Category Archives: Legal Issues

An overview of the new minimum wage and paid sick leave requirements.

Changes to the state minimum wage

The minimum wage will be $11 per hour in 2017

  • The minimum wage applies to all jobs, including agriculture.
  • Employers must pay employees age 16 and older at least $11 per hour in 2017. WAC 296-126-020(app.leg.wa.gov).
  • Employers are allowed to pay 85 percent of the minimum wage to employees under age 16. WAC 296-126-020 (app.leg.wa.gov). For 2017, this rate is $9.35 per hour.
  • Seattle, Tacoma, and the City of SeaTac currently have higher minimum wage rates. The local rate applies if it is higher than the state minimum wage rate.
  • The initiative does not change overtime pay requirements.

The initiative sets future minimum wage rates Continue reading

Ask SCORE: How can I protect my intellectual property when working with strategic partners?

One way to grow your business is by reaching out to strategic partners who offer complementary products or services or who otherwise can work with you to the mutual advantage of both your businesses. Strategic partnerships can expand your market reach and help you achieve more sales. But giving another business intimate knowledge about your company’s inner workings may make you a bit uneasy. There’s some inherent risk involved in sharing confidential information and intellectual property (IP).

According to Marc Goldberg, a SCORE mentor with business startup and management expertise, “It is very easy to steal your ideas or even your unique approach to customer fulfillment. Very quickly you could generate a competitor by sharing information with the wrong people.”

For that reason, you need to take measures to protect your ideas, information, and innovations from theft.  Continue reading

Are unnecessary policies and rules impacting your small business growth?

Tell the SBA your story.

Now through Oct. 16 at www.sba.gov/ReducingRegs, the SBA is collecting comments from small businesses to help the agency identify unnecessary or ineffective rules and regulations that stifle business growth.

“As I travel the country meeting with small business owners, I hear over and over again about the volume of regulations they must comply with and how difficult it is to manage the burden,” SBA Administrator Linda McMahon said. “So I’ve appointed a taskforce here at SBA to help identify SBA regulations that need to be changed or eliminated. Your feedback will help SBA do its part to identify which SBA regulations may be impeding small business economic growth, innovation and job creation.”

The Federal Register notice posted earlier this month is in response to President Trump’s Executive Order 13777 which aims to ease the burdens placed on America’s small businesses. Under this Executive Order all federal agencies are required to designate a Regulatory Reform Officer and develop a process of evaluating their existing regulations and determine which ones should be repealed, replaced or modified.

Visit www.sba.gov/ReducingRegs for more information and to post your comments.

Do you sell products online? You need to know about nexus.

Until recently, a business was said to have a nexus in a state if it maintained a physical presence there. Where nexus existed, a business was required to remit taxes to the state. This understanding served until digital commerce wholly revolutionized the global economy.

Today, a retailer can operate from their living room, selling goods without any physical presence outside their own home. Clearly, the old definition of nexus is obsolete. New definitions—offered up mostly by states looking to recoup lost sales tax revenues—rely on murky rationales of “economic nexus” and “factor presence.”

Unfortunately, neither the Supreme Court nor Congress has offered to clarify the issue, leaving businesses across the country to work things out on their own.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE: Do I need to copyright my website to protect it?

Your business’s website can be one of the most powerful marketing tools you’ll ever have at your disposal. Unfortunately, the better it is, the better the chances it will catch the eye of unscrupulous competitors. They might have no qualms about hijacking your written content, images or other elements and presenting them as their own.

How can you prevent people from stealing content and images from your website? Copyright!

Copyright protects the rights of creators of original works—such as literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works (for example, play scripts, movies, poetry, books, songs, photography and even computer software). It protects the way things are expressed/presented in works (e.g., the images, arrangements of words or music, etc.); it does not, according to the U.S. Copyright Office, protect “facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation.” When you create (draw, write, photograph, etc.) something original, copyright law automatically gives you ownership of the work. At the moment you create a work, copyright exists.

This is also the case with digital content, including websites.  Continue reading

The who, what, when and why of non-disclosure agreements.

businessman signing contractYou put a lot of time, energy and effort into your business. With so much invested, doesn’t it make sense to protect what you worked so hard to build?

Various ways exist to do that, such as choosing the right legal structure for your business, installing security software on your computer, getting business insurance, etc.

And don’t forget having an NDA!  Continue reading