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Madison Civil Litigation Blog

Wisconsin business litigation: common small business lawsuits

Being a small business owner can be both trying and rewarding. There is a lot of good that can come from being one's own boss and contributing to the community. There is also risk in putting oneself out there. Small businesses are not immune to legal troubles. Numerous small businesses in Wisconsin face business litigation issues over the course of operation.

What are the most common lawsuits filed against small businesses? There are four specific lawsuit types that come to mind. These are those that involve:

  • Employment law issues
  • Fraud
  • Intellectual property rights
  • Contracts

Family business succession can lead to business litigation

You've been apart of your Wisconsin-based family business all your life. You've worked hard to prove yourself to your dad, brothers, sisters, grandparents and every other family member who has an interest in the company. Then, the unthinkable happened. The main business owner died without leaving a succession plan. This failure to plan may lead to business litigation if the family cannot agree on what to do next.

Whether you feel you are the best candidate to continue moving the business forward or disagree with others who step forward trying to take over, you have the right to speak up. It is unfortunate that a succession plan was not put in place, but that does not mean that the business has to go down the drain. It may be possible to keep things going, it just may take a lot of legal work to make that happen in the best possible way.

Understanding religious discrimination in Wisconsin

Across the United States, all employees have the legal right to be treated fairly, and given jobs based on their merits rather than arbitrary characteristics and employers' biases. Unfortunately, however, discrimination of all types still happens in the workplace, and often it goes unchecked.

If you are an employee or a job applicant and you believe that you have been discriminated against in Wisconsin, it is important that you take action and assert your rights.

Wisconsin construction litigation: being green

Construction is not just about making a building and developing a piece of property. Environmental impact is now a deciding factor in terms of approving construction projects, allowing projects underway to continue or holding builders responsible for any damages done after a job is completed. Wisconsin-based building companies may find themselves facing construction litigation claims if their projects are thought bad for the environment. 

How can construction harm the environment? First off, the electricity consumption for completed buildings can be astronomical. Then there is the energy used to build the project, and transport supplies and workers to the project site on top of that. It is no small thing. 

Wisconsin construction litigation: Mistreatment of subcontractors

A big construction firm sought out bids from subcontractors to work on their project. You were chosen, a contract was put together that you felt was fair and you got to work. Partway through the project, you're told you're fired, effective immediately -- no real answers were given, and now they are refusing to pay you for your time. Such issues happen all too often in Wisconsin, and filing construction litigation cases may be necessary to resolve them.

If you are a subcontractor who was fired for no reason, not paid for your time or are dealing with a host of other issues that may arise while working on a construction project, you may have legal recourse. If you signed a contract that the other party is failing to uphold, you may pursue a breach of contract claim. The details of the case will need to be reviewed in order to determine the best way to proceed.

Wisconsin employment: Hotels ordered to pay back wages to workers

Two hotel companies in another state were recently ordered to pay back wages to some of their employees. A total of 14 employees were reportedly not paid for working over their scheduled 40 hours per week, and some were paid less than minimum wage. Sadly, wage violations are common and can occur anywhere and in any job field. Wisconsin residents who believe they are victims of wage violations can turn to an employment law attorney for help in seeking compensation for their losses.

According to a recent news report, both a Super 8 Hotel and a Ramada Inn reportedly paid housekeeping staff a flat rate per room cleaned, which came out to being less than federal minimum wage -- currently set at $7.25 an hour. These and other employees often worked more than 40 hours per week, but no overtime pay was offered them. These are both violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Construction litigation: Accused of using defective supplies?

You've been in construction for a long time. You take pride in your work. You do the best you can and make sure you are using quality materials. Then, it happened; a few months or years after finishing a project, you are accused of using defective supplies and are being sued for damages. Construction litigation of this kind is all too common in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

The problem with construction defect claims is that product defects are not always known to contractors when they are working on a project. These are issues that may not be known for some time, but contractors can still be held accountable for using said materials -- as can the manufacturer. It may be difficult to prove that you were not aware of material defects.

Policy change and business litigation: The L.L. Bean situation

Business owners in Wisconsin and elsewhere should be free to change company policies if their current policies are hurting their bottom line. This is something clothing retailer L.L. Bean recently did. Now, the company finds itself facing business litigation due to consumers being unhappy about the change.

According to a recent news report, a legal claim was filed against L.L. Bean by a loyal customer who is upset that the company has done away with its lifetime warranty. The plaintiff in this case says the company has harmed its consumers and is failing to live up to the promises made to those who bought products because of lifetime warranty offerings. L.L. Bean has yet to respond to the complaint.

Wisconsin woman wins employment litigation lawsuit

A woman in Wisconsin recently won her pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against her employer. Sadly, pregnancy discrimination happens all too often. Others who find themselves in similar situations as this woman may also file employment litigation claims in civil court.

According to a recent report, a caregiver at Silverado Oak Village in Menomonee Falls requested light duty due to medical restrictions stemming from her pregnancy. Her employer refused the request and ultimately fired her instead. As a result, this individual filed a discrimination lawsuit in hopes of settling with her former employer out of court. The negotiations process failed to produce desirable results, however, so her case went to trial.

Digital data and business litigation

More and more companies in Wisconsin and elsewhere are going paperless. This is a good and bad thing all at the same time. It may save trees and help streamline information and communication, but there can be issues regarding digital data when it comes to business litigation cases.

Think about how communications work in your business. Is it all done via email, phone, text? How do you keep and store communications and company documents? Do you even keep digital copies of everything?


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