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What Qualifies as a Business Tort?

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Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Can Help You With Business Tort Litigation.

Whenever a conflict arises that causes harm to a business, a business tort could exist. Many business conflicts could endanger your business. The harm could be financial and threaten to close your business. The harm might even be the theft of trade secrets.

A business tort always involves the economic effects of wrongful acts that impact one or more businesses or other legal entities. Many begin with contract disputes that two or more parties cannot resolve. Then, lawsuits get filed in federal or state civil courts and sometimes both.

The plaintiff in a business tort must cite at least one cause of action for the lawsuit to proceed. A cause of action is comprised of legal facts that justify the lawsuit. Most business torts involve one or more of the following causes of action:

  • Tortious interference.
  • Injurious falsehood.
  • Restraint of trade.
  • Unfair competition.
  • Fraudulent misrepresentation.

Other causes of action also exist, and most business torts involve a combination. The plaintiff usually seeks a judgment for cash, property, or affirmation of a legal right.

Tortious Interference Affects Prior Business Relationships

Tortious interference happens when an offending party interferes with a business’ contractual relationships with others. The offending party might make it impossible for your business to complete a contractual obligation. When your business cannot perform its obligations, tortious interference might be a valid cause of action in a lawsuit.

Injurious Falsehood Explained

You likely understand the general concept of defamation. If another party spreads a malicious lie that damages your business’ brand reputation, an injurious falsehood occurs. Malice must be shown and refers to intentionally spreading a known falsehood with the intent to cause damage to your business’ brand reputation.

How Restraint of Trade Could Occur?

When an offending party does something that limits your amount of trade, sales, or delivery of goods or services, a restraint of trade happens. Whenever your business cannot continue normal operations due to the actions of other parties, a restraint of trade might be claimed as a cause of action.

Many Kinds of Unfair Competition

Unfair competition has potentially widely varying actions that could result in the cause of action triggering a civil suit. Stealing your trade secrets or using your intellectual property to siphon away some of your market shares are examples of unfair competition. The unfair competition gives the offending party greater leverage to generate profit at your expense.

Fraudulent Misrepresentation Could Void Contracts

When one party intentionally lies in order to secure a business agreement, that is a form of fraudulent misrepresentation. The misrepresentation is done with the intent to deceive a business or an individual. It might involve contractual negotiations or other business dealings and could occur in many ways, including the omission of information.

Punitive Damages Might Be Sought

When a malicious act creates one or more legitimate causes of action that you could prove in court, the defendant might be subject to punitive damages. You would have to request punitive damages in a court filing or amend an existing case to request them. However, it is important to note that punitive damages are rare.

Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Can Help You With Business Tort Litigation

Our Philadelphia business lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. can help you explore your legal options when you must resolve a business dispute. Call us at 215-574-0600 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Can Doctors Negotiate Their Contracts?

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Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Doctors Negotiate Their Contracts.

Until you sign a contract, anything is negotiable. It takes a lot of hard work and education to become a doctor, and it is very important that a contract reflects that hard work and advanced education that was needed to become a licensed medical professional.

Verbal agreements can help prevent some conflicts, but they have almost no legal weight. However, a written contract clearly outlines what is expected of both parties. If you are weighing the merits of a contract, the following tips could help you to decide how to proceed.

Commonly Negotiated Conditions in Contracts

Pay, work hours, and benefits are common elements of any work-related contract. However, a doctor could have many more considerations placed in a contract. If you recently completed medical school and have a significant amount of student loan debt, you might negotiate a partial payment from your employer.

Many doctors need to do more than see patients and consult with staff. Some doctors have administrative duties as well. A contract might determine the type of administrative services and the amount that you are expected to do while on the clock.

Many doctors also might be required to remain on call on particular days and at particular times, such as overnight. The contract clearly should outline the times and how frequently you might have to be on call to handle emergencies and demands of hospital staff.

Virtually every aspect of your contract to perform duties is negotiable. It helps greatly to understand exactly what the contract says and what it requires of you and your employer.

How Can a Lawyer Help With My Contract if I am a Doctor?

The majority of doctors are highly skilled at providing medical services but are not well-versed in contracts. An experienced lawyer can help review a pending contract. Your lawyer can clearly explain what the legal terms mean. Your lawyer can also explain how the proposed terms might affect your work, pay, or benefits. A lawyer can help you understand the proposals in the contract and how to make counteroffers as well.

Making mistakes and signing a substandard contract might lock you into a bad deal for years. A lawyer can help prevent that and will negotiate the best possible terms of the contract.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Doctors Negotiate Their Contracts

If you are a medical professional and need help with a contract, our experienced Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. can help. Call us at 215-574-0600 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation. We are located in Philadelphia, and we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

What are the Top Issues for Non-Compete Agreements in 2021?

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The last year saw non-compete agreements go through several transitions as much of the workforce shifted to a remote working environment. A new year does not mean those issues will go away, as employers are still struggling with how to deal with remote workers and the language of their non-compete clauses are gaining more scrutiny as a result. The clauses, in general, have garnered the attention of several federal and state governments. Many expect the coming year to bring more restrictions at the state level.

What are Non-Compete Clauses?

Non-compete clauses restrict an employee from going to work for a direct competitor until a certain period has passed. They protect the business from an ex-employee bringing trade secrets to a competitor. Non-competes provide a set time that the former employee is prohibited from moving to a competitor, although time is not always a factor. Some will include geographic restrictions as well as limiting what industries a person can go into after they leave a company.

In other words, a non-compete clause may limit a person from moving from one financial services firm to another in the same town within a few weeks of leaving their job.

What Issues are Associated with Non-Compete Clauses?

Some problems have arisen with non-compete agreements, such as the size and scope of these agreements, as well as the impact of remote work. Originally, the clauses would only limit former employees from moving to a competitor within a few weeks or months. However, over time, these provisions grow over just a few months. They can also change geographically to expand beyond the physical location of the company. In some cases, they have encompassed the entire country. These expansions have caused non-competes to come under scrutiny with opponents claiming that they unnecessarily limit a person’s ability to make a living.

Some states have also placed restrictions on what an employer can make a firm sign, while others have banned their use. Where it gets difficult for employers has to do with employees who are now working from home in a jurisdiction that might treat non-compete clauses differently than how the office’s jurisdiction handles them. The courts explained that the onus is on the employers to word their agreement in such a way that clarifies any discrepancies in jurisdictions.

How are States Handling Non-Compete Clauses?

Each state is handling non-compete clauses in their own unique way as some take an aggressive stance against them and others are more lenient. Some states will limit the geographic reason or the timeframe that an employer can use it in their agreements, while other states may not restrict or enforce these agreements.

What is in Store for These Agreements?

The federal government has made several attempts to pass legislation that would limit these agreements or outright ban them; however, those efforts have failed. Any restrictions on non-compete agreements will most likely come from individual states as pressure mounts on local governments to limit them. Those states that currently do not have anything on the books addressing non-competes will push to adopt something, especially if they do not see anything from the federal government.

Philadelphia Non-Compete Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Clients Understand Non-Compete Clauses

Whether you’re an employee or an employer, understanding your non-compete clause is essential. If you want to make sure you understand your legal rights pursuant to a non-compete cause, contact the Philadelphia non-compete lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. today. Contact us online or call 215-574-0600 for an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout South Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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Pa District Court Rules That Employer Who Paid Its Employees One-And-One-Half Times the Minimum Wage Rate Was Still Required to Pay Overtime Compensations

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In Gonzalez v. Bustleton Service, Inc., the Eastern District of Pennsylvania held that an employer who paid its employees one-and-one-half times the minimum wage was still obligated to pay overtime compensation. 2010 WL 1813487 (E.D.Pa. 2010). Plaintiffs were landscape laborers who worked for a varying hourly rate. The “base” wage for each employee ranged from $8.00 – $13.50, but when the Plaintiffs were working on jobs for a government entity that set the applicable wage rate (“prevailing wage jobs”), they were paid nearly double their hourly rate. When Plaintiffs were working on normal jobs and receiving their “base” wage, they were all paid overtime wages in accordance with the FLSA, but Employer failed to pay them overtime when they were working on a prevailing wage job.

Employer argued that the overtime compensation should be based on the employees’ “base” wages, and when the employees were working on the prevailing wage jobs, they were paid above the necessary 150% of their base wage. Plaintiffs’ on the other hand argued that overtime is based on the weighted average of the rates the employee received during the workweek. For example, when an employee worked two different types of work, and received a different hourly rate for each, the overtime rate should be calculated on the average between the two hourly rates.

The Court agreed with Plaintiffs’ arguments and found that the Plaintiffs’ calculation was in accordance with the governing regulation by the Department of Labor. The Court refused to accept the employer’s calculation because, if accepted, this theory could allow employers to withhold overtime compensation if employees are paid one and one-half times the minimum wage.

If you have been denied overtime wages, the experienced Philadelphia employment lawyers at the Law Office Of Sidkoff, Pincus & Green will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. To schedule a consultation, call us at 215-574-0600 or contact us online today. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey.

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Third Circuit Holds that Employee’s Anti-Vaccination Beliefs were not Religious

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently affirmed the opinion of the District Court that a medical center employee’s anti-vaccination beliefs were not religious in nature. The employee had been terminated for refusing to be vaccinated against the flu and claimed that his termination constituted religious discrimination. His case was dismissed by the District Court. The Court found that although his beliefs were sincere, they were not religious in nature and not protected by Title VII.  This determination was affirmed by the Third Circuit.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Under Title VII, it is unlawful to terminate an employee because of their religion as all adverse employment action based on a person’s religious affiliation is prohibited by the Act. Under the statute, religion encompasses belief, unless an employer can show that they are unable to reasonably accommodate their observance without undue hardship.

The legal standard, with respect to the employee’s personally held beliefs, is whether they addressed the fundamental questions having to do with deep and imponderable matters, and whether they are comprehensive in nature and accompanied by certain formal and external signs. When discussing his own beliefs, the employee in this case stated that one should not harm their own body, that he believed the flu vaccine did more harm than good, and that bowing to the medical center’s policy would violate his conscience as to what he believed was right and wrong. Because his beliefs did not meet the threshold set by the standard, the Court ultimately found that his beliefs were not religious. The Court noted that anti-vaccination beliefs could be part of a broader religious faith, in which case, refusal might be protected.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Represent Victims of Religious Discrimination

If you suspect that you have suffered an adverse employment action because of your religious beliefs, the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. may be able help. To discuss your case, call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online. Our legal team handles all types of employment related litigation.

Court Rules that Accommodations for Indefinite Leave are Not Reasonable

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An Appellate Court in Connecticut recently ruled that a reasonable accommodation for medical leave does not require employers to wait indefinitely for an employee’s medical condition to resolve itself. In the case of Thomson v. Department of Social Services, the plaintiff informed her employer that she would be taking a leave of absence from her work, but did not provide her employer with a time frame for her return. She also did not respond to her employer’s subsequent attempts to reach out to her in order to determine when she planned to return.

According to the Court, this employee essentially asked her employer to hold her position open for her indefinitely while she attempted to recover. The Court, relying on federal laws, found that this was not a reasonable accommodation request. The plaintiff, according to the Court, could not establish a prima facie case of discrimination on these facts.

The employee informed her supervisor that she would be taking “over thirty days” leave depending on whether the lung condition resolved itself. And during a deposition, she confirmed that she did not know how long she was going to be out of work to recover from her health condition.

At the time she left her employment to take leave, the employee filled out a number of forms for her employer. The information she listed on these forms was incoherent and confusing. Her employer even reached out to her by certified mail for additional information, and did not receive a response. When the time came that she was required to submit further information and did not, her employer terminated her. The Court upheld the termination, because the accommodation that she requested was deemed unreasonable.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green Represent Clients in Employment Disputes

If you are in need of a Philadelphia employment lawyer, contact Sidkoff, Pincus & Green. To learn more about how our dedicated team of trial attorneys can help you, call 215-574-0600 or contact us online.

Best-Interest Contract Provision from DOL Fiduciary Rule

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The Best Interest Contract, sometimes referred to as BIC, is part of the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule. The Trump Administration has mandated a request for information to guide the Department of Labor (DOL) in its review of the rule to either change it, or eliminate it all together. Last week, in a lawsuit over the regulation, the DOL filed documents stating that it would be seeking an 18-month delay in the implementation of the remaining parts of the fiduciary rule. This 18-month waiting period will give federal agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), a chance to weigh in. 

What is the BIC provision? 

A BIC is a legally binding agreement that allows stockbrokers to earn variable compensation on products that they sell to retirement investors so long as they act in the investors’ best interests. The BIC provision allows investors to file class-action lawsuits over violations of this rule. Lobbyists want to have the rule modified or stricken.

The 18-month delay period will allow agencies, such as the SEC, plenty of time to undo the contract. Critics of the rule say that it is too complicated and that it raises liability costs. At this point, the only thing that is clear is that agencies will continue working on drafting the rule for at least a few years. The SEC has already put out a request for comment on fiduciary duty. The DOL’s request for information also indicates that lawmakers may add specific exemptions to the rule for the sale of certain retirement investment products, such as clean shares.

By delaying the rule’s finalization that the DOL wants to collaborate with the SEC, Finra, and state insurance regulators, it is a very difficult and complex issue. According to many commentators, there is no end in sight.  This can be extremely frustrating to those who work in compliance. It is impossible to advise clients how to comply with regulations when they are hanging in limbo.

Philadelphia FINRA Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Represent Clients in Class Action Lawsuits

The Philadelphia FINRA lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. stay up to date on the latest changes in state and federal business law so that we can advise our clients with an eye to the future. Our trial lawyers represent clients in all types of FINRA lawsuits. To learn more about how we can help, call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online today.

Philadelphia Intellectual Property Lawyers Discuss Costco “Tiffany” Rings

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Recently, Tiffany & Co., sued Costco for selling millions of dollars’ worth of knock-off Tiffany rings. Costco described the rings as “Tiffany” rings on their signs. Tiffany & Co. argued that this was misleading to customers and falsely suggested that the rings were actually designed and manufactured by the famous jewelry maker.

Tiffany & Co. was the first company to set rings in a claw to show more sparkle and light refraction. Prior to its innovation, diamonds were encased in a metal cup, reducing the luminosity of the stone. Now, all rings set in a claw setting are colloquially referred to as “Tiffany setting” rings.

Tiffany & Co. was successful in its suit and the Court barred Costco from using the word “Tiffany” to describe products not associated with the actual Tiffany jewelry brand, and ruled that Costco should pay Tiffany & Co. over $11 million plus interest, and nearly $9 million in punitive damages.

Costco has announced that it plans to appeal the decision, emphasizing that the rings were not stamped with the Tiffany & Co. name, but rather the name of the company that manufactured them. Further, Costco argues that the rings were accompanied by appraisals that did not say “Tiffany & Co.” The receipts also did not mention that the rings were Tiffany rings and the infringement was limited to the signage promoted by Costco to sell the rings in its retail outlets.

Philadelphia Trademark Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Represent Clients in All Types of Trademark Disputes and Intellectual Property Matters

At Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C., we pride ourselves on providing clients with quality representation in various types of commercial and business matters. If you have questions about a trademark law issue, contact one of our Philadelphia trademark lawyers today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online.

Workers’ Compensation and Illegal Immigrants

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Under Pennsylvania law, illegal immigrants can apply for Workers’ Compensation if they are injured while working. See, Reinforced Earth Co. v. W.C.A.B. (Astudillo), 810 A.2d 99 (Pa. 2002). In Reinforced Earth, the plaintiff was a maintenance helper and assisted with cutting and welding iron and climbing scaffolds and ladders while lifting steel beams. Id. at 101.  While working, he was struck in the head, neck and back with a steel beam and diagnosed with a concussion, mild head injury and back strain and sprain. Id. Even though he was an illegal immigrant, the court held that he was allowed to receive Workers’ Compensation because the purpose of the law is to protect those who need protection, including those individuals here illegally. Id. at 105. Additionally, the court found that not allowing the plaintiff to receive Workers’ Compensation would reward companies for not inquiring as to a worker’s legal status before hiring. Id. at n. 8.

However, there is a limit to the compensation an injured illegal immigrant worker is allowed to receive. Mora v. W.C.A.B. (DDP Contracting Co., Inc, and Penn National Insurance), 845 A.2d 950, 952 (Commw. Pa. 2004). In Mora, the court held that when an illegal immigrant is able to go back to any type of work, his or her workers’ compensation can be suspended. Id. Mora went from working full-time and earning $800.00 a week to working only part-time and earning only $140.00 a week. Id. The court reasoned that there was a large price gap in the paychecks because the plaintiff was illegal, not because of injuries on the job, and therefore stopped workers’ compensation. Id.

At Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C., our Pennsylvania and New Jersey attorneys handle many types of legal matters, including immigrant discrimination. To arrange a consultation with a knowledgeable employment lawyer in Philadelphia, call 215-574-0600 or contact us online.

Pennsylvania Court Upholds PHRC Ruling in Favor of Employee Who Alleged Religious Discrimination and Retaliation After Complaining About Bible Quotes on Paychecks

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In Brown Transport Corp. v. Com., Pennsylvania Human Relations Com’n, Brown petitioned the Court of Common Pleas to review an order of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (“PHRC”) that granted relief to a former employee, Stephen Soffer, who asserted claims of religious discrimination, retaliation, harassment, and failure to accommodate. 578 A.2d 555, 559 (Pa. Comm. 1990). This religious discrimination included bible verses on Soffer’s paycheck and religious articles printed in the company newspaper. Soffer complained about the checks and the articles to management, but they refused to either remove the bible verse stamps on the checks or remove the religious content from the company newspaper.. At one point a manager at Brown told the Soffer that he should be grateful to be getting a paycheck at all. Id. at 556. After complaining multiple times Soffer was fired despite stellar performance reviews.  Id. at 559. The PHRC ultimately found in favor of Soffer, noting his impeccable record two months prior to his termination.  Id. at 561.

Brown petitioned the Court to overrule the PHRC based on the following: 1) the PHRC should not have permitted Soffer to add a claim under Section 5(d) of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”), 43 P.S. § 955(d), for retaliatory discharge; 2) that the PHRC’s findings of fact concerning Soffer’s allegations were unsupported by substantial evidence; 3) the PHRC erred in its application of law to the facts by concluding that Brown committed acts of retaliation and harassment against Soffer; and 4) Soffer was precluded by limitations in  in Section 959(f) of the PHRA, 43 P.S. § 959(f), from recovering any sums in the nature of either punitive or compensatory damages.

The Court ruled that Section 12(a) of the PHRA provides that provisions under the PHRA may be construed liberally, and the PHRC properly construed Soffer’s complaint to sufficiently allege discharge. Second, the Court found that Soffer provided sufficient evidence to support his allegations, and upheld the PHRC’s decision that Brown’s witnesses were non-credible as to why Soffer was fired. Third, the Court ruled that the PHRC’s findings were consistent with the evidence such that it did not err in its application of the law to the facts when ruling that Brown committed acts of retaliation and harassment against Soffer. Lastly, the Court relied on Consumer Motor Mart v. Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, 529 A.2d 571 (Pa. Comm. 1987) to support the PHRC’s award of punitive and compensatory damages.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers of Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Represent Clients in Employment Discrimination Matters

At Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C., our Pennsylvania and New Jersey attorneys are knowledgeable in all matters related to employment discrimination. To schedule a consultation with a Philadelphia employment lawyer, call 215-574-0600 today or contact us online.