Kentucky Law Blog

Preventing costly interference between business relationships

For many Kentucky businesses, one of the most important assets is their core competencies and strengths that allow them to make a unique impression in their industry. Protecting these strengths, sensitive strategic information and other confidential market data may enable them to gain a competitive advantage on their competition. Unfortunately, there are times when interference between business relationships can create a conflict of interest or compromise the intellectual safety of a company. 

Preventing interference from occurring and resulting in costly consequences is best achieved when a company takes the time to educate its employees on the importance of maintaining integrity, ethical conduct and confidentiality even under pressure. According to Chron.com, a company may sue for tortious interference if a competitor's company engages in wrongful interference in a relationship that the company values. For example, if the competitor persuades a customer to opt out of their contract or if they try to encourage an employee to come work for them, this can amount to a tortious interference. Wrongful behavior can cause economic strife for the victim company and create organizational inefficiencies. 

Physician faces federal charges after alleged Medicare fraud

For many Kentucky businesses, the ability to run a successful enterprise is heavily reliant on maintaining transparency, upholding ethical conduct and practicing integrity and honesty no matter the circumstances. Unfortunately, there are times when ignorance, greed and monitoring failure can open the doors to fraudulent activity. This type of behavior can wreak havoc in any organization and create lasting damages that may be difficult to overcome.

In a recent case in Utah, a physician is facing federal charges after he allegedly committed Medicare fraud. According to legal documents, this was not the first time the doctor had taken advantage of his power and privilege. Years earlier, he was abusing prescription narcotics while serving as the primary doctor in a small Utah town. After a brief probationary period, he continued to practice and did not have any more disciplinary actions on his record for upwards of 10 years. 

Suggestions for avoiding conflict in your business partnership

Operating a business in Kentucky with someone you trust and enjoy working with can be exciting, adventurous and memorable. However, there will undoubtedly be times when you may experience conflict because of misunderstandings, differences in opinions and preferred methods of getting things done. Fortunately, with the right tools and a commitment to be forthright in your communications with your partner, you can avoid conflict and implement valuable ways to reach solutions should a disagreement occur. At Gatlin Voelker, PLLC, we are familiar with the risks that business partnerships face in terms of running an organization together as a unit. 

Linked In has suggested several helpful actions that you can implement into your organizational process to avoid conflict within your partnership. These include the following: 

  • Address disputes head-on: When a disagreement arises, you and your partner will benefit from addressing your differences right away. Focusing resources and efforts on developing a beneficial solution rather than repeatedly discussing the problem can expedite the process of finding an alternative that both you and your partner will be satisfied with. 
  • Draft a partnership agreement: A valuable way to set clear expectations before a dispute happens, is to create a detailed partnership agreement. This document, functioning as a sort of prenup, should include important information relating to each person's roles in the organization, required contributions and worst-case scenarios so you and your partner understand each other's obligations to the business. 
  • Utilize mediation as a resource: If you and your partner ever experience a serious disagreement that appears to be irreconcilable, you and your partner may be able to reach a solution with the help of mediation. This valuable resource may be a promising solution to restore organizational harmony before contention destroys your partnership. 

Unseen dangers can cause workplace injuries, too

When you work at a construction site, in a warehouse or at a manufacturing facility, there are many potential workplace hazards you can see, dangers that you're aware of. But like many workers here in northern Kentucky, there are many more workplace hazards that you can't see, that aren't readily apparent.

For example, many industries use hazardous chemicals and toxic substances. Regardless of what substances may be used at your work, these unseen dangers can wreak havoc on your body or even kill you. If you suffer an injury after being exposed to an unseen danger in your workplace, you may be able to seek workers' compensation benefits to help with the financial losses you experience.

How can you successfully encourage safety in the workplace?

As you work to build and emphasize a lasting company culture in your Kentucky business, one of your primary points of focus should be on employee safety. Embedding this critical concept into the core of your culture is an excellent way to positively remind your employees of the importance of abiding by protocols designed to protect them and create a productive work environment. 

While there are lots of different ways to inform your employees about worker safety, your approach to providing educational opportunities and trainings can make all the difference in how effective your message is delivered and accepted. According to EHS Daily Advisor, some of the ways that you can encourage your employees to stay safe without coming across abrasive, include the following:

  • Build safety into your culture: Rather than casually mention safety or avoid discussing safety topics until "the right time," do yourself a favor and imbed safety protocols into your culture. When your culture embraces and integrates safety measures at the core, your employees will clearly understand your expectations.
  • Ask for employee feedback: Your employees are the people who are getting things done and maintaining organizational activities. Because they are so familiar with the everyday tasks, ask for their feedback regarding safety practices. Chances are they have suggestions for things you can do to enhance safety and productivity.
  • Be a problem solver: If there is ever a situation where a worker's safety has been compromised, do your due diligence and identify the root cause of the problem. Ask yourself what may have caused the hazard and if it could be prevented in the future. 
  • Maintain a positive perspective: Praise your employees when they are taking initiative to stay safe and protect each other from harm. When discussing topics related to safety, do so with enthusiasm and positivity to encourage acceptance among your workforce. 

If I'm hurt at work, what will I get from workers' compensation?

Northern Kentucky workers know that they likely have a rightful claim to compensation if they are hurt in an accident at work. However, actually obtaining these benefits can be rather complicated, and you may find it beneficial to make the effort to fully understand your rights. When you know your rights, you will be able to protect your entitlements. 

Workers' compensation benefits are available to individuals who get hurt while at work, in a work-related accident or get sick with an occupational disease. The type, amount and duration of the benefits you may receive will depend largely upon the nature of your accident and the type of support you need for a full recovery.

Creating a purposeful human resources department

For many Kentucky businesses, every day functions are critical to facilitating organizational success. Without distinctive departments responsible for important tasks related to finance, marketing and business development among others, a company's growth would be hampered by inefficiency and lack of leadership. One of the most crucial departments is human resources. HR leaders are responsible for encouraging employee growth, satisfaction, and loyalty and facilitating employee needs. 

According to Chron, human resource departments have six primary functions they are responsible for including the following:

  • Compensation and benefits.
  • Recruiting talent.
  • Developing and training employees.
  • Creating positive employee relations.
  • Prioritizing safety in the workplace.
  • Encouraging compliance with company precedents and protocols.

Protecting your company from fraudulent behavior

When the time comes for you to recruit and hire new talent for your business endeavors, chances are you seek individuals that demonstrate industry knowledge, enthusiasm and the types of qualities that are reflective of a hard worker. However, do you ever think to consider a new employee's ability to be loyal, honest and ethical to protect the interests, assets and successes of your organization? At Gatlin Voelker, PLLC, we are familiar with the challenges of operating a business in Northern Kentucky and are experienced with helping business owners protect their core competencies. 

According to Business Ethics, a large part of preventing fraudulent activity in your organization is to create a culture where ethical behavior is encouraged through incentives. You can educate your employees on which types of behavior are acceptable and which are not. You can create an organizational ecology where committing fraud is difficult by incorporating preventative actions into the development of your business. Here are some of the things you can do:

Industrial accident injures woman

For many Kentucky companies, a critical part of operating a smooth business is guaranteeing the proper education of its employees in regards to safety. This is even truer for organizations that rely on the use of heavy equipment, machinery and chemicals among other things, to create a product or provide a service. Unfortunately, even with the most rigorous safety guidelines in place, accidents can sometimes happen and put the lives of workers at risk. 

This was the case in a recent incident in Virginia when a female worker was injured in a workplace accident. The woman was operating a forklift in an industrial area at the Navy Exchange Service Command Distribution Center located near Kenyon Court. Investigators determined that the machine fell off of a loading dock after overturning while the woman was operating it. The length of the fall was approximately five feet. First responders had to rescue her from the forklift because she was restrained by her seatbelt. Additionally, the woman had battery acid on her body from the damaged equipment. An ambulance transported the woman to a local hospital. Investigators noted that her injuries were not considered to be life threatening. 

How can I prevent business fraud?

One key issue that entrepreneurs should take into consideration when starting their businesses is fraud liability. Fraud is when companies and employees engage in illegal behaviors for personal or corporate gain. According to Entrepruener.com, employees are the cause of most fraud incidents. As the owner of your business, you may not have a direct hand in certain operations, but it is crucial for you to keep an eye on your employees' activities. 

Without implementing measures to reduce their liability, many small businesses in the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati area cannot absorb the financial loss that is sure to follow when fraud and unsanctioned transactions and activities occur. There are several types of fraud you should know about. In order for you to take effective measures to minimize your company's liability, review the two most common types of business fraud and how to prevent them. 

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Gatlin Voelker,PLLC

Gatlin Voelker, PLLC
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