I recently opened up a new mobile phone account for my business. The wireless company gave me the ability to buy an insane number of phone lines (like 50) without a deposit, for very little per month.
I’m thinking about whether I should provide cell phones to my staff to sidestep a common issue: does the business owner have to pay for an employee’s cell phone when she uses it for business purposes.
You may be surprised to learn that the employer may be required to pay for it, even if the use of the personal cell phone for business is not expressly at the employer’s request.
As always, the law is most restrictive in California, where reimbursements for gas, mileage, phones and other expenses is required and hard for employers to control.
For me, if I decide to get cell phones for my employees, I am going to tell them it is a benefit. Employees like benefits and they don’t need to know that I am hedging against other legal risks at the same time.
Watch this video to learn a little more about cell phone reimbursement requirements for employers.
Say your employee is “out in the field” a lot and uses her cell phone.
Do you have to pay her cell phone bill?
If she is using her cell phone for business, then you likely have to pay a portion of it.
You can give her a business cell phone to use and make a policy that prohibits the use of personal cell phones for business.
Or you can determine a monthly reimbursement amount up front.
Coming up with a flat amount that approximates the split of business versus personal use of a cell phone is a good way to go.
However, incidental or minimal use of a personal cell phone for work does not have to be reimbursed by the employer.
Taxes take a big bite out of profits for small business owners.
True story: I pay five times my salary in taxes every year as the business owner. For every dollar I take home to feed my family, I have to earn five just for taxes.
Too bad those tax dollars don’t go to feed other families. I’d rather use that money to take care of orphans.
But I digress.
California is much worse for taxes (business and personal) than all other states in the country.
So it is not surprising that I am asked constantly whether a business operating in my home town of San Diego would be better off incorporating in Nevada.
Nevada takes advantage of this and encourages businesses to incorporate in their state.
But for most small businesses, the answer to where they ought to incorporate is the state in which they are doing business. You can’t get away from California taxes by incorporating in Nevada if you are going to do business in California.
You didn’t really think California would let you get away from taxes that easily?
Can I incorporate in Nevada to avoid California taxes?
You can incorporate in Nevada.
But if you plan to do business in California, you cannot avoid paying taxes in California.
No matter where you’ve incorporated, if you’re running a business in California you must pay taxes on any income earned from California sources.
This is the rule for any combination of states that you mention. California, while tax-greedy, isn’t the only state to have these laws.
But sometimes there are good reasons for incorporating in another state.
For example, you may be able to divert some of the income you earn to the more tax-favorable state.
And there may be other taxes, business laws, and regulations that favor incorporating in one state versus another.
The best way to figure out how to structure your business is to have a great CPA and business lawyer help you along the way.
Do you know how to hire the best professionals for your business? Learn the secrets other lawyers won’t tell you by requesting our free e-course, How to Hire A Lawyer. Call us at 800-449-8992 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Allegations of wrongful termination, workplace discrimination, or wage and hour violations can lead to civil penalties, investigations by regulatory agencies, and demoralizing legal battles against your company. If a job applicant, former employee, or current employee has filed a claim against your business, it is imperative that you take swift legal action before the dispute grows even more disruptive to your daily operations.
The employment lawyers of Bellatrix PC represent corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, and non-profit organizations in a wide variety of employment law matters. We take a versatile and responsive approach to each case we handle on behalf of San Diego businesses, which has allowed to us to obtain favorable results for numerous clients across a diverse spectrum of industries. Whether you are starting a business in San Diego and have questions about how to comply with California or federal laws, or your established company has already been served with a lawsuit, our attorneys have the business acumen and legal skill to help you seek a beneficial resolution.
The longer you wait to seek legal assistance, the more vulnerable your business becomes. Don’t let a dispute bring your business to a halt: call the law offices of Bellatrix PC at (800) 449-8992 to start discussing your matter in a private consultation.
Representing San Diego Businesses in Legal Disputes
Employment law can involve numerous issues, and no two entities will have identical legal needs. At Bellatrix PC, our results-oriented legal team brings together a wide range of practice areas and skill sets to assist our clients in whatever capacity is required by the circumstances at hand. We have years of experience counseling and representing California employers and entrepreneurs with regard to matters such as:
Employee Background Checks
Employee Free Speech
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Leave
Handicap Accessibility Laws
Layoffs and Reductions in Force (RIF)
OSHA and Cal/OSHA Investigations
Personal Injury Liability
Social Media Policies
Workplace Posters and Notices
Drafting and Negotiating Employee Contracts
By taking measures to ensure that your company’s employee contracts and policies comply with the law at the outset of the process, you can greatly reduce your risk of litigation further down the road. If you’re opening a business in San Diego, or if you have any concerns about your existing company’s current practices, it is critical to review your documentation with assistance from an experienced business lawyer who knows which problems to look for – and how to address them. Preventing problems before they arise is always the most cost-efficient option.
An astounding number of labor law disputes stem from misunderstandings and miscommunications arising from poorly-worded or completely unenforceable contracts. For instance, many San Diego employers are dismayed to learn that non-compete agreements (covenants not to compete) are typically unenforceable against employees in the state of California.
We will help your business to prepare clear, efficient, and enforceable documents which protect your vital interests while complying fully with state and federal labor laws. The attorneys of Bellatrix PC assist companies and employers with the drafting, negotiation, implementation, and enforcement of various documents and contracts, including but not limited to:
Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)
Has Your Company Been Sued for Discrimination or Wrongful Termination?
As many San Diego employers are already aware, employees in the state of California are protected by some of the nation’s most rigorous and expansive labor laws. Despite the at-will employment system, it is not uncommon for disgruntled job applicants or former employees to claim they are victims of wrongful termination or discriminatory hiring practices because they do not agree with an employer’s legitimate business decisions.
Because California’s laws are so heavily favorable to employees, aggressive representation is absolutely essential for business owners who are being sued or investigated. We are well-versed in federal and California worker protection acts and the limitations to which they are subject, and are fully prepared to handle complex claims related to:
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) / Disability Discrimination
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) / Age Discrimination
California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
Equal Pay Act / Sex Discrimination
Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act / Genetic Discrimination
Immigration Reform and Control Act / Immigration Status Discrimination
Sexual Orientation Discrimination
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
If a worker or former worker feels discriminated against, he or she may file a complaint by contacting the San Diego Local Office for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), located at 555 West Beech Street. A screening will be conducted to determine whether the EEOC has jurisdiction to investigate the charge.
Employees must file a complaint within 180 days from the date of the alleged discriminatory act, or within 300 days if such discrimination is also prohibited by the laws of California in addition to federal laws. In light of these generous statutes of limitation, employers must not make the mistake of assuming that complaints will simply dissipate with the passage of mere weeks or months.
Employers should also be advised of the following caps on compensatory damages and punitive damages, which may be ordered in cases where the wrongdoing was exceptionally egregious:
Companies with 15 to 100 employees – $50,000
Companies with 101 to 200 employees – $100,000
Companies with 201 to 500 employees – $200,000
Companies with over 500 employees – $300,000
If your company needs assistance with any of these matters, no matter how small your question might seem, we encourage you to contact our law offices to schedule a confidential consultation. To get started, call Bellatrix PC at (800) 449-8992 today.
San Diego Contract Formation & Contract Dispute Lawyer
Contracts are the foundation upon which all business transactions rest. In the absence of a clearly-worded, well-formed business agreement, the parties involved stand vulnerable to unfounded accusations of breach of contract, which can lead to contentious and time-consuming litigation. In other instances, unscrupulous businesses attempt to sneak in subtle clauses and stipulations with disastrous financial effects for the other signatory party.
The long-term impacts of contractual clauses aren’t always obvious, even to experienced entrepreneurs. In many cases, the smallest omission or change in wording could have lasting ramifications for the financial health of your business and its relationships with other companies or clients. Don’t sign or propose any commercial agreement until it is has been carefully reviewed by the experienced contract attorneys of Bellatrix PC. We have years of experience aiding San Diego businesses with all types of agreements and documents, from preparing the initial draft to closing the final deal, including the following:
Commercial Property Leases
Independent Contractor Agreements
Sales Staff Contracts
Third Party Beneficiary Contracts
Vendor and Customer Contracts
Whether your San Diego business needs help preparing an enforceable contract, or you’d simply like an attorney to review a lease or buy-sell agreement before accepting the terms, Bellatrix PC is here to provide legal guidance for all your contract formation needs. To arrange for a private legal consultation with Bellatrix PC, call our law offices at (800) 449-8992.
Formation of Contract: Offer and Acceptance
A contract is any legally binding agreement between two or more parties, be it written or oral. At least one party must make an offer (the offeror), which may then be accepted (acceptance) as-is by the offeree. Alternately, the offeree may propose a counter-offer with revised conditions, which may require considerable negotiation. An invitation to treat, such as an auction or display of goods, is not the same as a formal offer.
In order for a contract to be formed, all parties must be legally capable of agreeing to the proposal. This means neither minors nor incapacitated persons can enter into a business agreement.
Employers and business owners should also note that some types of contracts are typically not enforceable in the state of California – and by extension, not enforceable in San Diego. For instance, with a few narrow exceptions, covenants not to compete (non-compete agreements) are frequently ruled unenforceable by California courts.
Our attorneys will help your company identify the appropriate type of contract for your needs, and when preparing your documents, will carefully exclude any terms or clauses which could create problems with regard to enforceability.
Defending Businesses Against Breach of Contract Claims
In today’s litigious business atmosphere, it is unfortunately not uncommon for companies to allege breach of contract. In some cases, mediation or renegotiation proves sufficient to settle the dispute; but in other instances, litigation becomes necessary.
If your San Diego business is being sued, try not to panic. It is critical that you refrain from making comments out of anger, and approach the situation with a calm, cool head. Do not send any emails or make any posts on social media which could later compromise your legal position.
Remember: when demonstrating that a breach of contract occurred in California, the burden of proof falls upon the plaintiff. In order for the plaintiff to prevail against your company, they must be able to prove all of the following components existed:
A formal contract was entered into by the plaintiff and defendant.
It’s very important for business owners to understand that oral contracts can in fact be legally binding. We advise our clients to eschew oral contracts and use written contracts instead, simply because oral agreements cannot provide you with any sort of reference point or evidence should a future dispute arise.
The plaintiff satisfied its end of the contract, or was excused from satisfying its end of the contract.
Material (significant) breach of contract generally excuses the non-breaching party from performing its contractual duties. Immaterial breach can potentially give rise to damages, but critically, does not excuse the non-breaching party from completing its end of the deal.
The defendant failed to satisfy its end of the contract, either by (1) engaging in prohibited acts, or (2) failing to complete an obligation provided by the contract.
The plaintiff was financially harmed by the defendant’s failure (i.e. damages).
Our attorneys have successfully defended numerous companies against breach of contract claims, and are well-versed in the affirmative defenses which may be raised. If your San Diego company needs help drafting and negotiating a document, or if you aren’t sure whether you should agree to another organization’s proposal, call the attorneys of Bellatrix PC at (800) 449-8992 today to arrange for a confidential consultation.
The business attorneys of Bellatrix PC have years of practical experience representing family-owned businesses, tech start-ups, non-profit organizations, limited liability companies, business partnerships, and corporations located in San Diego and the surrounding area. Our knowledgeable legal team takes a cost-effective, results-oriented approach to each legal matter we handle, which has allowed our attorneys to achieve favorable results for numerous clients across a broad spectrum of industries.
We provide San Diego area businesses with a wide range of legal services. Whether you have questions about getting your new company registered, or need an aggressive representative who will advocate on your company’s behalf in commercial litigation, the attorneys of Bellatrix PC are equipped with the legal skill and business acumen to pursue a creative and cost-efficient resolution to the matter. Legal matters we handle include, but are not limited to, the following:
Breach of Contract
Formation and Entity Selection
Lawsuits and Commercial Litigation
Contract Negotiation and Preparation
Creditors’ Rights and Debt Collection
Trade Secrets and Intellectual Property
Sale of Business
Bookkeeping and Recordkeeping
Investor and Shareholder Disputes
Board of Directors/Managers/Advisors
Unfair Competition and Unfair Business Practices
If your company needs assistance with any of these areas of law, call our business lawyers at (800) 449-8992 to start discussing your goals in a private legal consultation.
Business Formation and Entity Selection
If you’re planning on starting a business in San Diego, careful planning and structuring at the outset of the process is critical to the long-term success of the entity. The legal structure you select for your new organization will have lasting repercussions with regard to personal liability, the size of your workforce, the number of shareholders your company has, who will take responsibility for daily operations, how the business will be taxed, and other core components of the company.
The attorneys of Bellatrix PC have a sophisticated understanding of the financial advantages and limitations associated with each type of business structure. We will listen to your vision for your company and present you with a clear, straightforward assessment of the pros and cons of various structures.
Once an appropriate structure has been selected to suit your needs, we will assist you with the registration of your business, the review of commercial leases, your compliance with zoning and environmental laws, and other key points to go over when first opening for business.
Drafting and Negotiating Contracts and Agreements
Contracts and agreements form the backbone of all commercial transactions and employment matters. Whether you need to hire an employee, expand to a new location, or protect your trademarks and intellectual property, concise and enforceable contracts are integral to financial success. The contract attorneys of Bellatrix PC are tenacious, aggressive negotiators, and will take all measures necessary to protect your business from agreeing to any clauses or stipulations which could ultimately harm your company’s bottom line.
Many employers and entrepreneurs are surprised to learn that oral contracts can be legally binding. Oral contracts should always be avoided in favor of hard written documents, which can be referred to as evidence in the event of a future contract dispute or alleged breach of contract. Because template agreements inevitably lack the depth and nuance afforded by custom contracts, we will prepare tailored contracts that provide a detailed, comprehensive framework, clearly defining your expectations and obligations in each transaction and deal you embark on.
Commercial Debt Collection in San Diego
No business can be expected to thrive to the fullest when deprived of compensation for services which have already been rendered, or goods which have already been produced and delivered. Protracted delays in payment can bring productivity grinding to a halt, compromise your other business relationships, and create real financial risk for fledgling companies with limited resources. Our attorneys will help you explore various means of commercial debt collection, so that you can make an efficient recovery and get back on track in your daily operations.
Depending on the nature of the debt and the circumstances under which it arose, it may be possible to obtain repayment through means such as wage garnishment, commercial liens, or bank account levies. We are prepared to take your debtor to court to obtain – and enforce – a judgment by any means necessary, even if litigation becomes necessary. We hold ourselves to high standards for fair and ethical commercial debt collection practices, but are unafraid to take aggressive measures to protect and exercise your rights as a creditor.
If you’re a business owner in San Diego and have questions about any aspect of your company at all – whether it’s about compliance with the tax code, advertising rules in California, or how to keep corporate minutes – Bellatrix PC is here to assist and advise you. To arrange for a confidential consultation, call our law offices at (800) 449-8992 today.
You can’t always fire an employee who badmouths you online.
It’s a common reaction. An employee bad-mouths you and your business on Facebook. So you fire her.
Before the time of social media (and the internet), I was in college. I also worked a job after school where I had a boss who was a strange, quirky person.
I did a good job, but he was not exactly someone I enjoyed being around. I wasn’t the only one: my co-workers and I would laugh about some of his idiosyncrasies on our commute home on the ferry.
I’m pretty sure he overheard one day (or someone else who mutually knew us heard) because when we returned to work the next day, he was pretty upset with us. My co-worker was fired. I wasn’t, but it was clear that I was going to hit a dead-end soon.
So I moved on a little while later. But I always felt bad about it. I am not gossipy by nature, and I upset someone unintentionally. He was weird, but I didn’t mean to hurt his feelings.
Anyway, now I’m a boss and a business owner, and I try to hire people whom I enjoy working with. I would probably see a couple of teenagers making fun of me as annoying. I certainly wouldn’t feel like paying them my hard-earned profits in wages if they were ungrateful for it.
But if an employee is critical of your business online, you have to be careful. You cannot just fire them in certain circumstances. As always, it is situation-dependent. So watch the video below to get an idea of when you have to call a lawyer before sacking a snickering ingrate.
My employee posted on Facebook criticizing my business. Can I fire her?
Not unless you want to be on the losing side of a wrongful termination suit.
Many states, like California, have laws that prevent wrongful termination in violation of public policies.
Free speech and free association online are protected activities by public policy.
Also, the National Labor Relations Act prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for communicating with each other about the terms and conditions of their employment.
These protections extend to online communications as well.
Getting sued over something so petty is expensive.
Instead, why not use those words as constructive criticism to improve your business?
Then advertise it to social media and your workforce. Voila! Good PR and good will with your employees.
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Alicia I. Dearn is the founder of Bellatrix PC, a woman-owned law firm with offices in Missouri and California. Bellatrix PC handles lawsuits and business transactions. We advise in business, employment, real estate, intellectual property, civil litigation, and election law.
The articles published by Bellatrix PC are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal issue, please get competent advice from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction. Use of Bellatrix PC's site is subject to our Attorney Advertising Disclaimers.