“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like… Terminations This Holiday Season”

holiday partyGiven the recent tidal wave of allegations of sexual harassment in politics, the entertainment industry, and social media, employers may want consider the following guidelines in preparation for their company holiday events where alcohol and off-site events may create a combustible mix of unwanted behavior by one employee to another.

Holiday parties may be an excellent opportunity for employees to socialize outside of the confines of the office, and to reward employees for their service, but they can also give rise to employer liability in the absence of appropriate precautions. Before planning your next holiday soiree, review the potential pitfalls and solutions below so that your event can be full of cheer, rather than unpleasant lawsuits.

  1. Serving Alcohol at Company Functions

wine glassesWhile having alcohol available may make typical water cooler conversations less awkward, and can be a way for people to let off steam and celebrate, it can lead to liability for employers in the form of vicarious liability, sexual harassment, social host liability, and other potential issues. Continue reading

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New DOL Rule Increases Minimum Salary Requirements for Exempt Employees Starting 12/01/16

12/01/16: This Rule is currently on hold, per court order. Please read the latest article for news updates on this topic.

On May 23, 2016, the Department of Labor announced a new, final rule that will take effect on December 1, 2016. To the relief of employers, the new rule does not make any changes to the criteria for classifying employees as exempt. Employers can continue to classify employees as exempt or non-exempt under the same duties tests and criteria they used in the past. However, the principal change comes in the form of several heightened minimum salary requirements.

The DOL estimates that in the first year as many as 4.2 million workers would either need to: (1) be reclassified as non-exempt and paid overtime whenever they work more than 40 hours in a workweek; or (2) receive an increase in their salary to meet the new requirement.

exempt-well-maybeUnder the new rule, the minimum annual salary for exempt employees will more than double, from $23,660 ($455 per week) to $47,476 ($921 a week). The minimum annual salary for highly compensated employees will also increase from $100,000 to $134,004. Furthermore, these minimums will continue to automatically increase every three years.

In a new addition to the rule, employers will now be permitted to satisfy up to 10 percent of the annual salary level through non-discretionary bonus and incentive payments, including commissions. Payments to health insurance policies, however, may not be used to satisfy the salary requirement. Continue reading

When and How Must an Employee Be Compensated for Travel Time?

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There are various factors that influence whether an employee must be compensated for his or her travel time to a new work site, or for off-site employment activity. One of the main factors to consider is whether the employee is actually engaging in travel as part of the employer’s principal activity or, whether the employee is engaging in travel for the convenience of the employer.

At the federal level, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the primary law governing travel pay. The standard asks whether the employee’s time is spent primarily for the benefit of the employer. It also includes time spent, even if not doing work, but under the control of the employer, such as on-site, on-call time.

Pursuant to California’s Labor Code, the standard comes down to whether the employee is

subject to the control of the employer; the concept of “control” is narrower than federal standard. While the federal and state laws overlap, California’s Labor Code is of course generally more liberal and more protective of employees.

California Law

The definition of hours worked is found in the Industrial Welfare Commission Orders, and refers to the time during which the employee is subject to the control travel-timeof an employer, and includes all the time the employee is “suffered or permitted to work,” whether or not required to do so. State law does not distinguish between hours worked during the “normal” working hours, or hours worked outside “normal” working hours, nor does it distinguish between hours worked in connection with an overnight out-of-town assignment. Continue reading

“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like… Lawsuits This Holiday Season”

Although holiday parties may be an excellent opportunity for employees to socialize outside of the confines of the office, and to reward employees for their service, they can also give rise to employer liability in the absence of appropriate precautions. Before planning your next holiday soiree, review the potential pitfalls and solutions below so that your event can be full of cheer, rather than unpleasant lawsuits.

  1. Serving Alcohol at Company Functions

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While having alcohol available may make typical water cooler conversations less awkward, it can lead to liability for employers in the form of vicarious liability, sexual harassment, social host liability, and other potential issues.

Even though refraining from serving alcohol altogether is the safest option, in the event that your company plans to serve alcohol at you next function, keep the following tips in mind: Continue reading

The Grady Firm Co-Sponsors event for Businesses Starting or Relocating Within California with LA Mayor’s and Governor’s Office

 

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On September 27, 2016, The Grady Firm co-sponsored an event with the LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce geared towards companies that are doing business in, or relocating to, California.  The event was attended by local business owners; members of the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce;  Jeff Malin, Senior Business Development Specialist at Governor Brown’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz); Eric Eide, Director of Mayor Garcetti’s Office of International Trade; and Jennifer Grady, Esq., business and immigration attorney at The Grady Firm, P.C. Continue reading

Much Anticipated Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Report for Southern California Released at SelectLA

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Jennifer Grady, Esq. recently participated in the Select LA 2016 Investment Summit. SelectLA is the precursor to SelectUSA, a federal division of the Department of Commerce that seeks to attract international businesses to the United States. An international and domestic audience of more than 350 investors and business people attended the SelectLA summit on June 17, 2016 at the JW Marriott in downtown Los Angeles.  Panelists included Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, President of World Trade Center Los Angeles Stephen Cheung, as well as many other top officials from various Los Angeles organizations such as LA Metro, Los Angeles World Airports, and the Los Angeles Ports.

Summary of FDI Report

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From left: Rodrigo Mladinic Dragicevic, Chilean Trade Commissioner; Jennifer Grady, The Grady Firm; Stephen Cheung, President of World Trade Center Los Angeles

At the summit, the World Trade Center Los Angeles released its much anticipated and expansive Foreign Direct Investment report for Southern California.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is a common way for private entities and individuals, both in developed and less developed nations, to increase their wealth and capital by investing beyond their national borders. In 2015, global FDI flows amounted to nearly $1.7 trillion, making it the highest level of international capital flows in the last eight years. The United States is the recipient of more FDI than any other country, and in 2015 received $384 billion in FDI flows, the highest level since 2000. Continue reading

URGENT: Employers MUST Post New Federal Minimum Wage and Polygraph Posters By August 1, 2016

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ATTENTION all Employers:

The Department of Labor recently revised the federal mandatory minimum wage and polygraph posters that employers must post in the workplace.

Although the federal minimum wage did not change, the new minimum wage poster now contains information regarding the consequences of incorrectly classifying workers as independent contractors, in addition to a new section on the rights of nursing mothers.

The new federal polygraph poster now contains updated contact information for the Department of Labor, and no longer contains a reference to the penalty amount of up to $10,000 for violation of the law.

employment posterEmployers are required to post the updated posters in a conspicuous area of the workplace by no later than August 1, 2016. Continue reading

Minimum Wage & Paid Sick Leave Law Updates for California Cities and Counties

On April 4, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed the “Fair Wage Act of 2016,” a bill that aims to increase California’s minimum wage to $15.00 per hour by the year 2022. Under California law, employers must also offer employees at least 3 days, or 24 hours, of sick leave per year. This statewide law applies to all cities and counties within the state of California. However, some cities within California have chosen to add to the statewide laws with their own more expansive minimum wage and paid sick leave ordinances. As it can be difficult for employers to keep track of all these constant changes, we have taken the time to highlight some of those changes in several major California cities.

CALIFORNIA STATE LAW- ALL COUNTIES

As of January 1, 2016 the required minimum wage for the state of California is $10.00 per hour. On January 1, 2017, the minimum wage for business with 26 employees or more will increase to $10.50 an hour. On January 1, 2018 it will increase to $11.00 an hour and by $1 each subsequent year until it reaches $15.00 in 2022. Employers with 25 employees or less will have an extra year to comply with the new law, and the wage increase will not go into effect until January 1, 2018.

In addition, any employee who works in California for 30 or more days is entitled to receive paid sick leave. An employer is required to provide a minimum of 3 days of sick leave per year, and after 90 days of employment an employee may begin to accrue sick leave at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked. Accrued sick leave may be carried over to the next year, however an employer may choose to cap the amount of paid six leave an employee may use per year to 6 days or 48 hours.

Notice to Employees

Employers must provide notice of these laws to employees by: (1) Displaying the state’s official poster; (2) Including paid sick leave information in the wage notices of nonexempt employees; and (3) Including the amount of paid sick leave available in the employees’ wage statements. Employers must also keep records documenting hours worked and paid sick leave accrued for the last 3 years.

These minimum statewide laws apply to all cities and counties in California, and includes the regions below.

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Jennifer Grady, Esq. Addresses Investors at Sold-Out SelectUSA Investor Academy in Washington D.C.

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John McKiel, Mario de Castro, Jennifer Grady, Esq., Ron Palladino, and Rahul Beri address a sold-out crowd of foreign investors and entrepreneurs

On June 19, 2016, Jennifer Grady, Esq. spoke to over 350 attendees at the SelectUSA Summit Academy, a precursor to the SelectUSA Investment Summit the following day.  The Summit Academy is an orientation for participants from companies, state and local governments, and economic development organizations (EDOs) to provide information and practical tips on topics such as regulations and investment incentives, investor visas, and analytical tools to better understand current foreign direct investment (FDI) and reshoring trends.

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Raul Beri and Jennifer Grady, Esq., Summit Academy Panelists

The SelectUSA Investment Summit is the highest-profile event in the world dedicated to promoting foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States. This signature event provides an unparalleled opportunity to bring together companies from all over the globe, economic development organizations from every corner of the nation, and other parties working to facilitate business investment in the United States. Featuring senior government officials, C-Suite business executives, and other thought leaders, each summit focuses on a timely theme related to the U.S. investment environment, industry trends, and new opportunities.

Summit Academy

As part of the “Investor Track,”  Ms. Grady and her fellow panelists, Mario de Castro, Ron Palladino, and Rahul Beri, and moderator John McKiel, spoke to a sold-out academy about tax, visa, and banking tips for foreign entrepreneurs and investors.  The panelists also provided “best practices” advice to help guide the audience through the process of establishing a business in the United States.  Mr. Beri provide a real-world example of the success he had with expanding his business, Teknol to the state of New York. Continue reading

Santa Monica, CA Minimum Wage Increase to Take Effect on July 1, 2016

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On April 28, 2016, the Santa Monica City Council adopted a mandatory minimum wage increase to $10.50 per hour, which will take effect on July 1, 2016.

Santa Monica’s new ordinance mirrors the minimum wage laws adopted by Los Angeles earlier this year. Continue reading

Jennifer Grady Esq. to Participate in SelectLA International Investor Summit; Keynote Speech by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti

NEW-Select-LA-Logo-4-11-16-166x300On June 16 and 17, 2016, Jennifer Grady, Esq. will be attending the SelectLA International Investor Summit in downtown Los Angeles, California.  SelectLA is is Southern California’s premier international trade event at which local leaders in business and government will gather with investors from around the globe in order to facilitate foreign direct investment and provide exclusive insights on opportunities in the Los Angeles region. SelectLA is hosted by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (@LAEDC).  Ms. Grady will be one of the local experts with whom international investors can consult on business and immigration issues during the business matchmaking session on June 17.

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SelectLA’s 2015 VIP Reception

This year, the event kicks off with a VIP reception at Fox Studios on June 16, followed by a day of corporate matchmaking, education, and presentations on June 17. The keynote speaker will be Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Last year, speakers included Larry Kurzweil (President & COO, Universal Studios Hollywood); Peter Rice (Chairman & CEO, Fox Networks Group); Chance Barnett (CEO, Crowdfunder), Ted Craver (CEO, Edison International); and Michael Antonovich (Chairman, LA County Board of Supervisors). Continue reading

Starting or Relocating a Business Within California? Check out these Little-Known Tax and Setup Incentives

california.unsplashby Jennifer Grady, Esq.

The State of California offers numerous incentives and assistance programs to  businesses of all sizes and industries that are considering expansion into the Golden State, whether they plan to have 3, 50, or 20,000+ employees.

From tax breaks, to help with site selection, to employee training, and development bonds, there are numerous government-sponsored programs in place to help small to large businesses successfully transition to opening business in the state. Below are some examples of the types of business support available in California.

Programs and Services from GO-Biz, The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development

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GO-Biz will conduct a confidential site selection search on your behalf, or provide you with a broker to guide you through the local commercial real estate market.

In addition, GO-Biz will send out a Request for Information to city managers and economic development departments to obtain off-market information about city, state, and county-owned properties available for lease for discounted rates, even as little as $1.00 per year.

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Jennifer Grady, Esq. to Attend International Startup “Collision Conference” in New Orleans

3dca05aFor the second year in a row, Jennifer Grady Esq., principal attorney at The Grady Firm P.C., will be attending the third annual Collision Conference hosted in New Orleans, Louisiana, from April 26 to 28, 2016. The conference is strategically scheduled between New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival weekends to highlight New Orleans’ cultural and musical prowess.

The Collision Conference (@CollisionHQ), “America’s fastest growing tech conference”, is a major US technology and entrepreneurship conference hosted by the same entities behind Web Summit in Dublin, Ireland, and F.ounders. The three-day conference will feature thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts from over 100 countries.

In juts two years, Collision has grown to over 7,500 attendees from more than 50 countries. Attendees include CEOs of both the world’s fastest growing startups and the world’s largest companies, alongside leading investors and media.  This year’s speaker panels will include the CEOs from Slack, WeWork, General Electric, WordPress, and Eventbrite, among others. The conference will feature tracks on Coding, Design, E-Commerce, FinTech, Marketing, Music, Social Media, and Sports.

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Ms. Grady with entrepreneurs from Canada, Mexico, and Brazil at Collision 2015

While at the conference, Ms. Grady will be meeting with entrepreneurs who have made the trek from around the US and the globe who to network with investors, speakers, and other entrepreneurs.  She will be providing one-on-one consultations regarding corporate setup, contracts, and immigration issues for business owners.

To schedule a consultation with Ms. Grady at Collision, please fill out a  contact request form.

About Jennifer Grady, Esq.

Founding Attorney, Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.Jennifer A. Grady, Esq. is an attorney, business consultant, and community organizer. Ms. Grady founded the law firm of The Grady Firm, P.C. in 2012 with a passion for helping business owners, entrepreneurs, and their families achieve the American Dream of freedom, opportunity, self-sufficiency, and success. As an international business attorney, she teaches entrepreneurs around the world how to open a business in the United States, and has lectured extensively throughout California, Canada, Chile, Argentina, and the United States on business, immigration, and employment law topics in both English and in Spanish.

Ms. Grady and her team of attorneys at The Grady Firm, P.C. specialize in business, employment, and immigration law for California entrepreneurs, and act the liaison for foreign business owners that wish to expand their operations to the United States.  In order to support their clients throughout the state, The Grady Firm has offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego, and serves clients remotely from across the globe.

To schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with The Grady Firm’s business, employment, and immigration attorneys, call +1 (323) 450-9010, or fill out a Contact Request Form. 

Decreased IRS Mileage Reimbursement Rates for 2016

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© Jennifer Grady

The Internal Revenue Service issued the 2016 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. The rates show a significant decrease from last year’s rates.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2016, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

 

  • 54 cents per mile for business miles driven, down from 57.5 cents for 2015;
  • 19 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, down from 23 cents for 2015; and
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

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Starting or Growing Your Business in California? Check out these state and local tax incentives

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Los Angeles (c) Jennifer Grady

For the entrepreneur beginning the process of establishing a Startup, one of the primary considerations is its location. It is crucial to evaluate the location, incentives available to the company, and the resources available when planning for the future success of the company.

The State of California, Silicon Valley, and Los Angeles County have a variety of incentive programs available to both small and large businesses. While incentives should not be the only reason why one should consider a location, incentives may be one of many factors that could help lead to a final location decision.

Incentive programs typically fall into two categories: legislated and discretionary. State and federal legislated incentives are “on the books” and available to any business that meets stated criteria. Discretionary incentives are customized and provided by certain cities and only for specific projects on a case-by-case basis. In almost every case, discretionary incentives come into play when a community is trying to attract a large business operation that brings significant investment into that community and will have a substantial impact on jobs created.

The Los Angeles County 2015/2016 Business Incentives and Resources Guide describes the federal, state and local business incentives; employee training; business assistance; financial assistance; and additional “green” resources that can help you locate to L.A. County and/or grow your business here. Read below for a sampling of the state level and local tax incentives for 2016.

To learn more about the pros and cons of moving your Startup to Silicon Valley, read this article.

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