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Baton Rouge Legal Blog

Update to Daily Report AM: Roedel Parsons Koch Blache Balhoff & McColliste Still Open

To Our Clients and Friends,

The September 4, 2020, Daily Report AM included an incorrect headline "Roedel Parsons Disbands" when attempting to describe the formation of Pelican State Partners, a Governmental Relations firm that includes former Roedel Parsons personnel. We are sorry for the confusion that this incorrect headline has caused. Our Law Firm remains a full-service Firm. 

WORKERS' COMPENSATION LAW AND COVID-19

WAGE CONTINUATION DURING THE HEALTH CRISIS

Assuming an employer is able to continue paying their employees despite a government-ordered shutdown of their business, there would, generally speaking, be no appreciable change to any employer's workers compensation rights nor any obligation to initiate any indemnity payments. This, again, assumes that all salaries will be continued, whether those salaries were for employees who were working at their full-time jobs doing their full-time duties or for workers who were previously injured and were being accommodated with light or otherwise modified duties. As long as those previously injured workers were making at least 90% of their previous wages, they would not be entitled to supplemental earnings benefits (SEB). Assuming that those workers fall under the same wage retention policy an employer has instituted in the short term, those individuals would not be entitled to any additional indemnity payments. The continuation of payments would probably be viewed as wages in lieu of compensation and would make unnecessary any separate SEB indemnity. The obligation to furnish reasonable and necessary medical treatment, however, would obviously remain in force.

COVID-19 Toolkit for Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses

Introduction

This is a challenging time, but the attorneys at Roedel Parsons are ready to assist you and your business in navigating the COVID-19 crisis. Whether you're faced with an employment-related issue, a construction law question, or something in between, we're ready to help.

In an effort to assist your small- or medium-sized business, Roedel Parsons has carefully crafted this toolkit with helpful information. Each section focuses on a different area of the law and potential COVID-19 implications.

Although not an exhaustive resource, we hope it answers some frequently asked questions and eases your concerns during this public health emergency.

Recent Changes to the Louisiana Private Works Act

In 2019, the Louisiana Legislature passed a series of significant changes to the Louisiana Private Works Act ("PWA"),1 which provides a privilege (also known as a "lien") in favor of certain claimants who perform work or supply materials in connection with the improvement of property.These changes went into effect on January 1, 2020.

But before we jump into the changes, a few basics. "The Private Works Act was enacted to facilitate construction of improvements on immovable property and does so by granting to subcontractors, among others, two rights to facilitate recovery of the costs of their work from the owner with whom they lack privity of contract."3The first right is a statutory claim, or the right to personally sue the owner for the amount that is owed.The second right is a privilege on the immovable constructed, repaired, or improved, which secures the claim against the owner.5

Protecting Your Company's Secrets: The Louisiana Uniform Trade Secret Act

Everyone is familiar with the "legendary" tales of the Coca-Cola secret formula: only two corporate executives are privy to the formula,1 and the actual, written recipe is locked away in a chrome vault.2 While these tales may be somewhat exaggerated, the importance of protecting your company's trade secrets cannot be overstated. According to a recent survey, one in five companies has been the victim of trade secret theft, and only one-third of companies have action plans for responding to trade secret theft.3 Undergirding the protection of trade secrets in Louisiana is the Louisiana Uniform Trade Secret Act ("LUTSA").4 Under LUTSA, companies are equipped with various tools to protect their trade secrets,5 and to recover damages when its secrets are stolen or misappropriated.6

Employers Take Heed: 1.2 Million New Workers Eligible for Overtime Pay Under New Overtime Rule

This week, the Department of Labor announced a final rule to make 1.3 million American workers eligible for overtime pay.1 Under the new rule, most salaried workers who earn less than about $35,500 per year will be eligible for time-and-a-half overtime pay, up from the current threshold of about $23,700.2 The rule raises the "standard salary level" from the currently enforced level of $455 per week to $684 per week (which equates to $35,568 per year for full-year workers). Some employees, such as business owners, doctors, lawyers, teachers, and outside sales employees, are not affected by the new rule. 

Could your organization be liable as a joint employer?

Suppose you are a franchisor -- a company that sells franchises of its brand. If one of your franchisees violated federal labor law, would you be legally liable, too? Or suppose you are a staffing agency and your employees' rights are violated by one of your client companies. Is that company liable for the violations? Or are you?

Your legal liability depends on whether you can be considered a joint employer with the other organization. If a franchisor, for example, were to exercise direct control over significant personnel matters at franchisees, that franchisor might be considered a joint employer with the franchisees. That could mean the franchisor would be liable for its franchisee's labor law violations -- at least to the extent that it exercised direct control over the matter.

Make no mistake: social media is important to your business

Starting a business requires you to look at numerous issues. One of them is how to get your business out there for potential consumers to see. Social media can provide you with free advertising and a way to reach your customer base.

On the other hand, it also provides a platform for consumers to recommend or complain about your goods or services. With so many people here in Louisiana and across the country shopping online these days, many use social media to interact with businesses and other consumers.

A smooth transition when selling your business

If one of your goals for the coming year is to sell your business, you likely have mixed emotions about it. Perhaps this is something you have been contemplating for a while, or circumstances have told you this is the right time to let it go and try something new.

Whatever the motivation for selling your business, it certainly means a major change in your life, and you want to be sure you get the best possible deal when you sell. This is not a transaction as simple as selling a house, and it involves many factors, any of which can alter the outcome for better or worse. Seeking reliable advice and guidance throughout the process may improve your chances of avoiding missteps that could hinder your ability to make a profit.

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