Many California Middle Market employers, especially those in Silicon Valley, utilize independent contractors to fulfill job openings, to generate payroll savings for their businesses, and to avoid the administrative hassles associated with the traditional employment relationship. Whether a worker can be validly classified as an independent contractor depends on certain legal criteria, however, not merely the desires of the parties. In the wake of the California Supreme Court’s decision last week in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, the circumstances in which employers can classify workers as independent contractors are now more limited. Continue Reading Silicon Valley Middle Market Companies: Are Your Contractors Now Employees?
On April 13, 2018, U.S. Senator Cory Gardner, a Republican representing Colorado, announced that he was assured by President Trump that the Trump administration would not be taking any actions that would negatively interfere with Colorado’s legal cannabis industry. Additionally, Senator Gardner stated that President Trump pledged to support a federalism-based legislation solution that would give Colorado ultimate authority to create its own policies on the issue.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed Senator Gardner’s account as being accurate. Continue Reading President Trump’s U-Turn toward Cannabis: His Promise of Noninterference with Colorado’s Legalized Cannabis Programs
Last Friday President Donald Trump signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill. In doing so, he averted a federal government shutdown – and renewed protections for medical cannabis patients and providers.
The spending bill includes the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer provision. This provision prohibits Department of Justice funds from being used to prevent U.S. states and territories “from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
U.S. Attorneys’ offices and the Drug Enforcement Administration both operate under the Department of Justice, so the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer restrictions apply to them.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions
On the other side of this issue, Attorney General Sessions has taken actions over the past year in line with his longstanding anti-cannabis position. Continue Reading Trump Signs Spending Bill, Renews Medical Cannabis Protections
Startup companies and their investors can breathe a little easier. The tax reform bill working its way through the legislative process is likely to include provisions that, if passed into law, could help early stage companies.
In November 2017 the House passed its tax reform bill, H.R. 1 – also known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. It received significant media attention for, among other things, lowering the corporate tax rate to 20%. This stands to benefit for-profit corporations of all sizes.
Yet to members of the startup community, the bill shows something perhaps even more interesting – a focus on promoting innovation and entrepreneurship. New companies often do not have revenues, and their investors take significant risks. Because of these characteristics, these companies arguably deserve tax treatment that is different from that of established businesses.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, along with the vast majority of his fellow House Republicans, supported the bill. He said in a November 1 Financial Times piece that “we need a dynamic tax code that promotes the competition, risk-taking and innovation that is the foundation of the 21st-century economy.”
Middle Market employers in Silicon Valley need to be familiar not only with the state minimum wage, but also any local minimum wage laws that may be applicable to them, and on July 1, a few cities, including San Jose, San Francisco and Emeryville, had new minimum wages go into effect:
|San Francisco||$14 per hour|
|San Jose||$12 per hour|
|Emeryville||$14 per hour for employers with 55 or fewer employees; $15.20 per hour with 56 or more employees|
California’s minimum wage rose earlier this year to $10.50 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees. In recent years, however, many cities and counties have enacted their own minimum wage rules. Compliance with local ordinances can be complicated, because some ordinances apply only to businesses that are based in the city in question, while others apply to all employees who work some minimum number of hours in the city.
What Should Employers Do Now? Continue Reading Some Silicon Valley Cities Increased Minimum Wage on July 1
Employers in California, especially those in the Middle Market, are all too familiar with the tidal wave of wage and hour litigation they have confronted over the past decade plus – claims alleging misclassification, unpaid overtime, meal period and rest break violations, and pay stub violations, to name just a few. A new decision from the California Supreme Court addresses claims based on long-ignored Labor Code statutes regarding days of rest. Although the decision is favorable for employers in many respects, it nevertheless could foretell another species of wage and hour claim on the horizon. In the wake of this decision, employers should consider adopting policies on days of rest and should be careful to avoid requiring non-exempt employees to work seven days within a single work week unless they work no more than 30 hours during the week and no more than six hours in any single day. Continue Reading California Supreme Court Clarifies Rules Regarding Days of Rest
In the wake of a recent California Court of Appeals decision, the Vaquero case, employers who pay employees on a commission basis should assure that they comply with the following rules in order to avoid potential liability: Continue Reading Rules Regarding Commission Compensation Just Got More Complicated
Last fall, California voters approved Proposition 64, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for persons 21 and older. In the wake of Proposition 64’s passage, many employers have been puzzled about the impact of the new law upon their human resources practices. The good news is that Proposition 64 should not have a substantial effect on employers.
Our firm recently sent out a client alert that goes into greater detail about what the new law does and doesn’t do. Continue Reading Dazed and Confused by Prop 64? Here’s What Employers Need to Know
It appears that 2016 saw a surprising and dramatic drop in patent litigation filings. As reported by Richard Lloyd of IAM Magazine, recent studies released by the intellectual property firms Unified Patents and RPX confirmed patent litigation filings were down almost 25% in 2016 from the prior year, the lowest volume of cases since 2011. Paradoxically, however, the risk of a patent lawsuit being brought against middle market companies may be higher than before.
Take an extra bow if you own or run a Middle Market company.
2016 was a great year for the Middle Market. Reports on company performance in 2016 are surfacing, and show the Middle Market continued to be a turbocharged engine driving economic growth in the U.S. The National Center for the Middle Market compiled 20 full quarters of data through Q4 2016 in its recently-released Middle Market Indicator (MMI). Annual revenue growth in the Middle Market in 2016 was 6.9%, far above the S&P 500 rate of 4.4%. The Middle Market led hiring growth at 5.4%, exceeding its five-year historic average rate of 3.4%, and blasting ahead of large businesses at 2.4%, and small businesses at 1.4%.
The MMI estimates that Middle Market revenue in 2016 increased at almost double the rate of national GDP growth. Already employing approximately 47.9 million people, the Middle Market created three out of every five net new private sector jobs in 2016. That’s 60% of net new jobs last year, for a sector comprised of about 200,000 companies and making up about 1/3 of the private sector GDP.
What drives the Middle Market success? Organic growth fueled by upside opportunity not always available to large corporations or within the reach of resource-limited small companies. Innovation to stock pipelines of new products and services. MMI reports that 40% of Middle Market companies introduced a new product or service in 2016. Unlike large public companies, private companies making up most of the Middle Market can more easily exercise conservative fiscal management with low debt and high reinvestment or savings rates, and cautious hiring practices. And a five-year run of overall domestic economic growth, low interest rates, cheap energy, and almost no inflation to drive up the cost of materials and wages, certainly set a perfect stage for great performance.
Will there be an encore performance for the middle market in 2017?