The 411 on Retaliation Claims

The 411 on Retaliation Claims

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is taking action against employer retaliation in cases of discrimination alleged by employees. It’s important to implement best practices and informing your employees with valuable information as to avoid any retaliation claims. What is a retaliation claim? A retaliation claim is when an employee or job applicant is punished for filing a complaint to their employer or federal agency concerning: discrimination, participating in a discrimination proceeding, or otherwise opposing discrimination. Laws protect employees from discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability and genetic information and also prohibit retaliation against individuals who oppose unlawful discrimination or participate in an employment discrimination proceeding. Here are some examples of “Protected Activities” which are unlawful to punish employees for: Filing or being a witness in an EEO charge, complaint, investigation, or lawsuit Communicating with a supervisor or manager about employment discrimination, including harassment Answering questions during an employer investigation of alleged harassment Refusing to follow orders that would result in discrimination Resisting sexual advances, or intervening to protect others Requesting accommodation of a disability or for a religious practice Asking managers or co-workers about salary information to uncover potentially discriminatory wages A successful retaliation claim includes 3 elements. First and secondly, the employee engaged in a “protected activity” and the employer took an “adverse employment action” against the employee. The employee doesn’t need to be fired in order to have a successful retaliation claim. Adverse actions include giving the employee an unwanted transfer or a demotion, shouting at or ignoring the employee, or taking away or increasing duties by a significant amount. Thirdly,...
What Reintroduction of Internet Sales Tax Means for Online Sellers (cont.)

What Reintroduction of Internet Sales Tax Means for Online Sellers (cont.)

In our last blog post, we featured an article discussing the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) and how it negatively affects small business owners. You can read that post here: (http://bit.ly/2rI3BFq). This post will focus on the second internet sales tax bill being introduced, the Remote Transaction Parity Act (RTPA) and the unfair burden it will have on online sellers. Recap of the Remote Transaction Parity Act Similar to the Marketplace Fairness Act, the Remote Transaction Parity Act would not affect existing nexus, but would require retailers to collect sales tax in remote states, as well as in states where they have nexus. The RTPA works on a tiered system, with online sellers making $10 million in sales or more subjected to the law in the first year, online sellers making $5 million in sales or more subjected to the law in the second year, and online sellers making more than $1 million in sales subjected to the law in the first year. EXCEPT online sellers who utilize “an electronic marketplace for the purpose of making products or services available for sale to the public.” These sellers – a grandmother who sells on eBay after retirement or a college student dipping her toe in the water to sell on Etsy – would be required to collect sales tax in every state, no matter if they make $10mm in sales in a year or $10,000. Sellers on online marketplaces – which are right now the training ground for online sellers getting their eCommerce start – would be subject to the administrative burden of collecting sales tax from buyers in every state...
What Reintroduction of Internet Sales Tax Means for Online Sellers

What Reintroduction of Internet Sales Tax Means for Online Sellers

For many small businesses that sell online, the reintroduction of the two sales tax bills will affect them greatly. In a post written by Mark Faggiano, the founder of TaxJar summarizes how these two bills reintroduce internet sales tax in way that may make filing tax returns much more difficult. Today’s post will share information on the Marketplace Fairness Act and our next post will explain the Remote Transaction Parity Act. Earlier in the year Congress promised to tackle tax reform in the spring, and that resulted in the reintroduction of two internet sales tax bills: the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) and the Remote Transaction Parity Act (RTPA). We’ve written extensively about both of these bills in the past. In short, both of these are bills with bipartisan support, but very tilted toward the welfare of states and brick and mortar stores with no online presence. Unfortunately, and probably unknowingly, both bills will place a hugely unfair burden on online sellers if passed. Recap of the Marketplace Fairness Act If this act passes, online sellers who make more than $1 million in remote (non-home state) sales per year would be required to collect sales tax not only in the states where they already have sales tax nexus, but in any states where they don’t have a nexus at all. The $1mm is remote “sales,” and not profit. As it currently stands, the precedent set in the Quill v. North Dakota case of 1992 protects retailers from being required to collect sales tax in states where they do not have a significant presence. This law would strip that protection away...
LA Minimum Wage Increase July 1

LA Minimum Wage Increase July 1

If you are an employer in the city of Los Angeles, or unincorporated areas of LA County, are you aware of the increasing minimum wage? Due to legislation passed that took effect July 1, 2016 raising earnings over 6 years, the minimum wage is set to increase July 1, 2017. Anyone who works at least two hours in a one-week period within unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County is entitled to the minimum wage for the hours worked. The employee’s employment status, where they live, or where your business is headquartered does not determine the minimum wage that applies. To find out if work done is in an unincorporated area of L.A. County, enter the address at the County Registrar-Recorder’s website or call DCBA. These rates are the same for the City of LA and are applicable to non-profit organizations as well. For specifics on who is exempt and disclosure requirements, visit www.dcba.lacounty.gov/wageenforcement or contact (800)593-8222. Please note, failing to meet all requirements surrounding the implementation of the wage increase can result in fines. We have listed them below for your convenience, with a brief explanation on how they can be applied. Violation Fine Amount                               Failure to post notice of the Los Angeles Minimum Wage rate and Sick Time Benefits- Municipal Code Section 188.03.A. Up to $500 Failure to allow access to payroll records – Municipal Code Section 188.03.B. Up to $500 Failure to maintain payroll records or to retain payroll records for four years – Municipal Code Section 188.03.B. Up to $500 Failure to allow...
Many Charged in Worker’s Compensation Scheme

Many Charged in Worker’s Compensation Scheme

Recently I read an article in the OC Register written by Sean Emery discussing a scheme to defraud worker’s compensation insurance. 10 attorney’s and 6 others had felony fraud charges filed against them by The Orange County District Attorney’s Office. These 16 individuals had more than 33,000 patients and an estimated 300 million of insurance payouts, resulting in a massive worker’s compensation-referral scheme. DA Tony Rackauckas said the charges were the start of an investigation by his office and the California Department of Insurance, which scrutinizes the role medical providers played in an alleged fraud ring that targeted mostly Spanish-speaking communities. “This type of fraud factory drives up the prices of workers’ compensation insurance and drives businesses out of California,” Rackauckas said Monday, June 5. Prosecutors allege that at the center of the ring were businesses run by Carlos Arguello III, 35, of Tustin and Edgar Gonzalez, 50, of Anaheim. In 2005, Arguello formed an advertising company, Centro Legal Internacional, which Rackauckas accused of setting up illegal contracts with 20 to 30 attorneys who focused on workers’ compensation and personal injury. The attorneys allegedly agreed to contract with companies owned by Arguello and Gonzalez, in return for employees, known as cappers, delivering the attorneys a minimum number of clients per month. Attorneys are allowed to advertise, the district attorney explained, but the use of cappers to directly recruit for lawyers or medical providers is against the law. Prosecutors allege that the cappers distributed a variety of fliers and business cards in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods and at swap meets offering “free consultations” for those who believed they had suffered workplace...
LA County Sales Tax Increase July 2017

LA County Sales Tax Increase July 2017

As you may be aware, there is an increase in the LA County sales tax rates taking effect July 1, 2017. In November 2016, voters approved Measure M which applies to Los Angeles County including all cities and unincorporated areas. It is imperative that you know which tax rate applies if you sell to those outside of your business location. At this time, the BOE is not increasing the sales tax for the passage of Measure H (Sales tax for Homeless Services and Prevention) which was approved in March 2017. Increases usually don’t take effect less than 6 months after the vote is approved, so it could potentially be implemented as early as the 4th quarter of 2017. We’ll have to watch for information to know when this increase will take effect. Unless a city has passed addition legislation for a higher tax rate, the new percentage will be 9.25%, up from 8.75%. The following cities will have a higher rate:   Avalon 9.75% City of Commerce 9.75% Compton 10.25% Culver City 9.75% Downey 9.75% El Monte 9.75% Inglewood 9.75% La Mirada 10.25% Long Beach 10.25% Lynwood 10.25% Pico Rivera 10.25% San Fernando 9.75% Santa Monica 10.25% South El Monte 9.75% South Gate 10.25% As a retailer, if you charge the incorrect tax rate, you are responsible for paying the difference. The proper rate will be calculated on the sales tax return when the information is filed. The tax rate is determined where the customer receives the merchandise, not where your business is located. A sale is considered to have occurred when the client receives the merchandise unless the contract...
Tax Breaks for Grandparents Raising Their Grandchildren

Tax Breaks for Grandparents Raising Their Grandchildren

Are you a grandparent caring for grandchild(ren) or think you may be soon? I read a blog written by Robert Trinz that shares deductions you may be able to take on your tax return. Read more to see what may apply to your situation. Tax breaks you may be able to use include: Head of household filing status -This is often more favorable than single (of course if married, you would most likely select married filing jointly). Exemption for the child – A taxpayer is entitled to a deduction equal to the exemption amount for each person who qualifies as his or her dependent. Earned income credit – To qualify on account of grandchildren, the AGI must be less than certain specific amounts that depend on the number of qualifying children the grandparent has. Child tax credit – Individuals may claim a maximum $1,000 for each qualifying child the taxpayer can claim as a dependent. Credit for child and dependent care expenses – The maximum amount of employment-related expenses that may be used to compute the credit is $3,000 for one qualifying individual, or $6,000 for two or more qualifying individuals. Credits or deductions for qualified education expenses – There are a number of tax breaks that may be available to a grandparent who pays his or her grandchild’s education costs. Deductions for medical and dental expenses – An individual who itemizes can deduct the amount by which certain unreimbursed medical and dental expenses paid during the year for himself or herself, his or her spouse, and his or her dependents exceed 10 percent of his AGI. Adoption expenses – In addition to adoption fees, qualified expenses...
Should Your Online Business Have an EIN?

Should Your Online Business Have an EIN?

If you run an online business and are wondering if it would be necessary for your company to have an Employer Identification Number (EIN), then this article will help clarify things for you. Whether it’s a legal requirement or not, the author Deborah Sweeney informs us on why you should have an EIN along with the benefits that come with it. EINs are typically needed if your company plans to hire, or is in the process of hiring, employees. ECommerce businesses that don’t plan on hiring anyone may dismiss an EIN without realizing all of the other benefits it can provide their business — many of which your company really needs. From protecting your social security number to opening up a business bank account, here’s why it’s handy to have an EIN. Protect Your Social Security Number In order to identify your business, you are legally required to use your Social Security Number or an EIN. While sole proprietors often use their SSN on official documents, many are now opting to file for and use an EIN instead. Why is that? An EIN is much less sensitive than your SSN which could easily be stolen in a case of identity theft, wreaking havoc on your personal matters. Don’t worry that you’ll need to safeguard your EIN either since these are only used as a federal identifier. If you know that you’ll be using your SSN frequently on forms related to your eCommerce business (Editor’s not: like a sales tax registration!), then it’s a smart move to file for and use an EIN as a precaution. Federal Tax ID Numbers...
Will Trump’s New Healthcare Bill Impact Your Taxes?

Will Trump’s New Healthcare Bill Impact Your Taxes?

If you’ve heard about the new healthcare bill President Trump wants to pass, there are some things you need to know on how it might affect you and your taxes. In a brief blog post, written by Kent Livingston, he discusses the new proposal and how it could bring about noteworthy changes of which you should be informed. Since President Trump and his administration took office in January there has been much hubbub about the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. Of course, this was a hot topic throughout the campaign and it has remained on the forefront of the new administration’s agenda since they took control of the White House. After a previous attempt to repeal the ACA failed in March, early May the Trump administration introduced another plan that passed the House in its first attempt: the American Health Care Act, or AHCA. However, that doesn’t mean the fight is over. In fact, the bill still has to clear the Senate and at this point the outcome is anything but certain, with many senators already opposing the bill. Significant Changes In any case, the new proposal would lead to several significant changes, including changes to your taxes, if it does become law, and therefore you should be aware of how it would affect you should it pass. No Penalty for Not Having Insurance – For starters, one of the biggest complaints about Obamacare was the individual mandate to have insurance and the penalty for not complying. The new bill would eliminate this penalty and thus save taxpayers who choose to go uninsured hundreds of dollars a...
Commission Based Salespersons: A Cautionary Tale

Commission Based Salespersons: A Cautionary Tale

Do you pay employees on a commission basis? if so, I’d like to share information with you from a recent newsletter by DeAnn Chase of the Chase Law Group. A recent case issued by the California appellate court will have a significant impact on the structure of commission-based compensation for inside salespersons.  The case of Vaquero v. Stoneledge Furniture involved employees engaged in retail furniture sales activities for Ashley Furniture Stores, (“Ashley”).  Ashley argued that its compensation program ensured that employees were paid at least minimum wage, and that this compensation plan adequately accounted for the employees’ meal and rest periods.  However, Ashley’s compensation plan was structured such that the employees were paid via a “draw” against advanced commissions that equated to an hourly wage that exceeded the minimum hourly wage, but allowed Ashley to “claw back” future commissions for pay periods in which the employees’ commissions did not exceed the hourly minimum payments.  The court therefore determined that this program did not adequately account for non-sales activities, such as time spent in meetings or trainings.  Accordingly, the court determined that Ashley’s compensation plan did not adequately account for the employees’ mandatory rest periods, and that the employees should have been separately compensated for these rest periods.  Notably, the court found that an alternative compensation program instituted by Ashley prior to the court’s final determination was adequate.  This compensation program provided that the employees would be paid a fixed hourly wage that complied with the local, state and federal minimum wage, and then provided the employees with incentive-based commissions based on sales.  If you run a business that hires...

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