With Moped Law Under Scrutiny, South Carolina Businesses Get a Wake-Up Call
Posted on Mar 07, 2017 by
William (Billy) Horvath
Businesses that sell or rent mopeds and employees who rely on the two-wheeled transportation for work dodged a bullet last year when a proposed South Carolina law on moped restrictions didn't make its way through the state Legislature. Nevertheless, the proposal's goals should serve as a wake-up call for South Carolina businesses to take appropriate action to protect their employees, assets, and the community.
Last year, the South Carolina Legislature considered Bill H3440 that would have made substantial changes to South Carolina moped law but it ultimately failed to pass. Similar moped regulations have been proposed again this year. continue reading
Prevent Workers’ Comp Claims By Understanding How To Manage Risks
Posted on Feb 23, 2017 by
Tiffni D. Shealy
Accidents will happen – about 23,000 times a day in U.S. workplaces, on average, according to one study.
Workers’ compensation insurance pays for occupational injury and illness claims, and that typically protects businesses from defending against personal injury claims brought by employees. In South Carolina, which has a “no-fault” system, it doesn’t matter who is to blame for the workplace injury for a valid claim to be paid.
Although workers’ comp insurance covers an injured employee’s medical expenses and disability pay, the hidden costs for businesses are significant. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration calculates that lost productivity, higher insurance premiums and other indirect costs can total up to four times the cost of the workers’ comp claim itself.
With costs related to occupational injuries and deaths adding up to $192 billion annually, a plan to manage those risks is essential for every business.
First and foremost, employers must develop a culture of safety. OSHA says workplaces that establish safety and health management systems can reduce their injury and illness costs by 20 to 40 percent.
Changing an organization’s culture is not often easy, so leadership is critical to achieve buy-in from employees throughout the organization. Whether it’s a small business or large corporation, the message that safety is a primary concern must come from the top down.
A risk management plan can minimize workers’ comp costs in three ways: limiting opportunities for risk by controlling who comes through your door, identifying and fixing problems before something happens and managing additional risks once an accident occurs. continue reading
It’s Time To Get Your Cybersecurity Plan In Place
Posted on Feb 10, 2017 by
Carmelo B. Sammataro
Cybersecurity threats pose risks to every type of business. As our dependence on technology has increased, the opportunities for data to fall into the wrong hands are all around.
Every business has some understanding of the dangers of dealing with sensitive data. We’ve heard the horror stories. Hospitals have been held hostage by hackers demanding ransom in exchange for restoring access to electronic files. Data files stolen from retailers have resulted in millions of compromised credit card accounts. Threats include any way fraudsters can use your information to make a buck.
Think of a cybersecurity plan in the same way as a plan you would prepare for any other emergency. Businesses take preventative steps to avoid fires, accidents and other catastrophic events and have plans for how to respond when an emergency comes up. Fire drills, safety procedures and incident response teams can help protect businesses from physical threats. Data breaches may be more difficult to detect initially, but they can have a similar disruptive effect on your business – and on the bottom line. continue reading
5 things every business should know about FMLA
Posted on Feb 02, 2017 by
Hannah D. Stetson
Health issues are a part of life and often can have both personal and professional effects on employees. Life events such as the serious illness of an employee or family member or the birth or adoption of a child may require an employee to take extended time off from work. A business must understand its obligations and responsibilities in such a scenario.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that protects an employee’s job and medical benefits while he or she takes up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a qualifying event. Employers that meet certain criteria are covered by FMLA, and South Carolina businesses are no exception.
Under the FMLA, covered employers have specific obligations to their employees and can be subject to liability if these obligations are not followed. A business should review the following five-question checklist to assist in understanding its FMLA responsibilities: continue reading
When Entering into a Commercial Lease, Understand Your Obligations
Posted on Jan 23, 2017 by
Ian D. McVey
Entering into a commercial lease is a significant responsibility for both the landlord and tenant. Before a commercial lease is finalized, it is critical that both sides perform due diligence on the lease provisions and protections.
In City Electric Supply v. Johnny Murray – a lease dispute between an electric company and a family-run boat repair shop in North Charleston – the Court of Common Pleas granted the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and ordered the tenant to be evicted from the property. The case featured several legal missteps by the defendant that can serve to inform parties who are entering into commercial leases. continue reading
Minority Shareholders Navigating a Buyout: Know The Landscape
Posted on Jan 12, 2017 by
R. Taylor Speer
Minority ownership of a closely held company can be a lucrative but risky proposition. A minority shareholder’s marginal voting position can unfairly empower other shareholders, especially if they vote together.
To illustrate this point, consider a family business owned by three siblings working for the company. Without laws protecting each individual shareholder, one sibling would be powerless to stop the others from cutting her out of a profitable deal or firing her and refusing to pay dividends, thereby depriving her of any ownership benefit. The two siblings could also vote on a risky business change – like selling all of the company’s assets in a blue chip market to finance the production of a fad product – without opposition from the minority owner.
South Carolina has attempted to balance the power enjoyed by majority shareholders through laws that permit an alienated owner to force the company to buy out her shares. These laws are applicable to situations like those discussed above, when a minority shareholder is being treated grossly unfair (often called “minority oppression”) and also when a minority shareholder dissents on a vote that would fundamentally change the way the business operates or is owned, as in a merger (often called “dissenter’s rights”). continue reading
Not On My Land? Clarifying the Elements For a Prescriptive Easement
Posted on Dec 20, 2016 by
Kristen N. Nichols
Imagine finding that a neighbor, or a company, or even the public has acquired the right to use part of your property without compensating you. A recent ruling in South Carolina sets new case law and provides important guidance for issuers of title insurance, parties impacted by property litigation and anyone who may be seeking advice about the validity of an easement, which is a right to cross or use someone else's land for a specified purpose.
In Simmons v. Berkeley Electric – a property dispute over whether utility companies had the right to use a individual's land for water and power lines – the South Carolina Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeals erred in recognizing two methods, adverse use and claim of right, of proving the third element of a prescriptive easement. (A prescriptive easement is earned by regular use; it is not something that is purchased, negotiated or granted, and the user does not gain title to the land.)
This ruling concluded that when analyzing the third element of a prescriptive easement, South Carolina courts should apply a new test for adverse use, which is the practice of using property without the authorization of the owner. continue reading
Beware the Double Whammy of New Overtime Rule
Posted on Aug 18, 2016 by
Reginald W. Belcher
By the end of the year, employers could get hit with a double-whammy from new overtime pay rules. You may have heard about the new minimum pay rule, but another aspect of the overtime rules could sneak up on you.
The big, publicized change, announced in May, is that executives, administrators, outside sales people and professionals (and some others) are exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) only if they perform duties that are considered exempt (the “duties test”) and are paid a minimum of $47,476 annually, or $913 a week (the new “salary test”). The current threshold, unchanged since 1975, is only $23,660.
Read our previous post on this change in overtime rules here.
What makes it a double whammy is that the attention given to the new salary test likely will prompt many employees to ask if they are correctly being classified as exempt based on the “duties test,” which is separate from the salary test. Regardless of how much someone is paid, they must be paid overtime for hours worked over 40 per week if they don’t fall into an exempt category based on their actual job duties.
Employers won a major victory when the U.S. Department of Labor left the existing definitions for exempt classifications unchanged when it increased the pay threshold. We would caution employers not to breathe a sigh of relief, however. This unchanged part of the overtime rules may prove to be quite troublesome in the months ahead. continue reading