, not all employees or businesses may be entitled. Companies with fewer than 50 employees may not be obligated to provide family medical leave, and any employee who has not worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months may be ineligible for this protection.

Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)

In 2013 and 2014, the Department of Labor implemented two new laws to strengthen the discrimination protections against veterans and individuals with disabilities. The first rule is known as the Vietnam Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA), encourages employers to adopt benchmarks for hiring veterans; they can use either the federal goal of 8 percent of employees, or they can create their own benchmark using labor statistics, hiring circumstances, and company needs and desires. The second rule is Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, and it requires that contractors strive for an aspirational utilization goal of individuals with disabilities of about 7 percent, or 7 percent of each job group for larger employers.

NLRA Protections for Non-Union Workers

While the National Labor Relations Act deals mostly with unions, there are a few ways that it protects the rights of employees in non-unionized positions. For example, the NLRA protects the rights of employees who wish to unionize, collectively bargain, or engage in concerned activity for their mutual benefit and protection. Restricting this right as an employer can cost you dearly, as can restricting too much of what an employee posts on social media. Whether you need help crafting a non-disclosure agreement or want to ensure you are not violating the union protection laws, contact an experienced attorney.

Fair Labor Standards Act and IRS Misclassification

Many small businesses rely on independent contractors to ensure certain tasks are done. Often, this is because a contractor is more cost-efficient and easier to manage. However, employers should be aware that, in some circumstances, a contractor could become an employee under the federal law. Generally, this is determined by examining the relationship between your company and the contractor, the financial factors, and behavioral factors. If you are uncertain about the status of one of your workers, avoid the consequences of a misclassified employee and contact an experienced lawyer for assistance.

Contact Our Seasoned DuPage County Business Law Attorneys

Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC understands the challenges that small businesses face, and we strive to mitigate against them. Dedicated and experienced, our DuPage County business law attorneys can examine the legal aspects of your business to ensure proper compliance, and to reduce the risk of litigation. Get experienced assistance by scheduling a personalized consultation. Call 630-665-2500 today.

Sources:

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6509-business-labor-laws.html

https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/benefits-leave/fmla

Examining the Advantages and Disadvantages of a Sole Proprietorship

Illinois small business attorneysIn a sole proprietorship, an individual proprietor (the owner), manages and runs their business. They receive all income for the company, but they are also responsible for its debts, liabilities, and tax obligations. Learn more about this widely used business structure, including its advantages and disadvantages, and how an attorney can assist with the setup.

Advantages of a Sole Proprietorship

Of all the business structures that one can choose, sole proprietorships tend to be the most affordable and easiest to start. Paperwork and other legal items are generally less extensive, and the sole proprietor is only required to comply with state and federal tax laws, zoning laws, and other local regulations, such as licensing laws.

There are also few formal business requirements (except those specific to the industry they operate in), and because the owner has full control over the decision-making power within their business, they may sell or transfer it to another owner or entity at any time they deem necessary. The owner may also change the structure of the business at any time, but it is important to recognize that obligations before the switch may still fall on the owner of the company.

Disadvantages of a Sole Proprietorship

Unlike other business structures, sole proprietorships are not protected from liabilities and bad debts incurred by their company. Instead, they may be held personally liable. In extreme situations, this can cause the business and the owner to simultaneously go bankrupt. Furthermore, the sole proprietor is required to pay all federal taxes on any income earned, and they may be penalized if they do not meet their obligation.

Another major disadvantage is that few investors are willing to put money or energy into a sole proprietorship; quite simply, there just is not enough protection for the investor. As such, sole proprietor business owners typically rely on personal loans and assets to finance the company. If the business fails, this can result in a serious financial loss for the owner of a sole proprietorship.

Contact Our DuPage County Business Law Attorneys

Although sole proprietorships are relatively simple and straightforward in terms of setup, there are some obstacles that business owners should be aware of before moving forward. Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC can help ensure that these matters are understood by business owners and that they receive personalized attention to fit their needs. Learn more about how we can assist with your business set-up by scheduling a personalized consultation with our DuPage County business law attorneys. Call our offices at 630-665-2500 today.

Source:

http://www.nytimes.com/allbusiness/AB4113314_primary.html