Common Legal Issues faced by Businesses and Small Business Owners
Owning and operating a business comes with many perks but also some disadvantages - the looming threat of civil litigation being one of them. Lawsuits can cause considerable damage to your business' reputation and finances. Here are some of the most common factors that lead to legal issues for businesses:
Workers can form unions to increase their bargaining power against their employer to better their working conditions. This power also gives them the ability to come together and prepare a lawsuit if needed. Make sure to have a terminated employee sign documents drafted by a lawyer to ensure the terms of dismissal are clearly stated. It is essential to be familiar with workers rights to avoid inadvertently breaking any laws. Failure to do so leaves the door open for legal action against your company.
Discrimination or Harassment Cases
Whether it be sexual, age, ethnic or otherwise, discrimination in all of its forms can cause serious issues for your business. Ensure legal and human resources departments are well-suited to handle these issues adequately if they arise. When hiring, have all of the applicants' resumes on hand to prove you are making your selection regardless of ethnicity, age, or gender. Hold meetings regularly to oversee relations between employees and ensure discrimination is not occurring on a smaller scale. Office cliques should not be influencing decisions made by lower and middle management.
Sexual, racist or any other type of harassment can quickly turn a workplace toxic. Having periodic meetings to address employee concerns and reiterate company policy helps eliminate the likelihood of these offences occurring. Serious transgressions should be dealt with quickly by terminating offenders. Discrimination and harassment victims garner lots of media attention, which can damage your company's reputation and drain your budget. Be proactive by ridding your business of these problems before they start.
Make sure everyone in your company is legally able to work in Canada. Use police background checks to ensure false documents do not get past your management. Businesses found to be using illegal labour face crippling penalties.
Patent and Copyright Issues
Many companies in the tech and creative industries must deal with aggressive patent and copyright lawsuits. Be sure to do thorough research during the development phase of every project, or risk a messy legal battle should cross into a competitor's territory.
Upset consumers can file class-action lawsuits by gathering a large group of customers to fight a company over broken promises, misleading services, or faulty products. These lawsuits can break your brand's image beyond repair. Be proactive about issues that arise by having sufficient tech support in place and recalling flawed products. Consumers appreciate companies that are honest about their shortcomings rather than those that try to cover them up.
Other Legal Issues
These are just a handful of the legal problems businesses face today. Several others include tax litigation and disputes with contractors and competitors. A hands-on approach and effective communication goes a long way with both employees and consumers when issues arise. For more information of how a Corporate Lawyer can help you, click here.
Please feel free to call on the Corporate Lawyers at Verhaeghe to help you with your start-up business, small business or medium to large business. We assist corporate businesses across Alberta to help them get in front of situations before they become big problems. As small business owners ourselves, we understand the challenges being faced by business owners in these new uncertain economic times. CONTACT US.