Business Disputes Attorney in Overland Park, Kansas
Operating your own business seems like a dream, but as with all passages in life, those dreams can morph into unpleasant experiences. One day, you may be sailing along with your business with hardly a worry in the world, and the next day, a competitor, an employee, or even a customer or client can disrupt your business reverie.
Disputes of any nature—employment, contractual, product warranty, service promises—can all play a huge role in your business operations going forward. You need to deal with all disputes in a quick and straightforward manner to resolve everything for the sake of your enterprise. This does not necessarily mean you can, to use a common phrase, lay down the law, but you can use the elements of the legal system to move forward and resolve whatever is threatening your business model.
If you as a business owner in or around Overland Park, Kansas, are facing a dispute that threatens your operations, contact Coppaken Law Firm immediately. We will listen to what’s transpiring, analyze the best path forward, and then work with you to protect your rights and interests as a business owner. We also proudly serve clients in Kansas City, Missouri, and throughout Johnson County and Jackson County.
Common Causes of Business Disputes
A business relies on its relationships with others. “Others” start with customers or clients who will buy the products or services you provide. Underneath all that, however, you need relationships with those who are also in business for themselves. You may need a supplier for the products you sell, an accounting firm to handle taxes and payroll, or even a cleaning crew to freshen your premises each evening. It all depends on the nature of your business.
Those relationships can get frayed from a variety of angles, and then you have to deal with a dispute that may stand in the way of continuing your operations as you normally would. Common disputes include:
EMPLOYEES: Employees have many rights under state and federal law, the primary one being that they are paid what’s owed them. The 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) established wage-and-hour guidelines, including a minimum wage and pay for overtime work as defined by the state in which the business is operating. Employees also have broad anti-discrimination and anti-harassment protections. The bottom line is if an employee feels slighted on any of these fronts (wages, overtime, discrimination, and harassment), he or she can file a claim that can drag down your company in endless inspections and legal actions.
COMPETITORS: Competitors are a natural part of any business, but if they resort to unethical and/or illegal conduct, your business can be damaged. False advertising, false claims, reputational damage—all these can work against you unless you take action to challenge them.
CONTRACTUAL: You no doubt will need to enter into contracts with others to keep your business running. These contracts could be for goods or services you provide to customers and clients, or they could be at the back end of your business in terms of accounting and taxes. You need to make sure your contracts are spelled out in writing and enforceable should anything happen.
PARTNER DISPUTES: If you run a business as a partnership, you can encounter challenges from other partners. A partner may decide it’s time to retire and pull out his or her resources, or a partner may object to the direction the company is taking. Either way, the survivability of the enterprise could come into play.
Breaches of Contract
Though a contract can be defined broadly in legal terms as being express (written), oral, or implied, the bottom line is that a contract must make clear what the obligations are for the parties involved. Generally speaking, this means that you should not enter into a contract unless it is spelled out clearly in writing. Handshake agreements may be fine, but remember, if matters go to court, an oral agreement will become a contractual version of he said/she said. Who wins?
Therefore, any agreement (contract) you enter into for your business must pass the test of whether it is clearly defined as to who does what, when, and how mutual obligations are met. If your supplier of products for your store, for instance, suddenly stops delivering on schedule, do you have a legal ground to enforce the contract? That’s why you need all your contracts to be completed by an attorney well-versed in business and contractual law.
To seek a breach-of-contract claim, you must show that you suffered damages as a result of the other party’s actions or inactions. The law recognizes two types of breaches of contract: material and immaterial. Material is the sort that results in damages. For instance, your supplier simply ceases providing what was agreed upon. Immaterial generally means it’s a momentary glitch. Maybe the supply system broke down due to a strike by transportation workers, but gets up and running again before any serious damage results.
Resolving a Dispute
Disputes can come in all shapes and sizes, so to speak, and hopefully, most can be resolved by dialogue between the parties involved. If not, then a lawsuit may not necessarily be the first line of resolution. Negotiations should be the first approach.
If talking across a table or conference call doesn’t work, you may want to enlist the services of an impartial mediator. Mediation is designed to let all sides air their positions, and then the mediator can suggest a solution, which is nonbinding.
Arbitration, which in format actually resembles a courtroom trial, is the next step. An arbitrator or arbitration panel will hear evidence brought by both sides and will render a judgment, which is usually binding. Of course, there is always the potential for suing the other party for breach of contract, but the process can be extended and costly, with no guaranteed results.
The best advice is to seek legal counsel when a dispute emerges. You may want to settle everything on your own, but sometimes, you can become your own worst enemy through inappropriate words or actions.
Obviously, if a dispute erupts regarding any aspect of your business operations, you need to deal with it promptly and with due consideration. You may be able to move forward through the negotiating table, but disputes are not always a DIY proposition. You really need to seek and rely on outside legal counsel lest your words and actions potentially backfire on you.
Business Disputes Attorney in Overland Park, Kansas
In the Overland Park area of Kansas, and across the border into Kansas City, Missouri, rely on the legal team at Coppaken Law Firm to help you through any disputes arising with or from your business operations. We will meet with you, analyze your situation, and put you on the proper path forward to resolving your dispute.