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Austin Business Litigation Blog

What activity in my public official capacity could be corruption?

The kinds of activities that can rise to the level of public corruption in Texas are probably as variable as your imagination. What may be proper activities in a non-public-official’s life can be entirely illegal once one is a public official.

Certain actions of public officials in the news lately, have been the subject of accusations and criminal charges and reviewing them can be telling. As reported by myStatesman, for instance, a state representative was indicted on over a dozen charges of corruption based on her alleged activities related to her official capacity.

Former congressman's staffer fighting to share her story

Most in Austin likely associate confidentiality agreements with businesses hoping to keep former employees from sharing their trade secrets with competitors. Yet such agreements are also common in civil cases. Oftentimes, as a stipulation of a settlement, one side may ask that the other enter into a confidentiality in exchange for other consideration. However, some may view such as agreement as a veritable gag order which forces one side underground while the other is allowed to say whatever it wants. 

Such is the claim being made by the attorney representing a former staffer of a seasoned Michigan congressman. The woman had accused the congressman of sexual harassment after she claimed she was fired for not reciprocating his romantic interest in her. As part of the settlement the two reached, the woman agreed to a confidentiality agreement. Yet after news recently broke of the settlement, the congressman was quick to deny any wrongdoing. The woman (through her attorney) has now asked that she be released from her agreement so that she may tell her side of the story. The congressman's attorney was quick to point out that the woman consented to the agreement on her own. Her attorney counters, however, by saying that by the congressman addressing the issue now, fairness dictates that she be allowed to speak about it, as well. Were she to be called to testify by the House Ethics Committee, she would not be bound by the agreement. That may be a possibility after question were raised about the congressman paying her settlement from his office's operational funds. 

New homes. new contracts. same disclosure policies

Buying a new home in Texas can come with a world of advantages, but can also have its fair share of complications. Inspections, remodeling and expenses aside, it can be incredibly frustrating to discover that one of the parties involved has made a mistake on the contract. Of course, fine details can easily go overlooked, but when it comes to disclosure, it is important for new home owners to understand the basics. 

The Balance shares some of the general guidelines involved in buying a home, including the small print. Contracts offer the buyer, seller and real estate agent a window through which all aspects of the transaction are considered. These aspects range from the date of closing to the condition of the property. But if a buyer becomes suspicious during this process, they may change their mind about buying the home altogether. The Balance emphasizes the importance of knowing the repercussions in such cases: consumers could risk losing their deposit or could even be sued for failing to complete the contract. Regardless of the reason, many consumers choose to opt out at the time when contingencies are being met.

Trouble ahead? Red flags for custom homebuilders

Building a custom home is one of the biggest projects you will ever undertake. The most important person during the process is the contractor (also known as the builder).

A good contractor can make the building of a house a fantastic experience. A bad contractor can make it a nightmare that seemingly lasts forever.

A driver who hit my car had no insurance! Do I have recourse?

If you suffered injury in a Texas car accident but the other driver failed to carry auto liability insurance, you may have an avenue to receive compensation for the resulting damages. Uninsured motorist coverage is a form of auto insurance that covers the purchaser of the insurance in just these kinds of situations.

If you suffer, for example, $50,000 in out-of-pocket medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering, you may be able to make a claim against your own uninsured motorist coverage to pay for that loss.

What are the signs of workplace discrimination?

Workplace discrimination in Texas can take many forms, but it is important to recognize the warning signs in order to protect yourself and your company from its effects. According to Career Trend, discrimination could have a tremendous effect not only on its victims, but also on your company as a whole. One indication that the employees in your company may be facing discrimination is a lack of productivity and motivation. If your workers feel marginalized regardless of the quality of their work, they may not feel any incentive to complete their projects on time. This could also lead to a higher number of sick days and missed work, creating an overall unproductive environment.

Lack of productivity and decreased presence at work ultimately lead to loss of money for the company. You may end up losing clients if the quality of your company's work decreases. Additionally, if your employees sense mistreatment based on their inclusion in a protected group, they may choose to leave your company. The subsequent need for hiring and training new employees may decrease your company's profit and efficiency.

Understanding deceptive trade practices

Some companies in the state of Texas are guilty of employing unethical business practices in order to manipulate consumers into buying their products or services. According to the Federal Trade Commission Act, these actions can be classified as either deceptive or unfair, and laws have been put into place in order to protect consumers. Deceptive trade practices include a clear attempt to trick consumers, whether by false statements, omission of essential facts or propagandistic attacks on competitors. Unfair practices, on the other hand, can include actions which result in significant harm to the consumers.

The Texas Office of the Attorney General warns that deceptive trade practices can take many forms. It could include false claims about its own products, or an unethical manipulation of the consumer's circumstances. For instance, it is unlawful to take advantage of a consumer's lack of language skills to make a sale. Another violation is to make false claims about a product's effectiveness. In the service industry, companies may not fabricate a list of needed repairs or services. Raising prices to an excessive level after a natural disaster or some other catastrophe is also illegal. In addition, any form of false advertising, whether falsely bolstering their own product, or inaccurately attacking another, may be prosecutable.

How do you handle disputes in a construction project?

As someone involved in Texas' construction industry, you have an intimate understanding of how easily problems between groups of individuals can become complex, messy, and even potentially hazardous in financial terms. Professionals with experience in the construction industry like Wright & Greenhill, PC, will be your best defense in these tricky situations.

First, many different parties have many different interests in the construction industry. You have the workers themselves, the companies who oversee the workers, and the people who contract these companies to do the building. With so many parties having their own interests to look out for, it makes sense that disputes may eventually happen. These disagreements and disputes can be triggered by a number of things, including:

  • Changes to contracts that aren't properly warned for
  • Changes to contracts that were disallowed or unwanted
  • Work claim disputes
  • Unfair or unsafe working conditions
  • Budget changes

Handling a construction dispute properly

When it comes to legal disputes, all types of cases can be challenging. However, those in the construction industry can be especially complex for a variety of reasons. On the one hand, you might be a contractor who is facing legal action due to any number of reasons. On the other hand, you might be a property owner who decided to take a construction company to court. Our law firm knows that it is vital for people who are in the middle of a construction dispute to carefully work through their circumstances and do what they can to achieve a more favorable outcome.

If you are a contractor, the future of your business could be at stake. Whether you are involved in a dispute over payments or construction defects related to work that was performed, it is essential to understand the possible repercussions of the case and carefully review your options. For some people in this position, a negative outcome in court has prompted them to lay off workers or stop working altogether. At the same time, you could be a property owner who has decided to take your case to the courtroom. Perhaps work was not performed properly or you are upset because you believe that you were taken advantage of from a financial standpoint.

How is the proper use of public funds in Texas schools assessed?

As a public school official, you understand the responsibilities you have to the residents of Texas. These include both the charge you have to ensure their children have the best possible education, and the appropriate expenditures of the public's tax dollars. Because the former is so dependent on the latter, state laws provide careful definitions and regulations on the proper use of public funds.

The Texas Association of School Boards describes public funds as moneys controlled by a governmental entity, including those raised through taxes or fees. It could also include any money your district collects through fund raisers and other means.

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