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Orange County Business & Commercial Law Blog

California bill would hold retailers liable for data breaches

The recent data breach at Target highlighted the risks consumers face when using their credit and debit cards to make purchases. Data breaches at retail stores can wreak havoc on a consumer's finances if their credit or debit cards are stolen by hackers. 

When a data breach occurs at a retail store, which company is liable for reimbursing consumers harmed by the breach? Banks and credit card companies are typically held responsible for reimbursing consumers and paying back the damages from these breaches. However, a new bill in California could soon change this. 

California sports agent sued over breach of contract

Contract disputes can impact just about anyone. While sports agents may not be as well-known as the famous athletes they represent, they can still get into serious legal trouble if they are involved in a contract dispute in California. The agent for popular baseball player Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants has been named in a breach of contract lawsuit filed by the firm he used to work for. 

The agent, Gustavo Vasquez, and his business partner were named in a civil lawsuit for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and fraud. The plaintiff filed the lawsuit against the agent and partner, saying they were stealing clients from their firm and harming their business relationships with their clients. 

Does your company need a social media policy?

When starting your own business, there are many considerations to make that can impact how successful your company is. Social media has become a part of our daily lives, and many new businesses need to consider how social media can affect the future of their business. 

When starting your business, it is important to think about creating a social media policy for the company and for future employees. Social media policies can address several potential legal issues like protecting your company's trade secrets as well as making sure you don't violate your employees' rights. 

EEOC rules on religious discrimination could impact businesses

Business owners in Orange County may face employee lawsuits for religious discrimination at some point during their career. Facing litigation for claims of religious discrimination can damage your company's reputation as well as your relationship with other employees. As religious discrimination claims increase in the country, business owners should be aware of the new documents on religious discrimination published by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to reduce the risk of being sued for discrimination. 

The EEOC published new documents on how employers should address religious dress and grooming in the workplace. The new documents discuss several issues employers should understand to prevent accusations of religious discrimination. The EEOC says employers need to accommodate for an employee's religious observances including their dress and grooming habits unless it would result in undue hardship for the employer.

Do California employers face too many federal ADA lawsuits?

The Americans with Disabilities Act is designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities and make sure they are given reasonable accommodations. Employers in California are supposed to abide by the requirements of the ADA to give disabled customers the same rights as every other customer. 

The ADA helps many people with disabilities every year. However, many employers in California are questioning if the law needs to be reformed due to the high number of lawsuits employers face every year in the state. California has the highest number of ADA lawsuits in the nation, according to a recent report.

California nurses union wins round 1 in breach of contract case

Nursing can be a rewarding but sometimes challenging job. People who enter into this industry often work very hard while also serving as a source of knowledge, comfort and life. In other words, we depend on nurses in unexpected ways when illness or injury strikes those we love. Like people in other service industries, nurses deserve not only a fair wage but also the security of knowing the contracts their union representatives have worked to arrange are ironclad agreements capable of protecting all involved parties from breach of contract.

Members of the California Nurses Association are learning that this is not always the case, as an ongoing contract dispute with Alta Bates Summit Medical Center heads toward round two with a hearing scheduled for March 12. This is one case where representation by a skilled lawyer experienced in dealing with contract disputes could be essential to emerge successfully from contract litigation.

Tips for preventing California hostile work environment claims

As a business owner, you likely do all you can to protect your company from any type of employment litigation. Unfortunately, this is a litigious world we live in. Employee lawsuits abound for claims of sexual harassment, hostile work environment and discrimination. Protecting your company from such lawsuits is in the best interest of your business. Below are some tips to help prevent such lawsuits.

Most companies either immediately work to fight such allegations or they simply choose to ignore them. Ignoring allegations of sexual harassment or other employee-related workplace claims will only make the issue worse.

California employees sue online real estate company

Redfin, an Internet-based real estate brokerage, has become the defendant in a class-action suit brought by their California field agents. The complaint, filed in December 2013 in Alameda County, alleges that Redfin wrongly classified workers as independent contractors. The suit claims that this misclassification allowed the company to avoid compensating associate real estate agents for certain tasks.

According to the complaint, Redfin used deceptive practices that allowed them to elude laws requiring them to pay employees for hours worked, payroll taxes and insurance and business expenses. The lawsuit also alleges that the real estate firm unfairly "cheated" their competition by failing to pay California workers as much as their law-abiding competitors would.

Bad marriage can lead to business litigation

Sometimes love and business mix together, such as when a married couple starts and runs their own company. While this has many benefits, it is important to note that there are some drawbacks as well. For example, the chance that the marriage could come to an end at some point is something that both parties need to be aware of.

According to a professor at North Dakota State University, nearly 33 percent of businesses in the U.S. are run by married couples. This is a large number, especially when you consider how many businesses are currently in existence.

Google entrenched in business litigation from patent holders

People who have been using the Internet since the 1990s likely remember the famous search engine Lycos. As Google came into prominence, Lycos diminished to a rarely-used site that is now essentially forgotten. However, the decline of Lycos has not prevented Google from being hurt by it. Companies that bought patents from Lycos are now targeting Google for violating intellectual property rights.

One recent case involved a company called Vringo, which took a shot at one of Google's most important and lucrative systems: Google Adwords. Vringo, which acquired a Lycos advertising patent in 2011, has claimed that the Adwords ad auction system violated the patent. Vringo took Google to court and won $30 million. Even after changing its system, Google was once again brought back to court by Vringo. In the most recent decision, a judge ruled that Google's new system is not different enough. The judge claimed that the intellectual property brings in 20.9 percent of the revenue Google receives from Adwords. Vringo will now receive 6.5 percent of this money, which could end up totaling "hundreds of millions of dollars."

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