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San Diego County Residents & Business Owners: Weekly COVID-19 Telebriefs

If you are a resident or business owner operating in the County of San Diego you are greatly encouraged to keep up-to-date with regulations imposed in the County.  Save and favorite the following link: www.coronavirus-sd.com

Interested in updates impacting business? Listen in certain Wednesdays at 9:30am. These meetings were initially set for every 2nd and 4th Wednesday but has changed to WEEKLY meetings.

Click on the following link https://zoom.us/j/157409037using your computer. Meeting ID: 157409037.
All participants will be muted during the meeting. In order to submit questions during the call, use the chat feature on the Zoom platform.

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telebriefs

Click here for a list of recent updates and archives of recent resources emails sent out to the business community. For example, previous topics include the “Employer Playbook for Safe Re-Opening” as published by the State on July 31, 2020.

 

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Barber-Cosmo Outdoor Services Checklist (July 2020)

Hair Salons and Barbershop Services CAN be Provided Outdoors (As of 7-29-2020)

In California, as of July 13, 2020, indoor gatherings and indoor-based business operations were once again prohibited. “At 12:00 p.m. on July 13th, Governor Newsom ann​ounced that a number of indoor activities and industries will be closed statewide, and additional indoor activities and industries will be closed in counties that appear on the State’s “monitoring list” for three days or longer. ” July 13, 2020

This announcement prohibited hair salons from operating in their facilities. In turn, hair stylists were turning to outdoor operations until the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology prohibited that practice by affirming that all operations can only be conducted indoors citing Business & Professions Code Section 7317:

Barber-Cosmo Update Stylists (7-13-2020).

 

 

But on July 17, 2020, the State acknowledged the hardship to this industry and prepared regulations permitting personal care services outdoors:

Barber-Cosmo Update Stylists (7-17-2020)

Finally, on July 20, 2020, the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology issued “Outdoor Service Guidance for Establishments” for how barbering and cosmetology services can be offered safely outside. These guidelines allow the OPTION for services to be done outside and does not require outdoor services.

On July 29, 2020, the official Industry Guidance was published for outdoor operations. See Official Industry Guidance.

Prior to re-starting your operations outside, also see the “Outside Services Checklist for Establishments”

 

Young woman wearing face mask in the street.

Face Coverings – The Subject Of New Lawsuits Across the United States

DISCLOSURE

Take into account that San Diego County is not subject to out-of-state laws and court decisions. This following article deals with face masks in Dallas, Texas. Nevertheless, this is shared for the purpose of posting what new disputes are arising in connection to COVID-19 matters, namely face mask wearing policies. If such lawsuits develop in California, it can be expected for judges to use these out-of-state issues for guidance.  It is also posted to help employers understand what liabilities can result from face covering policies and procedures within business operations.

JANE DOE v. HILLSTONE RESTAURANT GROUP

In the State of Texas, the state has not mandated face-coverings for restaurant workers. Some cities within the state have enacted face-covering mandates. Hillstone Restaurant Group employs Jane Doe. Jane Doe wished to work while wearing a face mask. However, her employer disapproved of such measure and in response did not schedule her for work. That became company policy. Jane Doe filed a petition to dispute the company’s policy forbidding wearing masks while at work. A Texas judge issued an order requiring Hillstone to allow employees to wear masks. Such an order was in effect for 14 days. This 14-day order served as a temporary restraining order allowing Jane Doe to work while she seeks out a more permanent solution, or more permanent legal claim as needed if the employer elects to refer back to its policy.

Seeing what is occurring on the legal front across the nation, employers in San Diego County are recommended to avoid legal claims by not refusing an employee to wear a face covering while at work. Seek out local orders (city, county, and state) to see the latest requirements and mandates for businesses actively open to the public.

CDC RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING FACE COVERINGS

It is also recommended to seek out CDC guidance concerning the subject matter.  As of the date of this publication, the CDC currently states on their website:

  • “CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”
  • “The CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.”
  • Link

READ MORE

 

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5 Steps to Safely Re-Open Your Business in San Diego County Amid COVID-19

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. A pandemic is defined as a global spread of a new disease often applied when viruses are able to infect people easily and spread from person to person in an efficient and sustained way. On March 19, 2020, an executive order and public health order directed all Californians to stay home except to go to an essential job or shop for essential needs to disrupt the spread of COVID-19 among the population. However, not all businesses came to a halt. Essential services were still in operation and the State of California published some guidance on how to maintain those operations open. Over time in the months of April and May, 2020, the State has continued its publication of industry guidance offering recommendations on how to best re-open amid COVID-19.

If your business is in the process of re-opening or recently re-opened, use the next 5-steps as guidance and a minimum criteria for adhering to State, county, and city (or incorporate area) imposed measures.

1. Review the State’s Resilience Roadmap. Confirm that the State is re-opening your industry. As of May 27, 2020, the following sectors, businesses, establishments, or activities are not permitted to operate in the State of California at this time:

  • Personal services such as nail salons, tattoo parlors, gyms and fitness studios
  • Indoor museums, kids museums, gallery spaces, zoos and libraries
  • Community centers, including public pools, playgrounds, and picnic areas
  • Entertainment venues, such as movie theaters, gaming, gambling, arcade venues, pro sports,
  • Hospitality services, such as bars, wineries, tasting rooms and lounges
  • Nightclubs
  • Concert venues
  • Live audience sports
  • Festivals
  • Theme parks
  • Hotels/lodging for leisure and tourism – non-essential travel
  • Higher Education

2. Review State-Published Materials to Help Reduce Risk. Begin implementing your own company measures.

“Before reopening, all facilities must:

  1. Perform a detailed risk assessment and implement a site-specific protection plan
  2. Train employees on how to limit the spread of COVID-19, including how to screen themselves for symptoms and stay home if they have them
  3. Implement individual control measures and screenings
  4. Implement disinfecting protocols
  5. Implement physical distancing guidelines

It is critical that employees needing to self-isolate because of COVID-19 are encouraged to stay at home, with sick leave policies to support that, to prevent further infection in your workplace. See additional information on government programs supporting sick leave and worker’s compensation for COVID-19.”

3. Revisit A Few Industry-Specific Measures.  The State of California has issued guidance on how to safely re-open your business. Be mindful of the publication dates. Updates may be available since publishing this information. Note that some of these publications are only guidelines intended to provide recommended practices to best help reduce the exposure and infection of COVID-19.

4. Turn to Industry-Based Guidance and Publications. Associations, coalitions, and other industry-specific group exist for the purpose of providing guidance on how safely re-open your business when the State of California permits.

5. Seek Out Professional Advice As Needed. This includes turning to your attorneys, insurance agents, financial advisors, business consultants, human resource outsourced consultants, accountants, bookkeepers, your networks and so on to get your affairs in order and be in the know. Each office has spent the last few months brushing up on how COVID-19 will impact your business from their respective professional background. Now is the time to revisit your network.

NOTE: This is only a suggested series of steps to take. Actual opening measures will vary depending on your business and the many variables involved in operating in California. Be sure to comply with local and state measures as they become published in the following months.

 

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Business Law: Companies/Employers Using COVID-19 Liability Waivers

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. A pandemic is defined as a global spread of a new disease often applied when viruses are able to infect people easily and spread from person to person in an efficient and sustained way. On March 19, 2020, an executive order and public health order directed all Californians to stay home except to go to an essential job or shop for essential needs to disrupt the spread of COVID-19 among the population. On May 20, 2020, the County of San Diego developed guidelines for businesses such as restaurants and retail businesses to open safely to have customers in the premises with restrictions. On May 24, 2020, the State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology developed guidelines for hair salons to open safely.  This all means that as of late May, 2020, businesses are starting to re-open, of course, with safety measures required. It is expected for larger organizations and theme parks open in late June 2020 or early July 2020.

Waivers

With employees returning to work, businesses are looking to limit liability related to COVID-19 exposures. A few calls and questions I have received include:

  • Can I issue COVID-19 liability waivers for employees to sign?
  • If an employee refuses to sign a COVID-19 liability waiver, must I still let them work?
  • Can I ask customers/clients to sign COVID-19 liability waivers before entering my business?
  • Are COVID-19 liability waivers enforceable?
  • What can I include as part of my COVID-19 liability waiver?

Generally speaking, liability wavers are permitted but enforceability depends on its contents and what exactly an employer is trying to limit liability from. There are certain risks, hazards, and employee rights that an employer cannot lawfully shield themselves from. For the latter part of the sentence, think worker’s compensation rights and other statutory rights afforded to California employees. Look out for specific executive orders passed in March, April, May, June 2020.

Enforceability of such waivers have not yet been tested through the court system and it is not yet known if courts will limit what an employer can include in such waiver.

Even with signed waivers, employers need to focus primarily on implementing safety and security measures imposed at the city, county, and state level. These include at minimum: (i) physical distancing, (ii) use of face coverings by workers and customers, (iii) frequent handwashing and regular cleaning and disinfection, and (iv) training workers on these and other elements of the COVID-19 prevention plan.

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Amid COVID-19, Are Estate Planning Matters Moving Forward?

As COVID-19 unleashed a health crisis on an international scale, an economic crisis has also occurred and has impacted every single Californian/American. While COVID-19’s stay-at-home orders and social distancing requirements are still in place in Southern California, questions concerning legal matters have continued well through March, April, and May, 2020. These are some of the most frequently asked questions:

Question: Are estate planning matters moving forward?

Answer: Yes, they most certainly are. As people always say, the one thing we all have for certain is that at some point we all die. For some it is certainly not a fun topic to think about. For others, having their affairs in order is certainly exciting. Count me in the second group. As COVID-19 started, plenty of inquiries were handled asking for either self-help options or assistance in preparing documents. Here are a few issues and matters that have come across our desks the last few months:

  • I’d like to create a simple Will
  • My financial advisor tells me I need to create a Trust. How does that work?
  • COVID-19 has made me think about establishing plans for myself, my spouse, and my children. My children have their own children now. Is this something I can plan?
  • I have a few retirement accounts that need attention. How does your office help with that? Does it?
  • What plans can I make now so that my minor child is cared for should anything happen to me?
  • Mom passed away and we cannot find her Will. What can we do?
  • I live out-of-state and a family member died in San Diego County. Can you help with Probate there?
  • We know dad had a parcel of land out-of-state. He passed and we want to know what happens to that land.
  • I’m currently hospitalized with only a few months to live. Can you help prepare my last wishes for me?
  • My soon-to-be ex-spouse and I own a property together and have a child together. I’ll be initiating a divorce and want to know what happens to our Trust, our property, and our child.
  • I’d like to leave behind a DNR (do not resuscitate). Can you help with that?
  • I’m out of the country and wish for my son to complete the sale of one of my properties there. Can you help?
  • Probate matters in San Diego Court are temporarily on hold, but we need to start a Probate. Can that still happen?
  • My parents left behind a Trust where I was nominated a Successor Trustee (future administrator). Can I start without making a court appearance? Can I start with all the limitations of COVID-19?
  • Under the terms of my parents’ trust they instructed to sell the house and divvy the proceeds between myself and siblings. Can I still sell in spite of COVID-19? Is now the best time to sell or should I wait?
  • My parents are older. They’re safe now and following social distancing measures, but they’d like to discuss updating their Wills. They speak Spanish. Can you help?
  • A few years ago I used a self-help site to create my own Will. Can you review that and confirm everything looks good?

Clearly these are paraphrased but this is a brief, incomplete list of the legal inquiries that have come through this law firm amid COVID-19. For some persons and couples, they may have already had their affairs in order. For others, brand new issues developed during COVID-19 requiring immediate attention.  If you need help with estate planning matters, probate matters, or trust administration matters, call in and let’s determine how this office can help.

 

 

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Free Help With Developing Your Business @ Small Business Development Center

This past week I had a chance to learn about the South San Diego Small Business Development Center from one of their business advisors. As an attorney practicing in business law, I assist a number of clients with legal matters or legal disputes concerning their business. But often small business entrepreneurs need assistance with non-legal matters and do not know where to turn to. I recommend learning more about the Small Business Development Centers of San Diego. They offer assistance for FREE in the following topics:

  • Accounting / Quickbooks
  • Marketing / Public Relations
  • Business Plan Assistance
  • Growth & Expansion Strategies
  • Sales & Customer Service
  • Financial Analysis / Cash Flow Management
  • Business Structure / Formation
  • Merchandising
  • E-commerce & Online Sales

Learn more on the SBDC website.

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Selling Arts & Crafts Depicting Famous Faces & Characters. Can You Do It?

With Comic-Con International 2016 right around the corner (July 20-24 including preview night) in San Diego, I am sharing a question that comes up quite often in my practice in Business and Intellectual Property Law. The question, often involving famous comic characters and celebrities, goes something like this –

Q: I created an art piece for my grandson that contains a famous cartoon character on it. Can I sell these to others since I made them? I am interested in selling them online in marketplaces like eBay and Etsy for profit.

The question also involves artwork and crafts including celebrities, sports athletes, and other famous characters. Without knowing it, the asking party just asked a very complicated question as this simple inquiry triggers various area of the law including:

  • copyright law
  • business law
  • first amendment rights (under certain circumstances)
  • privacy laws (under certain circumstances)
  • publicity rights (under certain circumstances)
  • cyberspace laws
  • and more

This simple question requires plenty of legal analysis to fully provide an answer and a recommendation. However, for the sake of brevity, it is generally unlawful to use the image of a famous cartoon character to generate your own products for commercial sale. But let’s consider things further.

Let’s assume that the drawing is such a success with your grandson that you decide you’re going to use it for use with your online store in a well-known marketplace and will also use it for marketing purposes for your business. Upon using the image for commercial purposes, you’re exposing yourself to liability for unlawfully using a person’s liking or a person’s copyrighted work without permission. If you make 1 single sale in a private setting, you open yourself for exposure. However, from a practical perspective, it’s very unlikely that the Marvel brand or large company will pursue a claim. On the other hand, if you wind up being the next big thing on the market thanks to the you should expect a lawsuit for damages. Other things to consider are how you’re using the work, whether you transformed the image in any way, and many other factors.

If you have a similar question like the one above you should speak with an intellectual property attorney before proceeding to fully analyze your question and determine whether to move forward with your plans. Factors analyzed include:

  • what image are you using?
  • is the work protected y copyright registration?
  • did you ask for permission from the creator?
  • if the work involves a person, does the person know about your use?
  • where did you get your image from?
  • did you copy the image or transform it in any way?
  • what are you using it for?
  • are you engaging in private sales or commercial sales?
  • other questions depending upon your circumstances

Note that this type of question is complex and requires serious factual analysis.

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Celebrate Mother’s Day With the Kids (Sunday, May 8th) & Then Set Time Aside Time to Make Arrangements for the Children

As families prepare to celebrate Mom this Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 8th, children and significant others prepare to make this 1 day extra special for her. This day usually showers Mom with flowers, a dining experience, gifts and other memorable moments for the whole family to remember. The point of this day is for Mom’s to feel extra special, but Mom’s can also take this day as a reminder of things to arrange for their family’s future.

Regardless of whether you have been a Mom for 1 year or 21 years, you and your children will feel even more love between yourselves when you let them know that you have planned for their future with estate planning arrangements. Estate planning arrangements offer answers to the following questions:

  1. Who will care for the kids in Mom’s long term absence or death?
  2. Will the kids be left under the parental guidance of their natural father upon Mom’s death?
  3. Are there any savings accounts reserved for supporting the kids upon Mom’s hospitalization, incapacity or death?
  4. Are there any life insurance policies Mom set up?
  5. Who will handle the children’s financial, healthcare and educational future if Mom cannot do it?
  6. If Mom passes away, what items (including houses) do the children split and when?
  7. If Mom owns a business and suffers an accident, who carries on the business?

Estate planning answers many other questions that are dependent upon the family structure. This is even more important where there are circumstances involving adopted children, step children, blended families, disputes among family members and so on.

Therefore, enjoy Mother’s Day this coming Sunday. Hug your children like never before on this day and then focus on how you can show them your love even more through estate planning.  Calendar a reminder to yourself as a Mom to plan for your children’s future through Wills, Trusts, Financial Planning and other methods.

 

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5 Great Ways to Find the Best Business Attorneys in San Diego

When your San Diego-based business faces legal matters, finding immediate legal representation can become a daunting task. There are so many attorneys out there advertising both offline and online claiming experience in business law or business disputes. So how do you find qualified and experienced business attorneys in San Diego? Here are a few pointers to consider when you are searching for the best business attorneys in San Diego to take on your legal matter.

  1. Request Recommendations from Your Friends and Family – start off by inquiring within your network. Ask your friends and family members for recommendations. You’ll learn about how others have used a business attorney in the past and what to expect in involving a business attorney.  Friends and family will look out for you and will recommend only those that provide quality service.
  2. Read Available Reviews – After receiving recommendations, search their online profiles. Read available reviews to learn how other non-family members have been helped by these particular attorneys. Use local San Diego resources such as community-based sites or your local Chamber of Commerce, and national resources such as Avvo.com, Justia.com, Yelp.com, FindLaw.com. You can also simply perform a Google search for the attorney’s name to learn more about that person and/or law firm.
  3. Industry Recommendations – Use available resources such as the San Diego County Bar or the State Bar of California to learn more about your potential attorney. Search online and call around with inquiries as well.  Again, sites like Avvo.com (a legal database of attorney) will help shed more light on your search.  Here’s an example of an attorney’s profile on Avvo.com
  4. Referral Requests from Trusted Parties – Use trusted professionals to seek out recommendations.  For example, if you have worked with a Realtor in the past, that Realtor is typically part of a group of professionals and just may know a great attorney to refer you to. It also gives you a great opportunity to follow up with your group of trusted professionals.
  5. Consultations – When seeking legal consultations, attorneys in San Diego often offer free consultations depending on your particular legal problem and need. Take advantage of those free consultations and request more than 1, especially if you really want to obtain a second opinion.  In attending at least 2 consultations, you just may find that 1 attorney fully understands you or is simply a better fit for you than the other.

These recommendations are based on an accumulation of feedback from clients over time. Most expressed that taking their time to find a quality attorney is more cost-effective in the long-run than simply electing the first search result using an online search engine. I hope this helps you locate the best business attorneys in San Diego.  Feel free to reach out to this office to request a consultation after reviewing our client feedback.

Your business is important. Be sure to take the time to locate the representation that’s right for you, your team and the business.