3 Steps to Avoid Fines for Misclassifying Independent Contractors

By Jamie Moore Marcario, Esq.

The new millennium has seen the meteoric rise of the  “gig economy,” in which businesses engage independent contractors (“IC”) to do the lion’s share of the work instead of  W-2 employees. While ICs may seem like the way to go, the equally meteoric rise in the number of IC   misclassification cases filed against businesses suggests that businesses relying on ICs should think again.

When a company misclassifies its independent contractors, the error is typically an honest mistake rather than an intentional end-run around the federal requirements. Accordingly, until the last 10 years, most regulatory agencies made little to no effort to enforce employee-independent contractor classification laws and regulations, leaving business owners to believe there was little risk if they chose not to strictly comply with the laws. But those days are gone. Today, both federal and state regulatory agencies apply heightened scrutiny when analyzing classification questions at all levels, leading to a new spike in classification lawsuits.

The penalties for misclassification are no laughing matter. If you misclassify an IC, your business may very well owe back taxes on behalf of team members you’ve mischaracterized, and you and your business may even be subject to criminal charges for misclassification. That said, with proper legal guidance from a business law firm like Thrive Law,  it’s actually relatively easy to stay safe and compliant with respect to employee and IC classification issues. We make it simple by walking you through the following three steps ensure your IC classifications pass regulatory muster. Read more

Think Your Corporation or LLC Totally Protects You From Personal Liability? Think Again

One of the primary reasons business owners set up corporations and limited liability companies (LLC) is to shield their personal assets from debts and other liabilities incurred by the business.

Indeed, corporations and LLCs exist as separate legal entities from their owners, meaning the business itself can acquire assets, enter into contracts, and take on debt. In turn, if a corporate entity is unable to pay its debts, creditors are typically only allowed to go after the company’s assets, not the owners’ personal assets.

However, there are several circumstances in which business owners can be held personally liable for corporate or LLC debts. Sometimes business owners simply make innocent mistakes when running a business that leave them personally liable.

Other times, business owners take deliberate actions that expose them to personal liability,  such as using the corporation to promote fraud, failing to observe corporate formalities, or even commingling corporate and personal assets. In any of these circumstances, a court can hold the owners personally liable for the debts and liabilities of the corporate entity. Lawyer types refer to this as  “piercing the corporate veil.” Read more

Protect Your Intellectual Property: Copyright It!

Just about every business owner—whether they know it or not—has created some form of intellectual property (IP) during the life of their company.

IP is an extremely important part of your business. Indeed, valuation experts estimate that IP makes up 40% to 90% of the total value of some companies.

When it comes to IP protection, patents protect inventions and trademarks protect brand names, while copyrights protect a wide range of original creative output, including literary, musical, dramatic, and artistic works, among others.

For instance, if you’re the original creator, all elements of your website—written content, photos, graphics, audio, and video—are eligible for copyright protection. But if you’re not the original creator of these elements and don’t have the correct legal agreements in place, you may not own the work displayed on your company’s website. In an upcoming article, we’ll look into this topic more deeply, explaining how you can protect work created for you by someone else using work-for-hire clauses. Read more

The GDPR: What Is It, Who Does it Impact, and Why Should I Care?

Like everyone else, you’ve probably been getting a ton of emails and online notices announcing that companies are updating their privacy policies and/or website tracking tools.

Although businesses do this from time to time as part of routine updates, practically all of the latest notices are aimed at complying with a new European Union (EU) law known as the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR).

Some of you probably don’t even know what GDPR is, and for those of you who do, I’m betting only a fraction of you have made serious efforts to comply with the new law.

The good news is—you’re not alone. Read more

My Employees Oughta Know! Not if You Don’t Have a Written Handbook!


By Jamie Moore Marcario

Your company started small: just you, a computer, and your supplies in your garage apartment. And then almost overnight, you moved to an office downtown and added your first, second . . . maybe even your fifteenth employee. Or maybe you’re about to hire your first team member. Congrats on your growth! You’re clearly doing a lot of things right!

But if your company is in a growth spurt, chances are you struggle with enforcing company “rules”: rules that you have discussed with your team, but never committed to writing. Or maybe you deem these “rules” to be intuitive with no need for discussion or explanation. Like showing up on time. Or dressing professionally. Or giving advance notice if you need a half day off to get that root canal taken care of. If this describes you, read on! Read more

The Donald, Jamie, and Intellectual Property?

In case you missed it…

Thrive Law’s managing attorney, Jamie Moore Marcario was recently interviewed by David Byrd, the host of American Cafe of Voice of America. President Trump recently announced billions of dollars of tariffs against China. The president said theft of intellectual property by China was one reason for his action. But what actually is intellectual property and what constitutes piracy? Jamie breaks it down for us and explains what content creators can do to protect themselves.

You can listen by clicking play below!

 

This interview is an educational service of Thrive LawTM, a business law boutique. It does not constitute legal advice or imply an attorney-client relationship. At Thrive Law, we offer a full spectrum of legal services for businesses and are equipped to help you make the wisest choices about your business dealings while you’re alive and well or in the event of your incapacity or death. We also offer a Healthy Business & Creative Checkup for ongoing ventures, as well as outsourced company counsel plans for businesses who need a legal team on speed dial. Contact us today to schedule: 727.300.1990 or hello@thrivelaw.com. We cannot wait to meet you!

Independent Contractors are the Bomb (That Can Blow Up your Business)! When and How to Hire IC’s Safely

By Jamie Moore Marcario

We get it. You’re the new biz on the block and you need help. But the thought of hiring employees freaks you out! Where will you get the money? So you hire an independent contractor (IC) instead. You pat yourself on the back. Maybe you tell your best friend, “I’m brilliant! I hired someone to do my bidding and I’m saving a ton in payroll taxes. I am the bomb!”

But what if the real bomb is that IC that’s going to explode right in your face? If you don’t engage the right IC for the right job—a mistake the IRS and the NLRB call “misclassification” — you might be on the hook for fines, penalties, back wages, overtime pay and possibly a lawsuit that could sink your business. To make sure that doesn’t happen to you, check out these pros and cons of working with independent contractors. Use them as your guide on when and how to hire them without blowing up your business.

Independent Contractor Pros

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To Compete or to Non-Compete, That is the Question

By Jamie Moore Marcario, Managing Attorney

If you’re a business owner with employees, chances are you’ve at least contemplated the idea of having them sign a “non-compete.”  Today, employee agreements not to compete with the employer are the rule, not the exception. According to reports from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, about 19% of American workers—about 30 million people—are currently bound some form of a non-compete agreement.  Read more

Revenge Reviews: What to Do When Someone Trashes Your Business or Professional Reputation Online

No matter how much we hear about fake news, false stories going viral, and hackers taking over online business profiles, most people assume that the “Internet of Things” is the truth. This state of affairs is particularly troublesome for entrepreneurs whose businesses become the subject of online defamation in the form of “revenge reviews,” many of which go viral. “Revenge reviews” are either false or grossly exaggerated negative “opinions” about a business posted to various social media sites by unhappy clients, angry former employees, or . . . WORSE . . . a competitor business looking to skew search results in its favor. The impact that one negative review can have on a business can be catastrophic . . . unless you have access to an experienced legal team, like the great folks at Thrive Law, that know how to leverage the law to fight for your reputation online and, in many cases, recover money from the offenders for the economic damage they caused.  Read more

Insurance is a Scam! Or is it?

5 Types of Insurance Every Business Cannot Go Without

Before you even launch, it’s imperative that you protect your business with the right types of insurance coverage. A single lawsuit or catastrophic event can wipe your company before it even has a chance to get off the ground. Don’t believe me? Ask other business owners in your community to share their horror stories about spending all the money they intended to invest in growing their companies on paying attorneys to defend suits against their business—all because they had no insurance coverage OR the wrong type of coverage.  Read more