All posts by Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC

ILLINOIS AND OTHER STATES TIGHTEN DISTRACTED DRIVING LAWS

HIGHER FEES, LICENSE SUSPENSION, AND INSURANCE COVERAGE ISSUES

– Is Your Business Prepared?

 

A new, stricter distracted driver law went into to effect July 1st and it doesn’t just mean no more surfing Facebook at stoplights on your way to the grocery store. The new law will have a negative impact on your ability to have car insurance covering your employees.

 

NEW ILLINOIS DISTRACTED DRIVING LAW PENALTIES

 

Illinois initially outlawed texting while driving in 2010, but officials said more restrictions were needed. The new law signed by Governor Pritzker significantly increases penalties for distracted driving. In the past, a first-time offense for distracted driving would cost you $75 and would not go on your record. Now, instead of just a warning ticket, those caught texting will be issued a moving violation that will go on their driving record. Those convicted of three moving violations in a year could have their license suspended.

 

OTHER STATES HAVE DISTRACTED DRIVING LAW PENALTIES

 

Do your employees cross state boarders to come to work or to do their job? These laws are not tightening just here in Illinois. Minnesota has a similar law coming Aug. 1. Drivers seen with an electronic device in their hand will get a $50 ticket for their first offense and $275 for subsequent offenses. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, when Minnesota’s ban starts, it will be the 19th state to implement a hand-held device ban, along with the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Maine will make it 20 in September. These are just distracted driving laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures 48 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers.

 

The National Conference on State Legislatures and The Governors Highway Safety Association both maintain lists with information about districted driving, texting bans and other similar laws. These lists are good places to reference and monitor for updates on driving laws.

 

HOW DO DISTRACTED DRIVING LAWS IMPACT YOUR BUSINESS?

 

With the growing use of electronic devices, distracted driving has become a serious safety concern. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2016, distracted driving caused 3,450 deaths and resulted in 331,000 accidents. These numbers have risen significantly each year and are expected to rise again in 2019.

 

In certain situations, businesses can be held liable for injury or property damage caused by their employees. Most business owners are aware of the risk when an employee is using company equipment or if the employee was on company property at the time of the incident. What if the employee was off site but “on the job” at the time of the incident? Many business owners don’t realize they may be held responsible for accidents or injuries that occur while the employee is performing job duties off the premises as well. What if an employee is just picking up lunch for some coworkers, is texting and driving and gets into an accident? Under the “Distracted Driving Act” it is illegal to text and drive in Illinois. The business could be held liable for any injuries or damages that are incurred by the employee, his or her vehicle, and that of anyone else involved.

 

INSURANCE IMPLICATIONS

 

With the crackdown on distracted driving insurance companies will be taking a closer look at your employee’s motor vehicle record. The business auto policy covers only the liability of the named insured — that is, the employer, it does not cover the employee’s liability. The policies also do not cover any injuries an employee causes to a fellow employee. Workers’ compensation protects the employer from this type of claim. In some states, employees can sue their colleagues for work-related injuries under certain circumstances. The employer’s workers’ compensation insurance does not provide coverage for this kind of claim, making the employee personally liable. Some companies provide employees with liability protection for this and other situations through “employees as insureds” endorsement.

 

WHAT SHOULD EMPLOYERS DO?

 

Debbie Heerdegen, a P&C Consultant with DS&P Insurance Services, Inc., a commercial insurance broker that provides coverage and risk management solutions for companies of all sizes, suggests a few steps employers can take to protect itself from liability when employees drive their own vehicles for work travel:

 

  • Review driving records and create an approved-driver list: All employees that use a vehicle for business use should be cleared to drive by a manager. This process should include reviewing motor vehicle records and Personal Auto Policy coverages regularly and maintaining records to help reduce risk exposure.
  • Establish standards for personal vehicles: Even employees without any incidents on their motor vehicle records can be a risk to your business if they are driving personal vehicles that are not properly maintained. Establish company guidelines for maintaining personal vehicles. If employees are compensated for time spent driving or if they routinely use their personal vehicles for business, consider regularly collecting maintenance reports to gauge the reliability of personal vehicles.
  • Make the company policy clear: After you create guidelines for the use of personal vehicles at your business, be sure to communicate them to your employees in a clear and timely manner. Although it is common to have policies against the use of intoxicating substances or mobile devices while driving, reminding employees of all of your company policies is an effective way to mitigate risk.
  • Establish rental vehicle policies: The use of rental vehicles for business also presents exposure to risk. It may be beneficial to establish a relationship with a particular rental vehicle agency to determine which vehicles best suit the needs of your business and employees while traveling. You should also give your employees guidelines on which rental vehicle insurance coverages to accept during the rental process.

 

Alongside these options, WPD recommends employers to consider having their employees sign agreements promising to not “drive distracted” and to hold the employer harmless for any liability if they do. Remember to apply these policies to all distracted driving. This is not just a “no texting” law – any “distraction” could be considered a violation. Employers should also make sure this policy applies to all work-related activities including after work social events or networking meetings. Be sure to consistently enforce this policy if you learn of a violation. It is important to send a message to employees that you take these violations seriously.

 

MANAGEMENT-SIDE EMPLOYMENT LAWYERS

 

The attorneys of Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC frequently counsel businesses employment law issues. If you would like to schedule an initial consultation to discuss questions you have about your business, please contact Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC at (847)253-8800 or contact us online.

 

Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC is a full-service law firm with various areas of service to assist your business, including: Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Commercial Real Estate, Litigation and general Business Law services. Individual services include Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, Divorce and Family Law, Collaborative Divorce & Mediation.

 

This article constitutes attorney advertising. The material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

 

 

ATTENTION EMPLOYERS – EEOC OPENS CALENDAR YEARS 2017 & 2018 PAY DATA COLLECTION

 

A web-based portal for the collection of pay and hours worked data for calendar years 2017 and 2018 is now OPEN.  The URL for the portal is https://eeoccomp2.norc.org.  EEO-1 filers should submit Component 2 data for calendar year 2017, in addition to data for calendar year 2018, by September 30, 2019, as Ordered by the court’s recent decision in National Women’s Law Center, et al., v. Office of Management and Budget, et al., Civil Action No. 17-cv-2458 (D.D.C.).

On May 3, 2019, the Department of Justice filed a Notice of Appeal in National Women’s Law Center.  Please note:  The filing of this Notice of Appeal does not stay the district court orders or alter EEO-1 filers’ obligations to submit Component 2 data.

Employers, including federal contractors, are required to submit Component 2 compensation data for 2017 if they have 100 or more employees during the 2017 workforce snapshot period. Employers, including federal contractors, are required to submit Component 2 compensation data for 2018 if they have 100 or more employees during the 2018 workforce snapshot period.  The workforce snapshot period is an employer-selected pay period between October 1 and December 31 of the reporting year. Federal contractors and other private employers with fewer than 100 employees are not required to report Component 2 compensation data.

The EEOC has contracted with NORC at the University of Chicago to conduct the Component 2 EEO-1 Compensation Data Collection for 2017 and 2018.

In addition to the data collection portal available for all filers, a data file upload function and validation process is expected to be available no later than Aug. 15, 2019, as an alternative data collection method for employers who prefer to utilize data file upload capability. Information regarding the data file upload function is available at https://eeoccomp2.norc.org.

Additional resources for filers, including Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), Sample Data Collection Form, Instruction Booklet for Filers, User’s Guide, Fact Sheet, and more, are available at https://eeoccomp2.norc.org.

If you have any further questions about this collection, please contact NORC toll-free at (877) 324-6214 or send an email to EEOCcompdata@norc.org.

 

The above is provided by the EEOC.

JOIN WPD BETWEEN NOW AND AUGUST 6th TO COLLECT SCHOOL SUPPLIES & CHILDREN’S SHOES

Join Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC to help grade school children in need get ready for the new school year. Donations of NEW school supplies may be dropped off between now and AUGUST 6th at Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC, 3701 Algonquin Road, Suite 300 in Rolling Meadows.

*The schools have specifically asked for the following items this year (Items will be donated to grade schools in Rolling Meadows) : EAR BUDS (inexpensive kind); GLUE STICKS, ZIPPER ORGANIZERS; FOLDERS and 3-HOLE PENCIL CASES.

We are also collecting CHILDREN’S SHOES (sizes 2 through 10) for St. Mary’s Services and Hopeful Beginnings located in Palatine. For additional items needed, please contact Vanessa at vgrazian@wpdlegal.com or (847) 253-8800.

 

 

 

Thanks in advance for your donations!

 

This announcement constitutes attorney advertising. The material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Content is provided by WPD.

Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC is a full-service law firm with various areas of service to assist your business, including: Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Commercial Real Estate, Business Immigration, Litigation and general Business Law services. Individual services include Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, Divorce and Family Law, Collaborative Divorce & Mediation.

 

RUNNING THE “BLENDED” FAMILY BUSINESS

Running the family business can be difficult. Not only do you have to navigate the standard complications of dealing with partners and employees – but that partner may be your dad and the employee is your cousin. Trying to win an argument with your dad about why a new technology is needed or that the company should branch out in a new direction may bring along years of old hurts and experiences – has your dad gotten over you quitting that t-ball team back when you were 6 yet?

 

FAMILY BUSINESSES INCLUDE EXTENDED FAMILY IN THE BUSINESS

 

The definition of “family” today is even more complicated. The American Psychological Association puts the current rate of divorce at 40 to 50% of all marriages. With so many marriages ending in divorce, and many of those individuals remarrying and either starting families with the new spouse or becoming a step-parent through the marriage – today’s family businesses frequently means blended families.

 

Blended families are usually made up of parents who have remarried and include children (or even grandchildren) from different marriages — Mom and Dad could own the business together, they each remarry and new spouses have children from their first marriages, and so on. Throw a business into the mix and you have a situation where the family owns and runs a business that includes different business partners and family members.

 

LEGAL ISSUES FOR THE FAMILY BUSINESS

 

Let’s take this example. Mom owns a business, you (her daughter) have been working in the business for years and hope to take it over one day. Mom and Dad divorce. A few years later Mom remarries and suddenly you have 2 step-siblings. Does Mom’s Will leave the business to her new husband when she dies? If so, when Mom dies the business becomes the step-dad’s business – and now what does his Will say? Does he leave all his assets to his natural children? Say goodbye to the business then. Or does it divide the assets between all three of you? Suddenly you have two business partners you might not get along with or may have no experience with the business.

 

DIFFICULT DECISIONS WHEN RUNNING THE FAMILY BUSINESS

Every decision in a family business has lifelong implications to relationships in the family. Try firing your nephew and then having him and the kids over for the family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Won’t that be fun. Add to that that everyone is wearing a number of different hats. Are you talking to your Mom or your boss in this moment? Family dinner’s deal with business and family issues. Now bring your new siblings into this scenario. Are they coming into the business? It’s hard enough to get to know a new co-worker or train a new employee, but to also navigate the emotional impact of this person being your new step-brother adds a whole new level of complexity to this dynamic.

 

OWNERSHIP AGREEMENTS AND DISCUSSION POINTS FOR THE FAMILY BUSINESS

 

What to do? This is where careful planning comes into play – and yes this will involve difficult decisions and discussions. Be upfront about what you want. If you are Mom, let the new spouse know that you want to leave the business to your daughter. There are other assets that can go to the step-children to try to even things out with some careful estate planning and tax structuring (or maybe you aren’t concerned about that). If two siblings are running a family business they inherited from Dad, talk about what happens if one of you gets divorced and remarries. What does it mean to you to have a “family” business? Does that include step relations? What if they are young, are you ready to make that decision? Many family business owners feel that it is not necessary to have a formal shareholder agreement or operating agreement for their business. But careful planning, discussion terms for shareholder agreement or the operating agreement and setting it out in a formal ownership agreement using a family businesses law firm familiar with these issues is critical.

 

SUCCESSION PLANNING FOR THE FAMILY BUSINESS

 

Forbes recently announced that less than one third of family businesses survive the transition from first to second generation ownership. Another 50% don’t survive the transition from second to third generation. If the plan is to bring the blended family into ownership together, this becomes even more complicated. Here is where you need to consider an ownership agreement (Shareholder Agreement or Operating Agreement depending on your business structure). These agreements can set out how you make decisions together. Does majority vote rule or a higher percentage? Are there things you can do without checking in with the other owners (e.g. ordering office supplies) but other things that require a vote (e.g. increasing your credit line)? What happens to these owners when they die or become disabled and can’t work? Do they get to leave their shares to their kids (which may lead to further blending)? Do some shareholders have different rights than others? Setting guidelines for how you will work together can help to ease a lot of possible conflict further down the road. For more information on Succession Planning, see our blog article here.

 

CHALLENGES IN TRANSFERRING OWNERSHIP FOR THE FAMILY BUSINESS

 

Besides running the business, there are other things to consider. Is the business a marital asset? A pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement may be needed to keep the ownership interest out of a divorce contest. Drafting proper Wills, Trusts and the like is also important. Even if you aren’t running a business with a spouse or family member, these agreements may be needed. Think about it – do you want to suddenly be partners with your business partner’s wife?

 

PLANNING FOR THE FAMILY BUSINESS

 

No matter the situation, advance planning – making those difficult decisions and having those uncomfortable discussions – is the only way to reduce the risk of the business (or even the family itself) falling apart in the future. Successful blended family business planning is a matter of setting and communicating goals, learning the available legal strategies, implementing the proper documents and setting appropriate expectations for the family members.

 

FAMILY BUSINESS LAWYERS

 

The attorneys of Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC frequently counsel family businesses and owners on these topics including running a blended family business, succession planning for the family business and addressing conflict among family business owners. If you would like to schedule an initial consultation to discuss questions you have about your business, please contact Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC at (847)253-8800 or contact us online.

 

Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC is a full-service law firm with various areas of service to assist your business, including: Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Commercial Real Estate, Litigation and general Business Law services. Individual services include Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, Divorce and Family Law, Collaborative Divorce & Mediation.

 

This article constitutes attorney advertising. The material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

 

BUSINESS SECURITY: MORE THAN JUST CYBERSECURITY

Cybersecurity is a hot topic for businesses. Over the recent years, cybersecurity threats have spread from the retail industry to almost every corner and niche of the business world. As result, manufacturers are no longer safe from cybersecurity threats. According to “The State of Industrial Cybersecurity 2018” trend study published by Kaspersky, over 75% of the companies surveyed expected that they would become a target of a cybersecurity attack in the operational technology industrial cybersecurity space.[1] Despite this certainty of a pending cybersecurity attack, only 23% of the companies surveyed followed the minimal mandatory industrial or governmental guidance and regulations. As past cyber attacks have proven, all it takes is one weak spot in the cybersecurity fence for hackers to access, corrupt or steal critical information or disrupt a supply chain. The stakes in the manufacturing industry are too high for companies to remain inattentive to the seriousness of this issue.

Cybersecurity and the threats commonly associated with it, such as hacking, spyware, malware and ransomware, are important issues to be discussed by all organizations. However, it is important to remember that such items are only a few pieces of the overall business security puzzle. An organizations vulnerabilities extend beyond the virtual world. Described below are a few additional areas that should be addressed as part of a comprehensive business security plan.

PRIVACY

It is very important that a business adequately protects information about, and the identity of, its employees, customers, suppliers, vendors, and resource providers. By ensuring systems and procedures are established and followed which restrict access to this information to only those who really need it, a business can prevent the spread of information and reduce the risk of it possibly being used incorrectly or illegally by an unauthorized individual. The procedures established should also include a process for archiving and purging excess, expired or unnecessary information. Limiting those who have access to the business’ sensitive information reinforces the classification of such information as confidential in the business world which can be useful when responding to a cyber-attack or later prosecuting a cyber-attacker.

PHYSICAL SECURITY

The physical security of your information and systems is just as important as the cybersecurity. Businesses should restrict or limit the number (and type) of individuals who have physical access to equipment and technology to reduce the risk of physical theft or damage. This means considering everyone who has access; employees, independent contractors and vendors. It can be surprising the number of individuals who have physical access to a business’ critical information; both during business hours (i.e. clients, visitors, vendors, etc.) and afterhours (i.e. security personnel, cleaning crews, etc.). This is especially important if any information is stored in an unencrypted format.

Additionally, businesses should limit and monitor virtual access to information stores, access points and any interconnected devices to ensure such are only being used as allowed by only those authorized to do so. Past attacks have been caused by cyber-attackers accessing information through third-party vendor systems (i.e. attacker used network credentials provided to HVAC vendor for external access).

CONTINGENCY PLANNING & DISASTER RECOVERY

The speed from which a business can respond to a cybersecurity attack can be the difference between recovery and devastation. Advance planning is crucial. Businesses should develop, test and deploy the hardware, tools and processes needed to quickly and effectively recover information in the event of a catastrophe. In addition, business should determine in advance how they wish to handle such a situation and the steps to be taken to inform potentially affected parties of any potential loss of information.

OPERATIONAL SECURITY

The way an organization runs its business or the method that a manufacturer uses to make its products is only confidential if it is kept a secret. An organization should limit those who have access to strategic or market differentiating information to help protect a businesses’ manufacturing processes and trade secrets. Developing an informational response plan can help effectively address any leaks or the spread of potential adverse information regarding the organization.

PERSONAL SECURITY

Implementing background checks for all employees and service providers with access to information (or the ability to access information) can help to limit the unauthorized spread of information. Behavior monitoring can also be instituted to proactively detect exposure risks. Once a monitoring processes is established, an organization should monitor activity at all levels and implement set warnings should leaks occur or employee behavior vary beyond normal expectations.

The depth, comprehensiveness and frequency of these checks should be proportional with the sensitivity and strategic importance of the information to be accessed by the checked individual. It is important to test all levels of the organization for vulnerabilities to discover and address potential exposure points.

Not having any piece of the business security puzzle diminishes the effectiveness of the overall security system. The first step is to assess and evaluate the viability of your current cybersecurity protection and policies. Using such information as a baseline, a simple systematic approach can be taken to address any possible vulnerabilities and resolve such. Taking protective steps can decrease the risk of exposure and reduce the time and resources spent on a security breach, should one occur.

Should you have any questions about business law or any other laws that may affect your business, or would like to schedule a free initial consultation, please contact Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC at (847)253-8800 or contact us online.

Waltz, Palmer & Dawson, LLC is a full-service law firm with various areas of service to assist your business, including: Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Commercial Real Estate, Business Immigration, Litigation and general Business Law services. Individual services include Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Probate, Guardianship, Divorce and Family Law, Collaborative Divorce & Mediation.

This article constitutes attorney advertising. The material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

 

[1] The State of Industrial Cybersecurity 2018, Kaspersky Lab AO, https://ics.kaspersky.com/media/2018-Kaspersky-ICS-Whitepaper.pdf