In the wake of the sexual harassment claims being raised in the entertainment industry, there has been a robust conversation about those women who feel as though they have been sexually harassed in the workplace. If you have been attentive to the social media trending hashtag of “#MeToo,” sexual harassment is pervasive and has affected women of all ages and in all sectors of the economy. Unfortunately, based on an experience I had as a young woman, I fall within the ranks of those using the hashtag. 

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Traditionally, a new or expanding business could seek capital from borrowing money or seeking more traditional investors. In today’s digital age, Crowdfunding has become a viable source for new or expanding businesses seeking funds. According to the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), “Crowdfunding generally refers to a financing method in which money is raised through soliciting relatively small individual investments or contributions from a large number of people.” 

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I often tell people that starting a small business with a partner is similar to a marriage. You share your hopes and dreams for creating a successful future with someone else. Frequently, you will spend more time and share more of your concerns with a business partner than you will with your spouse. So, what happens if things do not work out? What happens if you have to endure a business divorce?

Similar to the end of a marriage, you may experience emotions of loss, insecurity, fear, perhaps even betrayal. Beyond your emotions, you may have financial assets and/or liabilities to divide. You may have employees, customers, vendors who all need to be informed and potentially divided between the two partners.

The thought of this may now be making your palms sweat and your heart race. Have no fear; there are many things you can do now to prepare for the dissolution of your business, even if it never happens

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A new law affecting all employers, regardless of size, will take effect January 1, 2018. If one of your employees, or his/her family member(s), is the victim of domestic violence, you will be required to allow him/her up to 160 hours (20 full-time days) off from work within a 12-month period. You are also required to affect the operations of your business if so requested by such an employee.

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On June 2, 2017, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed the Nevada Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act (the “Act”) into law. Some of its provisions became effective immediately. The rest take effect on October 1, 2017. Regardless of the date, your business has just been impacted by additional rules mandating your treatment of employees.

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As you are aware, Gordon Law has previously provided information on Nevada’s laws concerning covenants not to compete. (Please see http://gordonlawlv.com/id-tell-id-kill-sue-disclosing-trade-secrets-best-way-protect-business-trade-secrets/#.WT2gIGjyvD4.) However, at the eleventh hour, the Nevada Legislature has made material changes to the manner in which you can protect your business from competition from former employees.

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One of the areas in which Gordon Law assists its clients is identifying problems before they occur and then either preventing or minimizing them once they do occur. You can practice this important lesson by including a dispute resolution clause in all of your contracts. If you do not have such a clause, the only forum to resolve your differences will be in a courtroom through litigation. Litigation is time-consuming and expensive. In Las Vegas, it can take up to three years, on average, for a case to get to trial.

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Each and every day, in a multitude of ways, we all negotiate. Whether you are negotiating with your spouse, your child, your coworker or on a multimillion dollar contract, your mind goes through similar processes. Ultimately, you want a specific reaction or response and you have to engage in give-and-take to achieve it. Oftentimes, you do not get precisely what you want, but ideally you get the result with which you can live. 

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As an employer you need to be continually attentive that you are not running afoul of discrimination laws. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. The federal laws apply holistically in your employment practices, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages and benefits.

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When I was a little girl, I learned my most valuable lessons from the radio. When Neil Sedaka sang the words about breaking up, I believed him. Although he was singing about personal relationships, the message holds true for your relationship with an employee. If it’s time to let the employee go, you need to make sure you don’t make it harder for your business by incurring liability.

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