When Does My Business Need to File for Bankruptcy?

By ,

file for bankruptcy

No one wants to think about bankruptcy, but unfortunately, sometimes it may be the best solution for a struggling business. To determine if filing for bankruptcy is the right choice, it is important to understand what filing entails, as well as what situations might give rise to considering such an extreme financial measure.

What is Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a legal process that allows businesses and individuals who are unable to pay off their debts to either have those debts completely discharged or restructured over time with payment plans. There are different types of bankruptcy for businesses and individuals, but all types require the filer to provide detailed information about their assets and liabilities, as well as their income and expenses. This helps creditors determine how much money can be repaid.

When Should a Business Consider Filing Bankruptcy?

Businesses should only consider filing for bankruptcy when other options have been exhausted or the debt far exceeds the company’s ability to repay it in a reasonable amount of time. Other options may include restructuring debt through loan modifications, refinancing debt at better terms or having creditors agree to accept less than full payment in exchange for eliminating late fees or interest charges. If none of these options are available, then bankruptcy may be necessary in order to protect the business from further damage due to mounting debt obligations that cannot be met.

Types of Bankruptcy Available

The two types of bankruptcy most commonly used by businesses are Chapter 7 (liquidation) and Chapter 11 (reorganization). With Chapter 7, most of the company’s assets are sold in exchange for cash that is then used to pay off creditors; any remaining debt is discharged by the court. The company ceases operations immediately upon filing Chapter 7. If you have incurred personal debt on behalf of the business, however, be aware that your obligations for those debts may live on after business bankruptcy and after your business has ceased operations. If you have taken on personal liability for loans or other debts for the business, you may want to consider filing personal bankruptcy under Chapter 7 protection to attempt to eliminate these debts on yourself.

With Chapter 11, the company continues operating while attempting to reach an agreement with its creditors regarding how much will be paid out over time and which obligations will be forgiven in exchange for future payments being made on time. Chapter 11 business bankruptcy essentially allows for a clean slate for the business, after reorganizing the company’s debts.

The Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Protect Your Business

Filing for bankruptcy can often be seen as a last resort option for businesses who find themselves in financial distress due to overwhelming debt obligations they cannot meet without outside help from creditors or other sources. If your business is facing extreme financial trouble, discuss your legal options with the Philadelphia business lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Call 215-574-0600 or contact us online. We proudly serve not only Philadelphia, but also Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

  Category: Bankruptcy, Business Law
  Comments: Comments Off on When Does My Business Need to File for Bankruptcy?
  Other posts by

Am I Entitled to Unemployment Insurance Benefits?

By ,

unemployment insurance benefits

Federal law protects employees who work for companies and lose their jobs “through no fault of their own,” as long as the claimant worked for a certain amount of time and earned a minimum amount of money. These rules vary depending on the state. Unemployment benefits are not usually given to employees who quit or get fired unless the job loss or reduced hours was not their fault. Other guidelines apply as well. If approved, the former employee must apply for benefits once every one or two weeks.

Pennsylvania Unemployment Guidelines

To qualify for Pennsylvania unemployment benefits, you must have worked a minimum of 18 credit (calendar) weeks and earned $116 or more per week. The Pennsylvania Office of Unemployment Compensation also bases eligibility on the reason for the employer/employee separation. Your former employer will be contacted, and this information will be evaluated along with the details you provide.

You need to have a qualifying separation like being laid off or the company closing down to receive unemployment benefits, but others may qualify depending on the circumstances. Separations based on the following will generally result in benefit denials:

  • Failed drug and alcohol testing
  • Frequent absenteeism/tardiness
  • Poor work performance
  • Willful misconduct
  • Willfully damaging company property

To continue receiving benefits, you must be willing to accept new work and not turn down any legitimate offers. You’ll have to certify your benefits every week as well. The benefits last 52 weeks after your application date, so it is a temporary, not a permanent solution.

New Jersey Unemployment Guidelines

New Jersey’s unemployment eligibility guidelines differ somewhat from Pennsylvania’s. Applicants must have worked for at least 20 weeks and have earned a minimum of $240 a week or a total of $12,000 during that time. Layoffs and company downsizings are acceptable reasons for separations, just like in Pennsylvania. The guidelines are also similar for those who quit voluntarily. When you indicate this answer on your application, a claims examiner will be in touch with you and most likely, your previous employer.

Once approved, you’ll need to certify for benefits each week. To continue receiving payments, you have to be able to work, be looking for work, and not refuse any legitimate offers. If you meet the requirements and become eligible for benefits, you will get them for 26 weeks; that is half what Pennsylvania provides. Both states limit benefits for self-employed workers who own businesses and independent contractors. If you did not pay any payroll taxes, you will not be eligible.

Dealing with state unemployment offices can be frustrating, especially when you are put on hold for hours at a time or get disconnected. This can delay your application process if you have questions. It is also problematic if you were denied and need help with an appeal. Some employees lose their jobs because of discrimination or wrongful termination and others cannot get approvals. When these situations occur, a knowledgeable employment lawyer could be your best bet.

The Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Fight to Protect Their Client’s Rights

Losing your job is concerning enough but when you are denied the employment benefits you deserve, you will want to stand up and fight for your rights. Contact Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. to speak with our skilled Philadelphia employment lawyers about your claim today. Complete our online form or call our office at 215-574-0600. From our offices in Philadelphia, we serve employees in South Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

  Category: Employment Law
  Comments: Comments Off on Am I Entitled to Unemployment Insurance Benefits?
  Other posts by

Why is January the Best Time to Start a Business? 

By ,

Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Clients Establish New Businesses.

Starting or incorporating a business on January 1 has several advantages, the most notable being tax breaks and startup cost savings. However, beginning the process in the last few months of the year is the most beneficial by utilizing Pennsylvania’s “delayed-effective date.”

Delayed-effective filing allows you to select a future date for the business filing to be considered effective, reducing taxes and personal liability because your business starts in the first month of the calendar year. Pennsylvania has no limit to how far ahead you can forward-date the filing, providing you with valuable time to get a head start on setting up the business, and ensuring the business is approved and formed by the start of the new year. Advantages of a January effective date include:

Streamlining the Tax Process

Business owners must file tax returns for every year of the business’s existence, regardless of profit or revenue. Starting a business in the middle of a calendar year has negative tax repercussions by requiring you to file taxes in two separate periods: one for the term you operate as a sole proprietorship and another for the period after incorporation. In addition, owners of limited liability companies (LLC) are required to declare any profits and losses on their personal income taxes as well. Setting an effective date in the first month of the year eliminates the need for two separate tax filings during the fiscal year and possibly reducing the overall amount of tax owed.

Faster Processing

Many entrepreneurs choose to start their business in January for the reasons previously stated, however, a large majority wait until January to start the filing process. As a result, state corporation offices experience a backlog in the first few weeks of the new year, creating longer wait times for officially establishing your business. This can result in delayed profits and two tax filings. Filing in late fall and selecting a January 1 effective date avoids waiting in the backlog as state offices can process the filing in the order they receive it, thereby avoiding the new year rush.

State Compliance Advantages

Businesses are required to maintain compliance with state regulations to remain in good standing and operate legally, including identifying a registered agent, filing annual reports, and paying state franchise taxes. Typically, annual reports and state tax returns are not due until the first anniversary of the business’s formation. Just as the federal tax filing, choosing a January 1 effective date avoids the need to file franchise taxes and filing fees with multiple agencies for only a few months of operation.

Additional Preparation Time

Choosing a delayed-effective date several weeks ahead gives you extra time for preparing all other essential aspects of your business, such as:

  • Bookkeeping and payroll requirements
  • Business and financial plans
  • Creating a webpage
  • Developing employment contracts and hiring staff
  • Developing trademarks
  • Entering contracts with external vendors and customers
  • Establishing bylaws
  • Establishing lines of credit or securing capital
  • Naming the business
  • Obtaining business insurance
  • Organizational shareholder meetings, if applicable
  • Purchasing inventory
  • State and federal tax registrations

Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Clients Establish New Businesses

Starting a business is an exciting new adventure for entrepreneurs, and one of the most important factors is determining the most advantageous time to start. At Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C., our Philadelphia business lawyers advise and assist new business owners with becoming established. Contact us online or call 215-574-0600 for an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

  Category: Business Law
  Comments: Comments Off on Why is January the Best Time to Start a Business? 
  Other posts by

What Should I Do If I Believe My Employer Is Racially Discriminating Against Me?

By ,

The Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Support Employees Facing Workplace Racial Discrimination.

Workplace racial discrimination could be subtle, obvious, and/or systemic, but no matter which category it falls into, it is against the law. There are state and federal laws in place that prohibit this kind of behavior and if you believe that you have been targeted, you do not have to put up with it. The main things to remember are to gather as much evidence as possible and to follow company procedures for reporting what happened. Here are some other things that you should know.

What is the Definition of Employment Discrimination and What are My Rights?

Racial discrimination is a form of employment discrimination. It happens when employers and co-workers treat employees or applicants in less favorable ways, based on race. Examples of mistreatment based on race might include:

  • Being denied benefits and promotions
  • Enduring offensive actions, comments, and communications from colleagues, vendors, or managers
  • Not being given equal pay
  • Not being hired for a job even though you are equally or more qualified than other applicants
  • Not being permitted to wear your hair, clothing, or accessories that relate to your racial or ethnic identity (with the exception of such being hazardous to your working conditions.)
  • Not qualifying for job-related training/not being included in meetings

Employees have the right to be in working environments that are free of discrimination. If you feel that you are being treated differently because of your race, you also have the right to bring this up with your employer.

How Can I Prove Workplace Racial Discrimination?

Generally, managers and executives know better than to blatantly discriminate against employees in ways that can be documented (emails, flyers, voicemails) but if this happens, save everything in a safe place and include dates and times.

You may have to provide indirect evidence to prove a case of racial discrimination. Write down instances of discrimination (with dates and times) and see if you can get any witnesses to back you up. You can also find out what others with the same experience and responsibilities as you are being paid, document your skills, and find out why someone else got that promotion you were highly qualified for.

Can I File a Racial Discrimination Claim at Work?

The answer to this question should be in your employee manual, along with the steps you need to take. Smaller companies do not always have HR representatives, so you may have to go through another channel. Draft a formal letter of complaint and attach any evidence you may have gathered. Document the employer’s response and any actions they may have or may have not taken on your behalf.

Should your complaints not be addressed, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a state agency, or a local one like the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. Follow the instructions carefully, and you may receive a positive response. Otherwise, you have the option of contacting an employment lawyer.

The Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Support Employees Facing Workplace Racial Discrimination

Your workplace should be free of any kind of discrimination, but some employees still experience this kind of abuse. If this has happened to you, contact the skilled Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Our caring, assertive Philadelphia employment lawyers offer confidential consultations and can fight to protect your rights. Complete our online form or call us at 215-574-0600. We are located in Philadelphia and serve clients in South Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

Can A Lawyer Help My Business Negotiate with Vendors?

By ,

Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Businesses Develop and Negotiate Contracts.

Most business will eventually need to contract with outside vendors and others in order to meet business operations and success. A contract attorney provides a valuable resource for any activity requiring a contract, and more businesses are understanding the necessity of a contract that details the role of each party and provides legal protections.

What Does a Contract Attorney Do?

Contracts establish legally enforceable obligations between the parties and working with an attorney helps ensure that any contracts your business enters are executed properly and your interests are protected. Contract attorneys can review potential contracts, draft new contracts, evaluate existing contracts in disputes, and handle breach of contracts. Whether drafting a new contract or reviewing an existing one, a contract attorney can prove vital in key areas such as:

  • Terms: Contracts spell out the essential terms, or the fundamental conditions of the contract, which detail the obligations of each party and what actions are considered a breach of contract.
  • Provisions: Contract provisions are additional stipulations clarifying specific points and provide extra protection for all parties.
  • Laws: Contracts must abide by the local and state laws and regulations of the jurisdiction where they are filed. Working with an experienced attorney rather than adapting an online contract template is particularly valuable to your specific business.

Why Should I Hire a Contract Attorney?

Contract attorneys have extensive experience in contractual issues and applicable state laws, and may have specialty practice areas, such as intellectual property, tax, licensing, or sales agreement contracts. Working with a seasoned contract attorney is beneficial as they will provide:

  • In-depth understanding: Legal terminology can be complex and confusing, and managing contracts without a comprehensive understanding of legal jargon can leave you open to liabilities, inaccurate assumptions, and other critical problems. Contract lawyers are knowledgeable in contractual legal terminology and can help you achieve a better understanding.
  • Smooth negotiations: Contract negotiations can go off the rails if one or more parties takes offense of the terms. An attorney will take responsibility for drafting and executing the contract as an impartial party, preventing such a situation from occurring.
  • Incorporate laws: Local and state laws and industry regulations frequently change and must be correctly detailed within contracts. A contract attorney possesses vast knowledge of the most current laws, regulations and trends and will ensure that your contract meets legislation.
  • Prevent loopholes: The purpose of a contract is to provide protection for you and your business. Loopholes, whether intentional or otherwise, can put you at-risk of potential liabilities. When drafting the contract your attorney will make certain no loopholes are included.
  • Ensure terms: The essential terms of the contract are vital, as they detail what each party is responsible for, and the consequences should the terms be violated. Your attorney will include the best possible terms related to your industry and to protect you from disputes.
  • Protect you: Your contract attorney will ensure the contract includes specific information as to what constitutes a breach of contract and the consequences. Your attorney will also be a valuable resource for enforcing the contract should a breach occur in the future.

Whether you are starting a new business, establishing new vendor relationships, or experiencing a breach of contract, working with an experienced contract attorney is valuable to your business’s protection and future success.

Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Businesses Develop and Negotiate Contracts

All businesses enter into some form of contract with vendors and others at some point during the life of the business. Contracts are necessary to provide clearly defined terms and protection for all parties. The experienced Philadelphia business lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. work with many business clients to draft and execute many types of contracts. Contact us online or call 215-574-0600 for an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we also serve clients in South Jersey, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

5 Types of Legal Trouble to Avoid as a Business Owner

By ,

Philadelphia Business Attorneys at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green Help You to Avoid Legal Issues.

Establishing a business helps to create economic opportunities for owners, investors, and workers alike. It takes more than obtaining a business license and a location to be successful. Proprietors of any type of businesses are susceptible to making legal mistakes that may seem minor, but can be detrimental to the business.

Whether your business is new or established, the following are five types of legal trouble that you should do your best to avoid.

  1. Choosing the Wrong Business Structure

Establishing a formal business entity with a legally recognized structure can help you to protect your personal assets. The four most common business structures are:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • LLC
  • Partnership
  • Corporation

A sole proprietorship will not protect your assets against business liability where an LLC or a corporation might. A partnership might leave you vulnerable to liability, but an experienced business attorney could help you to ensure that it does not.

  1. Not Paying Taxes

Businesses must pay taxes to federal, state, and many local governments. A variety of business taxes could apply to your enterprise. If you do not pay them, a tax collector might force your business to fold and claim its assets.

A business attorney can help you to understand business tax liabilities and help to ensure that the business pays them.

  1. Ill-Prepared for Employment Issues

Job providers must do their best to fully prepare for possible worker injuries, complaints, and other commonly occurring employment issues.

Obtaining workers’ compensation insurance is required by law and helps to protect you and your business against injury liability. If you do not have it, your business is vulnerable to potential lawsuits filed by injured workers.

Establish formal workplace rules, accepted practices, and safety procedures. Regularly training your workers can help you to prevent accidents and complaints regarding workplace harassment or discrimination.

Ensure workers are paid properly for hourly wages and any overtime that they might accrue. Failing to pay in accordance with state laws could trigger a wage complaint and lawsuit.

  1. Poor Record-Keeping

Stay on top of your business paperwork and keep it organized. If your business records are in disarray, so is your business. A professional record-keeping or bookkeeping service could help you to prevent bad record-keeping from wrecking your business.

  1. No Succession Plan

An enterprise with a strong business model could last beyond the working career or lifetime of the owner. You should ensure your business has a succession plan that enables a smooth transition of ownership and power to an acceptable individual or party. A clearly defined and detailed succession plan can help your business to succeed after you cease your ownership due to retirement or passing on.

Philadelphia Business Attorneys at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green Help You to Avoid Legal Issues

The experienced Philadelphia business attorney at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. can help you to best manage your business’ legal risks. You can contact us online or call 215-574-0600 to schedule an initial consultation at our Philadelphia law office. We represent clients in South Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

  Category: Business Law
  Comments: Comments Off on 5 Types of Legal Trouble to Avoid as a Business Owner
  Other posts by

Should I Opt In For a Surety Bond for my Business?

By ,

The Philadelphia Business Attorneys at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Can Help You Choose the Right Kinds of Surety Bonds for Your Business.

A surety bond is like a guarantee from one company to another party and is business as normal for many organizations. At its core, the word “surety” signifies a formal engagement provided for the fulfillment of an activity. For business purposes, it could be a bond to ensure timely payment to vendors or contract completion; there are other kinds of surety bonds as well.

How Can I Get Surety Bonds?

Companies need to have licenses and insurance coverage to operate, and surety bonds may or may not be optional. Unlike traditional two-party insurance policies, surety bonds are three-way agreements between businesses, the other party, and the surety company. That surety provider is not directly responsible if the agreement is broken.

State insurance departments regulate surety providers, and this underwriting is seen as a form of credit. Because of this, surety companies look at a business’s financial history, credit history, and so forth. When claims are made, the surety company gets reimbursed by the business that purchased it.

The three main kinds of surety bonds are bid, performance, and payment.

  • Bid bonds guarantee that a contractor will submit a bid in good faith and enter the contract at the designated price.
  • Performance bonds protect business owners from financial losses when contracts do not fulfill their contract document requirements.
  • Payment bonds assure that contracts get paid.

In the United States, surety bonds can be written out by insurance company divisions and subsidiaries that handle these agreements. Surety companies are certified and regulated by the state insurance commissioner and may have more oversight. The Small Business Administration guarantees bonds for select surety companies, and this can be a green light for those companies to sell the bonds to small businesses that might not have qualified.

Why Should I Get a Surety Bond?

Surety bonds are required by law in many instances but even if this does not apply, your business could benefit from having one or more of them. They protect clients who sign contracts and make them more credible. Should you be unable to deliver on agreed-upon services, a surety bond could reimburse your client and protect your reputation.

If you hire subcontractors, having surety bonds will help reduce the amount of risk you are taking on. The bonds can relate to bids, performance, and payment, but keep in mind that the bond threshold requirements may change on different projects, reflecting the amount of the subcontract, timelines, and scope of work.

What Industries Use Surety Bonds?

Besides construction, the transportation industry also makes good use of surety bonds. The majority of these are necessary according to various laws. This makes sense because there is considerable risk involved with both.

The automobile industry is also big on surety bonds; auto dealers need them because of state government regulations. There are also certificates of title bonds and vehicle registration services bonds. Licensed insurance brokers, notaries, retail businesses, farmers, medical suppliers, assisted living facilities, and lawyers also often need to get bonds.

Individuals who own private businesses or take on private projects do not necessarily need to buy safety bonds, but they may enter into agreements that require them. As an example, a lender who is financing a private home renovation would probably want construction surety bonds from the contractor.

The Philadelphia Business Attorneys at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Can Help You Choose the Right Kinds of Surety Bonds for Your Business

Surety bonds can protect your business, finances, and reputation from risk, but they are not the same thing as traditional insurance. To learn if one is right for you, contact the skilled Philadelphia business attorneys at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Call our Philadelphia office at 215-574-0600, or complete our online form to schedule a confidential consultation. We serve businesses throughout South Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

  Category: Business Law
  Comments: Comments Off on Should I Opt In For a Surety Bond for my Business?
  Other posts by

Can My Employer Ask About My Previous Salary History?

By ,

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Prospective Workers with Workplace Discrimination.

A new job search can be an exciting and fulfilling experience in your life, but it can also be quite stressful. You will face many questions during your search, some of which you may feel very comfortable answering, while other questions may intimidate you or feel uncomfortable or even inappropriate. For instance, if a prospective employer asks you about your salary history, you may not know how to answer that question. You may actually wonder if they are legally allowed to do so in the first place.

There are a few states that make it illegal for employers to ask about salary history or what your current wage is. These states include California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Washington. Some cities have passed laws prohibiting the practice as well, including New York City and San Francisco.

The problem with being asked about your previous salary is that some employers believe it is a way to gauge your market value. Although that may be the case, it also pigeon-holes many people, especially women, people who are Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC), or members of multiple marginalized communities. This group of people experience a wide range of pay gaps, and if an employer asks them their previous salary, they may find it necessary to stay with that pay gap and not increase it. Many people believe that questioning a worker’s salary history reinforces the pay gap, which leaves many people getting paid less than what they are worth.

If a potential employer asks about your salary history, there are a few ways you can handle the situation without being disrespectful, such as:

  • Know your state’s laws: It is best to know before the interview if the state or city where you are going for the job has a law that prohibits salary history questions. If asked, still, you can simply say that you believe there is a new law prohibiting that type of question.
  • Practice redirection: Try to get back to the subject of salary requirements of your particular job or role, not your individual history. You can also chat about if the job is a good fit for both you and the employer. Use your education, skills, and experience as a good foundation of what your salary requirements are and not what you made before.
  • Lack of history: This job may be your first job out of college or after obtaining a new degree, where you lack history in the field, so there is no reason to be asked what your salary was before.
  • Share your history: Or you may feel comfortable with sharing your salary history, which is okay. Some interviewers discuss the range they are willing to pay, and if it is below what you have made before, then this might be a good opportunity to bring up your salary history.

What you made in previous jobs should not dictate what your future earnings should be. There are websites that illustrate what kind of salary you should be making for the role you are looking for, and you should use those as a basis for when you go job searching.

Although Pennsylvania does not have a law prohibiting an employer from requesting your salary history, the city of Philadelphia does. In Philadelphia, an employer may not inquire about salary history or rely on an applicant’s previous salary history for any stage of the employment process. However, an applicant can knowingly disclose such information, and in doing so, the employer may then use it in the process. Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against an applicant should they refuse to comply with a salary history inquiry.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Prospective Workers with Workplace Discrimination

If you believe you have been discriminated against in the workplace, then you must get the best help on your side. Contact the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. right away. Call us today at 215-574-0600 or fill out our online form for an initial consultation. With our offices located in Philadelphia, we proudly serve all clients of South Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

  Category: Employment Law
  Comments: Comments Off on Can My Employer Ask About My Previous Salary History?
  Other posts by

What are RICO Charges?

By ,

The Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Defend Clients Facing RICO Charges.

You may have only heard the term “RICO charges” on TV crime shows and in movies, but it is a very serious matter with severe consequences for those who are charged and convicted. The acronym “RICO” represents the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act and applies to different kinds of criminal activities that take place throughout the country.

About the RICO Act

This federal law (§ 1961) was originally designed to fight organized crime and passed in 1970. The accused can be an “individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity,” but can also be a group of associated individuals. There has to be two or more acts of racketeering within a certain time frame. The prohibited racketeering activities listed in RICO include:

  • Acts or threats involving murder
  • Arson
  • Bribery
  • Extortion
  • Gambling
  • Kidnapping
  • Robbery

There are others as well, such as dealing in a controlled substance and dealing in an obscene matter. RICO lists other illegal activities, like wire fraud, money laundering, counterfeiting, collecting unlawful debts, and receiving income that’s derived from patterns of racketeering activity. In all, RICO covers over 30 kinds of crimes.

What are RICO Act Penalties?

Since RICO charges are of a criminal nature, those who are convicted of violating these laws face substantial penalties. To start, the hefty fines can be as much as twice the amount of any proceeds received from the illegal activities. The other consequence is even worse, as it involves prison time that can range from less than a year to a life sentence, depending on the crime and state laws. A first RICO conviction in Pennsylvania is a first-degree felony that comes with minimum of nine months in prison; the maximum is 20 years and a fine of $25,000. If convicted, the defendant’s total interest in the criminal enterprise is given to the federal government.

When RICO was passed, it also included procedural rules allowing the government to freeze defendant assets before cases went to court. This was done to ensure that the money would not disappear before the trial started and a guilty verdict was handed down.

Can the Government Prosecute Me Under RICO?

The RICO laws are not just for organized crime groups and their members. Those outside this realm can also be charged with the violent and drug-related crimes listed above. White-collar crimes like embezzlement, gambling, and mail fraud can also be charged, prosecuted, and convicted. Plaintiffs who were injured or otherwise harmed by RICO violations committed by other parties can also seek damages in civil suits. There is a four-year statute of limitations in these cases, but no cap on the damages.

In Pennsylvania, the state has to prove that you participated in two or more racketeering activities within a 10-year time frame in order to prosecute. They also must show that you participated or were invested in the illegal enterprise. Again, if charged under RICO, your assets related to the activity will be frozen until the case is completed and a verdict is handed down. If you are charged with multiple counts, the prison time and fines could be extended and increased.

The Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Defend Clients Facing RICO Charges

You should not face RICO charges without experienced legal representation, and the Philadelphia business lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. will fight to protect your rights if you have been charged. For a confidential consultation, call our Philadelphia offices at 215-574-0600 or complete our online form. We serve clients in throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Should I Continue to Work at My Job After Whistleblowing?

By ,

The Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Assist and Protect Whistleblowers.

A whistleblower is someone who works within a private sector or government organization and reveals abuses of power and other bad behaviors done by their employer that betray the public’s trust. The information they share can be revealed internally or disclosed to Congress, other government channels, law enforcement, and/or the public. But since whistleblowers run the risk of facing repercussions from their employers, should they continue working after speaking out?

The Aftermath of Whistleblowing

Being a whistleblower can be stressful, even when the person has good intentions. It is often portrayed as a heroic action, if you consider the individuals who pulled back the curtain on Enron, released the Pentagon Papers, or shed light on the tobacco industry. The public might view them as heroes, but the truth is that a whistleblower’s career can change forever.

Even though the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 was passed, approximately 30 percent of government workers claim they worry about retaliation for reporting wrongdoing. Since the government can have more oversight, it makes sense that private-sector whistleblowers worry even more in this respect. It has been reported that as much as 44 percent of these employees have experienced instances of retaliation.

What is the Whistleblowing Process Like?

You do not have to be working at the company that is the focus of the whistleblowing action, but if were taking part in the alleged illegal behavior you can consult a whistleblower attorney about how to handle it. All of the information will be kept confidential, and your identity will stay anonymous unless you decide to grant permission to provide your name.

Here are some of the programs in the U.S. that whistleblowers can pursue cases through:

  • The False Claims Act (FCA)
  • SEC Whistleblower Program
  • IRS Whistleblower Program
  • Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)

Claims can be filed under more than one of these, and there are statutes of limitations that apply. You must work with an attorney to file a case under the FCA, and using one for the SEC and CFTC will let you file anonymously. In any case, having an experienced lawyer may help facilitate your claim and increase the chances of success.

A successful case that leads to the recovery of fraudulently gained funds is a good thing, as the whistleblower can receive a percentage of the amount of money recovered as a reward. This can range from 10 to 30 percent, but every case is different.

Can I Keep Working After Whistleblowing?

If you work with an attorney, your identity will remain confidential throughout most of the process unless you grant permission to share your name. Federal law protects you from being retaliated against at work after reporting illegal company actions to the government. This means that you cannot be subjected to adverse employment decisions like demotions or firings based on what you did to expose the illegal conduct. If the employer does retaliate, you could be entitled to additional damages in a subsequent employment lawsuit.

There are also state laws that protect public employees from that kind of retaliation, but these might not apply to your situation. The amount of protection will receive depends on if the company is private, public, or a government entity, who your report the wrongdoing to, they kind of wrongdoing, and the applicable laws. The option of returning to work may be viable or then again, it may not.

If you are thinking about whistleblowing, you are taking on the risk of being suspended, demoted, transferred, fired, or facing other kinds of retaliation. That is why it is important to consult with an experienced employment lawyer before filing the claim – this way, an experienced professional who has your best interests in mind can guide you through the process.

The Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Assist and Protect Whistleblowers

It takes courage to become a whistleblower, and trusted legal guidance to help you make your claim. For a confidential consultation, contact the skilled Philadelphia employment lawyers from Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Reach out by calling 215-574-0600 or completing our online form. From our office in Philadelphia, we proudly serve clients throughout South Jersey and Pennsylvania.