Survey Says Small Business Owners Are Optimistic About the Future but There Are Still Concerns – How a Business Law Attorney Can Help Resolve Them

Illinois small business attorneysSmall businesses are the backbone of America’s economy, but they are also the most susceptible to failure – and not just because they must compete against corporations and large chain stores. The recession hit everyone hard, but small businesses experienced mass closure and bankruptcy. Those that survived had to weather out the recession and hope that people would start spending money again. Now that it is happening, new and old small business owners say they are optimistic about their future, a recent survey said. However, there are still concerns. Learn what they are, how to mitigate them, and what an experienced business law attorney can help.

Small Businesses and the Nuances of Business Law

Laws change all the time – and that includes laws relating to business. Corporations typically have teams of attorneys to inform them of major changes that could impact their company. The same cannot be said for small business owners. Because of this, smaller businesses tend to be more susceptible to things like lawsuits (sometimes from patrons or consumers, but usually from employees), and they may struggle to ensure that they stay in compliance with some of the more complex employment law matters. In some instances, such as those relating to federal or state taxes, can place not just a business at risk, but also its owner.

Preventing and Fighting Against Lawsuits

Since small businesses are inherently more susceptible to lawsuits, it is critical that they take preventative measures whenever possible. Examples of such measures can include:

  • Hiring an experienced attorney to ensure that the business’s employment handbook clearly and concisely outlines the employer’s expectations;
  • Ensuring there are clear policies regarding in-office harassment and discrimination;
  • Developing a management training program that refreshes all supervisors on applicable harassment and discrimination;
  • Maintaining an open-door policy; and
  • Handling all reports of harassment and discrimination in a professional and diligent manner.

Sadly, even when taking such measures, small businesses remain at a higher risk of a lawsuit than other businesses. In the event that one is filed against your business, it is crucial that you know where to turn for guidance, assistance, and aggressive representation.

Contact Our DuPage County Business Law Attorneys

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, we understand the challenges that small businesses face because we, too, are a small business. Dedicated to ensuring your company thrives, now and for years to come, our DuPage County business law attorneys can help you protect your business from lawsuits through preventative measures. When aggressive representation is needed to fight against a suit, we put our knowledge and skills to work for you. Call 630-225-2500 and schedule a consultation to get started.


Encouraging and Protecting Diversity in the Workplace

Illinois business law attorneysDiversity in the workplace can offer varying perspectives, improve the company’s image, and may even result in capital gains. However, many businesses struggle to achieve true diversity and those that do often struggle to protect it. Do things differently, avoid litigation, and ultimately improve your company’s chances of success with help from the following.

Why Diversity is So Important

At first glance, diversity may not seem like the most important aspect of running a business. Instead, most owners focus their attention on things like recruiting experts in their field, reducing overhead costs, and creating a platform from which they can market – and yet these aspects of running a business often come naturally for those that support diversity. As an example, a business that strives to maintain ethnic diversity in the workplace may have a better understanding of cultural differences that may impact their sales and marketing strategies.

Encouraging Diversity in the Workplace

Diversity in the workplace is rarely accidental. Instead, it is done with intention. A business owner must consider what other groups of people can bring to the table. They must be willing to look at the cold, hard facts. They must look beyond the resume, and they cannot be swayed by charisma. Experience may become less about the jobs that a prospective employee has worked, and may become more about the potential. For example, you might consider hiring the white, male applicant with years of experience, but do not discount the homemaker that has spent the last ten years caring for her children.

Though the latter may need more training to ensure she is up to speed, she might also be better at multitasking than your male applicant. She may also have knowledge and experience that is difficult to communicate on a resume. Perhaps she has used accounting software and spreadsheets to maintain her household budgets and has some ideas on how your company could better utilize them. In short, before you hire anyone, be willing to ask probing questions, and always look at the whole picture – not just what is on the resume.

Protecting Diversity in the Workplace

Once you have achieved diversity in the workplace – or are well on your way – it is crucial that you know how to protect it. Workplace harassment, discrimination, resistance to change, and other challenges may arise along the way. Some of these issues could lead to a loss of valuable employees. Others may result in litigation. To decrease your risk of experiencing such consequences within your company, consider implementing the following:

  • Anti-discrimination policies;
  • Anti-harassment policies;
  • Equal pay for all same-skill/same-job employees;
  • An open-door policy for reporting harassment and discrimination;
  • Policies that clearly and concisely convey the consequences of workplace harassment;
  • Managerial training on workplace harassment; and
  • Swift and attentive handling of all harassment complaints.

Contact Our DuPage County Business Law Attorneys

If your company is striving for diversity in the workplace and you need assistance with developing policies, employment contracts, and other anti-harassment procedures, contact Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC for assistance. Our DuPage County business law attorneys can work with you to determine your goals, assist you in creating legally binding contracts and policies, and examine any situation involving potential litigation to ensure you have the support you need. Schedule your consultation by calling 630-665-2500 today.


Examining the Pros and Cons of a Written Employment Contract

Illinois business law attorneysWhile the state of Illinois is considered an “at-will” employment state – meaning either employer or employee may terminate the relationship without cause or reason – there are situations in which an employment contract may be necessary. What are these situations, and what potential pitfalls might you, the employer, face? The following explains the potential advantages and disadvantages to written employment contracts.

When Might a Contract Be Necessary?

Employment contracts are often most useful when employers need to protect themselves from the potential of competition, revealing of trade secrets, or problematic employees. However, some companies also use them to entice highly desired employees. For example, an employer might offer a pre-determined salary increase over a five-year time period; putting it in writing may mean the difference between hiring a top-rated employee and losing that employee to your competitor.

Potential Advantages of Employment Contracts

Probably the biggest advantage to employment contracts is the ability control an employee – be it through ensuring they do not share trade secrets or compete against you, or simply ensuring you have clear grounds for termination, should the employee fail to perform their duties as expected. However, there are other potential benefits as well. A contract can also protect you from litigation for wrongful termination, and it offers the ability to clearly define your expectations of the employee.

Potential Disadvantages to Employment Contracts

Although the benefits to an employment contract are notable, there are some disadvantages as well. One of the most concerning is the way a contract may limit your flexibility. For example, if your company undergoes significant changes, or you need to terminate the employee for reasons outside of those outlined in the contract (i.e. no longer needing the employee), you may run into trouble.

This is why it is critical to discuss the possible pros and cons of using an employment contract with your attorney. Further, you should ensure you seek guided assistance in the drafting of that contract, should you decide to use one.

Contact Our DuPage County Business Law Attorneys

At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, we take the time to understand the unique challenges of our clients and their businesses. In every situation, we strive to find creative solutions to meet their needs. Learn how we can help your company. Call 630-665-2500 and schedule a consultation with our DuPage County business law attorneys today.