Re-Opening Risks and Liabilities for Businesses in the Era of COVID-19*

As businesses throughout North Carolina begin to plan for and undertake re-opening, concern for the safety of customers and employees is a central focus for many. Prudent businesses of all types or areas including, for example, realtors, management companies, construction companies, retailers, and accountants or other professionals, should also pause to consider and understand their potential liability to those customers, employees and third-parties they serve, utilize and otherwise come into contact with while fulfilling their business functions. A business’ risk, however, isn’t as straightforward or simple as most of us would assume or like, and assessing your potential liability requires … Continue reading

Notices Required by Employers in the Era of COVID-19

Employers have long been required, in accordance with various federal and state laws and regulations, to provide notices to their employees concerning their rights.  Thanks to COVID-19, most North Carolina employers can add to that list.  In particular, employers should be aware of the following additional notices obligations: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) provides employees of covered employers with paid sick and other leave related to COVID-19.  Employers are required to post notices to employees, which posters can be downloaded for free at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic. Pursuant to newly enacted, emergency rule 04 NCAC 24G .0102, employers must, at the … Continue reading

Annual Reports Due April 15, 2020

It’s that time of year again when most entities, with only a few exceptions (such as non-profits), that conduct business within the State of North Carolina are required to file an Annual Report with the North Carolina Secretary of State.  More specifically, entities will be required to both submit their Annual Report and to pay the accompanying fee by April 15, 2020. Annual Reports can be filed quickly and easily through the North Carolina Secretary of State’s user-friendly website (https://www.sosnc.gov/divisions/business_registration).  Although it may be tempting to click through the screens to quickly complete and submit the filing, business officers and … Continue reading

Parental Liability

A Guide for North Carolina & South Carolina Parents As the mother of two young children, I would like to think that my kids will always follow the rules, obey the law, and make good decisions.  The realist in me knows, however, that they won’t always act as they should or as they’ve been taught.  So what is my liability or legal exposure for the conduct of my children?  Can I be held financially responsible for their wrongdoing? Generally speaking, parents are not required to act as insurers against wrongs, harms, or damages inflicted by their children.  This maxim, however, … Continue reading

Annual Report Reminder

Entities conducting business within the State of North Carolina are required, with only a few exceptions, to file an Annual Report with the North Carolina Secretary of State every year by April 15th and to pay the accompanying fee with their submission. It is an easy task to overlook, but one that business owners or officers should take care not to miss!  While an entity caught sleeping will not likely be dissolved immediately, failure to file Annual Reports will eventually result in its administrative dissolution, thus leaving individual owners exposed to personal liability for debts and other wrongs that might … Continue reading

Update on Changes to Overtime Requirements Under Fair Labor Standards Act

The Fair Labor Standards Act (commonly referred to as the FLSA) applies to most employers throughout our country and, indirectly, their employees.  The FLSA sets the floor or minimum wage that must be paid to employees and dictates when employers are required to pay overtime to their employees.  An exception to such overtime requirement has long existed for administrative employees paid a set salary in excess of $23,600.00 per year.  In 2016, the Department of Labor announced changes to the minimum salary level, which changes would have raised the threshold to $47,476.00 per year.  Shortly before the changes were to … Continue reading

Avoiding an Un-Jolly End to the Holiday Fun: What Property Owners and Hosts Need to Know about Premises and Host Liability

The holiday season is a special time of year filled with visitors, get-togethers and mingling.  Most of us are already looking ahead to the joys of family and friends visiting, carolers, parties and yummy food aplenty.  Regrettably, the festivities of the season also open the door or create ripe opportunities for potential for liability.   Property owners and hosts need not, however, turn themselves into Scrooge; rather, personal liability can be avoided or greatly reduced simply by keeping in mind these potential issues and obligations: Premises Liability: North Carolina property owners may be held liable for injuries occurring on their property … Continue reading

Personalizing Your Personal Injury Claim

When people find out that I am an attorney, it is not uncommon for them to share with me their own experiences with the law.  Most often, these recollections involve a claim for personal injuries they suffered due to the negligence of a third party, like in a car crash or a slip and fall.  As a member of the legal profession, it is gratifying to hear when someone had legal representation and was pleased with the assistance they received.  All too often, however, the stories conveyed to me involve their dissatisfaction with the attorney retained or, for those who … Continue reading

AVOIDING CORPORATE DEADLOCK

Corporations, limited liability companies and other entities have become a standard resource or mechanism to help individuals shield themselves from personal liability when going into business, holding investments, or otherwise entering into a variety of undertakings.  The ever increasing use of such structures, however, can sometimes lead to other, unanticipated problems, particularly when the shareholders or directors of an entity cannot agree on matters impacting the entity.  In a worst case scenario, disagreements can escalate and eventually lead to complete gridlock, negating many of the advantages and corporate opportunities that once existed. In order to avoid such gridlock and protect … Continue reading

Changes to Overtime Requirements Under Fair Labor Standards Act Blocked

Employers and employees throughout the United States were significantly impacted yesterday following the issuance of a nationwide preliminary injunction entered by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. But for the Court’s ruling, which held that the Department of Labor exceeded the authority delegated to it by Congress in making changes to the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), new regulations modifying the long-standing overtime requirements were set to go into effect, after approximately two years of public comment, consideration and advance notice, on December 1, 2016. Today, many employees and employers, who have … Continue reading

Corporate Veil or Corporate Fail?

By creating a corporate entity (whether it is an S-Corporation, C-Corporation or a limited liability company), many smart business owners seek to create an additional layer of protection between their personal assets or that of their family and the potential liability that can arise when operating a business. Unfortunately, what many do not realize is that simply creating the entity isn’t necessarily enough to achieve or maintain that protection. After the Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Organization, depending upon whether you decided to create a corporation or a limited liability company, have been filed and accepted by the North … Continue reading

ANNUAL REPORTS DUE TO NORTH CAROLINA SECRETARY OF STATE

With only a few exceptions (for instance, non-profit corporations), entities are required to file an Annual Report with the North Carolina Secretary of State by April 15th and to pay the accompanying fee with their submission.  Some business owners may not realize this requirement, while others may be so busy attending to the day-to-day affairs of their business that they forget to do so. The process to file an Annual Report with the North Carolina Secretary of State is not difficult.  Many individuals quickly handle the task themselves online or allow their accountant to do so when preparing their tax … Continue reading

Criminals Need Not Apply

Employers today face a wide variety of concerns when hiring new employees.  Can the business afford the costs associated with additional personnel?  What job functions must the new employee satisfy?  What skillsets are required?  How is the newly hired individual going to interact with its customers and, just as importantly, its other employees? More and more often, employers are turning to pre-employment criminal background checks as a means of answering or managing the perceived risk associated with at least some of these questions.  Seem reasonable?  Perhaps, but such checks can also open the door to even greater problems and potential … Continue reading

Employer Restrictions on Social Media Postings

Rare is the business entity that is completely detached from one form or another of social media. Indeed, a significant portion of businesses today directly utilize the benefits offered by social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. And even when a business does not itself engage in social media postings or tweets, you can rest assured that its employees do and will! So how can a business ensure that the messages posted on its social media platforms, as well as those posted about it by its employees on theirs, help promote the image it desires rather than hurt? How … Continue reading