February 2021 Newsletter

5 LEGAL BASICS FOR SMALL-BUSINESS OWNERS
DON’T MAKE AVOIDABLE MISTAKES — LEARN THE BASICS TODAY!

Everyone needs to be mindful of certain legal basics in order to avoid worst-case scenarios — business owners are no different, and in ways that are not always obvious. In our day-to-day lives, we obviously recognize we shouldn’t speed, steal, or assault anyone. However, when you’re running a business, you have to be aware of many types of legal issues which can impact your business, such as: contracts, employment matters, taxes, and workplace safety law.

But you don’t have to go it alone. With a business lawyer, you and your business can stay on the right side of the law. Here are five of the biggest small-business legal insights entrepreneurs may or may not be aware of.

NO. 1: A BINDING CONTRACT MUST HAVE A ‘MEETING OF THE MINDS.’

The basic tenet of contract law is crucial to running a business; a contract cannot be binding unless there’s been a “meeting of the minds.” This means that both parties share a core understanding of the contract's terms and agree to be bound by them. A written, signed contract can greatly support the idea that there was a meeting of the minds, and a binding agreement. This written document can save costly legal fees if there is a disagreement between the parties.

NO. 2: YES, ORAL CONTRACTS ARE LEGALLY ENFORCEABLE.

Just because your contract isn’t written down, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not valid. However, some transactions require written contracts to be valid. This includes real estate sales, the sale of goods more than $500, and contracts that cannot be performed in less than a year. Most attorneys agree that written contracts can help avoid confusion, but always keep in mind that you must be careful about what you say or agree to. Both New Jersey and New York have one-party consent laws, meaning consent from only one party in a conversation is required in order to record the exchange.

NO. 3: PROTECT YOUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY.

Do you have a copyright or trademark for your logo, branding, or business name? If not, you may not have legal recourse if another company “steals” it and profits from doing so as your business begins to grow and succeed. This step might seem easy to ignore at first, but don’t forget that it may cost you big later down the road.

NO. 4: PROVIDE A CLEAR, FORMAL PRIVACY POLICY.

A hot legal topic in recent years has included customer privacy. You must provide a formal privacy policy to protect your customers’ data and demographic information. Some companies do sell their customers’ email addresses, home addresses, demographics, and other sensitive information. If your company shares information with others, you’re legally obligated to formally disclose this fact to your customers via a clear privacy policy.

NO. 5: YOU’RE NOT SAFE FROM CYBERCRIME — SAFEGUARD YOUR DATA.

People may want to hack into your data for your customers’ information, but they could also be looking for your company’s intimate financial information. From small businesses to huge multinational corporations, many fall prey to data breaches and the legal and PR fallout as well as financial losses can be very damaging.

You have a legal obligation to safeguard the personal cyber information of both customers and staff. Make sure you’re using antivirus and security software to protect your information from theft.

We hope this will be useful information to you on your journey as a business owner! Don’t hesitate to give us a call at Reardon Anderson if you have any questions at all. ReardonAnderson.com –The Reardon Anderson Firm

Brock vs. Brock
The Man Who Sued Himself

On July 1, 1993, Robert Lee Brock made a mistake. By his own account, he had a few too many alcoholic beverages that evening, and in his drunken state, he committed breaking and entering, as well as grand larceny. Brock was arrested, and the court sentenced him to 23 years behind bars at the Indian Creek Correctional Center in Chesapeake, Virginia.

In 1995, Brock decided he deserved restitution. Reasoning that he had violated his own civil rights, he sued himself for $5 million. For his family's pain and suffering, as well as his children’s college tuition, he requested $3 million. He also asked for $2 million to support his needs during his 23-year prison sentence.

Central to Brock’s claim was that, due to his drinking, “I caused myself to violate my religious beliefs. This was done by my going out and getting arrested, which caused me to be in prison.” And since he was a ward of the state, he explained that Virginia should pay the $5 million on his behalf. After all, he was incarcerated and unable to work, and the state was responsible for his care. Plus, he promised to pay the money back after his release.

In a move that shocked no one (except, perhaps, Brock), Judge Rebecca Beach Smith dismissed his case. While she did call his claim “ludicrous,” she also praised his creativity, stating that he “presented an innovative approach to civil rights litigation.”

The lawsuit against himself wasn’t his first or last attempt at legal restitution. He once filed 29 complaints in a single year. Due to the repeated suits, the court removed his ability to file further litigation. “None of Brock's allegations have ever been found by any court to have any merit,” the decision read. “Because Brock's repeated, frivolous claims have placed a significant burden on this court, as well as on the district court ... we hereby impose sanctions upon Brock.”

Brock's case ranked No. 3 on Time Magazine’s list of Top 10 Outrageous Legal Battles. So, while he didn't achieve wealth, he did gain fame. It was an impressive feat for a man who found a novel way to take personal responsibility for his actions.

Social Jet Lag:
THE SILENT PRODUCTIVITY KILLER

Maybe it’s not a case of the Mondays after all. Social jet lag, the discrepancy between sleep on a workday and sleep on a weekend, is a real thing! Your chronotype — your body’s natural sleep and wake preferences — is deeply impacted when you switch up your schedule on a whim. The hustle and bustle of your busy weekends may be making your job at the office more difficult or even compromising the accuracy of your work. What can be done?

As a general rule, to avoid social jet lag, aim for at least seven hours of sleep within your normal sleep-wake window.

While you may think that one way to combat social jet lag is by catching up on sleep, it may be a stopgap fix, but it certainly does not cure the problem. Instead, you must make changes in your daily routine so that your circadian rhythm, your internal clock that keeps your sleep-wake cycle normalized, is aligned and your sleep deprivation low.

You can do this by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. If the temptation to sleep in on the days you don’t have to be at the office takes over, only allow yourself to sleep in an extra hour. This ensures that your circadian clock isn’t thrown off too much. But, if you can resist the urge to sleep in and keep your sleep-wake schedule on track, an afternoon nap is a quick way to catch some z’s.

Because our chronotypes are mostly set in stone, it’s easier to work with them than against them. But, if you must shift it, do so gradually to allow your body time to catch up. And, most importantly, prioritize sleep. Without it, showing up at work on Monday morning with social jet lag can make it extremely difficult to get going.

CAN YOU LEGALLY MOVE A STATE’S BORDER?
THESE OREGON COUNTIES HOPE SO

Earlier this year, several counties in Eastern Oregon voted to break away from the Beaver State and join their next-door neighbor, Idaho.

Led by a grassroots organization called Citizens for Greater Idaho (or Greater Idaho, for short), this push to move the Oregon-Idaho border further west was fueled by an urban/rural and liberal/ conservative divide within the state. In short, rural Oregonians, who are mostly conservative, don’t feel like their state government, which leans liberal, represents their interests. However, rather than leave their homes and livelihoods behind for a government that better represents their values, they’ve decided they want to bring Idaho’s values and government to them.

While the social and political dimensions of this movement are fascinating, the more pragmatic question of whether moving a state border is possible at all is an essential element to explore. What do legal experts say about the possibility of moving Oregon’s state border? Well, proponents of the move shouldn’t hold their breath.

While some counties have “voted” to leave Oregon, those votes don’t hold any legal power. They’re more like a poll, gauging interest in an idea before further action is taken. To make Greater Idaho a reality, however, both state legislatures and the United States Congress will have to approve the move. Idaho’s state border is enshrined in its constitution, which means that in order for the borders to change, so would the state’s founding document.

It’s a tall bar to clear, but state borders have moved before. In 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that much of Ellis Island actually belonged to New Jersey rather than New York. The mere legal possibility, plus the support of some representatives in the Idaho state government, including Governor Brad Little, is enough for Greater Idaho to continue hoping that they’ll have a say in the kind of government they want to have.

MEDITERRANEAN STUFFED CHICKEN BREAST

This succulent chicken stuffed with cheese, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes is impressive on the plate but easy in the kitchen! Our recipe makes 2 servings.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 10 large basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 oz mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 2 canned artichoke hearts,
  • chopped
  • 4 tsp sun-dried tomatoes,
  • chopped
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 365 F.
  2. Cut a slit lengthwise to create a pocket in the middle of each chicken breast. Place the breasts on a baking sheet.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the mozzarella cheese, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, basil, and garlic.
  4. Divide the mixture in half and stuff each chicken breast pocket. Using toothpicks, seal the edges of the pockets.
  5. Season the chicken with curry, paprika, salt, and pepper, then bake for 20 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 F.
  6. Remove the toothpicks and serve with rice, potatoes, salad, or roasted vegetables!

DON'T LIKE FISH?
OTHER WAYS TO GET YOUR OMEGA-3S

If you made New Year’s resolutions for your health, there's a good chance "eat better" is on the list, including adding more omega-3s to your diet. These fatty acids have a whopping 17 health benefits, such as fighting heart disease and Alzheimer's — that’s probably why doctors often recommend them.

Omega-3s have a ton of functions. For example, they create a phospholipid layer of cell membranes to help give cells structure. There are a lot of these fatty acids in your brain and eyes, and they are critical for the cognitive development of babies, as well. Omega3s can also improve your heart health by reducing the amount of inflammation you experience.

Just as omega-3s are important for the beginning of life, they’re equally important to help you maintain good health throughout your life as well. The most popular source of omega-3s is fish; so what if you don't like the taste of seafood or have an allergy? Here are some substitutions to consider.

  1. You can add chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts to your meals to get the needed nutrients. They are great additions to granola, oatmeal, salads, smoothies, or when mixed with milk or yogurt. You can even put them on toast with peanut butter.
  2. Edamame and kidney beans are also good substitutions. Boil or steam edamame and put them in your salads or side dishes. Kidney beans are a popular side dish as well and can be used in curries, stews, or rice.
  3. If you’re looking for new cooking oil, soybean oil can replace vegetable or olive oil. You can also use it as a salad dressing.
  4. Eating mixed greens such as kale and spinach is beneficial as well. These greens can be sauteed with soybean oil for even more benefits.
  5. If you need more of an omega-3 boost or are experiencing high levels of inflammation, there are supplements you can explore like krill oil, cod liver oil, fish oil, and algae oil.
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