Uber’s Legal Issues Are Not Unique

…Your Business Will Face Them Too

Small technology companies and young tech-world entrepreneurs probably look at Uber and dream of what could be. In many ways, Uber is a model of business success. 

However, in the last few years Uber has been subject to class action wage and salary lawsuits (unpaid overtime, misclassification of workers) in multiple states, regulatory disputes in numerous cities and most recently allegations of sexual harassment and human resources dysfunction.

Uber is not alone in having to deal with these types of legal issues. Virtually every small business struggles with these same legal hurdles, and the bigger you get and more money your business makes, the more incentive there is to sue your business. Except, some small businesses handle these issues earlier and better than others.

Many clients come to The Jacobs Law for the first time when a complaint has been lodged, a demand letter received or a lawsuit served on them. Unfortunately, at that time, it is often too late to avoid the consequences of the conduct that is being complained of in the complaint, demand letter or lawsuit. And even more often, the client is wholly unaware that their classification of ‘workers’ as independent contractors is unlawful, or that certain employees are entitled to overtime and minimum break and lunch times, or that claims of sexual harassment need to be thoroughly and immediately investigated.

All of this begs the question: WHEN should a small business consult with an attorney to address these types of human resource issues? The Answer: early and often.

risk mitigation in business litigation

(1)Early – as soon as you register your business, especially if you plan to have employees or have multiple owners and certainly as soon as you suspect a claim against your business will be made, and

 

(2) Often – at least once per year you should consult with an experienced, knowledgeable lawyer who is familiar with your business, to update employment contracts, independent contractor agreements, non-compete and non-solicitation agreements, termination notices and separation agreements and your website’s terms of use and privacy policy. The law that impacts the language in these types of legal documents is constantly changing, and you want to ensure your documents are up to date. In addition, any time you reach a milestone in your business you should consult your attorney. For example, when your company reaches 10, 15, 40, 75 and 100 workers (employees and/or contractors), surpasses $500,000 in annual sales, begins doing business in more than one state, applies for a business loan, considers taking on an investor or additional owner, changes its business model.

The Jacobs Law Can Help You Avoid Trouble

A one-hour consultation with a business lawyer at The Jacobs Law can educate you on some of the bigger, often-litigated issues – such as all the issues Uber has recently dealt with. For example, the misclassification of workers as independent contractors or non-payment of overtime are serious issues for small businesses in Massachusetts, and more and more plaintiffs’ lawyers are accepting these clients and pursuing these types of claims, in part, because personal injury claims have become harder to make money on. Since the Massachusetts Wage Act mandates triple damages and attorney’s fees and costs – even $5,000 in unpaid overtime can mushroom into a $20,000 claim the moment a complaint filed. The wave of claims for ‘equal pay’ and ‘sick time’ violations will almost certainly be next.

If you are an entrepreneur starting a business or if you are a small business or start-up with paid workers, contact the business law and business litigation lawyers at The Jacobs Law today – before the next complaint, demand letter or lawsuit rolls in. We can be reached by calling 1-800-652-4783 or by email at ContactUs@TheJacobsLaw.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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