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Understanding the 4 Most Common Business Disputes

Understanding the 4 Most Common Business Disputes

Running a successful business involves many key components, including the management of relationships with employees, customers, partners, and suppliers. While most of these interactions are familiar to a business owner, there are many disputes that can interrupt even the smoothest-running business. At Garcia-Martin and Martin, we want you to have all the information when it comes to common business disputes, so that you can seek legal advice from a business litigation attorney in Houston, before the disputes become a greater problem. Breach of Contract: Contracts are legally binding agreements between partners or other businesses. If one of the parties bound to the contract fails to uphold the terms, or purposefully violates them, it is critical to contact a Houston business litigation attorney to help resolve your case. Employment Disputes: There…
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Texas Appellate Court Decision Reminds Us to Take Care When Drafting Conditions Subsequent in Non-Compete Clauses

Texas Appellate Court Decision Reminds Us to Take Care When Drafting Conditions Subsequent in Non-Compete Clauses

A Texas Appellate Court upheld a decision that a non-compete clause in two separate agreements was not enforceable against an ex-employee who resigned to work for a competitor. The court's decision is a good reminder that non-competes must be drafted with extreme scrutiny, especially those offering conditions subsequent clauses; otherwise a former employee may be able to ignore them and remain unpunishable. Jason Player was an IT manager working for East Texas Copy Systems, Inc. (also known as Copy Systems.) He sold his business to Copy Systems, who requested that he sign both a non-compete agreement and an asset purchase agreement, both of which barred him from competing with Copy Systems for a named period of time. The contracts also had an identical clause saying "i]f . . . Player's employment…
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Texas Court Finds in Favor of Former DOT Employee in Discrimination Case

Texas Court Finds in Favor of Former DOT Employee in Discrimination Case

A Texas court awarded damages to a former Department of Transportation (DOT) employee who claimed he had been fired because of his race. Jeffery Daniels had been an employee with the DOT for nearly 20 years when he was fired; he said his supervisor discriminated against him because he was African-American. He filed a lawsuit claiming the DOT had violated Title VII and Americans with Disability Act. The Texas court who heard his case agreed that Daniels was wrongfully discharged from his job. Discriminatory Treatment Before being fired, Daniels says he and other black DOT employees had to endure discriminatory remarks and treatment for years. When he or other employees complained of mistreatment, they were disciplined instead. Daniels and others were also forced to endure harassment, segregation from other work crews, and…
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Business owners who implement policies can significantly increase employee morale.

Business owners who implement policies can significantly increase employee morale.

While there are different types of business owners that have different approaches in how they interact with their employees, there is one thing that all business owners should know: when employee morale is high, you will see an increase in productivity and team work, and a decrease in absenteeism and turnover. You may be thinking, "Okay, well that's nice, but how can I do that without breaking the bank?" We actually have a fairly simple solution for you - adding specific policies to your employee handbook. These policy additions to your business pay for themselves over time and have huge impacts on your employees' morale; here's how: 1. Clear-cut policies make everyone's job easier - We all know the old adage: Man's Greatest Fear is Fear of the Unknown. Naturally,…
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For-Profit College Sued for Breach of Contract

For-Profit College Sued for Breach of Contract

Recently-shuttered Career Point College's operators are being sued by over 50 former students for breach of contract, among other issues. The students claim they were told by the college to take out high-interest loans to cover financial aid expenses. Some students were supposed to receive federal grant money from Career Point but claim the school never sent it to them. After students took out the loans, the college abruptly closed, leaving many students in debt and wondering what happened. Career Point was a technical college focused on trades like nursing, IT, business, and cosmetology. Unfortunately, students had trouble with the school from the very start: several students were given different tuition rates and were told to apply for financial aid in amounts ranging from $19,000 up to $30,000. One student…
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Judge Blocks Law Extending Overtime Pay

Judge Blocks Law Extending Overtime Pay

A federal judge in Texas recently issued an emergency injunction against a rule extending overtime pay for certain workers. The Department of Labor (DOL), along with President Obama, issued a final rule that would increase overtime pay for more than 4 million U.S. workers within the first year it is implemented. U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant heard arguments against the rule, which is supposed to be implemented by December 1st, and issued a ruling that will at least temporarily stop implementation. What the Overtime Rule Does The new rule will make the following adjustments to overtime pay: -  Raise the standard salary threshold in the lowest-wage region, from $455 to $913 per week, or $23,660 to $47,476 per year; -  Increase annual compensation for highly compensated employees (HCE) from $100,000 to $134,004 per year;…
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Marathon Petroleum Sues BP Oil over Breach of Contract

Marathon Petroleum Sues BP Oil over Breach of Contract

It's oil giant vs. oil giant: Marathon Petroleum is suing BP, alleging they breached a contract signed in 2012. Marathon purchased a Texas City oil refinery and three product terminals from BP, who signed a contract wherein they agreed to be responsible for the continue maintenance on the refinery until Marathon took it over. Marathon claims BP did not maintain the facility, and as a result, both the refinery and the terminals are violating several environmental regulations. The oil refinery was the site of a 2005 explosion that killed 15 people and injured nearly 200 more. Over the next seven years, BP received fines from OSHA totaling $84.6 million for their failure to cooperate with various safety rules following the investigations into the explosion. In 2010, BP began a project…
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Oil and Gas Company’s Non-compete is Struck Down by Texas Judge

Oil and Gas Company’s Non-compete is Struck Down by Texas Judge

Recently, a Texas judge ruled a non-compete authored by Cameron International Corporation was unenforceable due to its overbroad language. Steven Abbiss was an executive with Cameron and worked for the company for 25 years before being hired by its direct competitor, FMC Technologies Singapore Pte Ltd.  Cameron sued Abbiss for allegedly violating the non-compete agreements he had signed in exchange for company stock and access to Cameron's confidential information.   U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas, who presided over the case, ruled that Cameron's non-compete was too restrictive because it prohibited Mr. Abbiss from doing business with Cameron customers with whom he had no "material contact" while employed with Cameron, and it also prevented him from working with any business that was or could become a competitor of Cameron. Judge Atlas said that…
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Protecting your Business Interest with a Non-Compete Agreement

Protecting your Business Interest with a Non-Compete Agreement

Enforcing non-compete agreements can be quite challenging considering the rapid landscape change in this area of law in Texas. The Texas Supreme court at one time ruled that all non-competes, primarily designed to limit competition restrict a party's ability or right to engage in a common business, were unenforceable. But the Texas legislature passed legislation shortly thereafter, making non-compete agreements enforceable, should they meet the following requirements: They are ancillary to (related to) or part of an otherwise enforceable agreement at the time the agreement is made; They have reasonable limitations as to time, geographical area and scope of activity to be restrained; They are reasonable and do not impose a greater restraint than is necessary to protect the goodwill or other business interest of the promisee (the employer). In…
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Five Mistakes Every Houston Business Owner Should Avoid

Five Mistakes Every Houston Business Owner Should Avoid

If you've started a Houston business, chances are you've encountered one of the following issues or made one of these mistakes. The good news is, it may not be to late to fix these issues, but they first must be identified and then properly and promptly addressed. Choosing a Copyrighted Name Starting a Houston business is an exciting process. Yet after working hard on developing a brand and marketing materials, have you thought about whether or not someone else may be using that name, and you might be infringing on that name? Imagine the cost, personal headache, and heavy use of company resources to redo everything that bears the infringing name. Not to mention, starting your public awareness back at zero. Even worse, what if you were taken to court…
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