Small businesses fuel Florida’s job growth, with the U.S. Small Business Administration reporting there are 2.5 small businesses in the state, comprising 99.8 percent of the total and employing more than 42 percent of all workers. If you’re thinking about launching a new company, know that a Lake Mary business lawyer is one of the best places to start. Entrepreneurs should be confident that they’ve made smart choices about corporate structure, partnership agreements and leasing, but also that they have a trusted ally who is invested in their success, alert to potential legal pitfalls and knowledgeable about the best ways to insulate themselves from business litigation or respond if necessary.
Knowing the top causes of small business lawsuits and working with a dedicated business attorney can help you ward off some of the worst and most common.
Florida Small Business Employment Discrimination and Wrongful Termination Lawsuits
An analysis from specialty insurer Hiscox found U.S. companies have about a 10.5 percent of chance of having an employment charge filed against them. These can include employment lawsuits for things like sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, race discrimination, age discrimination (for employees/ applicants over 40), disability discrimination, gender discrimination and retaliation against employees who report such allegations.
Workers who feel they have been discriminated against or retaliated against for reporting discrimination or supporting a discriminated worker can file a claim against their employer through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and/ or through a private employment law firm. The Hiscox analysis found that of 1,200 closed claim reports of small- and medium-sized companies that faced employment lawsuits, 24 percent resulted in defense and settlement costs that averaged $160,000.
Lake Mary small business attorneys know smaller companies are more vulnerable to employment lawsuits than they might realize because they often don’t employ human resources. If they aren’t careful to take steps to ensure compliance with federal and state laws and purchase the right insurance policy, they could find themselves soon out-of-business. Your small business lawyer can help you in both regards.
Florida Wage and Hour Violation Lawsuits
There are both state and federal statutes that require employers to meet certain criteria with regard to wages, record-keeping, hour limitations, youth employment, overtime and categorization of workers for these purposes. The Federal Labor Standards Act is where we find many of those in U.S. law, and Chapter 448 of Florida Statutes contains the state’s General Labor Standards.
Most of these claims involve allegations that workers weren’t paid fairly, either by skimping on overtime or wrongly classifying them as independent contractors or exempt workers. Your corporate structure, the number of employees you have, the type of work you do and the amount of control you assert over the work completed all plays a role in how you pay employees. Your Lake Mary small business lawyer can advise you of the appropriate pay structures at the outset of business launch, and inform you of relevant changes to law or business operations are going to have an impact on this so that you can stay compliant.
Florida Small Business Torts
Most of third-party lawsuits against Florida small businesses are torts, which are violations of another’s rights, most often involving allegations of negligence resulting in injury. Mostly these include claims of bodily injury, wrongful death or property damage. As a business owner in Florida, you can be found vicariously liable for the negligence of employees acting in the course and scope of employment – even if neither you nor the business did anything wrong. This falls under a legal doctrine known as respondeat superior, Latin for, “let the master answer.” This is why it’s so important to have proper employment screening, training and supervision, as well as general liability insurance. Your small business attorney can help you navigate these challenges.
Small Business Breach of Contract Lawsuits
Any small business can be at risk of a breach of contract lawsuit by any individual or entity with whom they have a contract – especially if the terms of the contract were ambiguous or poorly written. These claims could be filed by general contractors, subcontractors, commercial leasing entities, independent contractors, employees and others.
As your small business attorney can explain, many claims filed solely for breach of contract aren’t covered by general liability insurance policies. That’s why it’s so important to have your lawyer involved in helping draft and review these contracts before they are finalized, minimizing the odds the plaintiff will prevail in a breach of contract lawsuit against your company.
Contact the Lake Mary, Florida business attorneys at The Chidolue Law Firm, serving Orlando and Lake Mary, by calling (407) 995-6567 or email us.
Florida Small Business Profile, 2018, SBA Office of Advocacy
More Blog Entries:
ORLANDO BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP LAWYER: COMPETITOR STRATEGIC ALLIANCE CONTRACTS SHOULD BE AIRTIGHT, Dec. 27, 2018, Lake Mary Small Business Lawyer Blog