Gibson Law Group - September 2022

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Protect Yourself From the Wrath of Texas! By Being Proactive on Key Employment Issues SEPTEMBER 2022 (817) 769-4044

2. Non-competition and non-solicitation agreements. These are similar to employment contracts in that you can’t buy them with a click and expect them to work. You need a straightforward, understandable agreement created for your company. Drafted correctly and narrowly tailored, these agreements absolutely ARE enforceable — and we can help you go after employees who violate them. 3. Government investigations, audits, and lawsuits. Like I said, if you put one toe out of line on employment law in Texas, the government will come knocking. I see this happen all the time when employers pay their staff in cash, claim they are independent contractors, and don’t withhold their taxes. The TWC goes on a warpath! A similar situation can happen if you don’t pay your team the correct overtime. Overtime regulations in Texas are draconian, and the Texas Workforce Commission will hold you personally liable for that cash. You can be liable for past wages you didn’t pay, penalties, interest, punitive damages, AND the employee’s attorney’s fees. That will quickly snowball into a $1 million bill that can end your business. If you’re not sure you fully understand all of these regulations and guidelines, consult me before you’re audited. 4. Internal investigations into employee theft, discrimination, harassment, and other sensitive matters. Employee theft is a BIG deal. Our team can help protect you from it, and handle your internal investigations into issues like discrimination and harassment, which the government takes very seriously. You don’t want to end up on Texas’ blacklist because you accidentally put a toe out of line. Employment law is incredibly technical and complicated, and there are a thousand expensive traps for employers to step in if you don’t have a lawyer on your side. To get help and advice — ideally before you have a problem — give me a call today.

Did you know that there’s a whole debate over who came up with the idea for Labor Day? Historians say two union leaders with very similar names — Peter McGuire and Matthew Maguire — have a claim to

the title. Either way, the holiday definitely came out of the pro-union movement in New York City. In 1883, they even held a giant parade to celebrate! As an employment lawyer, I think this history is fascinating — especially when you apply it to life today in Texas. Overall, Texas is a very conservative state. But there’s one issue where our laws are as liberal as they come: employment. There aren’t a whole lot of traditional “labor laws” in Texas that the founders of Labor Day would recognize. We’re a “right to work” state, so most industries don’t have unions. But if you don’t pay your employees overtime and follow every tiny, nitpicky rule about hours and wages, watch out — the government will come for you! Many business owners don’t realize this, which is why so many of them come running into my office for help when things go wrong. My team and I handle employment law issues from both the employer AND employee sides, and we can save your bacon when it comes to a few key things. 1. Employment contracts. If you have specialized employees with unique knowledge and training who are doing contracted work for you, an employment contract from LegalZoom won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on. Those contracts are often drafted elsewhere, which is a huge problem because every state is different! Plus, they aren’t tailored to your company, and if you try to “improve” them yourself, you’ll just make things worse. It’s harsh but it’s true. To really protect yourself and your assets from fickle employees, you need a lawyer to draft and/or review these documents. (We can also help you sue an employee if they violate the contract that they probably didn’t read.)

–David Gibson

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Thinking Outside the Bun Leads to Legal Action The Story of 50 Cent vs. Taco Bell

— filed a federal lawsuit saying they featured the rapper in an ad campaign without his permission and profited directly from his celebrity status without paying him a multimillion-dollar fee. Raymond said his client sought $4 million in damages.

In 2008, rapper 50 Cent filed an unlikely lawsuit against the fast- food chain Taco Bell. Was it an endorsement deal gone wrong? Quite the opposite. According to the rapper, the company had implied an endorsement deal in the media when there was none. Taco Bell, known for their quirky and humorous ads, had released a print ad formatted as a faux “letter” to 50 Cent, requesting that 50 Cent change his name to 79, 89, or 99 Cent as a part of their latest promotion. The letter reached the national press and even television … except for 50 Cent’s actual mailbox. In fact, 50 Cent had no idea Taco Bell used his name. By releasing the letter, 50 Cent became the face of Taco Bell’s whole campaign, too. The letter was part of a larger hip hop-themed campaign, and customers could go to the Taco Bell website and participate in a “Rap Name Creator” to discover their rap name. They also had a “Why Pay Mo’ Rhyme Generator” that played hip hop music and a montage of “hip hop-themed scenes,” according to the rapper’s lawyer, Peter D. Raymond.

In response, Taco Bell Corp. spokesman Rob Poetsch issued a statement saying: “We made a good faith, charitable offer to 50 Cent to change his name to either 79, 89 or 99 Cent for one day by rapping his order at a Taco Bell, and we would have been very pleased to make the $10,000 donation to the charity of his choice.” In the end, both sides settled, keeping the terms of the settlement confidential and paying their own legal fees. So, it’s possible that 50 Cent was paid after all, but we’ll never know the exact terms of their legal agreement, except “both sides are satisfied,” according to Raymond. Since then, more companies have been careful about using celebrity names in their marketing without permission. It pays to think inside the bun, after all.

As soon as 50 Cent found out about the letter on the news, he wasn’t happy. On July 23, 2008, 50 Cent — whose real name is Curtis Jackson

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Step 2: Consider hiring an attorney.

• Legal representation. If you have an attorney — and a debt collector knows this — they aren’t allowed to contact you. They must contact your attorney instead. If you are called by a debt collector while you have legal representation, make sure to give them your attorney’s information. When a debt collector calls, they should identify themselves as a debt collector. Afterwards, they’re required to state the amount owed, that you can dispute the debt, and that you can request the name and address of the original creditor (if different from the current

You may want an attorney as soon as you can, so you can receive the best guidance possible. A lawyer will be your advocate when collectors engage in harassment or communication that is abusive, threatening, or deceptive. What is harassment? It includes using profane language; threatening bodily harm; misrepresenting what you owe; making false claims that you could be arrested; threatening your property; making repeated attempts to contact you or calling you anonymously; or, as mentioned earlier, failing to state debt and creditor information on the call as required by FDCPA.

creditor). They should also tell you that any information provided to them in your calls, emails, or other communication will be used in their efforts to collect the debt. There are even more restrictions on who they can call, so make sure to research for yourself if your loved ones begin receiving calls from your debtor.

Step 3: Report any violations to the FTC.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has an online website for reporting FDCPA violations, but your attorney can help with this as well. Take a look at FTCComplaintAssistant.com . We hope this helps our readers to stay safe from abusive collectors. Although debt can make us feel vulnerable, never forget that you do have rights.

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Workers shouldn’t have to choose between the job they need and the family members they love. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was created to allow employees to take reasonable unpaid leave for a particular family or medical reason so they can maintain a work/life balance. What does it provide? The FMLA provides eligible employees up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave a year with the requirement of group health benefits to be maintained during the leave as if employees were continuing to work. They are also entitled to resume their same or equivalent job at the end of their FMLA leave. Who is eligible for FMLA? FMLA applies to all public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees. Employees can be eligible for FMLA if they have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location that employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles. When can I use FMLA leave? An eligible employee can be granted up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for the following reason(s): LIFE CAN BE UNPREDICTABLE Preserving the Balance of Work and Family Life

TAKE A BREAK

GOULASH, HUNGARY’S NATIONAL DISH

Ingredients

• 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes • 1 tsp Italian seasoning • 1 tsp paprika • 1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese • Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

• 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil • 1 yellow onion, chopped • 2 cloves of garlic, minced • 1lb ground beef • Salt and pepper, to taste • 1 tbsp tomato paste • 1 1/4 cups beef broth • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce

• Birth of and/or bonding with a newborn child

• The placement of a child for adoption or foster care with the employee

• To care for an immediate family member with a serious condition (child, spouse, or parent, but does not include parent in-laws)

Directions

• To take medical leave when the employee is unable to work due to a serious health condition

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and wait for it to heat. 2. Once heated, add onion and cook for 5 minutes, then add garlic and cook for 1 minute. 3. Next, add the ground beef to the skillet, and cook until no longer pink. Drain the grease, then add salt and pepper. 4. Stir in the tomato paste, beef broth, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes. Season with Italian seasoning and paprika. Add macaroni to the skillet. 5. Bring mixture to a simmer and let it cook for 15 minutes. Stir the pasta occasionally. 6. Mix in the cheddar cheese and remove the heat.

• For qualifying exigencies arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, child, or parent is on covered active duty or call to covered active-duty status as a member of the National Guard, Reserves, or Regular Armed Forces The FMLA exists so employees can tend to their families without worrying about their job, allowing them to provide the best care for their loved ones. For more information regarding whether or not your company is eligible for FMLA, check out your local government agency for more details.

Inspired by Delish.com

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE

How to Protect Your Business From Employee Issues

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Why Did 50 Cent Sue Taco Bell?

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Goulash, Hungary’s National Dish Your Guide to Family and Medical Leave

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Can Collections Go Too Far?

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Know Your Legal Rights! When Collections Go Too Far …

Did you know that millions of Americans have debt in collections? Anyone who has ever dealt with a collection agency can attest that it’s no fun. Luckily, there are laws that limit what collection agencies can and cannot do.

Step 1: Know your FDCPA rights.

• Time. Debt collectors are only allowed to call you between 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. in your local time zone. Any calls outside these hours are an FDCPA violation. • Place. You may be contacted by phone, mail, fax, or email; however, collectors can’t contact you in “unusual places,” such as hospitals, schools, or restaurants. Although they can call your home or office, you have the right to tell them not to contact you at your workplace.

If you ever fall behind on paying your mortgage, credit card debt, medical debt, student loans, or auto loans, it’s important to know your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Especially for individuals, FDCPA covers all kinds of debt — but specifically targets third-party debt collectors such as collection agencies, debt buyers, and lawyers who practice debt collection as part of their business.

When, where, and who can contact you to collect your debt? There are some limitations, such as:

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