Familial relationships can be tough. When you combine them with the added stress of trying to run a family business together, sometimes it can be a recipe for disaster. Marla Cramin, the owner of Sarkis Cafe, a popular diner that has been business in Evanston for many years, has filed a second lawsuit against her brother, who also happens to be the former manager she had hired to run Sarkis Cafe for many years.
Cramin and her husband, Jeff Cramin, bought the diner in 2000 from its original owner, Sarkis Tashjian. When Jeff died in an accident in 2002, Marla hired her brother, Scott Jaffe, to manage the diner for her. Cramin fired her brother in 2012 and he went on to start his own restaurant in Highland Park, which just opened in April. It was originally called the Order Up Diner, but after he settled a lawsuit with his sister, he changed the name to the Uptown Diner. Continue reading
The promise of awarding gift cards is just one method retailers sometimes use to lure shoppers into their stores. For example Hollister Co., a clothing retailer, promised consumers who spent $75 or more a $25 gift card in December 2009. The cards themselves allegedly stated they had “no expiration date”, but the retailer allegedly voided all outstanding cards on January 30, 2010.
Our client, Vincent Daniels, one of the owners of an expired gift card, filed a lawsuit against Hollister for the lost value of the gift card. Because $25 is a negligible amount, Daniels sought to represent an entire class of plaintiffs consisting of everyone still in possession of a gift card, or who threw their gift card away because they were told it had expired. Taken together, the value of all the voided gift cards amounts to more than $3 million. Continue reading
Large corporations have developed a reputation for cutting costs by cheating their employees out of wages. Everything from forcing employees to work off the clock to misclassifying them as exempt from overtime has become common practice in corporate America.
Despite the fact these practices are against the law, companies often get away with treating their employees this way because many employees simply don’t know their rights under the law. Others don’t want to get in trouble with their employer. This is why wage and hour lawsuits are often filed by former employees, despite the fact the law prohibits retaliation from employers.
The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers conducting business in the United States to pay all their hourly workers no less than $7.25 per hour. It also mandates that employees be paid one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for all overtime. Overtime is defined as any time spent working after eight hours a day or forty hours a week.
In addition to the FLSA, each state has their own laws regulating things like minimum wage, overtime, and break time. In California, the minimum wage is set at $9.00 per hour, and employers are required to provide hourly workers with breaks throughout the day. Continue reading
Non-compete agreements were initially intended to keep trade secrets safe. They originated in the tech industry where certain employees have the potential to take highly sensitive information with them when they leave the company. This could be disastrous to the company if employees decide to leave to work for a competitor and take all the confidential information they’ve been working with.
In order to prevent this from happening, companies had employees sign noncompete agreements (often as part of their employment agreement) stating they would not work for a direct competitor within a certain radius of the employer and a certain time frame (usually six months to a year).
Despite these sensible beginnings, employers of all industries have incorporated noncompete agreements into the employment contracts of just about all their workers. Even minimum wage employees on the bottom of the corporate ladder have been forbidden from working for a competitor. Continue reading
Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a statute (S.B. 998 or Act 921) permitting courts the flexibility to enforce those portions of a non-competition agreement that are reasonable and to delete overbroad, unenforceable provisions. Arkansas courts no longer have to strike down the entire covenant not to compete simply because one portion is unreasonable.
Under the wording of the Act, a covenant not to compete will be enforced if the agreement is ancillary to an employment relationship or part of an otherwise enforceable employment agreement or contract to the extent that:
the employer has a protectable business interest (such as trade secrets, customer lists, confidential information, intellectual property, customer lists, goodwill with customers, knowledge of business practices, methods, profit margins, costs, and other confidential information that increases in value by not being known to a competitor, training, and “other valuable employer data that the employer has provided to an employee that an employer would reasonably seek to protect or safeguard from a competitor”); and
the non-compete agreement is limited with respect to time and scope in a manner that is not greater than necessary to defend the protectable business interest.
Further, Act 921 states that the absence of a specific or defined geographic descriptive restriction in a non-compete agreement does not make the agreement overly broad if the agreement is limited with respect to time and scope in a manner that is not greater than necessary to defend the protectable business interest of the employer.
Moreover, under the new law, courts are given the authority to determine the reasonableness of the agreement and “shall” reform overly broad covenants. Prior to enactment of this statute, Arkansas did not allow blue-penciling, and a non-compete agreement had to be valid as written — the court could not narrow the overbroad provision. Employers doing business in Arkansas now have some statutory guidance, whereas before, it was “your guess is as good as mine.
The FTC’s website provides a link to many FTC videos which present a wealth of information on consumer fraud and the actions consumers can take to protect themselves. This video appears on the FTC’s website. Our Chicago consumer fraud lawyers can also help to bring lawsuits to rectify consumer frauds either in individual cases or class actions. Continue reading
The Chicago fraud lawyers at DiTommaso-Lubin represents whistleblowers who are pursing qui tam lawsuits at any level of government or for violations of the securities laws and IRS code, including claims under the Illinois Whistle blower Act, the Chicago whistleblower ordinance, the Dodd-Frank Act and the federal False Claims Act. Based in Chicago and Oak Brook, Ill., our Evanston and Willowbrook area qui tam and False Claims Act lawyers stand ready to represent whistle blowers throughout the United States — regardless of whether prosecutors have decided to join the lawsuit. If you know about fraud against a government agency and you’re ready to speak up, you can learn more about whistleblower lawsuits at a free, confidential consultation. To set one up, please contact us online or call 1-877-990-4990 today.