Feldman & Feldman Give Back This Holiday Season

Feldman & Feldman is happy to announce the viral success of its charity campaign benefitting the Animal Justice League. The entire legal team at Feldman & Feldman is honored to serve the Houston community, and we are proud to show our appreciation by giving back to a cause we care about. We will are donating money for every post reaction and share we received on our Animal Justice League related Facebook posts. By engaging with the post, users showed their support for this amazing charity. For every post reaction, Feldman & Feldman donated $1 and for every post share, we donated $3, up to a total of $1,000, which we were able to hit within 48 hours of launching our holiday charity campaign.

What Is The Animal Justice League?

The Animal Justice League (AJL) is a 501(c)3 tax exempt dog and cat rescue organization with a focus on Oak Forest and surrounding neighborhoods of Houston, Texas. Feldman & Feldman is particularly excited to work with AJL because the organization is solely run by dedicated volunteers. The organization operates with the help of over 400 animal loving volunteers to collect donations, foster, and adopt deserving animals.

The AJL has been extremely successful in helping animals in the Houston area. Their Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program has spay/neutered 885 animals since its inception in June 2014 and participated in Big Fix, which is an effort by multiple nonprofits and government agencies to provide spay and neuter services to Houston area animals. AJL has also microchipped 88 animals, transported over 200 animals, and has had over 400 adoptions. To learn more about the Animal Justice League, how you can help them, or check out their adoptable pets, visit their website.

Show Your Support For AJL Online

Helping Feldman & Feldman support AJL during the holiday season is really easy. Follow or visit our Facebook page to engage with our posts and help AJL improve the lives of Houston pets.

Beer Companies Pabst and MillerCoors Go To Court Over Partnership Dispute

Many individuals and businesses choose to create partnerships. Partnerships can help grow a business, combine resources, and bring together intelligent minds. As beneficial as partnerships can be, there can also be partnership disputes. Partnership disputes are common with businesses of all sizes, and some of the country’s largest beer companies are heading to court over one such dispute.

Pabst and MillerCoors have had a pretty close relationship. Since 1999, MillerCoors has been brewing all of the Pabst beer brands, which include Lone Star, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Old Style, and Natty Boh. This is called contract brewing and it allows small beer companies to meet demand by outsourcing the brewing process to larger companies with the technology and capacity to do so. The current partnership agreement is scheduled to end in 2020, but allows for two five-year contract extensions.

Negotiations regarding potential extensions have not gone so well. Pabst is alleging MillerCoors wants to stop brewing for them so they can take a better position in the market for themselves. Without MillerCoors, Pabst will face extreme hardship. There is only one beer company other than MillerCoors that is big enough to brew all of Pabst’s products and that’s Anheuser-Busch, but Anheuser-Busch does not do contract brewing. MillerCoors claims it does not have the capacity to continue to brew for Pabst and is not required to do so after the contract expiration in 2020.

The partnership dispute boils down to the inability of the companies to agree on how the contract extension should be negotiated. MillerCoors believes it has sole discretion to determine whether or not it will continue brewing for Pabst. Pabst, on the other hand, believes the companies are obligated to work “in good faith” to find a solution if Pabst wants to extend the agreement.

Luckily for Pabst, the companies were able to come to an agreement and settle out court. The trial had finished and had gone to jury deliberation, but a settlement saved Pabst from demise and preserved the partnership. While this may be considered a success, the reality is that the litigation has likely been costly for both companies and has generated a lot of negative press.

What Businesses Can Learn From Pabst and MillerCoors

An important lesson can be learned from the partnership dispute between Pabst and MillerCoors. Any business entering into a contract needs the document to be specific and thorough. The fact that the companies wound up disputing how negotiations should be handled indicates the contract was not sufficiently clear with regard to this process. Only by working with experienced contract attorneys can businesses ensure they are protected from future disputes.

Experienced Houston Contract Lawyers

Regardless of the size of your company, you can greatly benefit from utilizing an experienced contract attorney. The Houston contract lawyers at Feldman & Feldman have extensive experience drafting, reviewing, and litigating a variety of contract matters. Call us today to request a consultation.

Fiduciary Duty Could Change With New SEC Rules

A fiduciary duty is the highest duty imposed by law, and while there are many types of fiduciary relationships, the definition is very broad. Generally speaking, a fiduciary duty exists between a fiduciary and a trustee. The fiduciary is expected to act in the best interest of the trustee. This relationship applies to lawyers and clients, doctors and patients, and legal guardians and their wards. However, these are all very different relationships, so a one size fits all approach to the handling of a fiduciary duty can often lead to litigation. But, the definition of fiduciary duty could see some changes in the near future when it’s applied to brokers and investors.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been under pressure to address whether or not a fiduciary duty exists between brokers and financial managers and their clients. In April of this year, the SEC released a proposal to “address retail investor confusion about the relationships that they have with investment professionals.” Under the proposal, a broker-dealer making recommendations to retail customers would have a duty to act in the customer’s best interests. However, the proposal carefully referred to this as a “care obligation” rather than a fiduciary duty. While the proposal took steps to more clearly define the relationship between brokers and investors, the Investor Advisory Committee (IAC) of the SEC had several strong recommendations.

Fast-forward seven months, and the IAC voted to adapt the SEC’s proposed standards to include a more fiduciary-focused set of standards. The committee voted that the proposal should explicitly state the relationship between a broker and a client is a fiduciary one. The SEC will move forward with revising its proposal, but it is not yet clear exactly how the relationship will be defined. The SEC has expressed interest in defining the relationship in such a way that it can remain flexible.

Broker-Investor Relationships

Although the broker-investor relationship may see a more specific definition in the months and years to come, it is absolutely clear brokers do owe a duty of care to investors. Brokers should operate in good faith and without self-dealing. When people trust brokers with their financial assets, they deserve to have their best interests protected.

Fiduciary Duty Attorneys

If you believe your broker or other financial advisor has breached his or her fiduciary duty, do not wait to call Feldman & Feldman today. Our fiduciary duty attorneys are experienced trial lawyers and litigators that can help you hold fiduciaries accountable for financial losses they cause and other applicable damages.

Types of Employment Discrimination

Workplaces can be extremely tense environments. While these environments can be shaped into more positive atmospheres, tense work environments are usually the basis of employment litigation. Many people think employment discrimination is just discriminating based on the color of someone’s skin, but there are many types of employment discrimination that create hostile work environments, prevent growth of hardworking employees, and lead to extensive litigation.

Types of Employment Discrimination

Sadly, employment discrimination comes in many forms. The Texas Workforce Commission divides employment discrimination into nine different categories, including:

  • Age – Age discrimination can be against the very young or the very old. Regardless of someone’s age, they should be evaluated based on their skillset, not just a number.
  • Sex – Although women are commonly discriminated against because of their sex, anyone can be a victim of sexual harassment and/or discrimination.
  • Color – Workers are protected against discrimination based on the color of their skin during hiring, termination, promotion, compensation, or job training. Unfortunately, many employers violate this protection.
  • Race – While racial discrimination is similar to discrimination based on color, it provides additional protection against discrimination based on physical characteristics, cultural practices, and even medical conditions that predominately affect one race over others.
  • Nationality – Protection against nationality discrimination goes beyond where an individual was born; it also includes ancestry, culture, or linguistic characteristics common to a specific ethnic group.
  • Religion – Religious discrimination goes beyond intolerance of someone’s personal beliefs. This type of discrimination can include refusing to allow workers to observe religious holidays or refusing to accept an employee’s religious dress.
  • Disability – Many people with disabilities struggle to obtain jobs and pursue careers. Even when people with disabilities obtain work, their employers must make reasonable accommodations for them.
  • Emergency Evacuation – In times of natural disasters, people may need to evacuate their homes to safe locations. If this occurs, these workers are protected from termination and other types of employment discrimination.
  • Retaliation – Any employee that makes a complaint regarding discrimination is also protected from retaliation by his or her employer.

Employment Discrimination Attorneys

At Feldman & Feldman, we have helped many individuals and companies with employment discrimination matters. We understand that sometimes the best course of action isn’t in the courtroom, and our experienced negotiators can help bring a successful resolution without going to court. And, when the need arises, we can also aggressively fight for clients in civil trials and defend our victories on appeal.

If you believe you have been discriminated against, or if you are a business facing discrimination litigation, contact us today. We can explain your legal options and protect your best interests.

Are Ridesharing Services Safe For Women?

Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft have hit the transportation industry by storm. These convenient rides are popular all over the country, but many are wondering if these services do enough to protect women from violence. Several high profile cases, including one in Houston, have left many women with the impression that ridesharing services just aren’t safe for them.

Uber currently has over 750,00 drivers nationwide, which is impressive considering the company was only launched in 2009. During this time period, however, the number of alleged assaults has also skyrocketed. Dozens of assaults against women have been reported to Uber and Lyft in large cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Washington D.C., and Houston. In December 2014, two different women in Boston accused two different Uber drivers of assault on the same night alone. Later in the Spring of 2015, a woman was sexually assaulted by an Uber driver in Houston.

Fast forward to 2018, and not much has changed. Ridesharing drivers around the country are being arrested for assaults against female passengers. Some of these assaults occurred while victims were unconscious, while others are accused of kidnapping passengers.

Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft do perform background checks on drivers, but many dangerous drivers seem to be slipping through the cracks. These companies rely on third party organizations to perform background checks on potential drivers, but they do not always research far enough into applicants’ criminal records. In addition, third party job application screening services only perform background checks covering the past seven years. This means drivers with felonies older than seven years can still drive for Uber or Lyft as long as a sufficient amount of time has passed.

Women Have Rights As Ridesharing Passengers

Ridesharing companies aren’t doing enough to protect female passengers from harm. No woman should be victimized just because she is getting ride home. Furthermore, ridesharing services are often touted as a safe alternative to driving while under the influence after a night out; but media coverage has made us well aware that passenger safety isn’t always a guarantee. These companies are reluctant to institute policies that would protect women, but that doesn’t mean female passengers are helpless. Victims of sexual assault during Uber or Lyft rides have a right to hold these companies accountable.

Getting Help After A Sexual Assault

At Feldman & Feldman, we understand the difficulties faced by sexual assault victims. We have successfully represented sexual assault victims in the past and there is no adversary too big for us to tackle. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our dedicated attorneys.

Anti-Prop B Signs Placed Near Site of Fatal Fire

Houston firefighters have been fighting for Prop B to make it onto the November ballot. Mayor Sylvester Turner strongly opposed the proposition despite Houston firefighters obtaining more than enough signatures to get it on the ballot per the city’s election laws. With the help of Feldman & Feldman, Prop B successfully made it onto the ballot, so voters get to decide whether or not firefighters deserve pay parity with police officers. This long fought battle took a somber tone when an Anti-Prop B sign was placed just 25 yards from the site of the deadly Southwest Inn fire that claimed the lives of five firefighters and injured dozens more.

The Southwest Inn fire occurred in May 2013 when a fire at a restaurant spread to the adjoining Southwest Inn. The fire spread and quickly became a five-alarm fire. Firefighters bravely rushed into the hotel to evacuate remaining guests, but shortly thereafter the roof collapsed, killing four firefighters and injuring 15 more, one of which eventually succumbed to his injuries.

This site is still considered hallowed ground for firefighters who have not forgotten the ultimate price their comrades paid in the line of duty. Now, all that remains of the site is a concrete slab, crosses for those who lost their lives, and overgrown grass. There is also a chain link fence approximately 25 yards from the site where a political poster advocating against Prop B was placed.

The sign was made by a political action committee called Protect Houston, which is funded by Mayor Sylvester Turner. Protect Houston claimed the placement of the sign was inadvertent and promptly removed it; however, many supporters of Houston firefighters found the placement disheartening.

Since 2011, Houston police officers have had a 37% increase in their salaries, but Houston firefighters have only received a 3% pay increase during this same timeframe. Because firefighters face great danger in the line of duty, they are pushing for a well deserved and longer overdue raise.

Feldman & Feldman Supports Our Firefighters

Feldman & Feldman was proud to help Houston firefighters get Prop B on the ballot. As experienced election law lawyers, we advised them on the best course of action and eventually succeeded in getting Prop B on the ballot. If your organization needs advice on election laws, don’t wait to contact us today.

Top Sources Of Noise Complaints

Few people understand how disruptive noise pollution is until they experience it firsthand. While noise pollution can occur at any time of the day, many victims experience it at night when they are unable to sleep due to the noise. Noise complaints are a big problem in Houston because the city does not have any zoning laws, meaning businesses can set up shop in the middle of neighborhoods.

The Houston Sound Ordinance

Zoning requirements may not restrict individuals and businesses, but everyone is expected to abide by the Houston Sound Ordinance. The Houston Sound Ordinance protects citizens from all types of noise, including cars and motor vehicles, music, animals, loud machinery, or any other type of disruptive noise. Sound cannot exceed 65 decibels during the day and 58 decibels during the night in residential areas. Permits can allow businesses to have sound up to 75 decibels until 10pm on Sunday through Thursday and 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

Top Sources of Noise Complaints

Thousands of noise complaints are made to the City of Houston each year regarding a wide variety of offenders. However, there are a few top offenders that make up most of the sound complaints.

Restaurants and bars are a common source of noise complaints for obvious reasons. These buildings not only house large numbers of people, but they often also feature loud music. Whether the music is live or recorded, it can easily exceed the maximum allowed noise levels. Because these places are often open late, neighbors often lose sleep over noise levels.

Noises complaints are also filed against buildings with noisy generators or HVAC systems. These types of machinery are extremely loud and often operate for hours at a time. All types of buildings, including grocery stores, restaurants, and shopping centers, among many others, utilize these types of machines, but they are still expected to keep noise levels within legal limits.

Specialty businesses, such as mechanics, gun ranges, and construction sites can also produce sound that is well over the legal limit. These locations utilize machines that create a lot of noise and steps must be taken to minimize noise disturbance.

Houston Noise Complaint Lawyers

There is no excuse for disturbing the peace. We have achieved success in multiple high-profile noise complaint cases in Houston. If a business is violating the Houston Sound Ordinance and refuses to abide by legal sound limits, contact Feldman & Feldman today to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys to discuss your legal options.

Feldman & Feldman Is Proud To Support Houston Firefighters On Proposition B

Texas early voting starts this week, and Houstonians have a lot of important decisions to make. In addition to voting for candidates, Houstonians will be voting on a number of propositions that will have huge implications for the city. Feldman & Feldman has proudly assisted the Houston Professional Firefighters Association (HPFFA) in its effort to get its “Proposition B” pay initiative on the November ballot.

What Is Proposition B?

Houston firefighters are asking Houstonians to vote on whether or not firefighters should have pay parity with police officers. HPFFA President Marty Lancton described Proposition B by asking a simple question, “Do you equally value the service and sacrifice of the brave Houston firefighters the same way the city of Houston equally values that of brave Houston police officers?”

Since 2011, Houston police officers have had a 37% increase in their salaries, but Houston firefighters have only received a 3% pay increase during this same timeframe. Houston firefighters are just looking for equal treatment for doing a job that saves lives at the risk of their own. If Proposition B passes, firefighters across Houston will receive well deserved raises for their hard work.

Getting Proposition B On the Ballot

Houston firefighters have had a hard time getting Proposition B on the ballot. Critics of the plan, including Mayor Sylvester Turner, have aggressively tried to prevent the issue from going before local voters. Feldman & Feldman filed a restraining order against Mayor Turner on behalf of the HPFFA after a video showing Mayor Turner campaigning against the pay parity initiative during a city council meeting was posted to the City of Houston’s website.

Feldman & Feldman Is Proud To Represent Firefighters

The entire legal team at Feldman & Feldman has great respect for firefighters. We are proud to not only represent Houston firefighters, but also San Antonio and Dallas firefighters with their legal issues. As election law lawyers, with experience handling claims against governmental agencies, we are uniquely qualified to handle these types of cases. Contact us today to see how we can help you with your legal concerns.

Everything You Need To Know About Fiduciary Duty

A fiduciary duty is the strictest duty of care recognized by the legal system. Because of this, it is incredibly important that fiduciaries fulfill their responsibilities correctly and faithfully. Many people would be surprised by how broadly fiduciary duty can be applied and how unintentional actions could cause a breach. Here is everything you need to know about fiduciary duty, whether you were appointed a fiduciary or principal (the party to whom the fiduciary owes a duty).

Defining Fiduciary Duty

Fiduciary duty is broadly defined as the legal duty of one with superior knowledge and/or power to act in the best interest of another party. It’s pretty easy to see how broadly this can be applied; however, there are a few parties commonly serving as fiduciaries in relationships with those they serve. These include:

  • Lawyers
  • Accountants
  • Doctors
  • Real Estate Brokers
  • Guardians
  • Trustees
  • Executors
  • Corporate Officers
  • Employers

One of the most common breaches of fiduciary duty has to do with conflicts of interest. You wouldn’t want your real estate broker making recommendations that also benefited him. This might make him more inclined to make recommendations that aren’t necessarily best for you, but are good for him. Any conflict of interest or self-dealing is not allowed in a fiduciary relationship.

When fiduciaries do not put their principals’ best interests first, they can be found responsible for breaching their fiduciary duties. Breaches are not always intentional. Sometimes, fiduciaries fail to do their due diligence before making a big decision. While this isn’t done maliciously, it still constitutes a breach. But, just because principals suffer damage from a fiduciary’s decision doesn’t mean a breach has occurred.

Breaches Are Complicated

Fiduciaries make many important decisions on behalf of their principals. Fiduciaries can’t always predict the outcome of a decision, but they are expected to exercise reasonable caution and to be fully informed before making any decisions. If a breach is suspected, it will require the help of an experienced breach of fiduciary duty lawyer. A lawyer will be able to investigate the circumstances surrounding the breach and determine if the fiduciary can be held responsible for any resulting damages.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty Attorneys

If you have been accused of breaching your fiduciary duty or if you believe your fiduciary’s actions constitute a breach, Feldman & Feldman can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our dedicated breach of fiduciary duty attorneys.

Five Ways To Prevent Employment Litigation

Running a business is no small feat. Whether you own a small mom and pop company or employ thousands of employees, you are going to face legal issues that can jeopardize your business. In addition to a wide variety of business litigation issues, companies can also face employment litigation. Employment litigation can be damaging in many ways. Not only can it be expensive, but it can also tarnish a company’s reputation and take a serious blow at the morale of current employees. However, there are many steps companies can take to prevent employment litigation.

Prevent Employment Litigation With These Five Strategies

Many businesses might be reluctant to spend time implementing employment litigation prevention strategies, but the reality is that without these strategies, they are opening themselves up to serious risk. These five tips can go a long way in preventing employment issues.

  1. Have written procedures for conduct. In light of the #MeToo movement, more victims of sexual harassment are empowered to share their experiences. Sexual harassment and discrimination of any kind have no place in the workplace. Companies should have written rules for conduct that not only forbids discriminatory behavior, but also provides consequences for employees that do discriminate against others. Companies should also have written procedures for clock-in and clock-out requirements and overtime regulations.
  2. Provide adequate training. There are numerous types of training that can help maintain a safe workplace. Things like safety training, sexual harassment and discrimination training, and wage and hour regulation training will go a long way toward preventing future litigation. While most companies only offer training to managers, a company can greatly benefit from offering this to every employee.
  3. Provide a method for employees to submit complaints. Employees should have an avenue to submit information about complaints, harassment, or violations so they can be resolved as quickly as possible. Some employees like to submit complaints anonymously, so employers should create a system that allows for anonymity.
  4. Establish dispute resolution procedures. Preparation is key to handling employment disputes. By defining processes before they are needed, companies can clear a pathway to resolution.
  5. Don’t wait to contact an attorney. No matter is too small for an attorney. If an employee submits a complaint, an attorney can help resolve the issue efficiently.

Employment Litigation Help

The employment litigation lawyers of Feldman & Feldman are experienced in working with businesses of all sizes. We can institute preventative measures or represent you if an issue has already occurred. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation.