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Posts from December 2007.

Employers commonly use testing in an effort to determine qualified applicants. Before doing so, however, employers should ensure that any tests comply with the law. If an employer’s test discriminates against a particular group of employees, an employer could be subject to a disparate impact discrimination claim. Thus, it is important to learn about what practices might be ...

In the recent case of Thomas v. Total Health Home Care Corp., Pa. Ct. C.P., No. 79-07111379, a Pennsylvania state court judge has given preliminary approval to a settlement in which a Pennsylvania home health care company has agreed to pay more than $2 million to eligible employees for time spent traveling between the homes of clients. This was the first settlement of what is expected to be ...

Business owners and companies that are doing, or intend to do business in Asia, should note that the third and final phase to register domain names with the .asia top-level domain (based on priority) will come to a close on January 15, 2008. This final "sunrise" period (SR3) gives priority to registered entity names, such as the names of companies and organizations, and is primarily geared at businesses, especially small and medium sized companies, which typically do not hold registered trademarks for their brands or company names. SR3 opened November 13, 2007 and closes on January 15, 2008.

A general rule of employment in most states is that employees may be discharged at any time for any reason or for no reason. There are exceptions to this rule, however, that can trap unwary employers. Employers understand that one exception to at-will employment is that employees cannot be discharged for unlawful reasons such as their age, race, color, gender, disability, religion or national origin. Most employers and supervisors understand these exceptions and are aware that they must avoid discharging employees, or otherwise adversely affecting their employment, for these reasons. What is less well-known by many front-line supervisors is that when employees complain of discrimination, they are equally protected from retaliation for doing so even when their complaints of discrimination or unlawful treatment are unfounded.

Posted in General

Trademark disputes over beauty products can sometimes be downright ugly. A case in point is the opinion issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Rhoades v. Avon Products, Inc.

Public companies were required to substantially increase the information about executive compensation included in their most recent proxy statements. In particular, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) added a “Compensation Discussion and Analysis” (CD&A) to the required disclosures for public companies, other than small business issuers. Most companies struggled to determine exactly what the SEC was expecting to see in the CD&A.

Posted in Tax and Finance

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently issued final guidance for qualified severances of trusts for generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax purposes. By using the procedures outlined in the new regulation, taxpayers have another tool to more effectively and flexibly use their GST exemption.

Posted in General

Many closely-held businesses, especially family-owned businesses, face difficult decisions in deciding how to buy a deceased owner’s interest. Often these types of businesses do not want “outsiders” obtaining the deceased owner’s interest. Two approaches are commonly used: a redemption by the business entity or a cross purchase agreement where the remaining owners purchase the deceased’s interest. Under either approach, life insurance policies on the business owner’s life are sometimes used to provide the necessary funds to purchase the deceased’s interest.

Gift program

One of the remaining tax breaks in the estate and gift tax system is your right to make gifts of $12,000 to any number of donees ($24,000 apiece if you are married) free of transfer tax every year. (Note the amounts will remain unchanged for 2008.) Making these gifts is a great way to reduce your estate and avoid death taxes. Each year that goes by without your making these gifts is a lost opportunity, and a gift to Uncle Sam. Use it by the end of December – or lose it!!

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