National Disability Employment Awareness Month

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October ushers in fall and the beginning of holidays and celebrations. It is fitting that October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. National Disability Employment Awareness Month was established by Congress in 1988 to applaud the many contributions by individuals with disabilities in our workforce, and to educate the public on issues encountered by those with disabilities. This year’s theme is: ”America’s Workforce: Empowering All.” Visit, What Can You Do to educate and inspire your team to focus on what each person CAN DO to effect and empower the team as a whole. We would like to take this opportunity to reiterate the importance of focusing on the “can do” by reminding employers of best practices: When hiring, you cannot discriminate because a person has a disability. What you can do is make reasonable accommodations for the individual so he or she can do the job without any barriers. The Americans with Disabilities Act Overview provides a good understanding of what you can do. Encourage team members to get to know each other. This helps put the focus on the person (and their abilities) rather than the disability. When referencing a person with a disability, you should not say “disabled person” or call the person by the name of the disability. Once an individual with a disability has been hired, remember to provide the same access to advancement, trainings, benefits and any other offering your company extends to all employees. Not all disabilities are visible or immediately apparent. Make certain all your supervisors and managers are aware of how to address requests for reasonable accommodations. Get your company involved! The...
Succession Planning

Succession Planning

By Bradley Hunt, Attorney at Law What will happen to your business if you retire, become ill, or die? Succession planning allows you to determine the answer to this question well in advance of any of these scenarios becoming reality and can ensure your business survives into the future. An article on business.com reported fewer than two-thirds of corporate leaders interviewed were actively executing a succession plan by grooming potential leaders. Another survey reported only 17% of non-profits have a succession plan in place. Many business owners put off developing a succession plan. After all, who wants to admit they may not be here to run the business forever? In truth, the planning process can be a challenge and often brings up underlying issues that must be addressed. In some cases, the CEO may not believe there is a qualified internal candidate to groom to take over the business, while the Board may disagree. In a family business, those in the next generation may not have the same level of interest in the business. Similarly, a deep dive into the succession planning process may uncover process or technology challenges that must be resolved. Succession Planning Considerations If you have a leadership team and/or Board of Directors, engage them in the succession planning process and keep it transparent. Hold a special meeting (or more than one) devoted to this topic. Determine what traits you want in the individual(s) who will succeed you. Values and a good cultural fit can make a big difference in the acceptance of this person as a future leader. Identify potential successors. Are there internal team...
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

By Bradley Hunt, Attorney at Law There have been several high profile claims of workplace sexual harassment in the news lately, most recently with a claim by a former engineer at Uber that her manager sexually harassed her. Claims of sexual harassment must be taken very seriously by employers, who can be held accountable if the behavior of a harasser is ignored. In the case of Uber, the CEO just hired a third-party to investigate the claims. What is Sexual Harassment? According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), “It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex.” The law does not consider occasional teasing or single incidents that are not serious to be harassment, although employers must be aware that behavior that escalates may quickly jump into this category. Behavior becomes harassment when it creates a “hostile or offensive” work environment or results in the victim being fired, demoted or believing he or she has no recourse but to quit the job. It is important to note that both men and women can be victims of sexual harassment, and the harasser may be a manager, coworker, someone else within the company, the employee of a vendor or supplier, or even a client. The law not only protects victims of harassment, but also protects third parties who are...
7 Ways You Know You’re Ready to Start Your Own Business

7 Ways You Know You’re Ready to Start Your Own Business

How often do you think about starting your own business? When you consider starting a business, is your first thought that you’re not ready or it’s not the right time? So how do you know when it is time to start that business and become an entrepreneur? Here are some clues you might be ready to be your own boss: You have done your research and understand the pros and cons of becoming an entrepreneur. This includes talking to other business owners and developing best case – average – and worst case financial scenarios. You should also look at funding options to begin your journey. You have investigated the best choice to set up your new business and understand the short and long term pros and cons of each. Each form of business – a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, corporation, non-profit, etc. – has different benefits and legal requirements. It’s also important to consider shareholder/member buy-out agreements to govern the transfer of ownership in the future. Your family and friends are ready to support your endeavor. You can start a business without a support network, but it’s much harder. You have talked with a small business organization like SCORE or visited your local community college Small Business Center for input and direction. It doesn’t hurt to find a mentor and learn from that person. You have a game plan that includes your goals for the business and for yourself. You have worked with someone to help you identify and address areas of risk in the market(s) and industry your business will serve. You are passionate about the business/industry/cause you’ll...
Do I Need a Buy-Sell Agreement?

Do I Need a Buy-Sell Agreement?

By Bradley Hunt, Attorney at Law What is a Buy-Sell Agreement? If you share ownership of a business, you need a buy-sell agreement. Buy-sell agreements are not written when you are buying or selling a company; rather, they outline the rules under which an owner may sell (or be forced to sell) his or her share of the business. They also cover the disposition of this share of the business if the partner is divorcing, files bankruptcy, retires, becomes incapacitated, dies, or fails to meet an obligation to the business. Any of these triggering events may activate the terms of the buy-sell agreement. These agreements can be especially important in family owned businesses as protection for all parties involved. How does a buy-sell agreement work? The buy-sell agreement defines the terms and conditions that will govern transfer of ownership of an owner’s share of the business. In a partnership with three principals where one decides to retire and sell his share, for example, the two remaining partners would be notified of the exiting partner’s intent to sell. They would then be given the first option to purchase this share of the business back. In most cases, the share would be offered with an equal split to the existing partners. The agreement protects the remaining partners by preventing the third partner from selling their share to an outside party or even a competitor. If the third partner has died, the heir(s) may choose to keep the business but must typically abide by the terms of the buy-sell agreement should they wish to sell their share. The selling price is usually...
Americans with Disabilities Act and Hiring

Americans with Disabilities Act and Hiring

If you hire employees, you must be aware of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is a federal civil rights law designed to remove barriers preventing qualified individuals with disabilities from enjoying the same opportunities that are available to persons without disabilities. The rules apply to private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions with 15 or more employees. The ADA prohibits discrimination in all employment practices, including job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, training, and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment. The ADA rules apply when an individual has a disability eligible for protections under the law AND that individual is qualified to perform the essential functions of the job (these are duties that are fundamental to the job). What is the definition of a disability? ADA defines disability (sometimes referred to as “substantially limiting conditions”) as: a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; OR a person with a record of such an impairment; OR a person who is regarded as having such an impairment. Specific examples of substantially limiting conditions may include: Mobility impairments due to missing limbs or other disorders Cancer Diabetes Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection Transitory impairments such as epilepsy Major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia Who is not covered by the ADA? Current users of illegal drugs (employers may conduct drug testing for illegal drugs) Transgender, homosexual, and bisexual individuals Those who have the conditions of compulsive gambling, kleptomania, or pyromania People who pose a direct threat Are you are in compliance...