Oh I Will Just Make Them Independent Contractors: Legal Reasons #33

2049877A recent client called and claimed that they would go the “Uber” route and classify all of their current employees as Independent Contractors as they no longer “wanted the hassle of overtime, lunch/rest breaks and payroll taxes.”  I listened politely as they continued to explain how so many companies they had heard of including call centers, delivery services and retailers now just used Independent Contractors instead of full-time employees, and saved hundreds of thousand dollars in labor expenses. I asked them a few simple questions.  Would the person control their time? An emphatic no.  Could they work from home? Maybe. Would they have to be in uniform. They sounded unsure.

Based on just those few answers, I told them that it was unlikely the employees could be classified as Independent Contractors. Moreover, while it sounded like an easy way to reduce costs, the costs and possible liability for a miss-classification by even one person could run into  those same hundreds of thousand dollars that my client wanted to save, making not only unwise, but potentially disastrous for their company.

It is always advisable to seek legal counsel for company wide changes especially those involving classifications, pay changes, and difficult terminations.


Determining Fault in a Car Accident: Legal Reasons #21

aid1662395-728px-Determine-Who-Is-at-Fault-in-a-Car-Accident-Step-3-Version-2The reality is that the odds of getting into an accident have increased tremendously with the advent of higher smart phone use. Distracted driving has become commonplace, and so have vehicle collisions. Once you know your safe, the question comes up.  Who is at fault?

Drivers have a duty to exercise reasonable care while behind the wheel. Obvious infractions or violations of the California Vehicle Code, such as driving in excess of the speed limit, ignoring traffic signals, failing to signal, etc. can be used as evidence of one’s negligence in contributing to the cause of a car crash. All of these are examples of evidence which may assist the decider in their determination of fault.

Who decides fault? Typically, it is an insurance adjuster, sometimes aided by a police report which is based upon statements from the drivers and possibly witnesses to the accident, physical evidence, such as skid marks on the road, damage to the cars, etc. However, sometimes fault is not easily determined and a car accident case winds up in court, so that a judge or jury can make a fault determination.


The Wondering Lawyer…

English: Icon of Law Firm--owned by user.
English: Icon of Law Firm–owned by user. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, I attended the LACBA’s annual wage and hour symposium, and the first thing that struck me was the amount of lawyers who showed up the millennium Biltmore, but more than that, how almost all of them dressed alike. Men in suits, and he women in business outfits with some calves showing and business appropriate beige or black low heels. A majority of them with the obligatory iPhone/blackberry, and/or laptop, the low light of the devices making it feel as I was on Krypton.   Of course, there were some outliers. One wore a Hawaiian  shirt, and another came with a hat, suspenders on blue jeans.  I was in the middle, no jacket, business shirt with no collars and almost too tight pants (that’s what I get for eating all the chocolate I can at night).  The glow of the devices filled the darkened conference room, and I only felt one feeling: Glad.

I am glad, I don’t work as a lawyer. I am glad that I am not in uniform. I am glad that I don’t have to report for duty. Yet, there was a nagging feel that perhaps, just perhaps, I was missing something. And then it hit me that I missed law school.  The camaraderie, the kosher food with my friend Elias, and the nick name “The Three Wise Men” that was given to us by our class mates.  Well, I was Indian, my best friend was black, and the third was an orthodox Jew.  We made quite an impression when we walked the aisles.  Yet it was more than that. I missed knowing the law as an intellectual exercise, but more so I regret never getting actual practice at a law firm.  So I know why I was looking down at the attorneys now, I was preempting my insecurity before it got the best of me.  In some ways, I couldn’t help thinking that they were REAL attorneys while I played one at my business.

Yet as my best friend pointed out, I am selling myself short. I know the basics, and been around issues at my workplace to have a good grasp of employment law as it relates to my industry.  The nagging feeling left after I finished the conference, but I can’t help feeling that I missed out on some parts of being an attorney.  My only consolation now is that I can learn as needed, and I don’t have to punch a clock. Some days, that has to be  enough.


Best Friend: A Blog Post

by Jemal Yarbrough

Sometimes, just looking at an image reminds of you the possibility of life, specifically on how a day can do.  My best friend Jemal managed to do that for me today.  I don’t know if he realizes how much of an influence he has been in my life.  We started as law school colleagues, part of the SCALE program at Southwestern School of Law, not realizing that we would still be keeping in touch more than a decade later.  Our days are Thursday as I happen to have a weekly meeting in morning near his house, and in those few hours we manage to keep each other sane.  I think I get the better end of the deal as he has to hear my incessant whining about something or the other.  As much as he will hate this blog post, I could not resist the opportunity to acknowledge his brilliance as an attorney but also his creative side.

If you follow this blog in any sort of way, you will notice that a majority of the images are by Jemal’s amazing photography.  His images manage to always move me with their intense focus and simplicity.  He manages to say more in one image than I can with a 1000 word post.  Each of us have something that is uniquely ours to own, and Jemal has made photography his bitch.  Sometimes, you have to let the ones close to you know how much they mean to you.  Love ya bro!