Commercial and Employment Disputes

Commercial disputes are legal claims centered on business-related issues. A variety of claims can fall under this category but some of the most common are those involving:

• Non-compete clauses,
• Fraud and deceptive trade practices,
• Breach of contract and
• Tortious interference with a contract.

Even the most competent business person can feel overwhelmed at the prospect of pursuing a legal claim. Jon understands. His math and statistics background combined with his years of experience in the business sector make him uniquely qualified to handle these types of cases. Commercial disputes can run the gamut from small claims to complicated, multi-party lawsuits both of which Jon has successfully aggressively pursued.

NON-COMPETE CLAUSES – are most often included in contracts between employers and employees to protect the employer’s intellectual property or trade secrets. They usually don’t go into effect until the employee leaves the company. Non-compete clauses should not be used to prevent employees from meaningful employment and as a result, they are closely scrutinized by courts. To be valid, a non-compete clause must meet the following requirements:

• Be supported by consideration at the time it is signed. Consideration is something of value given by both parties to a contract that induces them to enter into the agreement to exchange mutual performances. (For example, money is exchanged by the employer for work performed by the employee.)
• Protect a legitimate business interest of the employer, and
• Be reasonable in scope, geography and time.

While employers certainly have a right to protect their business relationships and confidential information, former employees have a right to earn a living. As a result, the interests of both sides to the agreement must be balanced.

If you signed a non-compete clause in your employment contract and are now prevented from pursuing work as a result, contact Jon. He can help determine whether you have a claim and guide you through the process.

FRAUD – In Texas, a person pursuing a fraud claim must prove:

• The defendant made a material misrepresentation;
• The defendant knew the representation was false or made the representation recklessly without any knowledge of its truth;
• The defendant made the representation with the intent that the other party would act on that representation or intended to induce the party’s reliance on the representation, and
• The plaintiff suffered an injury by actively and justifiably relying on that representation.

If you think you have been a victim of fraud, contact Jon immediately. The statute of limitations for fraud in Texas is four years and begins from the time you knew about the misrepresentation. Jon can help you determine whether you have a valid claim. If you do, you could be entitled to the actual amount of damage you sustained as a result of the defendant’s fraudulent conduct.

DECEPTIVE TRADE PRACTICES – Texas is governed by its own deceptive trade practices law, which allows consumers to bring lawsuits again those believed to have engaged in the deceptive behavior. There are a multitude of actions that fall under this category but some of the most common are:

• Deceptive Pricing
• False Advertising
• Low Stock Scams
• Odometer Tampering
• Bait and Switch

Contact Jon if you have been victimized by a person or entity conducting deceptive trade practices. You could be entitled to actual and treble damages. If you are older than 65 years old, you may be entitled to more.

BREACH OF CONTRACT — A contract can be breached in one of three ways:

• A party to the contract does not perform his or her duty on time;
• A party to the contract does not perform his or her duty in accordance with the terms of the contract, or
• A party to the contract does not perform his or her duty at all.

If you’ve determined that you have a breach of contract case, you may be entitled to certain types of damages or payment in addition to other forms of remedies. Jon can advise you as to whether your claim is worth pursuing and what remedies you can expect as a result.

TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE WITH CONTRACT – To have a claim for tortious interference, you must prove:

• A valid contract or economic expectancy exists between you and the defendant;
• The defendant has knowledge of the contract or expectancy;
• The defendant intentionally interfered with that contract or expectancy;
• The defendant actually interfered with the contract or expectancy;
• That interference was improper, and
• You suffered damage as a result.

These types of cases are complicated and rarely straightforward because much of the liability rests on the intent of the defendant. Many factors can be considered by the court when trying to figure out the defendant’s liability.

However, once tortious interference has been established, the damages you could receive include:

• Monetary losses resulting from the loss of contract or expectancy;
• Other losses that were a consequence of the interference;
• Compensation for emotional distress or harm to your reputation if it resulted from the interference, and
• Punitive damages to punish the defendant for bad behavior.

Jon can figure out whether you’ve been the victim of tortious interference and help you navigate the path to justice.

EMPLOYEE MISCLASSIFICATION

Misclassification of employees is an unlawful practice that is common in the oil and gas industry. Essentially, it means that the employee was misclassified as exempt from overtime requirements. It results in the denial of lawful wages to employees for overtime, paid leave, minimum wage, workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance.

Misclassification can occur in one of two ways:

• Workers are mistakenly classified as independent contractors and are therefore denied lawful wages and benefits, or
• Workers are “promoted” or considered management because of their title (assistant manager, supervisor, director) but not allowed the responsibilities that come with management positions. As a result, they accomplish the same tasks and work the same long hours as prior to the alleged promotion, but are denied overtime pay because of their management status.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor:

Under the law whether someone is an employee is determined by the actual relationship between the worker and the business—not by label or registration. Similarly, simply providing employees with 1099 forms instead of W-2s does not transform them into legitimate independent contractors under the FLSA. Misclassifying employees can result in workers being denied minimum wage, overtime pay, unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation benefits. This makes it harder for low-wage workers to put food on the table and provide for their families. It means a greater chance of working in unsafe conditions and not being compensated when hurt on the job.

Oil industry workers who are most susceptible to misclassification include:

• Field Engineers
• Field Specialists
• Fluid Technicians
• Sand Coordinators
• Fishing Tool Supervisors
• Fluid Specialists
• Mud Engineers
• MWD Drillers
• Coil Tubing Operators
• Directional Drillers
• Grease Operators
• Sand Operators
• Sand Coordinators
• Surveyors
• Drillers
• Pipeline Inspectors

If you think you’ve been denied payment that is legally yours because your job has been misclassified, act quickly and call Jon. The time you have to file a claim (statute of limitations) is short. Jon understands the Fair Labor Standards Act requirements that your employer should be following, as well as the Texas Workforce Commission laws that come into play. He can help and will vigorously fight for you.

Jon has amazing energy and is extremely sharp. He understood our very involved real estate case immediately. We had to answer a lot of discovery and he helped us figure it all out. He worked with my husband and me throughout the wee hours of the morning. Jon and Joann were always available, responded to our questions quickly and did so courteously and professionally. They were very easy to work with and worked hard on our behalf. It took a long time to resolve our legal issues but Jon prepared us for every phase of the journey. He helped us bring ourselves back together again. He led the fight to make us whole and that’s what we wanted. Even though he represented us in a specific type of lawsuit, we feel like we can go to him for anything.
– Terri H.
Real Estate Claim