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Cincinnati Business and Commercial Litigation Legal Blog

What are the different types of governance structures that exist?

Many Ohio companies have what's referred to as corporate governance structures in place. These are policies, controls and guidelines that businesses establish to meet their objectives. There are three types of governance structures including, internal and external mechanisms and independent audits.

Internal mechanisms establish reporting lines and performance measures that help monitor an organization's activities to ensure the business stays on track. Some internal mechanisms include oversight of management, independent internal audits, levels of responsibility for the board of directors and policy development and control segregation.

Why might you need to remove a trustee?

A trust owner's goal when selecting a trustee is to find someone that will handle distributions of assets per their preferences. Unfortunately, things don't always go according to plan. It may become necessary to remove a trustee before or after your death.

There are many reasons why it might be appropriate to remove a trustee.

What is (and isn't) sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is a type of discrimination that is sadly commonplace in many Ohio workplaces. You must know that not all ill-treatment constitutes sexual harassment. Any unwelcome comments or conduct related to your gender, sexual orientation or sex, in general, may be considered as sexual harassment, however.

There is a difference between sexual and non-sexual harassment. The latter is discrimination explicitly based on a person's disability, religion, nationality, race, ethnicity, age or belonging to another protected class.

Are you ready for an employee lawsuit?

While it may be true that today's society is too easily offended, it is also true that many workers must fight for their right to fair treatment in the workplace. As an employer, you may do your best to protect those rights, but you still operate your Ohio business under the real possibility that an unhappy employee will file a lawsuit against you. In fact, about 10% of small business owners deal with lawsuits, and at least 43% of small businesses face the stress of litigation or threats of litigation.

A lawsuit requires your time, attention, money and resources. It is certain to divert your employees from the mission of the company and even damage staff morale. Litigation can devastate your business as well as take its toll on you personally. However, with smart planning, you may be able to avoid such losses and minimize the damage without opening yourself to additional legal hassles.

Is silencing a worker with a nondisclosure agreement unlawful?

Many Cincinnati business owners have their employees sign nondisclosure agreements (NDA) either when they take on their jobs or before a promotion happens. While it's lawful for employers to have their workers sign these agreements in most cases, it's unlawful for them to do so as a way to silence an employee who witnessed or fell victim to a crime. Ohio courts might throw out an NDA if you forced a worker to sign one for this reason.

There have been many media reports that have surfaced over the past few years about employers who have used NDAs to stop workers from reporting how hostile their workplace is. Businesses like the Weinstein Company, for example, allegedly forced some of its female workers to sign NDAs to keep their jobs when they threatened to go public with sexual harassment accusations.

How do mergers and joint ventures differ?

There's a difference between a merger and a joint venture. A merger involves two companies coming together to form one new company, meaning that the two former companies no longer exist in the end. A joint venture consists of the creation of a new, separate company. The two original companies remain in existence in the case of the latter.

Two companies may be thinking about coming together and forming a merger; however, they may want to test the waters first to see if it's a good fit. A joint venture allows two companies to operate together in a limited scope, without being fully committed to proceeding forward as a single entity.

What you need to know if you hire young teens this summer

Teens can be an excellent source of summer labor in many lines of work They can help fill the gaps left by employees in offices who are taking vacation time, help out in stores and restaurants and even assist with farm chores.

However, just because a teen may be willing and able to do just about any job and work long hours every day, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's legal. You need to know and adhere to federal and state child labor laws.

What are shareholders' and board of directors' responsibilities?

The individuals that join together to form a corporation are referred to as shareholders. They're the people or companies that make a financial investment in the corporation. They gain some rights over a company in exchange for making a financial investment in it.

Shareholders generally have no direct involvement in the corporation other than having voting rights over it. A shareholder's voting shares allow them to elect or remove directors on the board if they're not satisfied with their performance.

Are disagreements with your business partner leaving you worried?

The excitement that can come along with opening the doors to a new business can often mask warning signs that something is not right. Maybe you and your business partner had more differences in opinion and concerns over certain matters than you wanted to focus on. Instead, you may both have subconsciously decided to gloss over potential problems in efforts to get the company off the ground.

Unfortunately, avoiding the issues at the start may have only allowed certain problems to get worse. As a result, you and your business partner end up at odds more often than you would like, and it is starting to affect the company overall.

Tips for developing an employee dress code

Workplace attire has grown increasingly casual over the years. Long gone are the Mad Men days when men all wore suits and ties and women wore dresses and high heels -- even if they never left the workplace or interacted with customers or clients.

However, maybe you're "business casual" policy has devolved into an increasing number of employees wearing tank tops, flip-flops, torn jeans and t-shirts with questionable slogans. Even if they're not seeing having meetings with clients in the office, you'd like a more professional workplace. How do you develop a dress code, and what potential legal pitfalls should you watch out for?

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