Business law encompasses all of the laws that dictate how to form and run a business. This includes all of the laws that govern how to start, buy, manage and close or sell any type of business. Business laws establish the rules that all businesses should follow. A savvy businessperson will be generally familiar with business laws and know when to seek the advice of a licensed attorney. Business law includes state and federal laws, as well as administrative regulations. Let’s take a look at some of the areas included under the umbrella of business law. Much of business law addresses the different types of business organizations. There are laws regarding how to properly form and run each type. This includes laws about entities such as corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies. There are many laws that concern managing a business because there are many aspects involved in managing. As you can already see, running a business will involve a lot of employment law and contract law.
While Utah has not yet adopted the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, the state has enacted several statutes within its Consumer Protection and Criminal sections that prohibit sellers from intentionally misleading buyers. These laws prohibit everything from mislabeling food products to altering a used car’s odometer. Utah’s laws prohibiting deceptive trade practices are generally limited to prosecuting scams after they happen. Therefore, consumers must do their best to avoid these swindles before they happen. A state consumer protection office can give you the most up-to-date information on local scams, and receive reports about a person or local business engaging in deceptive business practices. State deceptive trade statutes can be as confusing. If you would like legal assistance regarding a consumer fraud or a possible deceptive trade practices matter, you can consult with a Utah consumer protection attorney. In Utah, pyramid and Ponzi schemes are illegal under the Pyramid Scheme Act. A pyramid scheme is a sales device or plan where a person makes what is essentially a worthless investment that is contingent upon procuring others who must also invest and procure other investors, thereby perpetuating a chain of people. The Beehive State outlaws participating in, organizing, establishing, promoting, or administering a pyramid scheme. Pyramid or Ponzi schemes are also considered deceptive acts or practices prohibited under Utah’s Consumer Sales Practices Act. The following is a quick summary of Utah pyramid and Ponzi scheme laws.
Utah Pyramid and Ponzi Scheme Laws
What is prohibited: Knowingly participating in, organizing, establishing, promoting, or administering a pyramid scheme. Knowingly organizing, establishing, promoting, or administering a pyramid scheme is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. Knowingly participating in a pyramid scheme and receiving compensation for procuring other investors is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in prison and up to $1,000 in fines. An injured party may file an action to recover damages and the court may also award interest, reasonable attorney’s fees, and costs. A pyramid or Ponzi scheme is also a deceptive act or practice and under the Consumer Sales Practices Act, the Division of Consumer Protection may issue a cease-and-desist order and impose up to $2,500 in administrative fines for each violation. The Division of Consumer Protection may also seek a restraining order or injunction to stop a pyramid or Ponzi scheme. If the injunction is violated, the court may impose up to $5,000 each day in fines for each violation.
Wage and hour laws help ensure that employees are paid a fair wage by providing them with certain rights. The federal wage and hour laws are contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and provide minimum standards that the state laws may not dip below. States have the power to enact their own wage and hour laws, as long as the state law doesn’t violate the federal FLSA. Utah has chosen to enact its own minimum wage rule, and the following chart provides a brief overview of this law.
Utah’s minimum wage law doesn’t apply to the following workers:
• Any employee entitled to a Federal minimum wage as provided in 29 U.S.C. Sec. 201 et seq. of the FLSA
• Outside sales persons
• Employee who are members of the employer’s immediate family
• Employees who provide companionship services to people who (because of age or infirmity) aren’t able to care for themselves
• Casual and domestic employees
• Seasonal employees of nonprofit camping programs, religious, or recreational programs, and nonprofit or charitable organizations
• Employees of the USA
• Prisoners employed through the prison system
• Agricultural employees who mainly produce livestock, harvest crops on a piece rate basis, worked as an agricultural employee for less than 13 weeks during the previous year, or retired and performs incidental work as a condition of residing on a farm
• Registered apprentices or students employed by their educational institution, or
• Seasonal hourly employees employed by a seasonal amusement park
A “minor” is any person under 18 years old. In Utah, a minor employee must be paid at least $4.25 per hour for the first 90 days working for a particular employer, and then the minor must be paid a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
A “tipped employee” is a worker who regularly receives tips from customers. For example, waiters and waitresses are traditionally tipped employees. An employer may credit tips received by tipped employees against the employer’s minimum wage obligation. An employee must receive at least $30.00 in tips per month before the credit is allowed. Tipped employees can be paid as little as $2.13 per hour, so long as this base pay combined with the employee’s tips equals at least $7.25 per hour.
Additional information about tipped employees:
• Service charges that are imposed on a customer don’t qualify as tips
• Tip pooling or sharing among employees who regularly receive tips qualifies
• Dishwashers, chefs, cooks, janitors, and other employees who don’t regularly receive tips from customers don’t qualify as tipped employees
Enforcement of the Minimum Wage
If an employer in Utah repeatedly violates the minimum wage law outlined above, that employer has committed a Class B misdemeanor. A Class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in jail, and/or a fine of up to $1,000. An employee can bring a civil action against his employer in order to enforce his rights under Utah’s minimum wage laws. If the employee wins in court then he is entitled to injunctive relief and may recover the difference between the wage paid and the minimum wage, plus interest. If you’re an employee in Utah and feel that your employer has violated Utah’s state labor laws, you can file a claim with the Division of Antidiscrimination and Labor.
A “workweek” can be any 168 consecutive hours. The FLSA allows employers to set their own workweek. Overtime hours must be paid at a rate of at least 1½ of the employee’s standard pay rate.
Utah Antitrust Laws
As consumers, we’re always wondering what’s going on behind the scenes in the “free market.” Are a few companies conspiring to set an inflated price? Or uniting to artificially control supply? And fellow businesses may wonder if their competitors are colluding in an effort to undercut competition. As long as the battle for sales is open, transparent, and above board, we’re generally okay with it. That’s why the State has strict laws created to make sure pricing is fair and to protect open markets. State antitrust laws prohibit companies gaining an unfair competitive advantage in the consumer market via collusion between companies. These laws will also try to avoid monopolies by blocking certain mergers and acquisitions as well. In order to enforce these provisions, Utah law allows private citizens, as well as the state attorney general, to bring lawsuits against companies for antitrust violations. If successful, a citizen may recover attorneys’ fees and the cost of the lawsuit.
Along with Utah’s antitrust statutes, there are numerous additional business regulations designed to protect free trade and commerce. The United States government uses two federal statutes, the Sherman Act and the Clayton Act, to assist states in prosecuting antitrust claims by prohibiting any interference with the ordinary, competitive pricing system, as well as price discrimination, exclusive dealing contracts and mergers that may lessen competition. If you suspect a person or business has committed an antitrust violation, you can report it the Utah Attorney General’s Markets and Financial Fraud Division. As with many statutes covering corporate malfeasance, state antitrust laws can be as complicated as the conspiracies they are intended to prevent. If you would like legal assistance regarding an antitrust matter, or if you are interested in understanding the rules and regulations regarding your business, you can consult with a Utah antitrust attorney in your area.
Interest Rates Laws
States may craft their interest rate laws depending on the type of credit or loan involved. By restricting the amount of interest a creditor can charge, these laws are designed to help consumers avoid crippling debt and deter predatory lenders. Utah’s maximum interest rate is 10% absent a contract, and charging more than the legal rate, (known as “usury”) is a felony. Interest Rates on Judgments Federal post-judgment interest rate as of Jan. 1 of each year plus 2%; judgment on contract shall conform to contract and shall bear interest agreed to by parties The easiest way to prevent the financial pitfalls of high interest rate credit cards is to avoid credit card debt entirely. This is certainly easier said than done, but one of the best strategies for staying out of debt is to use a credit card responsibly and pay off the entire balance quickly — every month, if possible. For those already in significant credit card debt, there could be consumer protections under federal law that can help.
Utah Civil Statute of Limitations Laws
All states have developed laws to regulate the time periods within which a person can bring a civil action against another person or entity. These laws are called the “statutes of limitations.” If you sue after this time limit has run, your claim is barred and the defendant will automatically win. Read on to learn more about Utah’s civil statute of limitations laws. The time period to sue doesn’t start to run until the person knew or should have known they suffered harm and the nature of that harm. For example, a woman takes a fertility medication to have a child. Fifteen years later, she discovers her child has a reproductive system problem that didn’t show up until puberty and it’s discovered that all of the women who took this fertility medication have children with the same defect. She wasn’t warned of this possible problem until the child was older. The child’s time limit to sue for damages didn’t start when her mom first took the medicine, but when she discovered or reasonably should have discovered the related harm to her. However, if the drug company had a national campaign exposing the problem and contacted all former users to inform them of the problem, and the child, now an adult, still waited 15 more years to sue, it would probably be too late. This is called the “discovery of harm rule” and generally doesn’t apply to the most common personal injury claims, like car accidents and slip and falls.
Tolling of the Statute of Limitations
The time period to sue can be extended for various reasons, based on the legal concept of “tolling.” Generally, being under the age of majority, 18 years old in Utah, or having a mental disability causes the clock to stop. If someone suffered from severe mental illness for many years and was harmed during this time, it would be unfair to expect him or her to have the mental capacity to sue. Medical Malpractice Two years after discovering or reasonably should have discovered the injury caused by health care provider, but not more than four years from the date of act, omission, neglect, or occurrence
Individuals who are considering drafting a trust or a will may wish to consult with an estate planning lawyer. He or she can explain the advantages of using a trust as well as a will. He or she can make recommendations based on the specific considerations of the client. He or she may even recommend using both documents, such as by using a pour-over will that places any property owned at the time of the testator’s death into the trust.