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Napa, CA 94559

Not joking around about workplace sexual harassment

Dear Mary, We have a friendly workplace, and my employees sometimes go out after work and engage in typical “water cooler” joke telling. How do I know what crosses the line? I’m not sure that I understand what constitutes sexual harassment. Am I liable if an employee harasses another employee? What can I do to […]

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Choosing smarts over luck with nonprofit raffles

Dear Mary, I am a member of a nonprofit that organizes a raffle every year. We sell tickets to people for $1 each, and they can win donated prizes. We make a good amount of money from the raffle that supports our group throughout the year. Recently, someone made a comment that it might not be […]

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Sick of sick leave

Dear Mary, I’m hiring my first team of employees and I’m not sure how to set up vacation leave and sick leave. I read about “Paid Time Off” and it sounds like it might be a better fit. Can you explain the difference? Which is a better system for my business? Let’s start with sick leave. […]

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Meet the New “Hybrid” Corporations!

Dear Mary, I heard that there are some new kinds of “low-profit” business entities that are kind of like nonprofits and kind of like for-profit corporations. What are they? What’s the benefit of using them? As of Jan. 1, there are two new forms of business entities in California: the Flexible Purpose Corporation and the Benefit […]

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Gambling with your liability

Dear Mary, I had an IT guy working on my business computers for years, and now I have discovered that there are porn sites, gambling sites, illicit emails and other suspicious things that I did not place on my computers. Can I be liable for this stuff? A good place to start is to review your […]

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Now you’re a director

Dear Mary, I read your article a month ago about being on a board, and after careful consideration, I have agreed to be on a company’s board of directors. What do I need to do now? Corporate directors’ fiduciary responsibilities include due care, diligence and prudence. Fulfilling your obligations as a director begins with getting a […]

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When to provide a warranty and when not to

Dear Mary, I am in the process of developing and marketing a very exciting product, which will become a common household item. Should I put a written warranty on the product? Are there different kinds of warranties? There are three types of warranties: express, implied and statutory. All warranties relate to the character, quality, identity, condition […]

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Joining a board

Dear Mary, I have been asked to join the board of directors of a company. I have no idea what that entails. What questions should I ask before becoming a director? Should I be worried about personal liability? The most important thing to consider when thinking about becoming a director is the company itself. Is the […]

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Commercial leasing

Dear Mary, I’m starting a new business and need to rent retail space. What do I need to know? Renting a commercial space is much different than renting a residential space. The most important part of renting a commercial space is, of course, the lease. The lease is a contract between the landlord and the tenant, […]

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Debt Collection

Dear Mary, I have a small business, and a year or so ago I loaned a friend some money. Things are tight and I really need to get paid back. We’re no longer friends and I’ve sent him letters demanding the money back, which have been ignored. Is my next step hiring an attorney? There are […]

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