The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the landmark piece of federal legislation in the field of employment discrimination. The statute prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, and national origin. It does not specifically include “sexual orientation” among the types of discrimination it prohibits. Many attempts have been made over the years to add that language to the statute, but Congress has never done so.

Many state and local governments have chosen to outlaw employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation within their jurisdictions. But courts have consistently refused to interpret the federal civil rights statute as prohibiting discrimination against homosexuals.

But that may be changing. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – the federal agency charged with enforcing the federal laws against employment discrimination – recently began taking the position that the prohibition against “sex” discrimination at least in some circumstances includes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Now the United States Court of Appeals for the7th Circuit has agreed to consider the issue. If the Court agrees with the position taken by the EEOC, it would be the first time a federal court of appeals – the Court just below the Supreme Court – has adopted this view. If other courts of appeals follow, it could open the floodgates to a great deal of new employment litigation.

I am often asked, by clients who are considering a lawsuit against a former employer, whether it can hurt them in their search for other employment. They are worried that potential new employers will find out that they have sued a previous employer, and that this will discourage employers from hiring them. Is this a realistic concern?

Yes and no. When a lawsuit is filed in court, it does normally become a matter of public record, meaning that someone searching for information about the parties to the suit could find out about it, even if there is no media coverage of the case. Many employers nowadays, especially larger ones, do comprehensive background checks on job applicants before hiring them. And some employers would be put off by the fact that an applicant has sued a previous employer.

I offer clients the following advice when asked about this. First of all, it is illegal for an employer to refuse to hire someone because they have asserted their rights under statutes prohibiting employment discrimination, even if those rights are asserted against a former, unrelated employer. Secondly, in my experience there are many employers that will not blackball otherwise well qualified applicants just because they have stood up for their rights in the past. Lastly, federal law provides that an employer has to obtain your written consent, and meet several Notice requirements, before it can obtain a background report on you from a third party agency or service.

Having said all that, it is not a bad idea to wait to file your case, if you can, until after you have found another job. Though your new employer may also find out about a past or existing suit, it is far less likely you will be fired for this reason after you have a new job, than that you will not be hired in the first place.

The most controversial employment law initiative of the Obama administration was its implementation of new rules governing overtime pay. The new rules were scheduled to go into effect December 1st. They would have the effect of raising the wages of millions of workers by doubling the amount a salaried worker must receive – to over $47,000 a year – in order to be considered exempt from the requirement that workers be paid overtime when they work more than 40 hours in a week.

The administration and labor advocates considered this a long overdue update that would provide a boost to the incomes of lower income “white collar” workers – people like assistant managers and administrative personnel. Some business groups strongly opposed the new rules, claiming they would greatly increase the cost of doing business and lead to layoffs.

Now the implementation of the new rules is in doubt. On November 22nd a federal judge in Texas issued an injunction, blocking the new rules from going into effect as scheduled. Essentially, the judge ruled the the administration did not have the authority to impose the new rules without the approval of Congress.

The Department of Labor will almost certainly appeal this decision, and the issue may ultimately have to be decided by the Supreme Court. There is also some question as to whether President-elect Trump will try to rescind at least some of the new rules. And Congress may act to change some of the new rules as well. So even if the rules survive the current court challenge, their ultimate fate is very much up in the air at this point.

infographic of the 10 things Finney Law Firm can do for you

10 Things Finney Law Firm Can Do For You

Often times when people think of attorneys they think of lawsuits or criminal charges and as a result that is why they need an attorney. While attorneys are needed to help you deal with lawsuits and criminal matters that is not the end of the list of what an attorney can help you with. To help you get a better idea of how an attorney can help you I have compiled this list of 10 things that Finney Law Firm can do for you. While this list is by no means an all-inclusive list it is designed to show you areas where Finney Law Firm has the expertise to help you work through a matter and save you money or save you from legal headaches in the future.

1.  Real Estate Matters

In many states in the U.S. (Ohio and Kentucky are no exceptions) attorneys are involved in many of the steps of the real estate buying and selling transaction. Often times attorneys are involved behind the scenes in reviewing contracts, legal documents, preparing title opinions and more. In certain states attorney have more hands on involvement in that any closing involving real estate is done by an attorney or under their direct supervision.

Finney Law Firm attorneys can assist individual buyers and sellers in the buying and selling process for both residential and commercial properties. As a real estate buyer you can ask an attorney to look over your offer to purchase a home to make sure it represents your best interests. Sellers may also want to hire an attorney to review any purchase offers and explain to them the requirements they will be bound by if they accept that offer. Some land purchases involve more complicated matters like mineral rights, multiple pieces of land being sold in one package, or liens by having an attorney represent picture of seller disclosure statementyou gives you get extra protection by having the legal considerations addressed by someone trained in those matters.

2.  Business Planning

Are you planning on starting a new business, incorporating an existing business, or changing the corporate structure (i.e. going from an S Corporation to a C Corporation) of your current business? Many activities related to business planning should have an attorney involved in order to make sure everything is done properly. Changing your business status from a sole proprietor to a Limited Liability Company or a corporate form without doing the proper paperwork for taxes will leave you at risk with the federal and local tax authorities. While you may have unintentionally not filed some of the proper tax paperwork that will not stop any associated penalties. By working with a Finney Law Firm attorney you can be assured all your paperwork will be properly prepared and you will be fully informed as to what each document means to you in your business.

By working with an attorney to properly prepare your paperwork you have someone who is familiar with your business and will be ready, willing and able to help you should the need arise. While you can go hire an attorney at a moment’s notice to help out with legal issues, that attorney will not be as familiar with your business as one who has been working with you on an ongoing basis. For more information on the LLC form of a business see LLC see the article Why Do You Need An LLC.

3.  Family Planning/Estate Planning


Planning on getting married soon? Do you and your spouse have assets you want to keep separate in case of divorce? While the love and bliss of courtship lead you to think the relationship will last forever things and people do change. If you or your significant other own part of a family business, own your own business, have a large sum of assets from inheritance or from earnings then it is advisable to get a pre-nuptial agreement prior to getting married. A pre-nuptial agreement is a document that can protect assets for both of the people about to be married. Unless properly prepared by an picture of fighting couple for divorce and family lawattorney and taking into account all assets a pre-nuptial agreement may not be worth much in the event of divorce. Therefore pre-marital planning should involve an attorney and the couple about to be wed. In many cases it may be best for each person to have their own attorney look over the pre-nuptial agreement to represent each person’s best interests.


Now if you are married and have kids there are other considerations to take into account. Those considerations mostly revolve around making sure your children and/or spouse are taken care of in the event of your passing. This is where sitting down with an estate planning attorney comes into play. An estate planning attorney will sit down with you and review your assets and your goals for your assets in case of death. This could involve setting up trusts for your spouse and/or children, guardianship arrangements for minor children, living wills, health care power of attorneys and more.

Depending on the amount of assets you have to give to your family and how you want to distribute those assets a trust may be a better option for you. A trust not only preserves your assets for your children it can also make sure you children still get their inheritance in the event your spouse later remarries. Inheritance can get quite complicated so it is best to talk with an estate planning attorney to make sure your assets are distributed the way you want them to be. For more information on wills and guardianship see my article How a Will and Trust Factor Into Your Estate Planning.

4.  Legal Document/Contract Review

Have you been suddenly presented with a legal document with request for signature? Do you know what the document is meant to do and how you may be legally bound if you sign the document? If you don’t know what the language is saying or how it will impact if you sign it then by all means you should be speaking with an attorney to have them look over the document and explain to you what exactly is being asked of you. Common examples of legal documents you may be signing throughout your life include documents related to the purchase and sale of real estate, purchase or sale of a business, non-disclosure agreements for work or other purposes, waiver or release of liability paperwork, settlement documents and more.

Signing any legal document without having full understanding of what sort of obligations you may face is asking for trouble. While the language may not talk in dollars and cents terms you could end up owing plenty of money if you signed a legal document and then failed to do what was required of you under the terms of the document. An attorney will be able to review your legal document document for signatureand give you an opinion on what it is asking for and what risks you face in signing the document. Don’t sign just because the person giving it to you says it is ok, get another opinion before it is too late.

5.  Labor and Employment Law

Do you run a business where you are responsible for the hiring and firing of employees? Want to make sure any terminations or hiring are done correctly and there is minimal risk of you being sued for discrimination? Or maybe you are wanting to setup health plans or retirement plans for your employees and unsure of the way to go about setting up those plans?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions then you should be talking with a labor and employment law attorney who can prevent you from taking the wrong moves which end up costing you money and more. Having an effective attorney advocate at your side assures you that you can concentrate on working on your business while any legal issues are promptly dealt with for you.

6.  Bankruptcy

Unsure if you can manage paying off your debts? Afraid of losing your house because you are behind on payments? Worried that your debts are impacting your health due to the constant stress? Or maybe health related expenses have hurt you financially. All of the above situations can be resolved through filing for bankruptcy. You will not know if bankruptcy is suitable for your situation until you sit down and discuss your situation with a bankruptcy attorney and learn about what filing for bankruptcy means.

In bankruptcy you are asking a bankruptcy court to set aside your debts under Chapter 7 (not all debts may be discharged) or to reorganize your debts into a more manageable payment plan under Chapter 13. Determining which Chapter will work best for you is a decision to be made in conjunction with a bankruptcy attorney. picture of a wallet in a viceBusinesses as well as individuals are eligible to apply for bankruptcy when they are unable to pay their debts.

7.  Taxes, Taxes and more Taxes

Unaware of what taxes your need to pay for your business? Want to pay less to the Tax Man and let your family inherit more? Own a piece of property that you think you are paying too much taxes for? All of the above are matters that can be addressed by an experienced attorney at Finney Law Firm.

Business planning involves dealing with tax matters and understanding all the tax jurisdictions involved. Not only do you have to consider federal and state taxes but there are also the city, municipality, and possibly county taxes to take into account. Miss any payments to one of these tax collecting entities and your business will be at risk. By sitting down and discussing with an attorney what your business does and where it will be performing its business your attorney can better advise you as to what taxes you need to make sure are paid.

Property tax is another big issue for both residential and commercial land owners. Property tax collectors sometimes base their tax collection rates on the overall health of the real estate market in a region as opposed to your specific piece of land. Maybe you have change in situation that has lowered the value of your property but your property taxes still remain where they were before. An attorney will be able to look at your particular situation and then prepare the proper paperwork to request that your property valuation be looked at in order to get a possible downward adjustment in value thus reducing your property tax payment.

As mentioned in item 3 above a will can help you take care of your family in the event of your passing. Wills along with trusts can also shield your assets from estate taxes that can be charged to your estate. Also known as the “Death Tax”, this tax on your wealth can be minimized depending on the amount of wealth and how you deal with it now. As each individual has their own unique asset situation a consultation with an Estate Planning attorney will help you best decide how much of your assets get caught up in the “Death Tax”.

8.  Litigation

When faced with litigation the last thing you want to do is ignore any requests for information nor do you want to provide answers without the guidance of an attorney in order to save money on legal bills. The answers and the way you answer pre-litigation questions (depositions and/or interrogatories) can make or break a case for you. Therefore it is in your best interest to answer these questions with an attorney present so they can stop you from answering questions you should not be answering. By having an attorney represent you in litigation from the beginning you are bringing along a valuable partner who not only will have knowledge of your case but also have the skills to defend you in a court of law. If an attorney has to be brought in later to a litigation matter it will usually be the case that they will have to spend more time in order to become fully informed of the situation which will cost you more than if you had hired an attorney at the start.

Whether you are being sued for something your business did, something an employee of yours did or you are suing someone who injured you the attorneys at Finney Law Firm have a great depth of picture of gavelbackground and litigation experience to assist you in your litigation matter. Finney Law Firm has successfully litigated cases related to caregiver abuse of children, business transactions, personal injury cases, failure to disclose in residential and commercial real estate matters, contract disputes and more. Finney Law Firm has won a number of cases that have went before the U.S. Supreme Court.

9.  Personal Injury

If you have been injured by someone or someplace where the situation was preventable you may want to discuss your injuries with an attorney. Especially where you have suffered losses due to being unable to go to work, out of pocket medical bills, or other pain and suffering you may be able to be compensated for those losses. A lot of this depends on how the injury occurred and whether or not someone’s negligence leads to your injury. By talking with an attorney you get a better idea of where you stand if you do wish to seek recovery for your injuries.

10.  Criminal Matters

Are you being charged with a crime? Whether that crime is driving while under the influence (DUI), reckless driving, theft or something else having an attorney represent you for the criminal trial is your right. In order to determine the severity of the charges and the amount of jail time or fines you can face you need to speak with an attorney as soon as you are able to. Facing a criminal charge is not picture of prison cellsomething you should try and handle on your own as those who will be prosecuting you are professionally trained. By having a knowledgeable and experienced attorney like those found at Finney Law Firm on your side you can be assured you will be getting the best representation possible.

Do you have any questions about the services above?

Paul Sian is a licensed attorney in the States of Ohio and Michigan.  If you feel you need the services of an attorney or have questions about any of the services named above feel free to contact me at [email protected] or via phone at 513-943-5668.  Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

Almost three years ago, the Michigan legislature took the extraordinary step of enacting right-to-work in the state, meaning no worker could be forced to pay dues to a labor union.  Wednesday, the Michigan Supreme Court extended that freedom of association to state employees as well.

A landmark case on right-to-work has been accepted by the United States Supreme Court in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association for the coming term. You may read about that here.

Read about the Michigan case here.

Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal has this piece on a recent NLRB decision that makes franchisors “joint employers” in labor complaints for franchised restaurants.

Although the decision from the NLRB General Counsel directly impacts McDonalds only, the McDonalds Corporation sees the decision as having far-ranging implications, according to its official response:  “this decision changes the rules for thousands of small businesses, and goes against decades of established law regarding the franchise model in the U.S.”

The decision comes as the franchised restaurant industry is the target of labor organizing campaigns and legislative efforts to dramatically increase the minimum wage.

From Forbes: “The NLRB general counsel has just issued a ruling that the various separate claims can be treated together and that McDonald’s is a joint employer. Legally this is akin to turning the franchise owners into corporate co-managers and all the restaurant workers into employees of corporate headquarters in addition to their local small businesses.

This decision may in fact result in dramatic changes to the fast food and other segments of the restaurant industry, but could well have far-reaching impact upon franchisors other sectors of the economy as well.  Stay tuned for further developments.