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Baton Rouge Business and Commercial Law Blog

Does FMLA apply to small-business owners?

The Family and Medical Leave Act - commonly known as FMLA - is a federal law that was enacted to protect employees from losing their jobs and health benefits if they need to take an extended period of time off due to health issues that affect either themselves or their immediate family.

FMLA doesn't cover any and all types of employees across the board. The types of employers that fall under the purview of FMLA include all public agencies such as state, federal and local government including public schools. In the private sector FMLA will only apply to an employer if its workforce consists of at least 50 employees and then only if that employee has been employed for a minimum of 20 work weeks during either the current or previous year.

Employment law: employee rights, employer responsibilities

Whether it is seasonal, temporary, part-time or full-time employment, most people at some point in their lives have held a job and either completed a written job application and/or undergone an interview process. We have all been there. However, how many people actually understand and know of their rights in an employment setting? Here is a quick overview of employment law, employee rights and employer responsibilities.

Employment law is a diverse area of law and encompasses various topics such as workplace safety, labor laws, wages, workplace discrimination and wrongful termination. Both federal and state laws may be applicable. In most cases, if an individual's employment is based on a valid employment contract, the terms contained in the contract govern. In such cases, state law applies.

Are mergers and acquisitions coming to a halt?

People in Baton Rouge may have heard that the mood on Wall Street has been downright jubilant following a string of mergers and acquisitions all year that have propelling revenue and investment returns for many shareholders. However, it looks like the great mergers and acquisitions boom of 2014 may have come to a screeching halt.

The first indicator was Rupert Murdoch's failed attempt to acquire Time Warner. The billionaire media mogul has been rebuffed by his target Time Warner, who even after making an $80 billion offer could not get Time Warner to express interest in a merger or make a counteroffer with his media company 21st Century Fox. When negotiations fell through with Time Warner, 21st Century Fox decided to spend $6 billion repurchasing its shares which probably exasperated the company's investment bankers.

Filming for well-known sitcom halted due to contract dispute

Louisiana residents who are fans of the sitcom "Big Bang Theory" will have to wait for fresh installments of the hit comedy series, because production has been tentatively halted by CBS due to ongoing contract negotiations with the actors.

The studio was ready to start filming the eighth season of the show when Warner Bros. Television announced that filming was not going to start on time; the studio did not announce a future date for filming to commence. The halt in production was a surprise, given that the network that airs the show, CBS, agreed in early 2014 to renew the show for at least three more seasons. This comes as no surprise, since the network counts the show as one of its prime time staples, given that it's the viewers' number one-rated comedy.

Louisiana ATC office facing employment law discrimination suit

Louisiana residents may find it interesting to know that heads of the Alcohol and Tobacco Control Commissioner as well as the ATC Office of the Commissioner have had a lawsuit filed against them in District Court alleging racial discrimination in the workplace.

The lawsuit has been filed jointly by three African-American employees who worked under the ATC Commissioner. In addition to the lawsuit each of the three individuals also filed separate Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints. In the lawsuit they allege that the current ATC Commissioner systematically worked to make their working conditions so intolerable that some had to take medical leave. In at least one case one employee felt that they had no recourse but to quit altogether.

Governor and Superintendent reach impasse in contracting dispute

Disputes in the business and government world can arise anytime. Resolving disputes such as contract disputes between parties may require legal expertise. Louisiana residents may be familiar with the stalemate over the Common Core academic standards between the Governor and the superintendent. As talks between the Governor and Superintendent are at an impasse, both may explore legal options to resolve the dispute.

Louisiana residents may find it helpful to learn that the legal dispute stems from a disagreement between the Governor and the Louisiana Board for Elementary and Secondary Education, represented by the State School Superintendent, over what types of school tests will be permissible in the upcoming school year.

Lindt chocolate company to acquire Russell Stover Candies

Louisiana chocolate lovers should be interested to know that Switzerland-based Lindt & Spruengli AG has formally agreed to acquire Russell Stover Candies Inc., the largest producer of boxed chocolates in the United States. The Russell Stover brand rose to prominence in the U.S. candy market when it appeared in the 1994 Academy Award-winning film "Forrest Gump."

If the acquisition is officially finalized, Lindt will remain the world's largest producer of premium chocolate but will grow to officially be the third-biggest chocolate producer in North America. Lindt has not released any information about the acquisition price, but according to a Financial Times reporting in early July a purchase price of $1.4 billion has been under discussion. The company did confirm however that the acquisition, should it go through, will be the largest in the company's history.

Construction dispute between parties can arise at any time

When it comes to constructing a building, there are usually many parties involved. Because of this, in the construction world, disputes about contracts, agreements, type of work and services and more can arise at any time. Louisiana residents may find it interesting to learn that recently a hockey arena in another state has been the center of a legal dispute that has been brewing between a crane rental company and the contractors that rented their cranes.

The crane renting company is suing for rental fees owed that it claims it has not received for its crane operating and operator services, as well as fees for renting related equipment and other items related to the construction project. The crane rental company claims that it has been waiting on payment since the fourth quarter of 2013. On the other hand, the hockey arena authorities and others the crane rental company is suing claim that they have not defaulted on any payments that are due to the crane company.

Contract approval suspended amid concerns around DOE contract

Louisiana residents may have already heard, and may find it interesting to learn that according to reports, recently the Office of Contractual Review (OCR) briefly suspended approval of a contract between the Department of Education (DOE) and a company called Data Recognition Corporations, which was expected to provide the DOE with consulting support services in the execution of the state's education assessment tools.

Although, OCR had already reviewed the contract previously, it is expected to scrutinize and closely review the contract again. The contract issues surfaced after a closer review of the contract indicated that additional review of the contract was necessary to fully understand the actual scope of the services Data Recognition Corporation was expected to provide. Furthermore, further review of the purchases of services and goods related to the consulting services was also necessary.

Can employers require a medical evaluation following FMLA leave?

At some point in their career, an individual may need to use the Family Medical Leave Act. Typically, before FMLA is approved, an employer requires an employee to produce medical proof or certification that the leave is necessary. However, when it is time for an employee to return to their job from FMLA leave, can an employer require a post-FMLA medical evaluation to make sure that the employee is able to perform their assigned duties?

Louisiana residents may find it helpful to learn that according to the American Disability Act an employer may be able to request a medical evaluation after reinstating an employee. In fact, a post-FMLA medical evaluation was put to test in a recent case. In that case, an investigator who was working at a county district attorney's office started suffering from anxiety and mood swings that apparently were manifesting in relation to a depression disorder that she was suffering from.

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