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The Woodlands Business & Commercial Law Blog

Texas business litigation: Age discrimination lawsuits

Business owners in Texas and elsewhere face a number of issues throughout the course of owning and operating their companies, many of which may result in unhappy consumers, employees or potential employees taking legal actions. When it comes to employee issues, discrimination claims are fairly common. Fortunately, by taking appropriate steps to stop or, better yet, prevent discriminatory actions from occurring in one's company, business litigation claims can be avoided or, at least, swiftly resolved.

Recently, legal claims were filed against the popular restaurant chain Texas Roadhouse. According to a recent report, over 50 men and women are claiming that they are the victims of age discrimination due to the companies hiring practices. One woman in particular came forward to share her story.

Texas businesses: Buying a franchise

When ready to open a business, there are a variety of things that will need to be considered. One such thing may be deciding whether one should go into business alone or buy into a franchise. Franchising businesses in Texas or elsewhere, while to some may seem easier than going it alone, are not free of issues. However, assistance is available to help a franchise owner start off on a good note by creating a business plan, setting goals and securing all necessary legal protections.

Why might one consider buying a franchise? There is a sense of security when buying into a reputable and successful company. While it still takes a lot of work to get one's personal location off the ground, having the association with an already well-known company may assist in that location's success.

Texas business litigation: Suing for nonpayment

Texas business owners who are in the market of selling supplies to other companies may feel they often get the short end of the stick. It is not uncommon for buyers to withhold payments for one reason or another, and while suppliers are lenient to an extent, there comes a time when enough is enough. This type of situation is one in which business litigation actions may be necessary.

The issue between American Apparel and one of its suppliers is an example of this problem. American Apparel has -- for reasons unknown -- allegedly failed to make payments to one of its suppliers. Some believe market volatility is partially to blame for businesses choosing to hoard cash rather than make agreed upon payments.

Leasing or purchasing commercial real estate? Talk to an attorney

Whether just starting out or expanding, business owners in Texas and elsewhere have a lot of expenses. One of the biggest of them is acquiring commercial space. Whether leasing or buying, there are a lot of things to consider. Having an attorney on hand throughout the entire process can help business owners get what they want out of their desired real estate arrangements and ensure all legal issues are appropriately addressed before any documents are signed.

How can an attorney help when it comes to matters of real estate? For those looking to lease property, legal counsel can review leases, negotiate certain provisions and ensure that final documents sufficiently represent their interests. While, yes, these are all things business owners can do on their own, it is not uncommon for landlords to try and pass off leases as non-negotiable or for potential tenants to miss information in agreements that can hurt them later. An experienced attorney will be able to navigate the negotiations process and help business owners achieve lease terms that will serve them best.

Texas construction disputes: Work never completed

Commercial and residential property owners in Texas and elsewhere spend a significant sum of money throughout the years in order to keep their properties in shape. Some will try to save money and do work themselves, while some jobs simply require the use of professionals. What happens, though, when work that is paid for is never completed? Construction disputes of this nature are, unfortunately, common.

A woman in another state recently filed a complaint against the company she hired to fix her roof. According to her claim, she paid the roofing company nearly $24,000 for services, services she says were never rendered. She also asserts that the proper work permits were never obtained in order for the company to even start the work.

Any benefits for businesses that hire independent contractors?

While a lot can be said for employee loyalty, there are some business owners in Texas and elsewhere who may feel that there are more benefits to hiring independent contractors. This decision should not be made cavalierly or without considering company plans and goals. So, what -- if any -- benefits can hiring staff at this status provide for businesses?

Financially speaking, there are quite a few benefits for employers who hire independent contractors. For one, company owners will not be responsible for withholding any taxes; they simply cut checks for services rendered. Secondly, independent contractors are typically not granted any company benefits. Those hired as traditional employees may be given health and retirement benefits and are often entitled to workers' compensation coverage, but the same cannot be said for independent contractors. This can save employers a great deal of money in the long run.

Businesses must adapt to compete: Spotify versus Apple

The business world can be difficult to navigate. It is hard enough to get businesses off the ground, let alone keep up with competitors. However, companies, whether in Texas or elsewhere, will have to adapt in order to compete -- which is not necessarily easy.

One great example of a smaller company adapting in order to compete with a larger firm is Spotify versus Apple. Apple, of course, is a massive corporation with a well-known worldwide presence. This company offers a variety of devices and services. Spotify, a music streaming company, has grown significantly and offers a service that is used by customers throughout the world.

Protection from business litigation losses

While employers can do a lot of things to help avoid potential lawsuits, they still happen. The losses some may experience as a result can greatly impact their businesses. Business litigation, for whatever the reason, can be costly if appropriate protections are not put in place. It can be difficult for company owners, whether in Texas or elsewhere, to know exactly what is needed to ensure their companies are fully covered.

Some of the most common legal complaints company owners will face throughout the lives of their businesses are in regard to employment practices. Employees, both current and former, may file claims for discrimination, harassment, wage complaints and various other issues in an effort to seek compensation for any losses they believe they have incurred at the hands of their employers. In the past two years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has received approximately 200,000 complaints by disgruntled employees and has achieved about $700 million in damages for those individuals.

The acquisitions of businesses in Texas

Business acquisitions can be brutal -- to say the least. As a buyer, obviously, the goal of taking over a company would be to do so in a way that improves one's bottom line. Negotiations can be difficult, though, as reaching terms that meet the needs of both sides sufficiently can take time. Before spending too much time, effort and money on the process of buying businesses in Texas, potential buyers can state their desired terms of purchase in an acquisition letter of intent.

While there are many important terms that can be included in a letter of intent, details about exclusivity may be at the top of a buyer's concerns. Gaining exclusive rights to negotiate with a business owner regarding an acquisition will give the buyer more time to research and discuss the terms of the purchase. Without this, a potential buyer will likely be one of many, and having such competition can make it difficult to secure a deal that is best for one's future goals.

Home-based businesses and avoiding insurance disputes

Those in Texas who run home-based businesses may not feel they need all the same insurance protections as other companies. This line of thinking, though, can cause problems and even lead to insurance disputes. Just because a business is run from someone's home does not mean that company-related items will be covered in the event of accidents, litigation, theft or disaster.

Numerous people across the state run businesses from their homes, which has various benefits. Some may feel, though, that their companies are too small to warrant the expense of business insurance. The truth is, many homeowner or rental insurance policies do not cover losses that are associated with home-based businesses.