After setting up new locations in Texas, N. O. Smelz, owner of Smelz Rug Cleaning, obtained a hazardous waste permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for the disposal of the company’s cleaning chemicals after use. In addition to the permit, the TCEQ issued a compliance plan to Smelz. Because he was too busy managing the financial side of the company, N.O. delegated oversight and implementation of the compliance plan to Wright Handman. Compliance is running smoothly for about a year, but business is growing quickly and Handman doesn’t have time to train Rhule Brecker, a new carpet cleaning technician. In fact, Handman never trains Brecker. During Brecker’s second year on the job, Handman sees that Brecker is pouring the used cleaning chemicals into a storm drain on the street, which violates the compliance plan. Two weeks later, Smelz gets a notice from TCEQ that it believes Smelz is violating the compliance plan and that an investigation will be conducted. Brecker fesses up, and Handman also admits he didn’t train Brecker properly. TCEQ sues Smelz, Handman and Brecker for civil penalties of $50 per day for failing to properly implement the compliance plan. Are Handman and Brecker personally liable to the State?
Running for office, Starr Struuck sent out a campaign newsletter extolling her qualifications and a list of reasons why she should be elected rather than her incumbent opponent. Prominently displayed in her newsletter and website was a personalized and autographed Comic-Con convention photograph of Starr Struuck perched beside wildly popular and well-known Captain Kurff of Star Warp’d. When advised of her campaign literature, Captain Kurff tweeted Struuck demanding that she destroy all copies of the campaign newsletter and remove his likeness from any of her campaign materials as he was not endorsing her. Protesting that she was merely publicly confessing her affection for the Captain and geeky shows generally, Starr resisted. Is Captain Kurff right?
Agreeing with Benjamin Franklin that there is nothing certain except death and taxes, Sketch Wood and his partner Minnie Brix, owners of Wood & Brix, and their 200 employees are certain that the new tax law will affect them, but they are a bit overwhelmed. Looking for an overview, Sketch asked his favorite non-tax lawyer to hit some of the high points of the first significant reform of the U.S. tax code since 1986. Continue Reading New Tax Law – Impacting Your Small Business and You
After not meeting his 2017 sales goals, Ollie B. Celling knows he might get fired from Duncey’s Caps, Inc. if he doesn’t get his numbers up in 2018. Celling begins marketing Duncey’s through his personal Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Soon he thinks he’s hit a home run: a customer from Japan wants to buy 5,000 ballcaps for whatever Major League Baseball team Yu Darvish signs with for the 2018 season. There’s one catch – the customer wants to pay with a new cryptocurrency. Duncey’s contracts require payment in U.S. dollars. Celling goes to Jim Duncey, the owner of Duncey’s, and tells him that Duncey’s should change their contracts to start accepting cryptocurrency because “it’s the wave of the future.” Should Duncey agree? Continue Reading Should You Accept Customer Payments in Bitcoin?
Frustrated with the high number of employees that did not show up for work in the fall and winter last year, Jim Duncey, the owner of Duncey’s Caps, Inc., issues a memo to all employees that they must provide proof that they got a flu vaccine shot by January 1, 2018 or they would be fired. Tommy Goinmyownway protests, saying that his religious beliefs prohibit him from getting vaccinations. New Year’s Day comes and Tommy is fired after he doesn’t provide the required proof. As he is escorted out of the plant Tommy threatens to sue Duncey’s for discrimination. Does he have a claim? Continue Reading Sticking it to Your Employees During Flu Season
Frazzled by the incessant demands for her company Acne Brick’s financial records from her husband’s divorce lawyer Ditcher Quick, company president Annie Acne was wondering what her next maneuver might be when her Information Technology officer walked into her office. The subpoena that he was holding demanded production of all Acne email communications between Annie and (i) her divorce lawyers and (ii) her attorney brother who helped her rearrange just a few things. Annie immediately called her attorney Elle O’Quent to ask, “Can Acne Brick be ordered to produce Annie’s emails from Acne’s computer?” Continue Reading Is Your Company Email to Santa Protected?
Jim Duncey, the owner of Duncey’s Caps, Inc., decides to hold an employee/significant other holiday party this year with live music and an open cash bar managed by a third-party bartending service. Each employee will get three drink tickets. Jim also hires private security for the party because he knows there’s bad blood between two of his employees, Jake Hammerhead and Tom Colecocken. As the party is winding down, Hammerhead grabs another drink from the bar, even though he’s clearly intoxicated. As he turns around he bumps into Colecocken and yells “Watch where you’re going!” Colecocken, who is also visibly intoxicated, turns and goes nose-to-nose with Hammerhead. At that point a crowd gathers around, and people start video recording. When Hammerhead refuses to back down, Colecoken throws a sucker punch, leaving Hammerhead knocked out on the floor.
With the entire room stunned, Colecocken manages to walk out the door and get into his truck to drive home. At the very first traffic light, he crashes into three parked vehicles. Luckily no one is hurt. The police arrest him for DWI, but Colecocken gets bailed out once he sobers up.
The next day, Karl Bumler, another Duncey’s Caps employee, finds out that his wife posted her video of the fight on their joint UzeTube account. Bumler called his wife and told her to take it down, but it’s too late – the video had gone viral. On Monday morning Duncey calls Hammerhead, Colecocken and Bumler into his office and summarily fires all three. Can Duncey do that? Do Duncey, the bartending service, or the security service have any liability to the owners of the three parked cars?
Continue Reading Fight Night at Your Company Holiday Party
Reverend Leatl Hope, pastor of the to Boring Fourth Day Adventist Church in Gun Barrel City has been reading about the deadly shootings in churches all over the country, and he is worried. His small congregation does not have the resources to retain a full-time security officer. Yet, he believes that he should be doing something to protect his flock. Does he have any options?
Board of directors member Y.I. Gnough, who is also president of Algae Company, is in a pickle. Although denying any knowledge of sexual harassment and misconduct by the company founder and deal-maker Iam Algae, three co-board members resigned fearing for their reputational and financial survival. Employees are fueling the rumors of women who complained of unwanted touching, sexual harassment and other over-the-line behavior. Even Algae’s former counsel discloses that several years ago the board and the company were told of three or four confidential settlements with women. Company investors suggest that Y.I. and fellow officers and directors breached their fiduciary duty. Should Y.I. be concerned about his pocketbook and his reputation?
Bill Deron bought a 100-acre tract next to a creek outside the City of Houston. Deron planned to build a subdivision where some of the homes abut a creek. The other homes would sit about 15 feet higher than the creekside homes. Deron disclosed to the creekside buyers that they needed flood insurance. But he did not tell any other home buyers to purchase flood insurance. Hurricane Harvey dumped so much rain on the neighborhood that all of the homes in Deron’s neighborhood flooded. Homeowners soon learned that the entire neighborhood sat in a floodplain. Did Deron have a duty to disclose whether the development or any part thereof is in a floodplain or even do something more? What about the government entity who approves the development? Continue Reading Washed Away: What Rights Do You Have When Your Home is Flooded?