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Hackensack Business and Commercial Law Blog

Court sides with employer in disability versus inability case

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided a case that may raise a lot of questions for businesses across the country. The plaintiff is an employee of a large Midwestern food delivery company who claimed the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 2008. Just a quick reminder before we get into the facts and issues of the case: New Jersey is in the 3rd District, so courts may refer to the decision for guidance but are not bound by it.

The employee had worked a the company for years when, in 2003, he received a promotion: He was appointed supervisor for an entire facility. According to the job description's rundown of responsibilities, the supervisor was responsible for managing the truck fleet. The incumbent also had to hold a commercial motor vehicle certification from the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to the qualifications listed in a different section of the job description.

Smile, New Jersey, it's Presidents Day - whatever that is!

Baby boomers may remember the year Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays morphed into Presidents Day. It was particularly cruel to school kids who loved having four-day weeks so close together. Those two days in February, the 12th and the 22nd, came close enough on the heels of New Year's that toys had not lost their luster. During the '60s, a few big snowstorms here in New Jersey meant those days off were spent sledding in parks or at local golf courses. Those were the (birth)days.

The Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1971 changed everything. Well, almost everything, and mostly for the federal government. Holidays were moved to Mondays, ostensibly to give workers more opportunities for three-day weekends. Businesses benefited, too: The Monday holidays decreased absenteeism around those holidays.

Legal complication arise in breach of contract lawsuit

In a previous post, we explored some of the reasons why parties may consider taking action in the event of contract dispute arising out of an alleged breach. We also discussed some of the ways that parties can resolve these disputes, including filing a lawsuit. 

As we also mentioned in that post, these cases can be quite complicated and the guidance of an attorney can be crucial. There are two sides to every dispute, and proving any wrongdoing or defending against claims of a breach can be much more difficult than people may realize. For example, recently a lawsuit was filed in another state by a developer claiming breach of contract. The party accused of the breach, however, asked that the lawsuit be dismissed.

What options are available when a contract has been breached?

Businesses rely heavily on the legal relationships they establish with other parties, including employees, users, consumers, contractors or other companies. These relationships are often defined and protected by a contract.

Solid business agreements can be one of the most crucial tools that companies and individuals have. They can define roles, permissions, restrictions and set rules for what service or exchange is being promised. Not surprisingly, contracts can prove to be extremely valuable, especially in the event that one party is accused of breaching a contract.

New Jersey maintains tough guy rep with consumer protection laws

What was going on in New Jersey in the late '60s and early '70s? William T. Cahill was governor from 1970 to 1974, and during his term he and the Legislature worked together to pass important laws that we now take for granted. Cahill left office with a powerful legacy: important environmental protection measures, including tougher automobile emission standards and land use reforms; a no-fault auto insurance system; a state lottery -- the list goes on.

Cahill was also in charge when the state made significant changes to its consumer protection laws. Those changes made New Jersey's consumer protection laws among the toughest in the nation. The same holds true today, some 40 years later.

Breaking up is hard to do, even for business partners

Just as is the case with a marriage, a person generally doesn't go into a business partnership thinking that it won't pan out. Sometimes, a business partnership goes just as a person plans, with the business going strong and they and their business partner being able to get along and work together just fine. Unfortunately though, not all partnerships go this direction. Sometimes, things don't quite work out for a business partnership and the partnership ends up breaking down.

A partnership breaking down can be quite tough on an entrepreneur. For one, it can be difficult emotionally. A person may have put a lot of time and energy into the partnership and into building a strong working relationship with their business partner, so seeing the partnership fall apart can be troubling, particularly if the breakdown came about as a result of a falling out with their business partner.

With workers' comp, maybe one size doesn't fit all p2

We are talking about a class action lawsuit filed against BP Products North America Inc. and BP's attempt to reduce the number of plaintiffs. The lawsuit comes out of a chemical release from a BP refinery. The plaintiffs are both workers -- actually, contractors and subcontractors -- at the plant and members of the community.

BP petitioned the court to remove the workers from the lawsuit, arguing that their injuries were work-related and, so, covered by workers' compensation insurance. Workers' comp is the exclusive remedy for workplace injuries, BP said, so these 315 plaintiffs could not sue for damages.

With workers' comp, maybe one size doesn't fit all

A recent New York Times crossword clue asked for BP's old logo (five letters). It took a minute to figure out that the word was "shield." According to its website, BP changed to the current sun logo after it combined operations with Amoco in 1998.

In the past 15 years, though, that shield could have come in handy: BP's image has taken quite a beating, and not all of the blows have been related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

In November 2011, there was a chemical release at a BP Products North America Inc. refinery near Galveston, Texas. More than 500 people -- contract and subcontract workers at the site and residents of the town nearby -- filed a class action lawsuit against BP. They claimed they had suffered breathing difficulties, vocal cord damage and a variety of other injuries as a result of the release.

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition … or a cyber attack, p2

We all know the old saying about the word "assume," but there are things you can assume. It all depends on how much information you have -- more is better. If you are a franchisee, you should assume that every promise the franchisor has made is included in the franchise agreement.

The problem is that new risks can come up fast. Or, they can be lurking in the background and all at once turn into an emergency. If it's a risk that affects every franchisee in a network, is it the franchisor's responsibility to address it?

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition … or a cyber attack

We spoke generally about cyber attacks back in November, spurred by a lawsuit filed by P.F. Chang's China Bistro Inc. against its property/casualty insurance provider, Travelers Indemnity Company of Connecticut. The restaurant chain was just one of many big companies to suffer a data breach over the last couple of years, but, as we noted in our Nov. 18 post, a good number of businesses have not done much to protect themselves from an attack or to develop a plan for how to respond to an attack.

When it comes to cyber theft, we know that size does not matter: All businesses are potential targets, even small and mid-size businesses. But are certain types of businesses more attractive to hackers? Are there business sectors that tend to have fewer safeguards in place than the Targets and Home Depots of the world?

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