In 1985, Aretha Franklin released one of her best selling albums.  The title track was Who’s Zooming Who – an upbeat song about the push and pull of pursing a new relationship.  To their core, business relationships are simply that – relationships.  How should you decide whether a person is the right person to become a business partner?  In addition to delving into your business partner’s characteristics, the question requires a glance in the mirror to see what you, truly, bring to the table.

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Do you think you have Independent Contractors instead of Employees?  As a business owner, if you have Independent Contractors, you do not have to withhold taxes; provide benefits; or even pay minimum wage. Unfortunately, Nevada law and Federal law have recently made sweeping changes in how they define an “Independent Contractor.”  If you improperly categorize the worker as an Independent Contractor, you may subject yourself to fines from both the State of Nevada as well as the Internal Revenue Service, including liability for unpaid payroll taxes (for which you will be personally liable); unpaid unemployment taxes; unpaid workers’ compensation premiums; overtime liability; as well as the costs of benefits that you offer to your other employees. 

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As you are aware from my earlier blogs, it is vital for your business that you have and maintain good contracts.  As you know, a contract is an agreement that sets forth the rights and obligations to the parties.  However, one of the most vital reasons to have written contracts is to address what happens when things go south…when the other party to the agreement does not fulfill its responsibilities.  A dispute resolution clause can help you to know, in advance, how you can address contractual problems.

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At the tail end of the 2015 Legislative Session, Governor Brian Sandoval signed AB 175 into law. The legislation which permits Transportation Network Systems, like Uber and Lyft, that connect passengers with drivers through smartphone apps, came after substantial legal wrangling that preceded the legislative session and several false starts within the Legislature.

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Although it shouldn’t be, meeting with a new lawyer can seem like an intimidating prospect. Generally, you are concerned about whatever issue brings you to need a lawyer. You are also concerned about how much it is going to cost to explain your issues and concerns.

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A contract is nothing more than an agreement. Contracts can be verbal or written.  A contract should set forth the rights and responsibilities of the parties to the contract.  Simply put, who is going to do what.  Setting forth, in writing, your agreements is a vital exercise for the health of your business and your relationships.  By creating a written contract you are able to manage the expectations of the parties to the contract.  Most importantly, a well written contract will help you to avoid disputes in the future.

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There has been a tremendous amount of discussion this summer over the United State Supreme Court’s decision to recognize same sex marriage throughout the United States.  You may not have considered how this decision could possibly affect your business.  Your action or inaction, in light of this decision may place you directly in the line of fire of employment discrimination claims.

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The legalization of marijuana in Nevada creates murky waters for Nevada’s businesses.  The sale and use of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.  The Controlled Substances Act, so long as it remains unchanged by Congress, will keep waters murky for such issues as whether you can enforce a “drug-free” workplace policy; whether you employees can claim that you have violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA); and the extent to which you can get sued if an employee under the influence of marijuana injures another employee or member of the public.

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On August 26, 2015, Bryce Williams shot two former co-workers, Alison Parker and Adam Ward, on live television.  Williams had been a troubled employee of the television station where they had all worked.  There had been numerous complaints by and about Williams as an employee.  In listening to coverage after the tragedy, I heard a commentator state that it was “reasonably foreseeable” that Williams would engage in this violent conduct.  

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You started your business to follow your passion; to create something; to make money. You have just been sued and it seems like all of that can be taken away from you in one fell swoop. It is important that you understand the process of litigation and conduct your actions in the most proactive way to protect your business. The following outlines the basic life of a lawsuit:

A lawsuit starts with the filing of a complaint. A complaint generally sets forth the parties to the lawsuit and the facts alleged. Upon the filing of a complaint, a summons is issued. When you get served (you are the “defendant” in the action), you will receive a copy of the complaint along with the summons.

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