Misclassifying Employees Can Be a Costly Mistake

In this day and age, most employers have considered the possibility of wage-hour liability. Savvy employers understand that wage-hour liability comes in many different forms, and two of the most talked about have been “misclassification” and unpaid overtime. Misclassification can occur in one of two ways: either the employer classifies a worker as an independent…

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Don’t tread on us: Franchisees sue their brand for encroachment and win

El Pollo Loco – their slogan is “Crazy you can taste” – is popular for Mexican-style food such as tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and quesadillas and, in particular, citrus-marinated, fire-grilled chicken. The Costa Mesa, California chain operates over 460 company-owned and franchised restaurants in the southwest, and is a favorite with many locals. In Lancaster, Calif.,…

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Forecasting 2018

As I sit here, just a few days before Christmas, I am watching the weather change outside my office window from relatively warm (for Minnesota), to downright cold. And like the weather, the one thing that we can always count on as the seasons change, is change in the political and legal landscape affecting business…

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Protecting Yourself From Lawsuits Involves Many Shades of Gray

Americans file 15 million lawsuits each year. Not every lawsuit has merit. Not every lawsuit has issues that are clearly defined in black and white. But there are many hungry lawyers eager to represent a plaintiff on a contingency-fee basis, which means you have to defend yourself. One reason entrepreneurs are so vulnerable is because…

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Whose Business is it Anyway?

Has it ever occurred to you that you don’t actually own your network of Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants? Well, let me clarify that proposition…while you most likely own the assets, such as the coffee pots, menu boards, and Radiant systems, you do not have the unfettered ability to sell your business. Even if you and your…

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Protecting Franchisee Equity in California – and Beyond

Editor’s note: This month, Independent Joe offers an updated look at the legal impact from California’s Franchsie Relations Act, which has been covered extensively in this magazine. Franchise attorney Peter Lagarias provides this review of the statutory changes and how they affect Dunkin’ Donuts franchise owners. The landmark California Franchise Relations Act (CFRA), which went…

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What the NLRB’s ruling means for your Employee Handbooks

In its recent ruling on the case involving the metals manufacturer Minteq International, Inc., the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) continued its expansion of employee rights by finding that two common provisions in a non-compete agreement were “unlawfully overbroad rules” that interfered with employees’ rights in violation of Section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations…

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How Vicarious Liability Can Leave Franchisees Exposed

It is fairly common for franchisees and franchisors to be sued together for an injury that occurred at a franchised location. Likewise, more recent lawsuits have extended to employment-related claims alleging that the franchisor and franchisee are “joint employers” and, therefore, jointly liable for any alleged misconduct of employees at the franchised location. In the…

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One vs. Many: Structuring a Multi-Unit Franchise Network

When advising clients on the acquisition of a multi-unit franchise network, we are often posed the age-old question: “Should we own the assets in one entity or multiple entities?” At the risk of sounding too much like a lawyer, the answer to this question is, “It depends.” Each franchisee has a unique set of hot…

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