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Bloomfield Hills Legal Blog

Preparing for the Imminent Crackdown on Payroll and Employment Practices

Federal and State Law impose a vast framework of laws and rules governing employer obligations and employee rights, creating a spider-web ripe for mistakes, abuse and litigation. On Monday 4/22/2019, Michigan's new Attorney General Dana Nessel announced her intention to crack down on abuse and theft associated with misclassifying workers to avoid paying full wages, overtime and taxes. Although the Attorney General's announcement highlighted the use of employers' use of labor brokers and subcontractors, shell companies and check-cashing businesses to avoid paying workers full wages, overtime and benefits, while dodging federal, state and local taxes, a broader crackdown is likely. The Attorney General is likely to focus her inquiries on sometimes minute distinctions between employee/independent contractor, exempt/ non-exempt employee, work/non-work time. The legislature is preparing to move legislation that will increase associated civil and criminal penalties, strengthen whistleblower protection, audit violators and require employee backpay. Every employer should carefully consider whether its payroll practices and employee classifications will survive scrutiny under a magnifying lens, and whether any risks are cost justified. Get ahead of this potential problem, before it gets ahead of you!

Dissolve a partnership without ruining a company

Starting a business on your own is incredibly difficult. It makes sense that you would recruit a friend or associate to be a business partner – someone who will support you and wants to see your business succeed.

However, partnerships evolve as your business grows. There are circumstances where it’s time to dissolve a partnership, especially before it damages the overall company.

Artist sues Ariana Grande for copyright infringement

Pop star Ariana Grande is being sued for copyright infringement. According to the Associated Press, artist Vladmir Kush alleges images from her "God is a Woman" video are nearly identical to two of his paintings.

The image in question is a candle with a woman as the wick, burning in the flame. Kush painted and copyrighted two paintings with these images in 1999 and 2000.

Entering into a business partnership? 3 things to think about

Partnerships can be a wonderful business venture. There is a great advantage in being able to pool the talents, resources and finances of multiple people into one business. However, there are a variety of factors you need to consider before teaming up with someone, in order to ensure your partnership will be a success.

Your Loved Ones In Nursing Homes Deserve Protection From Harm

It has been said that youth is wasted on the young. Just because someone ages, does not mean that their lives are any less important than those of younger generations; in fact, their golden years should be cherished for all that they are worth.

As the number of senior citizens grows, so many of our elders live in nursing homes for help with their activities of daily living. Our senior citizens who are not well deserve care and protection from life threatening injuries that may occur while living in these facilities. Many of these nursing homes are well-staffed with dedicated nurses and doctors who provide attentive and good care; however, others fail to take to very basic measures to prevent their residents from having falls that can result in hip fractures or head trauma that may lead to untimely death. 

The Importance Of Coordination In Trademarks And Branding

Trademarks are useful for businesses looking to distinguish what they provide from the goods or services provided by competitors. Some businesses are likely to benefit from their trademarks more than others, but any business making the decision to define a brand needs to make important decisions about their trademarks from the very beginning. 

As a business grows, the value and consistency of its trademarks can be affected. In some cases, a shift in business strategy will render old marks less valuable. As your marketing efforts expand, a disconnect between marketing strategies and trademark registrations can erode or destroy the value of the mark or your ability to protect it. Coordination is the key to maximizing the value of your trademarks.

Increased Risk of Stroke from Chiropractic Neck Adjustments

Scientific evidence supports that chiropractic manipulative therapy (CMT) of the neck may lead to stroke. When a chiropractor rotates the neck, this movement places pressure on the vertebral arteries that run through the neck and supply blood to the brain. Some experts say that this pressure may cause the arteries to dissect leading to a lack of blood flow and resulting in stroke. Reports of this phenomenon have increased now that public awareness of this potential risk has grown. 

Non-Compete Agreements And Intellectual Property

Business owners face unique challenges when it comes to protecting trade secrets or proprietary information. Employees often need access to information that would be damaging if it got into the hands of a competitor. If those employees leave, they take that knowledge with them. It can be difficult to maintain intellectual capital unless you are willing to devote significant time and attention to the issue.

Patents can obviously secure exclusivity for some intellectual property. Patents are not available for everything, however, and they may not be the best solution even if they are available. Employment agreements and other trade secret protections can aid a business in securing the benefits of ingenuity, efficiency and creativity.

The Michigan Supreme Court Can't Decide Whether It Is Proper For An Attorney To Write Himself Into His Client's Will

The Michigan Supreme Court on June 21, 2018 issued their much-anticipated opinion in the case of In re Mardigian Estate. In that case attorney Mark Papazian prepared a trust amendment and corresponding will for his client and friend Robert Mardigian. The new estate planning documents left the bulk of Mardigian's very substantial ($ millions) estate to Papazian and his children. Mardigian died six months later. Not surprisingly, Mardigian's family, comprised of his nieces and nephews, as he did not have any children, challenged the documents and accused Papazian of exerting undue influence in obtaining Mardigian's signature on the documents. The probate court summarily set the documents aside as contrary to public policy because Michigan Rule of Professional Responsibility 1.8(c) prohibits an attorney from preparing a document, such as a will or a trust, that gives the attorney or his family "any substantial gift." There is little doubt that the preparation of the will and trust was prepared in violation of this rule. 

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