Food For Thought, Inpsiration, Journal

Personal Freedom

Today, my leadership call included the prompt  “What does Personal Freedom look like to you?” The question immediately brought to mind that when I stick to my personal routines and am able to do the things that bring me joy, I can be of service to others. When I get too involved in a task list, and move away from my daily morning rituals, I feel imprisoned and unhappy.

Yet it is also a balance. I also get to be present and be in acceptance when there are changes in life. For example, I recently had an employee quit mid-shift and instead of focusing on how unfair it was, it turned into an excellent opportunity for me to learn our new Point of Sale program. When I forget that Personal Freedom means aligning with my personal vision for growth, what feels like a burden becomes a reason to continue on that path.

It takes continual check-in’s to ensure that I am not doing things just for the sake of doing them, but that they align with my personal values.  For me, Personal Freedom looks like responsibility, Integrity, and Passion. It also means that I get to make a habit of knowing my why. It is easy to get lost in the busyness of life and others. It means to know the instead of filling my time with things to do, it should be things to go with my vision.

What does Personal Freedom look like to you? Happy Monday!

family law, Legal

6 Things You Need to Know About Divorce

1. Don’t Expect to “Win” Your Divorce Case

A lot of people start their divorce hoping to “beat” their spouse in court. In fact, there’s seldom a true winner in divorce. The typical divorce involves various issues, such as child custody, support, and the division of property. Rarely do divorcing spouses end up with everything they want. For example, one spouse might be awarded primary physical custody of the children, but may receive a much lower amount of spousal support than requested; it’s virtually impossible to tell the “winner” from the “loser” so trying to “win” is pointless.

Instead, consider the consequences of a full-blown court battle before you go down that path. In addition to the many thousands of dollars you’ll spend, your children may suffer the most in a heated divorce battle. After the dust has settled, you may soon forget who “won.”

2. Don’t Make Important Decisions Without Thinking Them Through

Many life-changing decisions come up during a divorce. For example, you may have to determine whether to you need to sell the family home. Resist the impulse to make a quick decision just to get the case over with. When making important choices, it’s essential that you consider the potential consequences.

3. You’re Getting Divorced: Your Kids Aren’t

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the heat of the moment. However, saying cruel things to your spouse in the presence of your children can have a lasting effect. Psychological studies show that the more parents fight during a divorce, the more damaging the whole process is to the children.

Whenever you’re about to say something hurtful give yourself some time to think before you speak. A simple rule to follow is to count to ten before you answer a question or make a statement.

In addition, unless there’s a history of abuse or neglect, your children will continue to have a relationship with their other parent. No matter how upset you are with your spouse, you should not try to discourage or interfere with a healthy parent-child bond.

You may want to consider asking an experienced mental health professional to counsel your children about the divorce, and seek counseling for yourself as well, so you can learn how to address your children’s needs during this difficult process.

4. Don’t Believe Everything Other People Tell You About Their Divorce

Your divorced friends may give you advice about what should happen in your divorce. Unfortunately, the information and advice you get from other people can be misleading or wrong.

Every divorce has a different set of issues. Your friends may believe what happened in their divorce is typical, but it’s best not to base your decisions on someone else’s experiences. Instead, rely on the advice you get from your attorney, mental health professionals, and financial consultants, all of whom are familiar with the specifics of your case.

5. Court is Not All That It’s Cracked Up to Be

When things are not going well in a divorce case, one spouse may threaten to terminate negotiations and head to court. However, the road to a divorce trial is long and costly. The expense of a trial can deplete the very assets that are often the subject of the dispute. Even simple matters can require multiple court days to complete, and after spending many thousands of dollars, spouses and their attorneys are left with the total uncertainty of how a judge will rule.

6. Create an Inventory of Household Furniture and Furnishings and Make Copies of Important Documents

Disputes over furniture, furnishings and other valuable items, such as a great wine collection or an expensive piece of art, can be avoided by taking a complete inventory of your home as follows:

  • take photographs of every item and photograph sets of small items, such as dinner ware, together
  • use the front page of that day’s newspaper in every photograph in order to create a “time stamp,” which avoids any claims that the photo was taken at an earlier date
  • keep your photos in a safe, protected place
  • create a list of all items, including where they’re located and your estimated value of each, and
  • get appraisals or ask for insurance inventories of the items in your inventory.

Despite the strict rules for disclosure, some divorcing spouses will hide or destroy key documents such as pre-nuptial agreements. This problem can be avoided by making copies of important documents as soon as you decide to file for divorce, or learn that your spouse is doing so.

Food For Thought, Inpsiration, Journal

There is Always A Choice

The more I fight the notion that I have no choice, the more it hits me that besides breathing, eating, and drinking water, everything else is a choice. It sucks. It’s so much easier to blame others, or events than take responsibility for my emotions. It is exhausting to step up and say yea x or y happened, but how I respond to it always comes down to me. It is easy to point fingers at others, and think or say that what they said or did caused me x or y emotion, but ALWAYS it comes back to me that it’s MY choice to respond that way. Every. Single. Time.

So I take time today to reflect on my choices, and really dive in, is what I am thinking or doing really serving me? It is not an easy thing. I struggle to dampen my emotions, yet I also know that if I continue on this path of feeling sorry or powerless, it will not only make life harder, it disconnects me from my loved ones. I keep forgetting that when I am not my genuine self either to myself or to others, I cheat myself and them of the opportunity to grow from those interactions.

Yet it is not easy. I struggle daily to not take it personal. To not be in judgement or resentment or really any emotion that does not reflect my responsibility in it. And so I begin all over again. A new Monday, to be in responsibility, respect and non judgement. Wish me luck.

Happy Monday!

Business Law, employment law, Legal

What Small Businesses Should know about Meal Break Waivers

Many California employers know that anytime an employee works a 8 hour shift, that must include an UNPAID meal break and a two 10 minute PAID rest breaks. What about when an employee doesn’t work 8 hours and doesn’t want to take a meal break? Under California law, there is an option to waive that break.

1. Meal break timing obligations.

An employer may not employ an employee for a work period of more than five hours per day without providing the employee with a meal period of not less than thirty minutes.  A second meal period of not less than thirty minutes is required if an employee works more than ten hours per day. Labor Code Section 512.

2. Employer’s duty to authorize meal breaks.

As long as employers effectively allow an employee to take a full 30-minute meal break, the employee can voluntarily choose not to take the break, and the employer would not owe the employee the additional hour of pay in the form of premium pay for a violation.

While employees may voluntarily work through meal breaks, if the employer knows or should have known that the employee working during this time, the employer must ensure that the employee is paid for the time working.

3. Employees may waive meal breaks for shifts less than 6 hours or shifts less than 12 hours.

If the total work period per day for an employee is no more than six hours, the meal period may be waived by mutual consent of both the employer and employee.  Likewise, if the if the total hours worked is no more than 12 hours, the second meal period may be waived by mutual consent of the employer and employee only if the first meal period was not waived.  Labor Code Section 512.

 4. Meal break waivers for shifts less than six hours and less than 12 hours are not required to be in writing, but should be.

Labor Code section 512 does not require an employee’s waiver of their meal breaks for shifts less than six hours or shifts less than 12 hours to be in writing.  However, in order to avoid any potential disputes and to be able to defend against any potential claims by disgruntled employees, it is always a good practice to have the voluntary waivers documented and signed by employees.

Food For Thought, Inpsiration, Journal

New Month/Week

It’s hard to believe I am in the ninth month of 2018. Every month is a chance to take a look at my goals for the year. Yet more and more, some goals I see were really just wishes as I made no real attempt to make them part of my life. For example, repeatedly writing that I want to be able to do a pull up or a double under, yet not spending any meaningful doing the accessory work to get better at those movements means I still not able to do those things.

Saying I am a writer, but really writing when whimsy strikes led to not much writing from me. And it goes on and on. Yet it hits me that I have made progress in so many other areas. From getting stronger to steady clients for the law practice and making a concerted effort to spend time with people I care about.

It’s easy to list a bunch of goals and projects, and if quantity is the game then I can fill up page after page with a to do list, yet more and more I realize that it takes serious contemplation on what really are true goals and why. What am I willing to do or sacrifice to make those goals happen? And then I also get to take a hard look at the things I am spending my energy on. Are they giving me the return I am expecting or is my ego and pride so important to me that I continue doing things that give me no real value except that I am doing them.

It’s not an easy road to take when you break down passion into to do items, but then again if it just stays as a dream then is it really a passion or just me selling myself a delusional sale of goods?

Business Law, employment law, Legal

Let’s Make Everyone An Independent Contractor!

Although the idea of converting all employees to Independent Contractor to avoid Wage and Hour headaches as well as payroll taxes sounds like Manna from heaven, it guarantees that you will be found liable for violations under California Employment laws.

Mislabeling a worker as an independent contractor creates potential liability for employment taxes and penalties, and liability for failure to fulfill the many legal obligations owed to an employee, such as wage and hour requirements. California courts have decided several cases about who is, or is not, an independent contractor. Cases have been brought for failure to pay overtime, as well as for other labor code violations.

California administrative agencies, the federal Department of Labor (DOL) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) closely scrutinize alleged principal/independent contractor relationships to ensure that those relationships are not, in reality, employer/employee relationships. Enforcement efforts to combat misclassification are on the rise.

Challenges to the legitimacy of an existing independent contractor/principal relationship can arise in many forms, including:

  • Filings for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits
  • Claims for unpaid wages
  • Claims for workers’ compensation
  • Charges of employment discrimination
  • Investigations by the IRS, the DOL, the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and Employment Development Department (EDD) to audit wage payments, workers’ compensation coverage and Unemployment Insurance Fund contributions

Willful Misclassification

It is unlawful for any person or employer to “willfully misclassify” an individual as an independent contractor. The law also prohibits employers from charging a misclassified independent contractor for goods, materials, space, rental, services, government licenses, repairs, equipment maintenance or fines that arise from the individual’s employment, if the charges would have violated the law if the person had been an employee.1

Willful misclassification means: “avoiding employee status for an individual by voluntarily and knowingly misclassifying that individual as an independent contractor.”

The civil penalty for violation of this law ranges from $5,000 to $25,000 for each violation. Other remedies include requiring the employer to display on its website or in the workplace a notice of the serious violation of misclassifying an independent contractor, a statement that the employer has changed its business practices in order to comply with the law, and information on how to contact the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency to report misclassification.

The notice must be posted for one year, and signed by an officer of the employer.

The law also imposes joint liability on a person who is retained to assist with classification and who knowingly advises an employer to treat an individual as an independent contractor to avoid employee status. Joint liability does not apply to a licensed attorney or to a person who provides advice to his or her own employer. Joint liability would apply to a non-attorney outside consultant.

These civil penalties are in addition to any fines or taxes owed to the DOL, IRS or the EDD or any unpaid wages owed to workers.

Defining Independent Contractor

California labor law defines an independent contractor as “any person who renders service for a specified recompense for a specified result, under the control of his principal as to the result of his work only and not as to the means by which such result is accomplished.”2

An independent contractor works for another entity under a verbal or written contract, usually for a specific length of time. The independent contractor is responsible for only his/her own work, and is generally responsible for his/her own schedule. The independent contractor must also be responsible for how the work is completed.

  • You should assume all workers are employees unless they clearly meet all legal requirements and pass all tests various federal and state agencies use for proper classification of independent contractors. Consultation with legal counsel is usually warranted.