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Columbus OH Business & Commercial Law Blog

Employee complaints may soon follow publication of CEO salaries

At the end of the day, business comes down to profit and expansion. And for the millions of Americans employed by large companies throughout the state of Ohio and beyond, there is often an acute awareness that their labor contributes to the overall financial growth of the organization. The success of a company also fosters and depends upon the achievements of the company executive, creating an interesting relationship between employees, their superiors and the business entity itself. Now that information detailing the salaries, pensions and perks of CEOs across the nation has been disclosed, there are increasing concerns over issues like employment contract disputes and wage disparities.

At a time when wage rates for full-time employees across the country only increased by a little more than one percent between 2012 and 2013, it is now estimated that the average pay for CEOs increased by more than 12 percent last year. Accounting for factors like bonuses, incentive pay and exercised stock options, figures suggest that many CEOs now make almost $11 million a year.

TV personality wins contract dispute

Depending on the industry, Ohio business and employment contracts may be fairly straightforward. For instance, a simple employment agreement may identify the recipient and provider of services rendered; while a more complex business contract can outline the relationship between more than one party. In the entertainment industry, performers often rely on the services of talent agents and agencies, building professional relationships that can be mutually beneficial if and when the performer gains work. One celebrity ended his relationship with his talent agency after his representative of more than 20 years left, prompting a lawsuit over compensation the agency believed it was entitled to.

In response to his recent business contract dispute, Geraldo Rivera claimed that his talent agency filed a lawsuit against him in hopes that he would simply comply with the agency’s demand to receive a percentage of his salary instead of challenging the suit in court. According to Rivera, talent agencies have been known to bully entertainers out of pay for services that were never provided. The dispute between Rivera and his talent agency was based on the fact that Rivera’s longtime agent left the agency in 2009, at which point Rivera stopped paying the company.

Accounting for temp workers in employment law

As businesses continue to face difficulties in Columbus, Ohio, many look to temporary staffing agencies to help them fill positions without having to commit to providing employee benefits and liability coverage. And while temp agencies do serve an important purpose and have helped many companies throughout the country keep their doors open, serious concerns have been raised over workplace and employment conditions for temporary employees and subcontractors. That is why legislation has been proposed in one state to allow plaintiffs to present employment litigation against their host company in the event the staffing agency infringes upon their employee rights.

According to one investigation, employment law issues like wage and hour disputes were among the highest in the temporary staffing agency industry. And beyond that, evidence suggests that temporary workers are often placed in unsafe working conditions that contribute to high rates of serious injuries. One example of the substandard employment conditions that some temp workers are subjected to include an incident in Massachusetts where a temp agency failed to properly compensate workers for overtime labor on the grounds that the name brand company they contracted with allegedly didn’t pay enough.

The extent and limitations of intellectual property rights

Columbus, Ohio, entrepreneurs and inventors are often so invested in realizing their ideas that addressing issues concerning trademarks and patents are not necessarily at the top of their priority lists. In fact, many people involved in new business ventures rely on the limited information they have on intellectual property matters without spending much time learning about the processes necessary to properly protect their work. In order to avoid potential issues like patent and copyright infringement, provided are a few key points every creator should keep in mind.
The race is on
When it comes to patent law, the United States now upholds “first to file” standards, which means that time can be of the essence when it comes to applying for intellectual property rights. Seeking the sound legal advice of an experienced intellectual property attorney can go a long way to ensure that your patent application is filed correctly the first time.

Student athletes win fight for employment contracts

While workers throughout the state of Ohio are confronted with employment law issues every day, they are also entitled to many state and federal legal resources to help them resolve their disputes. That may not be the case, however, for an entire demographic of workers that are not technically recognized as employees. In an effort to gain access to work-related rights like collective bargaining, one college football team pursued an employment litigation case to officially be recognized as employees of their university.

The College Athletes Players Association (CAPA) believes that university football players should be considered employees because they receive monetary compensation for their labor. Academic scholarships are awarded to players on the basis of their performance on the field, and that performance ultimately benefits the college/employer. According to CAPA, college athletes should therefore be entitled to employment-related benefits like collective bargaining so that they have access to improved medical coverage and playing opportunities.

Major fast food chain faces another employment law dispute

When talking about issues like wage rates and employment conditions for fast food workers throughout the state of Ohio and beyond, politics often enter the discussion. And while it may be true that there is a political element to some employment law issues, many disputes are rooted in incidents of unlawful discrimination and other illegal employment practices. One of the largest fast food chains in the country is facing a major wage and overtime dispute involving numerous plaintiffs in three states.

In the state of California alone, McDonald’s is identified as the defendant in a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 25,000 former and current employees. Approximately 100 separate McDonald’s are included in the suit, which is supported by the Service Employees International Union. The union is invested in efforts to establish collective representation for fast food workers and increase wages rates.

Appeals Court disagrees with EEOC over FMLA dispute

While the majority of people employed throughout the state of Ohio may not be familiar with employment law organizations like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), those that have been confronted by any number of employment-related issues have likely heard of the federal agency. The EEOC plays a major role in workplace litigation around the country, and investigates thousands of employment discrimination cases every year. And while the EEOC has championed the rights of workers for years, there is no guarantee that the opinions of the Commission will be upheld in court. One woman’s workplace discrimination lawsuit was denied recently despite the support of the EEOC.

The EEOC filed a court briefing with an Iowa appeals court on behalf of a woman the agency determined had experienced discrimination in the workplace. The federal agency agreed with the woman’s claims that she was subject to pregnancy and sex discrimination after returning to work following maternity leave with Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. in 2012. According to the plaintiff in the discrimination lawsuit, she was forced to resign from her position after an incident where she allegedly faced unreasonable criticism over her work productivity and need to breast-feed.

Unfair competition claims over merger disputed by fed agency

While the majority of businesses in Columbus, Ohio, and across the country may never have to deal with issues and/or accusations regarding unlawful mergers and monopolies, such concerns can lead to high profile business litigation cases. After facing allegations of creating unfair competition in the airlines industry with their merger, American Airlines and US Airways recently gained the approval of a major federal agency to become American Airlines Group Inc.

Before the two airlines could officially join forces the merger had to be approved by a federal judge, and that process involved being subject to an investigation by the U. S. Justice Department. The Justice Department recently completed its inquiry into the dealings of the two airlines and found that the agreement that was established for the merger is appropriate.

Employment law watchdog may be guilty of discrimination

In order to implement and enforce employment law guidelines concerning issues like harassment and/or discrimination, such policies must be approached with objectivity and consistency on every level. It’s for that reason that Ohio state and federal legislation is upheld by several agencies throughout different industries. Concerns may be raised, however, when those agencies charged with monitoring business practices and employment litigation are themselves accused of condoning illegal employment law practices.

Any action and/or policy that affects a group (i.e. protected class) of people more than another may be considered discriminatory and can be accused of having a disparate impact on said class. For instance, businesses are not allowed to design services around favoring some customers over others. Agencies like the U. S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) are in place to monitor the dealings of various establishments in different industries to ensure that they are fair and unbiased.

New employment contracts reflect pension changes

When it comes to issues like employment contracts and union negotiations in Ohio, the ultimate goal typically is to reach an agreement that addresses the concerns and needs of employees while not hindering productivity or profits for the company. Give and take is necessary on both sides of the table and both parties should be ready to compromise. Major changes are coming to the employee benefit program at a leading aviation corporation as a result of union negotiations.

In an effort to cement the presence of one unionized Boeing plant in Seattle, Washington, union members with the company agreed to switch to a 401(k) retirement plan from their current pension program. Many employees hired with the corporation are already on the 401(k) program since it previously applied to new hires and many employees that are not union members. Now, however, everyone from nonunion company executives to new employees will be impacted by the shift away from pension benefits.

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