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Baton Rouge Business and Commercial Law Blog

Encana Corp. sells off its natural gas assets in Louisiana

Louisiana residents may be interested to know that the Encana Corporation has recently sold off all of its Louisiana natural gas assets. According to media reports, the transaction, which reportedly yielded Encana Corp. around $850 million, will be used to pay down some of its debt, which as of the beginning of the third quarter were reported to total roughly just over six billion dollars.

The assets were sold to two companies, GeoSouthern Haynesville LP and GSO Capital Partners LP, that have decided to co-own them in a joint venture. Part of the deal also includes having Encana transport natural gas over the next five years for GeoSouthern for a predetermined fee.

Experienced, competent lawyers businesses can rely on

Last week's blog focused on the topic of non-compete agreements in the business world, and need for a business to protect its trade secrets in today's competitive business environment. The legal mechanism of non-compete agreements is nuanced, and both old and new businesses in Louisiana may have to tackle the issue to stay competitive in the marketplace.

Here in Louisiana, those thinking of starting a business and those who have been in business for decades may find it helpful to learn that while they focus on making the business a success, business law attorneys with Dunlap Fiore, LLC, will apply their legal knowledge and use their business law acumen to ensure that no leaf is left unturned during every stage of their clients' business development.

Business litigation issues: what is non-compete agreement?

In today's volatile business environment, starting a business and staying in business in Louisiana can be tough, and the last thing a business needs is to lose valuable trade secrets that have taken time and money to accrue and cultivate only to have others reap the rewards without any of the expense.

To that end a common tool used by employers to protect their carefully guarded trade secrets is what is commonly referred to as a non-compete agreement. A non-compete agreement is essentially a contract that an employee accepts and signs as a prerequisite for accepting a position with an employer.

Business law and breach of fiduciary duty

Usually, the first step in determining if there was a breach of fiduciary duty between any two Louisiana business entities is to first establish that there was a fiduciary duty to begin with. Determining if there was a fiduciary obligation is primarily dependent on the nature of the relationship between the two entities in question. Some relationships have fiduciary obligations imputed between the entities involved as a matter of business law.

Some examples of such relationships are relationships involving trustees and beneficiaries, professionals such as attorneys and accountants, real estate agents and brokers, stockbrokers and financial advisers, and agents and their principals. In these types of business relationships a fiduciary duty is implied legally, and it's generally not a matter that is up for debate.

What are my obligations as an employer under the ADA?

This year marks the Silver Jubilee of Americans with Disabilities Act. Though the nation has come a long way in making public spaces and the workplace more accessible to people with disabilities, employers in Louisiana may not entirely understand how the ADA affects them and what their obligations are under the act. Misunderstanding between employers and people with disabilities can potentially result in litigation.

In essence, when the ADA was passed in 1990, the law made it illegal for any employer to discriminate against individuals with a disability who were otherwise qualified to perform the job. The ADA further expanded on this by outlawing discrimination against any person suffering from a disability in government services whether it's at the state or local level, as well as in public accommodations, transportation and telecommunications.

Louisiana based utility company gets approval for acquisition

Louisiana residents should be interested to know that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has finally approved Louisiana-based Cleco Corporation's proposition to be acquired by various infrastructure investors such as Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, and John Hancock Financial.

The acquisition offer was formally proposed late last year in October, which valued the Louisiana-based utility company at about $4.7 billion even after factoring in roughly $1.3 billion of the utility company's outstanding debt and liabilities. Both the company's shareholders and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S had already approved the acquisition.

Basics of construction defects

Construction defects can involve potentially dangerous and life-threatening error like a faulty electrical system or cracks or weaknesses in the roof assembly that can render a building unsafe. But construction defects can also be as mundane as a leaky faucet or shower head or perhaps some peeling paint in the home.

Sometimes construction defects can be introduced to an otherwise perfectly sound home by someone contracted to work on a home. Generally, construction defects typically fall into one of four categories: design deficiencies, material deficiencies, construction deficiencies or subsurface deficiencies.

What should employers know about civil rights and religion?

Employers in Louisiana, by law, are prohibited from discriminating against their employees based on religion under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Furthermore, employers are also prohibited from retaliating against an employee who alleges and complains about religious discrimination in the workplace. This prohibition on discrimination covers all manner of employment including the hiring and recruitment of employees, promotions and providing benefits.

Consequently, an employer must endeavor in good faith to provide reasonable accommodations requested by an employee or an applicant because of their sincerely held religious beliefs. It is important to keep in mind that under Title VII, religion is defined broadly so as not to be limited to include just the major world religions such as Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

Contract dispute between Union and management ends

Louisiana residents should be interested to know that the four month work strike put on by the United Steel Workers employees has finally come to an end. The workers had gone on strike in protest of unfair labor practices at the Marathon Petroleum's Galveston Bay Refinery. The refinery was one of 15 sites nationally that have finally succeeded in reaching an agreement between the United Steel Workers and the plant operators. The workers were scheduled to return to work the week following the Independence Day national holiday.

The strike initially was at a few sites but went national when it spread to all 15 refineries nationwide as well as some chemical plants and a cogeneration plant. Once the strike went national, it involved about 7,000 employees in total. Of the 15 plants that went on strike, three of them were located in Louisiana, two Motiva plants in Norco and Convent, as well as a Shell chemical plant also located in Norco.

AT&T facing large fines for false advertising

Our Louisiana resident and customers of the telecommunication giant AT&T may find it interesting to learn that AT&T has been fined $100 million by the Federal Communications Commission for dishonest business practices by its cell phone division. At question is AT&T's administration of their network management policy with respect to those customers that subscribe to their unlimited data plans.

The FCC claims that AT&T has acted purposefully in a dishonest manner to mislead their customers by falsely advertising that they offer data plans that are unlimited only to throttle down the network speed after a certain data threshold has been reached.

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