Scheef & Stone LLP Partner, Mark L. Hill, has been elected as the President of the Collin County Bar Association (CCBA) effective July 1, 2016 for a one-year term. Mark has served on the CCBA Board of Directors for several years, most recently as the association’s Vice-President. He was previously a founding member and Chair of the Civil Litigation Section of the CCBA.

CCBA logoThe CCBA is the largest bar association serving the legal community practicing or residing in and around Collin County, Texas; which includes Frisco, McKinney, Allen and Plano, among numerous other smaller communities. It works closely with the judiciary and local leaders in Collin County to create a professional, cordial, and efficient relationship with the court system for all practitioners. “Collin County, including its legal community, is growing at an unprecedented pace and I am extremely proud to lead the Collin County Bar Association during this particular time.”  For the complete release visit here.

Mark offices in the firm’s Hall Park location in Frisco, Texas where his practice involves handling complex business disputes and commercial real estate matters. He represents both corporate and individual clients in state and federal courts throughout Texas.

The Department of Labor (DOL) just announced an updated regulation that increases the salary threshold for paid overtime of employees from less than $455 per week to $913 per week. Before this recent change, salaried workers were only entitled to paid overtime if they made less than an annual salary of $23,660. Now, employees who earn yearly salaries of $47,476 or less will be entitled to paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours a week.

It’s estimated this change will make about 1/3 of salaried full-time employees eligible for overtime. That is a huge increase from the less than 10% that were previously eligible. This equals major changes for many businesses and will be especially true in Texas (and the south in general), where salaries are frequently lower than other parts of the country.

Similarly, it’s expected the change will have widespread impact across many industries and professions. Mashable recently shared an interesting graphic giving perspective as to who this increased salary threshold may benefit the most.

Employers have several ways to comply: (a) raise the workers’ salaries to make them exempt from the overtime threshold, (b) pay the required time-and-a-half overtime for those who do work more, or (c) make sure the employees aren’t working overtime.

Here are Four (4) things Employers should do now:

  1. Identify Employees Who Need to be Reclassified.  For many Businesses, employees will need to be reclassified.  ID and classify all employees correctly, this is key.
  2. Evaluate Salaries & Calculate Feasibility.  Doubling an employees salary just to comply with the new regulation may not be in the cards.  Could increased part-time workers be the answer?
  3. Develop Administrative Controls to Ensure Compliance.  Evaluate handbooks, guidelines or other policy to see if revisions are needed.  Many contain provisions relating to pay that may be impacted by the changes.
  4. Review Time-Keeping Methods.  Make sure timekeeping practices are sufficient for the new employees that will be required to use it.

The impact of the new OT regulations will play out over the coming months. Employers can and should be proactive in evaluating the impact of the overtime rules. Despite the changes, some employees may still be “exempt” from the overtime, timekeeping and other Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requirements.

 

How does an investment fraud actually happen?  How is it discovered?  Sometimes, in fact many times, the Fraud is remarkably simple and direct.

I want to share a recent settlement announcement of an investment fraud claim that makes this point.

A Financial Advisor targeting wealthy individuals was charged with stealing over $2 Million from clients to invest in purported movie projects. When the Financial Advisor was unable to raise the entire amount needed, he allegedly took funds from other client accounts over which he had control and used the money to finance the projects. One of the clients that rejected the sales pitch to invest had over $500,000 removed from their account through the alleged forging of documents to make it appear as though a transfer had been authorized. After the client discovered the unauthorized investment, he demanded his money back, and was made whole in Ponzi-like fashion by the Financial Advisor taking money from the account of another wealthy client.  The full article detailing the claim can be found here.

There is nothing special or unique about this claim. Texas courts are routinely confronted with civil actions involving similar investment frauds. Sometimes it is not movie projects but rather real estate schemes. Sometimes the victim investors are professional athletes, sometimes they are independent business owners. Sometimes signatures are forged, other times invoices are doctored.

Yes, there exist elaborate frauds built upon creative and painstaking deception. But frequently the Fraud is simple. As an Investor, one must be diligent and know that should a Fraud ever occur there are laws and authority in Texas state and federal courts to enforce recovery.

We hear so much about the Business and Real Estate growth in North Texas. Whether it is corporate relocations like Toyota, the sprawling Legacy West development coming together, or the Frisco #5BMile continuing to expand – the Business and Real Estate climate in North Texas and particularly Collin County could not be hotter.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Maher Maso, the Mayor of Frisco, Jim Leslie, the Managing Partner of Frisco Square, and Ran Holman, the Market Leader of Cushman & Wakefield.

In this video, Mayor Maso talks about what makes Frisco “the best”, including it’s business partnerships and excellent school system.

The full series of Videos from the event moderated by Mark L. Hill can be seen here.

Mark L. Hill is a Partner with Scheef & Stone, L.L.P.  Scheef & Stone is a full-service business law firm that represents individuals, publicly and privately held corporations, partnerships, financial institutions, and government entities in a wide spectrum of sophisticated transactions and complex litigation.

We are only 2 weeks away from the DFW Platinum Corridor® event – Frisco’s $5 Billion Mile & Beyond.

Last I heard, there were over 600 guests attending!  Look forward to being part of this presentation featuring numerous great panelists, including Frisco’s Mayor Maher Maso, Stephen Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, and many others.  You can still get tickets here.

We will be discussing the “$5 Billion Mile,” ways to improve transportation, and why businesses, developers and the public are attracted to this area. 

By now, most business people are coming to realize that Texas courts regularly enforce non-compete agreements.

Assuming the non-compete has reasonable limits, such as to time and scope, it will likely pass muster.  That being said, as a business owner, it should be considered whether the non-compete is worth it.  A little over a year ago, restaurant chain Jimmy John’s came under scrutiny for requiring all employees, even entry-level sandwich makers, sign non-compete agreements.  Moreover, it was reported these multi-year non-competes prohibited Jimmy John’s employees from working for any business which made 10% or more of its revenue off sandwich sales within three miles of any Jimmy John’s location.

JJ

This set off a fire storm and made national headlines – it even drew boycotts of the chain and a congressional investigation.  A question to ask is: what was Jimmy John’s seeking to protect with these non-competes?

Was this just a misguided blanket inclusion in their hiring process…

With executives and other workers that are exposed to protected business information, the need for a non-compete is easy to see.  For entry level workers far removed – not so much.  Even if the restriction could ultimately be enforced in court, the lesson here is to use caution when placing such restrictions on all your workers – does it protect a legitimate interest of your business, and is it worth it?

Pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) employers must maintain accurate timekeeping and pay records for nonexempt employees in order to track and pay overtime.   This article from ADP is a good introduction to the basics of employee timekeeping.

As I have written about previously, the FLSA is a common vehicle by which many former and current employees can bring minimum wage and OT claims against their Employer.  Over the last decade, FLSA claims have increased dramatically.  This is true not just in North Texas, but nationwide.

With the Department of Labor’s focus on classifying more workers as “employees”, a topic to be left for another discussion, one can be reasonably certain the FLSA and diligent employee timekeeping will remain at the forefront of Employer’s minds.

#5BMile, Frisco, CRE, Developers,A new development called Frisco Crossing is planned for north Frisco. It will feature a cluster of restaurants with outdoor patios and a food truck park. Apartments and single-family homes would also border green space, while several retail stores would go up nearby and a dozen more eateries would border the edges of the 83.8 acres at the southwest corner of FM 423 and US 380.

This article from Frisco Enterprise gave a great introduction to the Frisco Crossing development, and its recent presentation to the City of Frisco.

Frisco Crossing is from The Rudman Partnership, the same developers bringing Frisco Station to the $5 Billion Mile along the North Dallas Tollway in Frisco.

The preliminary plans for Frisco Crossing also show a Texas Hill County style design.  As a native of the Texas Hill Country area, and with all the large scale corporate developments and re-locations coming to Frisco, it’s nice to see something a bit different.