Practical advice. Flat rates. Plain language.


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In today’s blog post, we review employer policies regarding parental leave and discuss what businesses can expect in the future.

We’ve been reading the business news surrounding companies increasing the parental leave they offer their employees. In today’s blog post, we take a more in depth review of the trend locally, discuss what businesses can expect in the future, and remind employers to understand applicable law before developing their parental leave policy.

Parental Leave in the News

Washington tech giants Microsoft, Amazon, and Zillow have recently announced plans to increase their parental leave. Microsoft now offers 12 weeks of fully paid parental benefits to all new mothers and fathers. Amazon also introduced a revamped parental leave policy. Amazon will offer birth mothers up to 20 weeks of leave. Amazon has also introduced a shared leave program; employees whose partners do not receive parental leave…

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Parental Leave

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We discuss the recent California Labor Commission ruling that an Uber driver is an employee, not an independent contractor, and the effect on business.

The California Labor Commission recently ruled that a San Francisco Uber driver is an employee, not an independent contractor. This ruling, which came to light last Tuesday when Uber filed an appeal, could have major ramifications. The debate over whether on-demand laborers should be classified as employees or independent contractors has been going on for a few years now fueled by the explosive growth of companies such as Uber and Lyft. And regulators in different states are sure to look at this ruling when they have to make a decision on the issue.

The case that was before the California Labor Commission involves a San Francisco driver, Barbara Ann Berwick, who worked for Uber from July to September 2014. She had…

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independent contractor

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Startup founders will often wonder how much employee equity they should give and there are a number of factors to consider to craft the appropriate plan.

Startup founders will often wonder how much employee equity they should give.  While there is no bright line rule for this situation, there are a number of factors to consider to craft the appropriate equity compensation plan for your startup.

Types of equity to grant

Equity can be broken up into common stock and preferred stock. It’s unusual for a startup to issue preferred stock to anyone but an investor in the company, so we’ll focus on common stock. Common stock is a security that represents ownership in a corporation. Holders of common stock exercise control by electing a board of directors and voting on corporate policy. Common stockholders are on the bottom of the priority ladder for ownership structure. In the…

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Employee Equity

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In this blog post, we discuss what you need to know about the new Seattle minimum wage law that will go into effect on April 1.

Last time we wrote about the new Seattle minimum wage ordinance, we discussed how the International Franchise Association (IFA) filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the ordinance unfairly discriminates against franchisees. The IFA was asking for an injunction to prevent the law from going into effect on April 1. On March 17, federal Judge Richard Jones denied the group’s request for an injunction. Although IFA’s claim still hasn’t been fully litigated, Judge Jones decision regarding the injunction means the law will go into effect on April 1.

What you need to know?

The increase to the $15 minimum wage will be phased in, and April 1 marks the first incremental change.

Large Companies

If your business employs more than 500 people in the United States,…

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Seattle Minimum Wage

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This post discusses the new $15 Seattle minimum wage and how it will affect your business.

Earlier this month, the City of Seattle passed an ordinance that established a $15 minimum wage for employees working in Seattle. In this post, we’ll breakdown the details of the new local law, so you have a basic understanding of how it will affect your business. 

When does the new law take effect?

The ordinance will take effect on April 1, 2015.

How does it affect your Seattle business?

The ordinance provides generally that Seattle businesses must provide their workers with a minimum wage of $15 per hour. In terms of implementation, the ordinance treats certain employers differently, with “Schedule 1 Employer” and “Schedule 2 Employer” designations. Schedule 1 Employers are those who employ more than 500 employees. Schedule 2 Employers are those who…

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Seattle Minimum Wage

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A new Washington statute changes Washington Social Media Law and the way your business manages and monitors employees' online and social media presence.

The Washington social media law landscape changed recently with the passage of a new bill aimed at protecting employees from social media overreach. The new Washington “Social Media Statute” (RCW 49.44.200) presents a few challenges for businesses and entrepreneurs, especially those that may want to gain access to an employee’s personal or a “contested” social media account.  The statute adds new regulations that make it significantly more difficult to monitor an employee or applicant’s personal social media activity. Employers should understand their obligations under this new statute, and what it means for their social media policies.

Prohibited Activities

The statute makes it unlawful for an employer to “request, require, or otherwise coerce an employee or applicant to disclose login information for the…

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Social Media- Beware of Edge

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In this blog post we discuss how contingent contracts can be an important tool in reaching agreements, allocating risk, and aligning interests.

When you are negotiating an agreement, there are all sorts of ways contract discussions can break down. Often when negotiations become difficult, a contingent contract is a compromise that can lead to a mutually beneficial resolution.

What Is a Contingent Contract?

A contingent contract is an agreement in which the parties to the contract agree to different obligations depending on a future event. A common example is a non-discretionary performance bonus for an employee or manager. A simple provision awarding a non-discretionary bonus might look something like:

If Company Sells X number of units or more of Product Y in 2014, Employee will receive an additional $100,000 in compensation, payable on March 1st, 2015.

In this example, the Company agrees to provide the Employee…

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Seattle Zoning Map

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This post discusses agency relationships and who is liable when acting on behalf of the business with authority and who is liable for acting on behalf of the business without authority.

The term “acting on behalf of“ is often used when signing documents for a business transaction and when talking about liability for the actions of employees and owners. In legal terms, we talk about this concept as an “agency relationship.” In an agency relationship, the agent is acting for the principal in some fashion. The extent of each parties’ liability for an act is based on whether an agency relationship was in fact created and the scope of the agent’s authority to act. 

What is an Agency Relationship?

An agency relationship is a legal relationship between two parties that permits one of those parties to act on behalf of the other party. The acting party is referred to as the “agent”, and…

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Bound when acting on behalf of

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This post discusses guns in the workplace, firearm regulation, and what business owners can do to minimize gun related workplace risks.

The debate over firearm regulation is as old as firearms themselves. Recently, the debate has been brought to the forefront because of the actions of mentally ill people in Colorado, Connecticut, Washington D.C., and Arizona, among other places. But how does firearm regulation affect you day to day as a business owner or employee in Washington? That is, what should you know about guns in the workplace?

What can your employees do lawfully with their guns?

Business owners and employees are subject to the general carry laws in Washington. These gun laws allow a person to open-carry (visible in a holster) in most places or conceal a pistol while in that person’s fixed place of business without a concealed pistol license (“CPL”)….

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This post explores some operational issues you should consider during the due diligence phase of the purchase and sale of a business.

In today’s post we continue exploring the depths of the due diligence phase of purchasing a business. We’ve already discussed the financial issues and the legal issues, and today we’ll look at the operational issues surrounding due diligence. We’ve highlighted four important questions to answer regarding operational issues of a business you’re looking to purchase.

What products or services does the company offer?
It may seem like a no-brainer to most, but it is important to acquire an in-depth knowledge of the products or services of the company you’re purchasing. In many cases, the purchaser is well aware of the products or services because it is the products or services of the company that attracted the purchaser to the deal. The better…

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