(Shutterstock)

Patent Problems: Who Owns the Idea?

Know who your inventors are before you file

I have been working on a new piece of light industrial equipment for several years but had trouble with a certain aspect. I mentioned it to a colleague, who had a great idea that I was able to use. I am getting ready to patent my invention, and this colleague is now arguing that he is the co-inventor and entitled to the patent and future proceeds of the sale or use of this patent!

Mar 25, 2015 Coral Henning
(Shutterstock)

Social Digging

Where is the legal line when it comes to using social media to evaluate job candidates?

We’re hiring a new office manager and looking for someone trustworthy and friendly. Going through applications, we found that some of the hiring staff were able to view applicants’ Facebook profiles, either due to mutual friends or because of the applicant’s privacy settings. Are there any legal reasons not to do this? Can we raise questions during interviews based on the information we’ve learned via social media?

Feb 24, 2015 Coral Henning
(Shutterstock)

Dress for Success

How can I legally amend my company's dress code?

Since starting my business in 2010, my number of full-time employees has tripled. One thing I wish I’d done in the beginning is establish a dress code. I’m worried that the relaxed atmosphere I’ve allowed does not reflect the professional competency I’m trying to project. How can I implement a dress code, and should I be worried about violating any laws when I do?

Jan 21, 2015 Coral Henning

Raise It Up

Our minimum wage should leave no one behind

Improving the minimum wage and making Sacramento a better place to do business are not mutually exclusive goals. Done properly, an increase to the minimum wage targeted at Sacramento’s working poor will strengthen the economy, benefit the entire community and help create the Sacramento that we all want.   

Jan 7, 2015 Jay Schenirer
(Shutterstock)

Unpolished Problems

How to politely enforce your dresscode

“We have a male employee whose shirt buttons pop open, leaving his skin exposed. We also have a female employee whose tight clothing reveals her undergarments. This is a horribly awkward and uncomfortable situation, but their attire is not appropriate for the office. How should HR address this?”

Jan 5, 2015 Suzanne Lucas
(Shutterstock)

Sound Off on AB 1522

Paid sick leave for all — yea or nay?

Effective July 1 of this year, employees who have worked in California for 30 days or more will be entitled to paid sick leave. Is this a leap forward for workers’ rights, or will it mean death for small businesses? Tell us what you think:

Unfortunately, you cannot participate in this poll, because your browser is not enabled for Javascript and/or cookies.
Jan 1, 2015
(Shutterstock)

Missing Moms

Can an employer require employees to return after maternity leave?

I run a small business. Twice in the past two years, I’ve had employees quit directly after taking maternity leave. Prior to their departures, it was understood that they would return to work. This has caused understandable upheaval in the office. What questions, if any, can I ask employees taking maternity or paternity leave? Can I require them to come back to work in order to take the leave? Are there any options for me to avoid this happening in the future?

Dec 8, 2014 Coral Henning
Illustrated by Zuza Hicks with elements from Shutterstock

On the Cover: Web of Thieves

Big-name cyberattacks make headlines, but smaller businesses have more to lose.

In cyberattacks against multimillion-dollar companies, computer criminals break in and steal personal information from millions of customers. Though there will be big losses and maybe a high-profile resignation, the reality is, these retail giants will live to sell another day. But the stories that won’t make the front pages involve the most frequent targets, whose survival isn’t guaranteed: small businesses.

Nov 18, 2014 Russell Nichols
(Illustrated by Zuza Hicks with elements from Shutterstock)

Bank Role

3 ways financial institutions can safeguard against cyberattacks

Compared to other industries, banks operate from a unique position, in that they have to focus intently on their own security, but also make sure their clients have the knowledge and tools to protect against computer criminals. Providing that protection usually comes down to a matter of security versus convenience.

Nov 13, 2014 Russell Nichols
(shutterstock)

Threat Control

Smart companies take a proactive approach to risk

During the recession, risk management seemed a lot more like crisis management than a forward-looking, enterprise-wide approach to handling risks in a way that promoted sustainable growth. But today, smart companies align their risk management tactics with their strategic plans, which is helping them achieve their most important business priorities. 

Nov 3, 2014 Christine Calvin
(shutterstock)

Reform Prop. 13

Is a discussion possible?

After all these years since California voters passed Proposition 13, what will it take to have a rational discussion about amending the way commercial property is assessed?

Oct 30, 2014 Lenny Goldberg