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Baton Rouge Business and Commercial Law Blog

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.

We can help with construction disputes needing resolution

Due to the dynamic and complex nature of the construction industry, construction litigation cases can be some of the most complex cases that are filed in the court of law. The nature of any given construction lawsuit can range from having one party failing to meet an agreed upon milestone or deadline, to issues revolving around discrepancies in meeting specific building codes to failing to meet industry safety or ethical standards with approved industry practices and principals.

The legal issues can be complex when it involves private parties. When cases involve companies that enter into legal contracts with the government to fulfil government construction contracts, a new layer of complexity is added due to the added levels of bureaucracy that must be understood and navigated correctly.

What factors determine if I am a small business?

A common question that many entrepreneurs and business owners grapple with is whether they can be categorized as a small business from a legal standpoint. The distinction may not be that important unless a company wishes to have the ability to apply and register for government contracting under the small business category.

In order for a company to be recognized as a small business by the government their size must fall within the range that is established by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Supreme Court makes ruling on religious accommodation issue

Louisiana residents should be interested to know that the Supreme Court has finally ruled in a case that will set precedence on matters concerning religious accommodation in the workplace. The Court has sided with a Muslim woman who alleged that she was discriminated against by a prospective employer, specifically Abercrombie and Fitch -- she wears a headscarf.

The lawsuit was brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of the Muslim woman back in 2008 after she was denied employment. When the woman inquired to the reason she was denied employment, she was informed by a representative from the company that it was because she wears headscarf and it did not conform to the company's dress code.

Negotiations to acquire Time Warner Cable are underway

Louisiana residents should be interested to know that Altice SA has agreed to make a bid to purchase Suddenlink Communications. If the acquisition is approved by regulators, it will be owner of Altice SA's first entry into the current U.S. Cable market. Initial estimates have the transaction closing at just over nine billion dollars.

Should the deal be approved, it will not result in a complete and total takeover of Suddenlink Communications, but rather will result in Altice SA becoming a majority shareholder with about a 70 percent ownership stake in the seventh largest U.S. cable company.

What are the elements of a contractual agreement?

In order for a contract to be recognized as existing and valid by law, there are four elements that need to be met. The first requirement is that one of the parties to the contractual agreement has agreed to either perform or refrain from performing a specific action or actions in the future.

The second requirement is that, in exchange for either performing or refraining from performing said action, something of value has been pledged as an equitable exchange. This can take many forms and is not necessarily always a monetary or financial exchange. It can also be a pledge to either perform or refrain from performing an action by the other party. This is what is referred to as consideration and is essentially the value that is the impetus behind the parties entering into the contract.

Am I required to disclose my disability to my employer?

Whether or not an employee should report a disability that they have to their employer is entirely up to the individual. The law only requires an employer must provide reasonable accommodations to either employees or job applicants that suffer from a disability if they disclose their disability to the employer.

There is no requirement per se that an employee must disclose any disability from which they may be suffering. However, if the employee will require their employer to furnish them with reasonable accommodations in order for them to perform their job duties satisfactorily then they will have to inform their employer about their disabilities and how best to work around them.

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