Your small business is humming right along. You’re doing your thing and your sales are good. You’re sleeping well every night.
But then, “it” happens.
What is “It”?
“It” is something out of the ordinary that poses a risk to your small business. There are any number of things that can wreak havoc with your company and keep you awake at night. These are not small worries, but are issues that create serious trouble – or the potential for serious trouble. Let’s look at some of the more common issues that can arise in a small business, and the ways in which an experienced New York small business attorney can help you and your business.
You receive a demand letter.
A demand letter is a formal legal document sent by one party to another in an attempt to resolve a disagreement. A small business owner may get a demand letter from a vendor requesting payment or to settle some type of dispute, or a property loss suffered on your company’s premises. A demand letter is typically a first step before taking legal action against the recipient. A demand letter will usually be from the requesting party’s attorney, so your business attorney will review the demand, investigate the dispute, and attempt to come to a quick and equitable resolution with the other party’s counsel.
You receive a significant customer complaint.
This isn’t a “Why don’t you have this in burgundy … or in a size 10 … or have different payment terms” type of complaint. This is a complaint that can rock your operation, such as: a customer is injured in your store or place of business; a customer accuses your company of violating New York or federal regulations; a customer damages your business’ reputation by posting a false review or critique; or a customer threatens some type of legal or regulatory action. Any of these could dramatically impact your company and its future.
An experienced New York small business attorney will investigate the issue and provide you with solutions. In some instances, even a serious customer issue is the result of someone just wanting to be heard. Your attorney will ask the right questions and discover the root of the complaint. She will conduct an appropriate investigation into the complaint, and determine how best to resolve it.
An employee reports sexual harassment suffered on the job.
The best bet is to avoid sexual harassment in your business in the first place. There an experienced business attorney can conduct periodic training of both your staff and your management team. But even in well trained companies, bad actors can still be present. If you receive a complaint of sexual harassment, either from the person who was harassed or by a witness, you need to immediately take action. A business attorney will again investigate the issue, document what has taken place, and represent the company with the agency or employee’s attorney to try to resolve the claim.
You discover there’s been a privacy breach.
Once again, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and a business attorney will help you make certain that you have the resources to protect your data. If a breach does occur, your attorney will help determine the source and the extent of the breach and help you find the IT resources to address the breach as quickly as possible. Also of great importance is informing the subjects of the data breach – whether customers or employees - in the proper way and potentially alerting the authorities. Your attorney will work with federal and state authorities to comply with post-breach regulatory standards for your industry. Finally, your attorney can help your company prepare for post-breach cleanup and damage control to help restore confidence in your business.
You’re being audited by either the U.S. or New York State Department of Labor.
Employers should keep in mind that the U.S. Department of Labor or the New York State Department of Labor can audit your business at any time. But the most common reason for an audit is a complaint from an employee. An experienced New York small business attorney will help you prepare for the audit and address any issues that arise. And like many of these situations, your business attorney will help you avoid an audit by helping you with record-keeping, providing manager education, and setting up self-audits, as well as overseeing other human resources processes like detailed and accurate employee job descriptions, Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) classifications, and compliance with federal and state employment laws.
“It” can happen at any time. You should be prepared to avoid “it” and work with an experienced New York small business attorney to help you resolve these issues and get your business back to normal.
To learn more about these legal issues that could be affecting your business, please check out these articles where you will find helpful and relevant information:
- Help! I've Been Threatened With A Lawsuit!
- How to Avoid Unnecessary Business Litigation
- Digital Damage Control - Data Breaches And NY Small Businesses
Francine E. Love is the Founder & Managing Attorney at LOVE LAW FIRM, PLLC which dedicates its practice to serving entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses. The opinions expressed are those of the author. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.