The Law Offices of Robert E. Brown, P.C.

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The Law Offices of Robert E. Brown, P.C.

One of the biggest mistakes that investors or business owners make is failing to put agreements in writing. The more information that’s written down on paper, the more protection you have.

Do You Find That Business Owners Understand The Time And Expense Associated With Fighting A Case All The Way To Trial?

In general, business owners do not seem to understand the time and expense associated with fighting a case all the way to trial. Many small businesses are struggling just to stay alive amid the COVID-19 pandemic, let alone have set money aside for unexpected legal fees. When a small business least expects it, a lawsuit could arise from a false claim of a breach of contract. In the wake of this pandemic, desperate people are being creative in their attempts to shake down small businesses for money. I always try my best to keep the legal fees as low as possible for small businesses struggling during this unexpected and difficult time.

Does Your Firm Handle Americans With Disabilities Act Cases?

We have represented many small businesses that have been sued pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Many were restaurants that were sued by a person with an alleged disability who claimed that the restaurant was not handicap accessible. Many times, these cases are filed in federal court, which is very expensive to defend. As in other business matters, I always try my best to keep legal fees to a minimum. One way to do so is to try to resolve these cases as early and efficiently as possible, keeping in mind that the ADA provides that the plaintiff’s attorney fees shall be paid by the business being sued. As previously mentioned, New York State requires all formal businesses to be represented by an attorney—even businesses that are owned by only one person—which means the business being sued may potentially end up having to pay two attorney’s fees.

Does Your Firm Handle Fair Labor Standards Act Cases?

We handle Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) cases from the defendant’s side; we do not represent plaintiffs in these cases. A Fair Labor Standards Act case is usually an overtime case wherein an employee sues their employer on the basis of allegedly not being paid in accordance with the law. Like ADA cases, FLSA cases often result in employers paying for their own legal fees as well as the plaintiff’s legal fees.

Most small businesses are not careful when it comes to record-keeping with respect to employee wages, and if an employee claims that they worked 80 hours in a week and the employer doesn’t have accurate records to show that they didn’t, then the courts will assume that the employee is telling the truth. For this reason, it is advisable to keep good records and not destroy them. I’ve represented restaurants, bars, and supermarkets in these cases, and it is almost always the case that the business failed to keep sufficient records. I recommend using biometric software for keeping track of employee hours. In my experience, many restaurants do not use these programs for their kitchen staff, which enables the kitchen staff to make claims of working overtime and allege they are entitled to minimum wage plus overtime. I certainly do not recommend paying employees in cash, although some businesses do. If an employee is paid in cash, it needs to be reported on your taxes and the business should get a receipt from the employee showing that the employee received a cash payment.

Fair Labor Standards Act cases can easily become class action cases. For instance, if one server claims that they weren’t paid properly, it may become a class action suit whereby all of the servers who worked for the restaurant over a number of years will also be paid if they were not paid properly. If the restaurant cannot provide the proper records showing that they did pay their servers correctly, then the damages could easily end up in the millions of dollars, which is enough to break the back of most small restaurants. Many restaurant owners believe that they can just close the company and walk away from these claims, but federal law allows employees to name the owners of the company individually, thereby precluding company owners from avoiding liability simply by closing their company.

What Are The Alternative Resolution Methods To Business Litigation?

There are two main alternatives to taking a business dispute to court. One alternative is mediation, which is voluntary and non-binding. Mediation involves the two parties going with their attorneys to a neutral third-party mediator who will try to resolve the dispute. Some mediators are court-appointed and the first hour or two will be free. Other mediators work for private companies and must be paid. Parties usually split the cost of a mediator.

The second alternative to taking a business dispute to court is binding arbitration, which is used less often. I’ve handled arbitrations where large amounts of money were at stake as well as fairly simple arbitrations for business disputes. Arbitrations are binding, which means if one party does not like the arbitrator’s ruling, they are pretty much stuck with it; only under limited circumstances can an arbitrator’s decision be appealed, and these appeals are not often successful.

What Types Of Employment And Labor Law Cases Does You Firm Generally Take On?

When it comes to employment and labor law, we will represent the plaintiff or defendant in hostile work environment and discrimination cases. However, we are very selective in terms of the types of plaintiffs we represent, whereas we will defend any business. For example, we represented a plaintiff in a very serious employment case involving a sexual assault in the workplace. For smaller indiscretions that don’t necessarily meet the threshold of a hostile work environment, we are much less likely to represent the plaintiff.

For more information on Business Litigation, a free consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (212) 766-9779 today.

Robert Brown

Call For A Free Consultation
(212) 766-9779