Strictly Professional

For the next generation, family-business survival rests squarely on formalized governance

There’s an old saying about family businesses: Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations. Grandpa hustles and creates the business,Dad takes the baton and then Junior goes down with the ship. According to the Family Firm Institute, just 30 percent of family businesses survive into their second generation, and only 10 percent make it to their third. Why do these firms fail?

Sep 22, 2015 Jeff Wilser
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A Tall Order

Tree maintenance is a must for property owners

The sickening, wooden crack of a falling tree can strike fear into the hearts of property owners. Maybe that’s true for anyone within a certain radius of the falling tree, but property owners have a more specific concern: They could be liable for thousands of dollars in damage to cars, or even lives. 

Aug 19, 2015 Robin Epley

Sick Leave Switches

How does the new law impact household employees?

I am a working single mom, and about six months ago I hired a nanny to help around the house on days I work late or the occasional weekend. Until now I’ve paid an hourly wage for hours worked, and I’m wondering how California’s new sick leave act will impact how I pay my nanny?

Aug 14, 2015 Coral Henning

What Makes You Want to Kill Your Coworkers?

Let us know which bad habits are the worst

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Can I Be Written Up For This?

What to do when your conduct is questioned

Recently my boss went out of town. Upon her return, she called me and my co-worker into her office to tell us that our HR person emailed her while she was out and said someone in the office complained about us being too loud. Yes, we were joking and laughing, but no one came to me to complain or ask that we lower our voices. Still, my supervisor told me the incident is going on my record. I feel like I’m in kindergarten even asking for advice on this, but can I really be written up for talking loudly?

Aug 10, 2015 Suzanne Lucas
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To Serve or Not to Serve

How do all of these Californians get out of jury duty?

Hi Law Librarian, I recently came across a study that claims one in five Californians fail to report for jury duty. It made me wonder, what are the ramifications for ignoring a summons? Also, are there legal ways to avoid serving? ​During our busiest times, my boss prohibits us from taking time off. Plus, I get paid based on the hours I work, so if I miss work, either my income will take a hit for the week or I will have to use up my scarce vacation days.

Jul 13, 2015 Coral Henning
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Keeping IT Confidential

Which data is opened and which stays closed

“It’s not secret data,” says West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon. “It’s already held by the government; the data sets are all subject to the Freedom of Information Act. It’s not private, confidential data. It’s already open to the public, but it’s just not in any usable form.”

Jul 9, 2015 Allison Joy
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Be Careful How You Classify

How to avoid wage litigation in the age of the $10 hour

For California labor lawyers, the 2012 Brinker v. Superior Court ruling was something akin to Brown v. Board or Roe v. Wade. In a case involving meal and rest breaks for hourly employees, the court ruled that businesses must have a policy giving workers those breaks — but they don’t have to ensure that staff actually take them. It seemed like near-total victory for business.

Jul 8, 2015 Steven Yoder
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I Think My Boss is Stealing From Me

If the compensation package isn’t signed, do I wave goodbye to my commission?

I am a new hire at a Fortune 100 tech company. It’s a sales position, and just days into the job I landed my first sale — a big one. I am about to close my second sale and was excited until I was told that because my compensation package had not yet been signed and finalized, I would not be receiving nearly $5,000 in commission for these deals. I’m angry, and I don’t know what to do to get paid and make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Jul 2, 2015 Suzanne Lucas
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Can You Change Your Mind?

As the minimum wage debate heats up, both sides need to remain open-minded

When was the last time you changed your way of thinking on a major issue? Have you ever? In April of this year, “This American Life” ran a story called “The Incredible Rarity of Changing Your Mind.”In the story’s introduction, Ira Glass asks the question: “When it comes to major issues — like climate change, gun control, abortion rights … do you know anybody that has changed their mind?”

Jul 1, 2015 Christine Calvin
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Just How Much Can You Trust HR?

Complaint-logging and confidentiality

I’ve noticed some of my coworkers becoming quite relaxed about their work schedules. I’d like to speak to HR and have the issue reported anonymously to management, as I would not want to alienate my coworkers and be known as a snitch. Can I ask my HR rep to keep the conversation confidential?

Jun 17, 2015 Coral Henning
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How to Handle the Office Bully

What are your rights?

My coworker is very aggressive towards me. I have reported this to my supervisor twice in the past, but nothing has changed. It’s getting to the point where I have constant anxiety about being in the office with her and feel if this continues I’ll be driven to quit my job, which I love. Is there any legal recourse I can take?

May 6, 2015 Coral Henning
Intern management requires many, many binders.(Shutterstock)

Are Interns Worth It?

Here's what you need to know before bringing one on

Our small company is considering bringing on two or three summer interns. Half of me thinks this is a great way to get some help with projects, tap into the knowledge of a younger generation and give back to our local students. The other half of me thinks this is going to be a management nightmare that will suck my working hours dry. How can we ensure a successful summer for everyone involved?

May 4, 2015 Suzanne Lucas
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Show Me the Money

Just because the workload increased doesn’t mean your pay will

I was originally hired for a position that requires me to be in office, working with clients already retained by my company to ensure their contract deliverables are on track. Three months after hire, I was asked to also start working to bring on new clients as well (without commission), something that was not part of my original job description. What happens when the job description and or responsibilities are changed without a change in wage?

Apr 13, 2015 Coral Henning
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Mind If I Push You Around?

Poll: Tell us your thoughts on bullying in the workplace

The Workplace Bullying Institute would like to see legislation put in place to protect employees from abusive coworkers or bosses. The California State Council for the Society for Human Resource Management says legislation would leave too much room for subjective analysis. What do you think?

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Mar 31, 2015