It’s Now Easier to Prove Discrimination With Job Transfer or Other Change in Terms or Conditions of Employment

David R. Bohm

By David R. Bohm

discriminationJaytona Muldrow was a plainclothes sergeant in the St. Louis City Police Department’s specialized Intelligence Division. In connection with her duties in the Intelligence Division, Muldrow was deputized as a Task Force Officer with the FBI and was granted FBI credentials and an unmarked take home car. When a new captain was assigned to supervise the Intelligence Division, the Police Department transferred Muldrow from the Intelligence Division (at the new captain’s suggestion) to a uniformed position in the City’s 5th District, supervising the day-to-day activities of neighborhood patrol officers. While Muldrow’s rank and pay remained the same, her responsibilities, perks and schedule did not. She no longer worked with high-ranking officials in the police department, lost her FBI credentials and the take-home car, and had to work weekends (while in the Intelligence Division she worked Monday through Friday).

Muldrow filed suit against the City of St. Louis under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act in the federal District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, claiming she was transferred because she was a woman. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the City, holding that Muldrow’s transfer did not cause her a materially significant disadvantage, as it did not result in a diminution of her title, salary or benefits and had caused only a minor change in her working conditions. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the District Court.

In Muldrow v. City of St. Louis, issued April 16, 2024, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the decision, holding that it was not necessary to show that an injury resulting from an action taken by an employer because of an employee’s protected status (e.g., sex, race, religion, or national origin) resulted in significant injury. Instead, Justice Kagan, writing for a six-member majority of the Court, stated that “an employee must (only) show some harm from a forced transfer to prevail in a Title VII suit…” (emphasis added). This same standard of “some harm” will also apply to any other change in the terms and conditions of employment made as a result of the employee’s protected status. The other three justices each wrote opinions concurring in the result. Continue reading »

Contracts: The Importance of “Boilerplate” Clauses

Bryan J. Schrempf

By Bryan J. Schrempf

contractIn business, the word “boilerplate” is often a negative term. However, common contractual clauses, or “boilerplate” clauses, are often significant and helpful. They should not be overlooked or dismissed.

Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses

One common boilerplate clause relates to an aggrieved party’s ability to recover attorneys’ fees and expenses that they have incurred as the result of the other party’s breach of contract. Generally, U.S. courts follow the “American Rule,” which means that each party to a lawsuit will bear their own attorneys’ fees and costs, regardless of the outcome of the case. A common boilerplate clause allows for such an aggrieved party to recover the attorneys’ fees and costs that they have incurred because of the other party’s breach of contract.

Notably, the presence of such an attorneys’ fees clause can be particularly helpful even in cases of lesser value. For example, one party to a contract owes the other party $10,000 and refuses to pay. Employing an attorney to file suit to recover that $10,000 will be very expensive relative to the amount that might be recovered. In fact, if there is any complexity to the case, then hiring an attorney can quickly become prohibitively expensive – without an “attorneys’ fees” clause.

Providing Notice

Clauses relating to the methods for providing “notice” to the parties can also be helpful and significant.  They can determine to whom notice must be given, how the notice must be given, or when the notice is deemed given.

State Law Applied/State for Litigation

Often transactions or agreements will span multiple states. In such cases, helpful clauses include determining which state’s law will apply or in which state the dispute will be litigated. Continue reading »

Bitcoin Buzz, Again?

Corporate Law Practice Group

By Corporate Law Practice Group

cryptocurrencyWhether you believe in bitcoin or think it is a giant sham, there has recently been increased coverage and interest in the 15-year-old technology. But what is the cause of this reenergized coverage? Rallying prices reaching new record highs of nearly $74,000 are certainly contributing and these prices are affected by two key events.

The first event was the Securities and Exchange Commission’s approval of 11 bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in January 2024 which allowed investors to join the crypto hype in a more palatable format. These ETFs operate through traditional exchanges which have established regulation. Legally, this marks a shift from regulators who previously denied over 20 applications for these types of funds in the past five years. However, in SEC Chair Gary Gensler’s statement at time of approval he indicated that approval of these ETFs holding bitcoin, a non-security commodity, “should in no way signal the Commission’s willingness to approve listing standards for crypto asset securities.” While regulations will likely continue to adapt as bitcoin gains in popularity, this approval allows for easier access for investors to capitalize on bitcoin without holding bitcoin themselves.

The other major event set to take place is the upcoming bitcoin halving. In simple terms, the “mining” process in bitcoin is where independent computing power on a decentralized network are rewarded for successfully verifying transactions on the blockchain (what is essentially a digital ledger). When the bitcoin protocol was first created and launched in 2009, the reward for this process was 50 bitcoin per block with a hard cap of 21 million bitcoin available to be mined (of which nearly 94% have been mined). The protocol was established to cut the reward amount in half every 210,000 blocks, or roughly every four years.

Continue reading »

Changes in Missouri Law Regarding Restrictive Covenants in Business Sales

Ruth Binger

By Ruth Binger

noncompeteAuthored by Ruth Binger with assistance from Kristina M. Stevenson, contributor

Recent changes in Missouri law have impacted the enforceability of restrictive covenants in the sale of businesses, particularly those involving business entities and owners. These modifications, detailed in Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo) 431.204, arguably reduce protections extended to business purchasers.

Effective August 28, 2023, a covenant prohibiting solicitation of employees between a business entity and an owner cannot extend beyond a two-year period following the termination of the owner’s affiliation with the entity. Essentially, this means that after two years from the sale of their business, an owner is permitted to solicit employees previously associated with the entity.

Moreover, the revisions have introduced more stringent conditions for covenants prohibiting the solicitation of customers. These non-solicitation covenants must now be limited to customers with whom the owner had prior dealings and cannot extend beyond five years after the owner’s termination of business ties with the entity. This adjustment opens the door for sellers to solicit customers they had not previously interacted with. Continue reading »

Employee or Independent Contractor Classification under the Fair Labor Standards Act Effective March 11, 2024

Ruth Binger

By Ruth Binger

worker classificationThe U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has modified the Wage and Hour Division Regulations to replace its 2021 analysis for determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor (Final Rule). The previous test gave greater weight to control and opportunities for profit and loss.

Effective March 11, 2024, under the Final Rule the employee or independent contractor classification determination will focus on the economic realities of the worker’s relationship and whether the worker is either economically dependent on the potential employer for work or is in business for himself. In short, is the worker dependent upon the business to which it renders services for work?

Economic dependence does not focus on the amount of income the worker earns, but rather whether the worker has other sources of income from other customers. To determine economic dependence, the DOL assesses seven factors and conducts a totality-of-the-circumstances analysis. No one factor carries more weight. The DOL looks at the working relationship, the workplace, and the particular industry.

Under the Final Rule, Section 795.105, DOL, uses the following tools and/or factors in its determination: Continue reading »

CTA Reporting Requirements Have Begun!

Jaime L. Curry

By Jaime L. Curry

beneficial ownership reportingReporting requirements for affected entities under the Corporate Transparency Act (“CTA”) went into effect January 1, 2024. In our article “Be Sure You’re Ready: The Corporate Transparency Act is Coming Soon!,”  we provided detailed information on the CTA’s applicability and reporting requirements. Now that the CTA is in effect and entities must report beneficial ownership, let’s take another look.

The Facts About the CTA

  • The CTA is a bipartisan act passed in 2021 by Congress to create a beneficial ownership information reporting requirement because many states, including Missouri, do not have requirements in place to collect beneficial ownership information of certain entities. An estimated 32.6 million entities are affected by the CTA.
  • For entities already in existence prior to January 1, 2024, that do not qualify for any of the 23 exemptions available, Beneficial Ownership Interest (“BOI”) Reports are due by December 31, 2024.
  • New entities formed in 2024 are subject to a 90-day BOI Report filing deadline (extended from the original 30-day deadline). Entities formed January 1, 2025, or later are subject to a 30-day BOI Report deadline.

How and What Does an Entity File?

  • An entity can file its own report – at no cost – on the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) website at
  • Required information to be filed for an entity includes the legal entity name, any trade names or dbas, the principal place of business address, and all taxpayer-identification numbers issued to the entity.
  • Owners of at least 25% of interest in the entity and those with substantial control of the entity must report their legal name (including middle name), home address, date of birth, unique identifying number from an accepted identification document (generally a state-issued driver’s license or passport), name of the state or jurisdiction of the identification document, and an image of the identification document.

Who Has Access to Filed Information?

  • FinCEN’s database of entities will not be freely accessible to the public.
  • Federal, state, local, and tribal officials, as well as certain foreign officials, may submit a request for information for authorized activities related to national security, intelligence, and law enforcement. If a reporting company consents, certain financial institutions may be granted access in certain circumstances. For more information on access, please visit FinCEN’s website at

Cue the Scammers Continue reading »

What to Do If You Might Have Been Ineligible for the Employee Retention Tax Credit Claim

Jaime L. Curry

By Jaime L. Curry

covid-19 tax creditsThe COVID-19 Pandemic was cause for many new programs to be created by the U.S. government to keep businesses afloat and employees retained in unprecedented times. One of these programs was the Employee Retention Tax Credit (“ERC”) which incentivized employers to retain employees while business was down. The program was available regardless of the size of the employer and included tax-exempt organizations.

To be eligible for the ERC, employers had to (1) be either fully or partially suspended by government order due to COVID during the calendar quarter or (2) have gross receipts below 50% of the comparable quarter in 2019.

The IRS began sending out letters in December 2023 to more than 20,000 taxpayers who received disallowed ERC claims. Letter 105 C, Claim Disallowed is being sent to a first group of taxpayers because the entities either (1) did not exist during the eligibility period (March 13, 2020, through December 31, 2021), or (2) did not have paid employees during the ERC’s applicable time period (ERC is a credit against qualified wages).

Letter 105 is being sent out to taxpayers prior to payment in an effort by the IRS to help ineligible taxpayers avoid audits, repayments, and penalties. Many employers were encouraged to file ERC claims by “promoters” who received monetary commissions based on approval. Issuance of a disallowance letter prevents promoters from receiving funds to which they are not entitled. Continue reading »

Five Common Mistakes Business Owners Make When Organizing an LLC in Missouri

Katherine M. Flett

By Katherine M. Flett

llc1. Not Having an Operating Agreement

An Operating Agreement (“OA”) is a crucial document that establishes the ownership of the LLC, the rights and duties of the company’s members and managers, and the operating rules for the company. While the OA is not filed with the Missouri Secretary of State (“SOS”), it is required by law. Without an OA, your LLC runs the risk of losing its limited liability protection and the members of the LLC could be held personally liable.

2. Not Updating the Operating Agreement

The OA establishes the ownership of the LLC, how the LLC conducts its business, and how it is taxed.  There are several ways for an LLC to be taxed, including as a disregarded entity or an S-corporation.  Including this in the OA and acting in accordance with the OA are very important.  If tax status, ownership, or any other portion of the OA changes, it should be promptly amended to reflect the change(s).

3. Not Registering a Fictitious Name Used By the LLC

If an LLC transacts business in a name other than the legal entity’s name, that name must be filed as a fictitious name (also known as a “d/b/a” or “doing business as”) with the SOS. A fictitious name is any name business is transacted under other than the true name of the legal entity. For example, if the legal name of the LLC is “Flett Enterprises, LLC” and it owns a restaurant named “Andy’s BBQ,” the owner should register “Andy’s BBQ” as a fictitious name. If not, the owner(s) risk personal liability for operating “Andy’s BBQ” in their individual capacity. Continue reading »

Planning for the Incapacity or Death of a Business Owner

Jaime L. Curry

By Jaime L. Curry

are you readyAs a business owner, you are used to making plans. You have had to make plans since day one – plans to get your business off the ground, plans to increase inventory, plans to take on employees. . . plans, plans, plans. One plan that some business owners don’t think about until it’s too late is what happens to their business at the death of one of the owners.

Not planning is, in fact, a plan. If no documents are in place to transfer ownership at death, the deceased owner’s probate estate is the recipient of the business interests and the business is tied up in probate court. How can you avoid this happening to your business?

First, check your corporate governance documents. Depending on the type of entity you own, this could be your operating agreement, shareholder agreement, bylaws, or a buy-sell agreement. These documents could outline any restrictions on the transfer of ownership interests. Some of the more common transfer restrictions are to other members or shareholders, revocable trusts, or family members.

Typically, two of the simpler ways to transfer ownership interest in an entity is to assign the interest during the owner’s life to a revocable trust or, alternatively, assign the interest at the death of the owner to the owner’s trust. The terms of the trust can then control where the ownership goes, how it gets to the desired beneficiaries, and who is in charge. Make sure to update operating agreements or bylaws to reflect those changes any time an assignment of ownership occurs. Assignments of ownership interests at death can also be made to other individuals provided the terms of the entity’s operating agreement or bylaws allow for this transfer. Continue reading »

Non-Compete and Non-Solicitation Agreements Under Attack!

Katherine M. Flett

By Katherine M. Flett

noncompeteSoon companies may be prohibited or severely limited from using employee non-compete and non-solicitation agreements. The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) January 2023 proposed Non-Compete Clause Rule would prohibit employers from using non-compete agreements with any employee or independent contractor, paid or not, with very limited exceptions. The proposed rule is retroactive requiring employers to rescind all existing non-compete agreements and notify workers that these agreements are no longer in effect.

The FTC’s proposed rule does not prohibit customer or employee non-solicitation agreements unless they are overly broad. The proposal indicates that eradicating non-compete agreements is a priority for the FTC. The vote is scheduled for April 2024 and will likely be subject to extensive litigation if passed.

In May 2023, Jennifer Abruzzo, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) General Counsel, issued a memorandum stating that offering, upholding, and enforcing non-compete agreements may interfere with Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Employees could interpret the agreements as creating a lack of employment mobility by denying them the ability to quit or change jobs or by blocking access to other employment opportunities. Non-compete agreements could be lawful if they are narrowly tailored and only restrict individuals’ managerial or ownership interests in competing businesses or true independent contractor relationships. According to the memorandum, the NLRB will focus on pursuing enforcement actions against employers utilizing non-compete agreements. Continue reading »

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