While Lancaster and the surrounding areas have their share of large employers, many if not most people in the area earn their living by working for or owning small or mid-sized businesses.
Many of these smaller businesses will either have no full-time in-house attorneys or a very limited staff. Even so, a business will still need legal support after getting off the ground.
Employment and other regulatory matters
For example, any business that hires even a handful of employees opens itself up to having to follow a number of state and federal laws.
There are restrictions on hiring, maintaining and terminating employees, most notably detailed restrictions against discrimination. While federal law applies to employers of a certain size, Pennsylvania has its own laws against employment discrimination.
Most employers have no intention of discriminating on the basis of race or other prohibited bases, but the laws in this respect are broad.
They include, for example, limitations on certain workplace policies and require employers to be proactive about stopping discriminatory harassment at the hands of mid-level supervisors, colleagues and even customers.
On a related note, employers in the area may wish to sign agreements with their employees either outlining the terms of their employment generally or simply committing the employee not to share confidential information or to work for a competitor. The employer may also offer terminated employees a severance agreement.
These contracts are by default subject to Pennsylvania law.
Having employees also raises issues of employment benefits, wage and hour laws and workers’ compensation.
Depending on the nature of one’s business, an organization may also have to deal with other detailed rules and regulations. Not following these laws can lead to hefty fines and other serious legal consequences.
To give just one example, a business with W-2 employees is responsible to accurately account for and pay the payroll taxes, for Social Security and Medicare, to the IRS. At the state level, businesses also may have to remit sales tax or other taxes to Pennsylvania authorities.
Legal tax controversies can cost a lot of time and effort and lead to an unexpected tax bill. In serious cases, a business owner may face personal criminal and civil penalties.