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Three-generation, family-owned business honored in Massachusetts

Establishing and then making a closely held or family-owned business successful in a fiercely competitive market is not an easy task. It often takes years to establish a business and a positive reputation; however, it could be finished in a short time if sensitive issues, particularly family issues, are not handled carefully and family members end up spending more time on litigation than taking the business forward.

Residents of Boston, Massachusetts, may understand that in a closely held or family-owned business, it is important for each family member to keep egos out of business matters in order for the business to be successful. There have been a number of business ventures that have had to be closed down and were unnecessarily ruined in Massachusetts, due to mishandling of family issues or family members not remaining a unified front.

What are the federal government's three main antitrust laws?

Massachusetts residents may be unaware of the history of antitrust laws in the United States, which dates back to 1890 when Congress passed the Sherman Act. Subsequently, 24 years later, Congress passed two more acts, the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Clayton Act, to monitor business matters to ensure healthy competition in U.S. markets, ultimately benefitting the consumer.

According to the Sherman Act, monopolizing a market or even an attempt to monopolize is against the law. Additionally, a contract or conspiracy that limits trade is also against the law. However, the U.S. Supreme Court later ruled that the Sherman Act does not outlaw every restraint of trade but only those that are deemed "unreasonable" as established by the court. The Sherman Act prohibits price fixing, dividing markets among competing businesses, and unfair bidding practices.

When business disputes aren't just business

Some of the most difficult business disputes that business attorneys ever handle are those that involve closely held or family-owned businesses. While all kinds of business disputes can get complicated and emotional -- especially when people's egos get bruised -- a business dispute between family members or friends takes those difficulties into whole new dimensions.

Some of the common legal disputes that come up in these businesses are accusations of breach of fiduciary duty, improper appropriation of opportunity, excessive compensation and struggles over succession. While these types of disputes can happen in any type of company, when the parties involved are family members or old friends, they can tear families apart and leave angry feelings for a lifetime. They can also end up destroying the business unnecessarily.

Contract disputed by television programmer and provider

Many residents of Massachusetts have satellite dishes for watching TV, allowing them to access a wide variety of channels. However, they may be worried to hear that popular television satellite company Dish Network has lost seven channels, including CNN and Turner Classic Movies, due to a contract dispute with their provider, Turner Broadcasting. The two companies have been unable to negotiate their contract renewal and, as a result, Turner Broadcasting has pulled the channels form the Dish lineup.

According to Dish Network, the contract dispute stems from Turner's refusal to renew the contract's terms. However, the company also added that it has always been able to work with Turner in the past, and is confident that the two companies will eventually be able to come together on the agreement.

Wrongful termination suit tried in Massachusetts Superior court

A judge of the Dukes County Superior Court in Massachusetts has decided to hear the wrongful termination of employment lawsuit and corresponding lawsuit a woman has brought against the Martha's Vineyard Airport, where she was employed until last spring. The Massachusetts woman, who worked for the airport for 9 years, went through a roller coaster of events, wherein she was promoted, then suspended and finally fired within a 1-year timeframe. The woman has filed one complaint asking for her job back, and a second complaint stating she suffered from discrimination, retaliation under the state's "whistle blower" law and numerous situations where she was harassed.

In a recent hearing regarding the case, the defense argued that the lawsuits should be dismissed because they both argued the same elements. Therefore, she did not need to be divided into two allegations because the attorney for the plaintiff did not exhaust all of his administrative remedies before filing with the Supreme Court. Additionally, the defense stated that the second complaint, in particular, should be dismissed because it was confusing and meandering and failed to get to the point.

Contract dispute with Massachusetts union members

Frustrated by their union contracts, the University of Massachusetts faculty and staff unions have formed a group called UMass Unions United to bring attention to their contract dispute. The group has held peaceful protests during the three-day bus tour that the former and current UMass presidents have been attending.

UMass employees are disputing the contract terms regarding reduction of some paid sick time and paid vacation time accruals for new hires, stating that this difference in benefits creates a two-tier system. Additionally, employees disagree with University's decision to take first-priority claims away from current employees for university jobs.

Discrimination laws protect Massachusetts employees

Laws against discrimination in employment are strictly enforced by the commonwealth of Massachusetts. The state interprets many discrimination laws more breadly than federal law, so certain classes of workers may find more protection under the state's law than under the corresponding federal laws. Despite this protection, employees still face discrimination, and it is a common area of employment litigation.

State and federal laws prohibit certain kinds of discrimination against employees, for example, discrimination based upon age, disability and gender. Employers may not decline to offer employment based on reasons such as an applicant's sex, race, religion or certain other factors. Similarly, the laws prohibit employers from terminating employment for the same reasons. Further, state law does not allow employers to discriminate on the basis of gender when determining wages.

What does FMLA offer Massachusetts employees?

Employees are entitled to certain rights in the workplace, and it's important that they educate themselves on these rights. For Massachusetts employees who are experiencing serious medical issues themselves, or who have an ill family member, knowledge of the Massachusetts FMLA is crucial.

FMLA, or the Family Medical Leave Act, is designed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to mirror the federal act of the same name. It allows employees to take long absences from work without the fear of losing their jobs or benefits. FMLA is available for those who have a medical condition, who provide medical care for a family member, or who are giving birth to, adopting or fostering a child. Additionally, the act provides time off for those who are ill or injured military personnel, or who are caring for an injured military family member.

Sexual harassment lawsuit settled, executive resigns

All employees, regardless of their workplaces, are entitled to an environment free from harassment of any kind. Unfortunately, harassment can still be an unfortunate and unescapable problem for some people. Sexual harassment is just one of several employment matters affecting people no matter if they work for a small business or a large, well-known corporation.

A recent lawsuit brought against the founders of Tinder, a popular dating app, proves that even employees working for a high-profile company cannot escape the threat of harassment. Tinder recently settled a sexual harassment lawsuit and announced that Justin Mateen, a company executive named in the suit, had resigned his position. This lawsuit was brought by former co-founder and marketing vice president, Whitney Wolfe, who used to date Mateen and claimed that she was subject to a torrent of threats, insults, and racist remarks from him while they were dating and even after she ended their relationship. Wolfe had communicated several times with the CEO, Sean Rad, asking him to intervene, but felt that she did not receive support from Rad or anyone else at Tinder. Eventually she resigned from her position.

Contract disputes can be problem for Massachusetts businesses

Massachusetts companies, big or small, will do well to understand that in the business world, contracts are a must. When entities decide to engage in business activities with each other, it is imperative that they record the scope of their professional relationship. Moreover, these entities need to ensure that they are obeying the outlines of the contract; otherwise, their business relationship is in jeopardy. The companies must respect the contractual confines in order to avoid contract dispute.

Failure to perform as outlined in the contract can end in a lawsuit for breach of contract. A breach of contract can be a very expensive problem, both because of court costs and other damages that can be awarded, such as liquidation damages (fines that are specified within the contract) and compensatory damages (damages awarded to compensate for loss due to breach). There are other types of damages that can vary based on the type of contracts: injunctions, liens, and other monetary damages may be awarded.

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