Four Key Components of Executive Agreements

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Four Key Components of Executive Agreements

All employees should be aware of the employment agreements that they sign, but this is particularly true for those in high-level executive positions. We typically think that executives should have serious job security because their skills are in high demand, but this is not always true.

Executives can be subject to sudden employment changes because their company is purchased by another, they’re getting pressure from shareholders, or because the company feels that it needs to move in a new direction. In order to protect yourself from sudden termination, there are several key aspects of an employment agreement that all executives should be aware of.

Executive Termination in Rancho Cucamonga

Because job security for many executives is at the whims of shareholders, potential purchasers, or the market, many executives seek additional security in their compensation before signing an employment agreement. This allows them to receive a severance payment or payments after termination, often of a significant amount.

Severance payments are usually only allowed if the executive is not fired “for cause.” This means that defining “for cause” within your agreement is exceptionally important. You may want to limit it to intentionally wrongful conduct or criminal activity rather than something ambiguous such as poor performance.

Severance and Resignation

While executives may sometimes be forced out of a position, they also often choose to leave their job if they feel they are not given the resources or support necessary to do a good job. In order to ensure financial security even after resignation, many executive agreements allow executives to receive severance payments even after they resign if the resignation is for good cause.

Again, it will be important to carefully define what good cause means, and to ensure that the scope of good cause is not so narrow as to effectively prevent severance upon resignation.

Indemnify and Defend

Executives are often the visible face of a company. And when something goes wrong, they may be the first to be sued. In order to protect against unreasonable business expenses, most executive agreements provide that, in the event an executive is sued in his role as an executive (as opposed to in his personal capacity), the company will indemnify and defend him or her.

This means that the company will pay the executive’s attorneys fees throughout the litigation. The executive will typically only be required to pay those fees back if it is proven that he engaged in wrongful conduct.

Indemnification means that in the event an executive experiences a loss from the litigation, such as any damages that are awarded in the lawsuit, the company will reimburse the executive for those damages.

California Attorneys Making Sure Your Executive Agreement Is Comprehensive

If you are in the process of negotiating an executive agreement, it is extremely important to seek the assistance of an experienced employment attorney. Without legal advice, it can be easy to unwittingly sign an agreement that does not protect your interests.

At CKB Vienna, LLP, our employment law attorneys frequently work with executives throughout California to assist them in finalizing an employment agreement before entering a new job. For more information, contact us online or at (909) 980-1040.

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Ninth Circuit Takes Position that Consumers May Bring Lawsuits Based on Risk of Identity Theft

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Ninth Circuit Takes Position that Consumers May Bring Lawsuits Based on Risk of Identity Theft

The past twenty years have seen an immense change in how individuals conduct their banking. More and more consumers are choosing to avoid physical branches, paper checks, and in-person deposits and are instead opting to conduct most of their banking online.

While online banking creates incredible convenience for consumers, it has also created new types of risks, including the hacking of personal information and rise of identity theft. For those banks operating in California, a recent decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals should create an even more heightened awareness and concern about online banking risks.

Identity Theft in Rancho Cucamonga

Many consumers have had the experience of getting an email notice or letter in the mail letting them know that their personal information has been compromised due to an online hack. While such news may be frustrating and alarming, it rarely led to litigation. A new decision may change that.

In In re Zappos, a group of customers filed a class action lawsuit against Zappos after the Zappos website experienced a security breach that exposed the personal information, including credit and debit card numbers, of more than 24 million Zappos customers.

The plaintiffs in the case alleged that they had been harmed because Zappos had not adequately protected their financial information. However, unlike in other cases, the plaintiffs did not allege that they had already had their information stolen and used by the hackers, they argued that the breach put them at risk of future identity theft.

The federal district court granted Zappos motion to dismiss, finding that the plaintiffs did not have standing to sue Zappos because they could not show that they had already been harmed by the security breach. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit reversed this finding, holding that customers (including bank customers) at risk of identity theft due to a security breach, have standing to sue the company that experienced the breach.

The court noted that plaintiffs have standing to sue when they face a substantial risk of future harm, even if that harm has not occurred yet. The fact that their personal information had been stolen meant that, at any moment, hackers could attempt to use that information to steal money from existing credit card or bank accounts or compromise other online accounts.

This was enough to show a substantial risk of harm and allow the plaintiffs to proceed. This should get the attention of other businesses involved in ecommerce, online banking, or other activities where customers are likely to input sensitive personal information. Even if that information isn’t ultimately stolen, simply creating the possibility of identity theft may be enough for customers to bring suit.

California Attorneys Helping You Evaluate Your Online Practices

If you work for a bank, investment company, or other entity that relies heavily on online business transactions, maintaining your online security practices should be of the utmost importance.

At CKB Vienna, LLP, our banking attorneys frequently work with clients to evaluate their current practices, identify risks or areas where improvement may be necessary, and create a plan to address these issues. For more information, contact us online or at (909) 980-1040.

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Stepparent Adoption in California

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Stepparent Adoption in California

While the majority of adoptions that occur in the United States involve a couple adopting a child as their own, stepparent adoption is an increasingly popular form of adoption.  After a couple with children from a previous relationship marry, the non-biological parent of that child may feel increasingly interested in adopting that child as his or her own.

Stepparent adoption can also act to formalize the familial bonds that develop after remarriage, and give a child the comfort of knowing that he or she is part of a new secure family structure. However, the path to stepparent adoption is not easy and requires several key steps to occur.

Proving Your Own Fitness to Parent in Rancho Cucamonga

The first step in the stepparent adoption process is convincing state authorities that you are qualified to be the legal guardian of your stepchild. This requires first filing for adoption with the California courts. In this filing, you will be required to provide information about yourself, the child, and your relationship with each other.

After receiving the adoption request, the California courts will coordinate with California social services to investigate whether you would be an appropriate legal guardian for the child. While public policy in California promotes adoption, the state must be sure that children are being placed into a safe home environment. This means that you and your stepchild will likely be interviewed to help determine if adoption is appropriate.

Terminating the Parental Rights of Another

Becoming a legal guardian as a stepparent necessarily means that the parental rights of one of the child’s biological parents must also be terminated, assuming both parents are still living. Children cannot have more than two parents at one time.  

Termination of parental rights can be voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary means that the other biological parent agrees, in writing, to give up his or her parental rights. This may happen when the parent is unable or uninterested in providing for the child.

Where the other parent will not voluntarily terminate rights, the stepparent will have to go through termination proceedings. These proceedings can be long, difficult, and require a showing that the biological parent is unfit to be a parent – whether because of abandonment, neglect, or other reasons.

The Final Hearing

After the investigation is completed and any necessary steps are taken to terminate the rights of a biological parent, the final step in the stepparent adoption process is to conduct a hearing before a California judge. The judge will determine whether stepparent adoption seems to be in the best interest of the child. If so, the judge will finalize the adoption and confirm the new family relationship.

California Attorneys Formalizing Your Parental Relationship

Stepparent adoption is frequently the last step in the long process of developing a loving and safe relationship with your stepchild. The emotional bond between a stepparent and stepchild may be complete long before the adoption process is finished.

At CKB Vienna, LLP, our family law attorneys frequently work with stepparents to take the important step of becoming a legal guardian to their stepchild. We help you to complete the legal forms that merely reflect the relationship that has already been formed. For more information, contact us online or at (909) 980-1040.

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Child Support and College

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Child Support and College

In today’s day and age, the obligations that parents have to their children often go far beyond food, clothing, and shelter.  Succeeding in today’s competitive economy also requires children to have access to high-quality education, the ability to participate in extracurriculars, and the opportunity to attend college.

While most parents think of child support as applying only to children when they are young, moms and dads are increasingly expected to not only support their kids in their younger years, but also to help foot the bill when the time comes for them to attend a college or university.

Child Support Requirements in Rancho Cucamonga

In California, the obligation to pay child support for a child ends when the child turns 18 – 19 if they are in high school.  There is no requirement that divorced parents continue to provide support to a child after they are legally an adult, unless the child is disabled.

This means that absent a specific court order or agreement between the parties, California courts typically will not require a parent to contribute to the college education of their child, even if one parent has decided to do so. The decision to contribute is considered to be a voluntary one.

What to Do If You Anticipate Your Child Going to College

Increasingly, most parents expect that their children will eventually attend college. Among those fortunate enough to be able to do so, the expectation is also that the parents will pay the tuition bill.  Where one divorcing parent intends to contribute to a child’s higher education and wants the other parent to assist, the easiest way to do so is to reach an agreement to this effect during the divorce process.

When going through a divorce, parties will have the ability to put together a marital settlement agreement. In this settlement agreement they can set forth the terms of their divorce, including how custody is to be arranged and how property will be divided. Parents can also decide, if they wish, to make provisions for how future college expenses will be handled.

For example, the parents may agree to how the college expenses will be divided, by percentage, no matter where the child ends up going. Or the spouses may agree to contribute a certain amount of money toward college while requiring the child to take out loans for the remainder. Almost any type of arrangement is possible as long as the parties agree.

California Attorneys Anticipating Future Child Support Expenses

If you anticipate that your child will go to college and want to make sure that the expenses of a college education are adequately covered in your divorce, the best thing to do is to propose an agreement during your divorce to this effect. The agreement may be as detailed as you would like, but should consider all possible higher education scenarios.

At CKB Vienna, LLP, our family law attorneys can assist you in developing a strategy to tackle these types of questions head on, and can help you draft an agreement that will memorialize arrangements for the future in writing. If you’re looking for assistance through the divorce process, contact us online or at (909) 980-1040.

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Operating Agreement Fundamentals

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Operating Agreement Fundamentals

When starting a business, many business partners choose to structure their company as a limited liability corporation (LLC). LLCs help to protect owners from personal liability while also providing a corporate structure to work within.

LLCs do not come with any inherent rules for operation. Instead, the co-owners (also known as managers) of an LLC must decide on an operating agreement that will govern the way that the LLC is run.  While operating agreements are not required, they are crucial to a successful LLC for many reasons.

Ensuring Clear and Straightforward Governance in Rancho Cucamonga

The most important reason for having an operating agreement for your LLC is to make sure that all co-owners are on the same page regarding the operation of the LLC, and that the rights and responsibilities of each of the owners are carefully set forth.

Operating agreements govern how much interest any given member has in the LLC, including who may be majority or minority owners.  They also set forth the rules for decision-making in the LLC, such as how voting occurs and what kinds of issues require voting before a decision can be made.

While no business owner wants to think about the possibility that their business relationships will go south, operating agreements also set forth rules and procedures for handling disputes between co-owners, how a member of the LLC can be terminated, and what happens if a member decides to leave the company. These types of rules can be crucial to avoiding prolonged disputes down the road.

Protecting Your Personal Interest

Another reason that operating agreements are crucial is that they help to ensure that co-owners of an LLC are protected from future liability related to the company. Most business owners choose to set up an LLC in order to limit the possibility of future liability and create distance between their personal finances and the behaviors of the business.

The operating agreement serves to confirm and finalize the LLC structure and the separation between the LLC and its owners. Without an operating agreement in place, co-owners in an LLC may risk the possibility that their company will be construed as a joint partnership or proprietorship rather than as a true LLC. This could expose owners to serious potential liability down the road.

Likewise, an operating agreement also makes sure that your LLC is governed by the rules and structures that you have developed rather than the rules of your state. Every state has LLC rules or an LLC act that governs how an LLC will be run in the event that no operating agreement exists. These rules may be contrary to the structure you would prefer. But without a formal operating agreement in place, it can be difficult to argue that these rules don’t apply.

California Attorneys Helping You Develop Your Operating Agreement

When starting a new business, it can be incredibly tempting to skimp on getting legal assistance to develop and draft an operating agreement in order to avoid the possible costs. While this approach may seem beneficial in the short term, it is often disastrous in the long term as it can lead to bitter business disputes down the road.


At CKB Vienna, LLP, our corporate and transactional attorneys can assist you in drafting organizational documents for your company that will protect your interest in the company and ensure that the structure you and your co-owners have developed is memorialized in writing. For more information, contact us online or at (909) 980-1040.

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What Is a 30(b)(6) Deposition?

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What Is a 30(b)(6) Deposition?

During the course of a business dispute or a lawsuit involving businesses, each of the parties will typically want to depose key witness who may have important information about the case. The parties may also want to depose each other in order to learn what their opposition will say at trial.

When dealing with individuals, this is relatively easy. You can identify the person, subpoena them to attend, and ask them about all matters within their knowledge.  In business disputes, however, it is often the knowledge of the business that is most important, and that knowledge is rarely limited to one individual. In these cases, 30(b)(6) depositions become important.

How Do 30(b)(6) Depositions Work in Rancho Cucamonga?

30(b)(6) depositions are depositions of a corporate entity that are performed by a corporate designee. The corporate designee is expected to acquire the knowledge of the company and be available to answer questions in his or her corporate representative capacity rather than as an individual.

Because the knowledge of a corporation rarely lies with one individual, a corporate representative must acquire the knowledge of the corporation by talking with the various employees at the corporation who may know information relevant to the dispute. The corporate representative then presents this information at the 30(b)(6) deposition.

The Logistics of a 30(b)(6) Deposition

Acquiring the full knowledge of a corporation would be very difficult, if not impossible, for one person to do on all topics.  For this reason, in order to facilitate a 30(b)(6) deposition and make it productive for all parties, the party seeking a 30(b)(6) deposition must send a notice of topics to be covered in advance of the deposition.

The corporation can then identify certain individuals to respond to different topics contained within the notice or assign one person the responsibility for acting in this representative capacity. For example, if a dispute involves the financial affairs of the company and the actions of its sales department, a corporation might designate its CFO to represent the company on financial matters and the VP of sales to represent the sales department.

When 30(b)(6) notices are exchanged, the parties have the ability to negotiate the topics covered at the deposition, including whether certain topics might be irrelevant or overly broad. Whatever final topics the parties agree to, the corporate representatives designated must do their best to research those topics so that they can fully and adequately speak to them at the deposition.

Conversely, the parties taking the 30(b)(6) deposition cannot suddenly spring new topics on a corporate representative at the deposition. They must stick to the topics previously identified or they risk the possibility that the corporate representative will be unable to answer the questions asked.

California Attorneys Helping You Prep for a 30(b)(6) Deposition

If your business is involved in litigation and believes that a a 30(b)(6) deposition may be imminent, it is important that you fully understand the obligations and responsibilities of your company to prepare for such a deposition and how best to respond.


At CKB Vienna, LLP, our business litigation attorneys frequently assist clients in preparing for, and taking, 30(b)(6) depositions when they are helpful to advancing the purposes of litigation. For more information, contact us online or at (909) 980-1040. .

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Attorneys Fees Provisions In Contracts: Is It Worth It?

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Attorneys Fees Provisions In Contracts: Is It Worth It?

When drafting a contract for a new business deal, most business owners don’t want to think about whether the deal might ultimately go south, and what they would do if that happened. But the reality is that a good contract must account for all possible scenarios and contingencies, including the possibility that one party may need to sue the other for a deal gone bad.

When thinking through what contractual provisions might be crucial to protecting a party to the contract in the event of a future lawsuit, the question of attorneys’ fees often arises. Whether to include an attorneys’ fees provision in your contract is a difficult question, but one any party to a contract should consider.

How Does An Attorneys’ Fees Provision Work in Rancho Cucamonga?

An attorneys’ fees provision in a contract is the language which states who should pay attorneys’ fees in the event of a dispute under the contract. Attorneys’ fees language may state that each party shall bear their own fees and costs, but more often the language that is included is “prevailing party” language.

A prevailing party clause states that whoever prevails in a dispute under the contract has the right to seek attorneys’ fees and costs from the other party. This means that a losing party in a dispute can face a substantial penalty as they may owe the prevailing party both damages and attorneys’ fees for the costs incurred in litigating.

Prevailing parties clauses cut both ways. They can be extremely valuable to a party that has been injured under a contract and make it easier to pursue the lawsuit because there is the prospect of recovering fees at the end. On the flip side, they make litigation substantially riskier because there is always the possibility of not only losing but having to pay fees.

In total, prevailing parties clauses require parties to a contract to think long and hard before bringing a civil lawsuit and may encourage the parties to try to negotiate and resolve disputes before heading down the road to litigation.

Courts And Attorneys’ Fees Provisions

Just because parties contract to allow for a prevailing party to win their attorneys’ fees and costs does not automatically mean that the court will award such fees. Courts are always entitled to review contracts for fairness and decide whether they think the terms included in the contract were fairly entered into and should be enforced.

If a judge feels that a prevailing party clause is unfair, perhaps because the parties had unequal bargaining power when signing a contract, he or she may decline to award fees. But if the judge finds the clause was fairly entered into, he or she will usually enforce it.

California Attorneys Assisting You In Evaluating Contract Options

Whether a prevailing party clause makes sense for your contract depends on the positions of the parties, the subject matter of the contract, and the likelihood of legal issues down the road. All of these factors must be carefully evaluated and considered when determining what terms to include in a contract.

At CKB Vienna, LLP, our transactional attorneys have assisted countless clients in contract drafting and can help you determine whether a prevailing party clause makes sense in your case. To talk with our attorneys, or set up an initial consultation, contact us online or at 909-980-1040.

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I Need To Move For Work: Can I Bring My Child Along?

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I Need To Move For Work: Can I Bring My Child Along?

After a divorce, many parents are able to cooperatively agree on mutually beneficial co-parenting relationships that allow each parent to spend quality time with their child. They may split weeks or weekends, or share time during holidays, in order to allow each parent to develop a strong and ongoing relationship even after divorce.

Sometimes, however, one parent may need to move away from the place where they used to live, and where their former partner and kids currently reside. And when that happens, they may want to take their children with them, giving them the opportunity to travel to new places, benefit from a better job environment, or just get a fresh start. While a parent who is seeking to leave may have admirable goals for their new home, attempting to move their children with them can create discord and conflict.

Moving After Divorce in Rancho Cucamonga

In this day and age, plenty of individuals find that they have to move for new and better job opportunities. After a divorce, parents are free to move as much as they may need to. What they are not free to do, however, is take their kids with them without the permission of the courts.

After a divorce involving children, a judge will create a custody order that governs where children should live, which parents they should live with, and what is in their best interest. While parents can make minor moves, such as to a new house or a different neighborhood, as long as they don’t interfere with the child’s rights or best interests, parents cannot unilaterally move their kids in a way that substantially changes custody arrangements.

Instead, if a parent wants to make a substantial move with a child, he or she must give the other parent at least 45 days of notice before the move. If the parents cannot work out an arrangement in light of the move, the nonmoving parent can file an objection to the move with the court and request a modification to the existing custody order (such as requiring the child to remain in the state). The court will typically then schedule a relocation hearing to address the proposed move.

What Happens At A Relocation Hearing?

At a relocation hearing, the court will hear evidence from the moving and nonmoving parent about whether the proposed move is in the best interest of the child. Judges are typically reluctant to make substantial changes to custody based on a proposed move, but if the nonmoving parent can show that the move would be detrimental to the child, they may be willing to do so.

At the relocation hearing, the judge will consider factors such as:

  • Whether the child has a special need for stability

  • What the child’s relationship is with each parent

  • How far the move is

  • The reason for the move

  • The community and support in the location of the proposed move

Based on these factors, the court will decide whether to allow the child to continue to live with the parent who is moving as previously allowed, or whether to make custody modifications.

California Attorneys Managing Proposed Moves With You

If you are a parent who is hoping to move and would like your child to come with you, or a parent who opposes a proposed move by a co-parent, you may need the assistance of an attorney to fight for your rights at a relocation hearing. At CKB Vienna LLP, our family law attorneys can help you petition to protect your custody and visitation rights in front of a judge. For more information or to schedule an initial consultation, contact us online or at 909-980-1040.

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The Dawn Of the Driverless Vehicle Future? Not So Fast

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The Dawn Of the Driverless Vehicle Future? Not So Fast

In the last few years, the public and media have been abuzz over the impending release of driverless, or autonomous, vehicles, throughout the country. Industry insiders have predicted the end of the automotive industry as we know it and a transition away from personal vehicles to a system of autonomous cars.

In the race to be at the head of this new trend, many different companies have entered the autonomous vehicle race, creating prototypes and testing vehicles across the country. The inevitable acceptance and embrace of this new technology seemed obvious until recently.

The New Challenge For Autonomous Vehicles in Rancho Cucamonga and Elsewhere

On March 18, 2018, driverless vehicle technology suffered a significant blow when a pedestrian was struck and killed by an autonomous vehicle in Tempe, Arizona. The vehicle was part of one of Uber’s autonomous vehicle pilot programs that it is operating throughout the country. Upon hearing of the accident and the death, the governor or Arizona immediately suspended Uber’s program in the state.

Uber’s program had been focused on beginning to increase use of autonomous vehicles in its driver services, sending unmanned vehicles to certain customers where Uber had determined that the conditions were favorable for an autonomous vehicle. It hoped to eventually begin meshing driver-led vehicles with driverless vehicles throughout the country.

Thanks to the recent unfortunate news, Uber has now put this program on hold, and the media scrutiny around the accident has required many tech companies to reevaluate their autonomous vehicle programs and how safe they are.

What Does This Mean For the Future of Autonomous Vehicles?

While the progression in technology supporting autonomous vehicles, and the corporate commitment to utilizing that technology remains strong, this recent accident, and others that have occurred have led for calls for companies to take the transition to autonomous vehicles more slowly, making certain that all the necessary safety precautions are in place.

The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the crash in Tempe and has expressed concern both about how the crash occurred and how autonomous vehicle companies have defended their technologies in the wake of this crash.

The Council of Future Mobility, an advisory group looking into autonomous vehicles, has also recently released an advisory suggesting that there are many other decisions that automakers will need to grapple with before autonomous vehicles can be widely disseminated, including dealing with cybersecurity issues and figuring out updated insurance practices.

California Attorneys Helping You Navigate The Complexities of New Technologies

While the unfortunate accident that occurred earlier in March, and the recent spate of critical news on autonomous vehicles does not spell disaster for the industry, it does mean that automakers and companies looking to get into the autonomous vehicle space must be particularly careful about their safety practices and the technologies they are investing in.

It also pays to carefully read and understand the public concerns about these issues and to know when and how to best position new developments to maximize exposure but minimize liability. At CKB Vienna LLP, our automotive attorneys work at the forefront of automotive technologies and understand the questions about liability that clients may have. To talk with us about your concerns, contact us online or at 909-980-1040.

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What Happens To My Spousal Support If I Remarry?

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What Happens To My Spousal Support If I Remarry?

After a divorce, it can be difficult to even imagine getting involved in a new relationship. The trauma of ending one type of life and starting over as a single individual, or a single parent, can seem overwhelming enough as it is. For this reason, when most divorced couples go through divorce proceedings, they calculate spousal support on the presumption that any spouse receiving support is likely to be single for a long period of time, and will need to the financial support of a former partner to make this transition.

Sometimes, however, life catches us by surprise. New relationships arise and our plans for the future change. While a second marriage is something to celebrate, it also requires divorcees to consider how remarriage might impact their spousal support and what financial decisions they might need to make to accommodate these changes.

Calculating Spousal Support at the Time of Marriage in Rancho Cucamonga

In California, when a couple divorces, one of the spouses may be entitled to financial support from the other. This is known as spousal support or alimony. Spousal support can be paid in one lump sum or it may be made in monthly payments of a specific amount from one spouse to the other. Sometimes spousal support is for a limited period of time while the receiving spouse gets back on his or her feet. Other times, the support may be more indefinite and will continue until death.

Spousal support presumes that the receiving spouse is supporting him or herself and needs the assistance of the paying spouse in order to live a lifestyle similar to the one that the couple had while married. For obvious reasons, when a receiving spouse decides to remarry, this can change the spousal support equation and require courts to reconsider whether support is even necessary.

Spousal Support and Remarriage in California

Under California law, the answer on whether an individual can receive spousal support after remarrying is clear – they cannot. The obligation to pay spousal support ends when the individual decides to remarry. One spouse may voluntarily decide to continue to make payments to the other, but there is no obligation to do so.

There is more of a grey area where the receiving spouse has moved in with another individual and is sharing expenses or income with that person, but they are not yet married. In this situation, the law does not require spousal support to end, but the paying spouse can request termination or modification from the court if he or she believes that paying spousal support is no longer appropriate. California law does provide that there is a presumption that spousal support can be lowered where one spouse is cohabitating with another individual.

Terminating or modifying support requires a showing that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Thus, you’ll need to explain how your former spouse’s new living situation substantially changes his or her economic reality – such as whether there has been an increase in income in the household, or decreased expenses because they are shared.

California Attorneys Making Sure You Understand Your Support Rights And Obligations

Whether you are a spouse who is paying support or the one who is receiving it, it is important to understand how changes in circumstances such as cohabitation or remarriage can affect your rights and responsibilities under California law. Particularly where spousal support is significant, a change in circumstances can greatly impact your financial picture.

At CKB Vienna LLP our family law attorneys can help you evaluate whether you are at risk of losing your spousal support, or whether it makes sense to move to modify or terminate support. For more information, contact us online or at 909-980-1040.

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What Are My Obligations If My Employee Gets Pregnant?

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What Are My Obligations If My Employee Gets Pregnant?

It is inevitable in virtually any workplace that at some point in time an employee will become pregnant. Employers want to support and encourage female employees going through this unique journey, while also ensuring the continued success and viability of their projects and workflow. In order to do so, one of the first things that employers must understand is their obligations toward pregnant employees under federal and state law.

What Am I Required To Provide Pregnant Employees in Rancho Cucamonga?

Thankfully for employers, there are not as many affirmative obligations that they must take on in relation to female employees, as compared to things they should not do in order to stay in compliance with the law.

One thing that all employers are required to do is to allow pregnant employees to take pregnancy disability leave or family medical leave. By law, all pregnant employees are entitled to up to four months of pregnancy disability leave and are also entitled to be returned to their same job, or a comparable job, upon returning from disability leave.

If, during the course of that leave, a situation arises that requires an employer to consider firing that pregnant employee, the employer must be very careful to make sure that the firing is for a documented non-leave related reason. For example, if the company conducts universal layoffs in the employee’s department, it may not be a violation of the law to let the employee go. But if the firing is in any way related to the pregnancy or leave, this would be a violation of the law.

Employers must also provide employees with reasonable accommodations for their medical needs during pregnancy. For example, pregnant women may need more frequent bathroom breaks during pregnancy. Or if they are in positions that require extended periods of standing, they may need to be provided with a chair or ability to take sit breaks from standing.   

Finally, after pregnancy, employers must also provide employees returning from pregnancy disability leave with the time and location to be able to pump breast milk, should they choose to do so.

What Can’t Employers Do When An Employee is Pregnant?

The answer to this question is fairly simple – the employer cannot discriminate against the employee on the basis of her pregnancy. This means that an employer who is interviewing candidates can’t decline to hire a female candidate just because she is pregnant. Similarly, an employer can’t overlook a pregnant employee for promotion or certain accolades just because she is pregnant.

Employers must make every effort to work with the employee to ensure that the reasonable needs of the employee are met during pregnancy and that the employee is not harassed in any way as a result of pregnancy.

Finally, following maternity leave, an employer cannot terminate or demote an employee simply because she was pregnant, took maternity leave, or has ongoing medical issues related to pregnancy. All of these actions would constitute illegal discrimination.

California Attorneys Helping You Respect The Rights Of Your Employees

Pregnancy can be an exciting and challenging time for female employees, full of excitement but also anxiety about how work may go and what changes may be coming. Pregnancy can understandably be difficult for employers as well, as they do their best to work around an employee’s needs and changing schedule. It is important that employers and employees work together to navigate these challenging circumstances and make the best of the situation.

At CKB Vienna LLP, our employment law attorneys frequently advise clients on how to remain compliant with state and federal laws regarding pregnancy and pregnancy discrimination. For more information, contact us online or at 909-980-1040.

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Who Is Liable for Unpaid Wages? New Changes To California’s Laws

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Who Is Liable for Unpaid Wages? New Changes To California’s Laws

Wage theft is a serious problem within the construction industry, and one that lawmakers take seriously. In order to combat wage theft issues and better protect construction workers on the job, the California legislature modified the California Labor Code to provide that direct contractors may now be held liable for wage violations by their subcontractors. Direct contractors who work with a variety of subcontractors on different projects need to be aware of these new legal obligations.

What Does This New Law Mean for Construction Companies in Rancho Cucamonga?

Under the new law, AB 1701, starting in January 2018, direct contractors became liable for any unpaid wages or benefit payments that are owed by subcontractors that they work with on a job. AB 1701 applies to all direct contractors, or those contractors that contract directly with an owner, and applies to all private construction jobs.

The new law does not permit the employees themselves to bring a direct action against the direct contractor for their unpaid wages. But it does allow three different entities to bring claims on an employee’s behalf. These include:

  • The Labor Commissioner, which can bring an administrative action or a civil lawsuit

  • Joint labor-management cooperation committees may bring a civil action

  • Third parties that are owed contributions on behalf of employees may bring civil actions

Both joint labor-management cooperation committees and third parties may also seek attorneys fees and costs if they are required to bring a lawsuit. There is a one-year statute of limitation on bringing a lawsuit under the new law.

How Can Direct Contractors Protect Themselves?

The best way for direct contractors to protect themselves from any future lawsuit is to make sure that their subcontractors are paying the wages that they’re required to pay. This can be done by adding contractual terms that require the subcontractor to disclose all pay information, including regular payroll records, during the course of a job.

Before beginning a job, direct contractors should also require information from the subcontractors regarding any and all employees or contractors who will be performing work on the job so that these records can be compared against any future payroll records received to ensure that comprehensive information is being provided.

Beyond obtaining information directly from the subcontractor, direct contractors may also want to consider requiring subcontractors to provide a bond or letter of credit to protect the direct contractor in the event that a wage claim is made. This can help to ensure that the direct contractor does not have to go through the difficulty of handling a wage lawsuit and then turn around and attempt to recover from the subcontractor after the fact.

California Attorneys Helping You Keep Track of Your Legal Obligations

In the ever-changing world of California legislation, it can be easy to lose track of new obligations that are being imposed on contractors, or obligations that may be altered by new legislation. The failure to stay on top of these developments can have severe consequences down the road. At CKB Vienna LLP, our real estate and construction attorneys make it their job to stay on top of these types of developments, and to make sure their clients are in compliance as well. For more information, contact us online or at 909-980-1040.

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Updated OSHA Requirements for Automotive Parts and Accessories Employers

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Updated OSHA Requirements for Automotive Parts and Accessories Employers

Reputable California Automotive Industry Lawyers

For any employer working in the United States, safety of employees must be paramount. Whether an employee is working a physical job, dealing with sensitive chemicals or substances, or simply part of an office where repetitive stress injuries sometimes occur – employers must be cognizant of the health and safety of employees at all times.

Working in the automotive industry is often a particularly physical profession, with many workers engaged in manufacturing or repair jobs. Because of this, the federal government is particularly sensitive to risks that can arise within this sector of the economy. It has enacted special laws to address the health and safety issues involved, including a recent change to injury and illness reporting under OSHA.

OSHA and the Automotive Industry in Rancho Cucamonga

OSHA, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, is charged with administering health and safety laws and regulations throughout the United States. Many of the standards and regulations set forth by OSHA are industry-specific, with particular industries – such as construction or manufacturing – being subject to closer scrutiny and regulation.

According to OSHA, in 2015 there were 91 workplace fatalities in the automotive repair and maintenance industry.  Auto parts manufacturers and suppliers have also been the target of several recent OSHA enforcement actions for willingly exposing employees to hazardous work environments. For this reason, the automotive industry is an area of concern for OSHA officials.

Because of ongoing safety concerns, the automotive parts and accessories industry is considered a “high risk” industry by OSHA, which subjects it to additional protections and regulatory requirements. One such recent requirement that has been imposed is a new electronic online illness and injury tracking system.

New Illness and Injury Tracking Requirements

Beginning in December 2017, employers in the automotive parts and services industry with twenty or more employees are required to submit data regarding reported illness and injuries that occur on the job through an electronic reporting system.

Prior to this change, employers were allowed to record and maintain this data on OSHA 300 form logs. With the new change to the rule however, this data must be submitted electronically directly to OSHA. Data from 2016 was due on December 15, 2017, while data for 2017 must be reported online by July 1, 2018.  Beginning in 2019, the data must be submitted on a yearly basis no later than March 2nd.

This new rule won’t dramatically increase the work that automotive industry employers must perform, as employers have always been required to keep this information. However, it is anticipated that OSHA will begin to publicly post this data online for other employers and consumers to see. The hope here is that the public dissemination of “poor” safety records will encourage employers to change their behaviors and improve their record.

It is also anticipated that this online data may be used to help OSHA determine where to conduct onsite inspections, and will result in an uptick in inspections for businesses that report poor safety data.

California Attorneys Helping You Comply with Changing Regulatory Environments

With all the regulations that the automotive industry is currently subjected to, it can be easy for employers to overlook or misunderstand new regulations like OSHA’s new online reporting requirements. Although these mistakes are easy to make, the consequences of them can be severe.

At CKB Vienna LLP, our automotive industry attorneys constantly keep abreast of proposed changes to the laws, new regulations, and policy shifts that are likely to impact clients – and provide timely and relevant guidance on these issues. For more information, contact us online or at (909) 980-1040.

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Are Your Wages Being Paid on Time?

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Are Your Wages Being Paid on Time?

Skilled California Employment Law Lawyers

One of the biggest challenges that employers and employees grapple with on a constant basis is the payment of wages. Employees expect to get paid in a prompt and timely basis for the work that they perform. Employers must navigate the administrative complexities of making sure payroll happens in a consistent fashion. When something goes wrong, anger and frustration can arise on both sides.

California law requires employers to properly pay wages to employees and threatens them with penalties and fines if they fail to do so. For this reason, it is important for both parties to understand how California’s wage laws work.

What Are an Employer’s Requirements in Rancho Cucamonga?

In California, most employers are required to pay their employees at least twice a month. When an employee receives his or her paycheck, it must be provided in a timely fashion and must be for all work that has been performed. This means that an employer can’t forget to conduct payroll one week and simply decide to put those wages on the next paycheck.

California’s requirement that an employee be paid timely does not extend to circumstances where it is the employee’s own fault that he or she did not get paid. For example, if an employee fails to provide an address to an employer, or provides the wrong address, the employer will not face any punishment for failing to pay the employee on time.

California also has special laws that apply when an employee leaves a job and receives a final paycheck. If the employee is being fired or terminated, the employee must receive their final paycheck immediately – on their last day or at the time of termination.

If an employee quits and gives more than 72 hours notice, he or she is also entitled to a paycheck immediately, usually on the last day. If the employee quits without any advance notice, the employer must provide the paycheck within 72 hours of receiving notice that the employee has quit.

What Happens When Employers Don’t Abide by These Requirements?

If an employer fails to pay their employees according to the requirements of California law, various penalties may be imposed. For example, if an employer does not timely pay an employee their regular wages, or withholds a portion of the wages, they are immediately in violation of the California Labor Code and can be fined $100 for the first violation and an additional $200 for each subsequent violation.

In certain circumstances, the employer may also be required to pay the employee an additional 25% of the money that was withheld from the employee.

The penalties are even more severe when a final paycheck is not provided on time. For each day that a final paycheck is not provided by an employer, the employee is entitled to their average daily wage. This can continue to accrue for up to 30 days. So, for example, if an employer takes 28 days to provide an employee with their final paycheck, they will have to pay the employee for those 28 extra days in that final paycheck.

California Attorneys Helping You Comply with Wage Requirements

Providing payroll to employees in growing companies can be a complicated endeavor and when cash is tight it can be difficult to get checks out in a timely manner. Although companies may be inclined to try to get away with paying employees late, the potential penalties can quickly outweigh any benefits.

At CKB Vienna, LLP, our employment attorneys can work with you to develop systems and strategies to ensure timely payment for your staff, and can assist you in defending against unwarranted late wage claims. For more information, contact us online or at (909) 980-1040.

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When You Disagree: How to Handle Owner Disputes

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When You Disagree: How to Handle Owner Disputes

Knowledgeable California Business Law Attorneys

While disagreements can arise in all types of contexts, disputes between owners or founders of a company are particularly common when dealing with small businesses, partnerships, or closely held corporations. Partners who initially agreed on all aspects of starting a company may find that their views begin to differ, or their approaches to growing the business are entirely different.

Because of the emotional and financial investment that goes into starting a business, ownership disputes can be fraught with tension and personal affronts.

Types of Ownership Disputes That Can Arise in Rancho Cucamonga

Ownership issues can arise in all different types of contexts. A common cause is when one owner feels that another has breached some sort of contract or agreement. However, there can also be more complicated issues of corporate governance and breach of fiduciary duties involved.

Owners and shareholders can owe duties to each other and to their company to act in the best interests of the corporation that they formed. Disputes often arise when one owner feels that another is no longer operating in that best interest.

For example, one owner may allege that the other is engaging in self-dealing, or orchestrating certain contracts and projects within the company that are particularly beneficial for that owner rather than for the company as a whole. Where personal gain begins to outweigh the commitment to the business, tensions often arise.

Similarly, disputes can occur where one owner feels that the other owner is excluding him from participation in important decisions within the company, or keeping him out of loop on the company’s path moving forward. This is often known as a “freeze-out” and can be the basis for possible legal claims.

Disputes can also occur between shareholders. A similar claim can arise from a minority shareholder that he or she is being “oppressed” by the majority shareholder, and is not getting to participate fully and fairly in the decisions of the company.

Can You Prevent Owner Disputes from Proceeding to Litigation?

While disagreements and arguments between owners are one thing, actual civil litigation is a much more aggressive step. For many companies, the financial prospect of litigation can threaten the financial future of the company and hinder any progress that is being made.

For companies hoping to avoid this path, an initial step is to fully and fairly investigate the claims underlying an ownership dispute. If a company has independent officers or shareholders who can impartially conduct an investigation into what is going on – including whether issues such as self-dealing or oppression have occurred – this can allow the company to informally resolve the dispute and avoid the courtroom.

In some smaller companies where the owners are the primary employees, this may not be possible. The only way to have such an investigation would be if the parties to the dispute are willing to engage an outside investigator or mediator to evaluate the claims at issue, and make recommendations about how to move forward.

In the event that litigation is inevitable, owners may wish to consider whether their claims can best be resolved through an alternative dispute resolution process such as arbitration or mediation. This can help to keep costs down and avoid the raw emotion and “scorched earth” approaches that often arise in litigation.

California Attorneys Working to Keep Your Business on Track

If not handled swiftly and carefully, owner disputes can derail and destroy small, closely-held companies. For this reason they require careful attention and prompt resolution. At CKB Vienna, LLP, our business litigation attorneys understand the personal and emotional complexities of ownership disputes and can work with you to safely navigate these difficult waters. For more information, contact us online or at (909) 980-1040.

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How to File a Mechanic’s Lien in California

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How to File a Mechanic’s Lien in California

Skilled California Mechanic's Lien Lawyers

When you contract to provide building or construction services to an owner, property developer or contractor, you typically do not get paid for the entirety of your work up front. Instead, you may receive an initial deposit or payment to begin the work, with the remainder of the funds to be provided on completion.

While this arrangement works well in theory to keep both parties fair, the reality is that subcontractors, craftsmen, and laborers can be placed in a situation where they are not paid for the work they have performed. Mechanic’s liens exist to give these individuals some recourse for the money that is due to them.

Who Can File Mechanic’s Liens in Rancho Cucamonga?

Under California law, mechanics liens are available to persons who provide work for improvement of a property. Under the statute, this can include, but is not limited to:

  • Direct contractors

  • Subcontractors

  • Material Suppliers

  • Laborers

  • Design professionals

The work at issue must be “authorized.” This means that it must be either performed at the request or agreement of the owner of the property, or it must be authorized or requested by a party such as a direct contractor who is responsible for the overall site improvement.

How Does the Mechanic’s Lien Process Work?

The California mechanic’s lien process is full of important deadlines and steps which must be followed carefully or an individual can lose their rights to a mechanic’s lien.  The first step is the serving of a 20-day preliminary notice that you have the right to record a mechanic’s lien.

As the name suggests, this notice only protects you for claims that have accrued in the last twenty days before the notice was filed.  This means that contractors and other laborers must be careful to serve a notice promptly upon failure to be paid. If you wait too long you may lose your right to recover for earlier work you performed.

There are two exceptions to the 20-day notice requirement: (1) for work you contracted directly with the owner for, and (2) for wages a laborer has not been paid.

After serving the notice, the next step is to record the mechanic’s lien. A mechanics lien can only be recorded after work is completed. However, after work is completed there are also deadlines within which a mechanic’s lien must be recorded.

If there is no notice of completion recorded for the project, then a mechanic’s lien must be recorded within 90 days of completion of the work. If a notice of completion has been recorded, the deadlines vary based on the party. For example, a general contractor must record within 60 days after the notice of completion, while a subcontractor must record within 30 days.

Finally, you must file your lawsuit to recover under the mechanic’s lien within 90 days of recording your lien. If you fail to file within the 90 day period your lien becomes unenforceable.

California Attorneys Assisting You in Properly Recording and Recovering Under Your Lien

Lien procedures in California are highly specific and must be followed perfectly in order for a contractor, subcontractor, or laborer to recover under the lien statutes. Because the steps that you must take and the deadlines you must follow vary based on your own status, it is often helpful to consult with an attorney who is experienced in handling mechanics liens.

At CKB Vienna, LLP, our construction law attorneys frequently assist clients in recording mechanics liens, as well as handling the legal issues that arise when other parties to a project file a lien. For more information, contact us online or at (909) 980-1040.

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Do Securities Laws Apply to Your Company?

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Do Securities Laws Apply to Your Company?

Experienced Securities Laws Attorneys Serving California Clients

For many small businesses, one of the easiest ways to get off the ground is to solicit the help of investors. They can provide some of the initial cash flow that may be needed to make beginning investments in infrastructure, equipment, and high quality employees.

While outside investment has become a reality for many small businesses and start-ups, few appreciate the unique risks and potential securities issues that come with eliciting outside help and new cash flows. Without being careful, the promises you make to investors and representations you provide can lead you into big trouble down the road.

What Are Securities Risks for Rancho Cucamonga Companies?

If you’re a small business owner who has never thought about securities laws, you’re not alone. For most individuals the idea of securities or agencies like the SEC conjure up images of hedge funds and big banks. While these big players are indeed subject to securities laws, the reality is that other smaller companies can be as well.

Anytime that you receive money in exchange for a portion of your company through stock or equity, you are potentially providing a security, which requires you to abide by federal and California securities laws. Typically, these laws require that you register the security before providing it to others. If you fail to do so, or engage in questionable conduct in relation to those securities, you could potentially be subject to civil or criminal penalties.

Thankfully, both federal and state law provides certain exemptions that can apply to small businesses who are acquiring investors and therefore offering up a piece of their company.

Common California Securities Exemptions

Some of the common exemptions that are frequently used by small businesses and startups in California include:

 

  • Section 25012(f) for founders, friends, and family. This exemption allows individuals who start a business to secure investments from their own bank accounts as well as from friends and family without having to register these issuances of equity or having to comply with California’s securities laws. The key requirement is that you had a prior personal or business relationship with the individual.

 

  • Section 25012(o) for employees and consultants. This exemption allows your employees to receive stock options or equity without these benefits having to be registered under California’s securities laws. As many employees are often offered stock in their initial employment offers, this is a powerful exemption. There are certain important rules that apply to this exemption so it should be reviewed carefully.

While these two exemptions cover many of the situations that arise when companies are seeking initial investments, this is not an exhaustive list. Small businesses should consult with a securities or business attorney before offering equity. Additionally, while this covers California exemptions, companies must also make sure to comply with federal laws.

California Corporate Attorneys Helping to Protect You from the Possibility of Securities Violations

The offering of securities such as stock or equity can be very complicated, and is a heavily regulated area of business. If you are considering the prospect of outside investment, you should make sure to get your ducks in a row, and have a grasp of the securities processes and requirements, before starting out.

At CKB Vienna, LLP, our corporate attorneys can work with you to review applicable laws and restrictions, and to determine whether any special exemptions apply that will protect you from the threat of lawsuits or criminal penalties down the road. For more information, contact us online or at (909) 980-1040.

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