The Repercussions of Violating a Business Law


There are dozens of laws that regulate the operations of all businesses within all states in the U.S. These laws are usually also accompanied by certain consequences for anyone who breaks them. As such, it is usually in the best interest of every small business owner not to violate them. However, this is easier said than done.

While the vast majority of people would rather not run foul of any law that has been put in place, the reality on ground is that it is quite impossible to find a situation where you will never find anyone who, for some reason or the other, has broken one of these laws. Sometimes these laws are knowingly and wilfully broken, other times it might be unintentional.

The question then remains what to do once you ascertain that you have broken a law? The best advice anyone can give you, is that you should own up it as soon as possible.

It is safe to assume that the law more often than not usually catches up to a violator. While, this does not always happen 100% of the time, it is safe to say that it does more often than not. Although a generally held view in society is that the justice system is rigged in favor of the rich and powerful in society,  while the the lowly, average man on the street often gets the short end of the stick. This lowly average man on the street more often than not fits the description of a small business owner.

Backing up just a little bit, perhaps the best thing you need to know regarding breaking a law as it pertains to your business, is not to break it in the first place. This is why it is usually a good idea or best practice to get the advice of an experienced business attorney as it concerns many functions related to your business. More often than not, having regular access to a lawyer and the legal advice and guidance they can offer you and your business, can often help prevent you from falling afoul of the law. And in situations where the harm or violation of the law has already taken place, then they can often guide you on how best to mitigate the fallout and potentially limit the consequences, where this is possible anyway.

As previously mentioned, the nature, complexity and scope of the laws that regulate the business world is as vast as the scope of business itself. And while there are a few major legal issues that could potentially sink your business, or at least cause it irreparable harm, there are so many different laws or regulations that a business owner might need to be aware of, that it can often be quite impossible to know all of them, which again is where having access to a good legal advice for your business can come in handy, which then frees up your time to focus on your business.

Four Major Business Laws That Can Sink Your Business if Violated

While there are many different laws covering various aspects of business, we will go ahead to list just a few major such laws.

  • Intellectual Property Laws

An intellectual property (IP) law is any law that covers and protects any and all intangible creations of the human mind or intellect. The main objective behind this protection offered to intellectual properties, is to ensure that people are able to potentially benefit economically from their creations, thereby encouraging them to create such property in the first place.

The main types of IP includes Copyrights, Patents, Trademarks, Trade Secrets, Trade Dress and Geographical Indication.

The thing about an intellectual property is the fact that it may not always carry a sign or warning that specifies that such a property is protected. Furthermore, the various types of IP that exists consequently increases the scope and possibility of such potential violation. Therefore it is very easy for a business owner to use an item or resource for his or her business, without knowing that it is protected by one type of IP law or the other. Unfortunately for such a business owner, ignorance of such fact  or law will not be seen as an excuse by a court of law, should the owner of the property take legal action.

  • Ethics Laws

Similar to Intellectual Property laws discussed above, the laws governing ethical situations can also be somewhat tricky for a business and its owner(s.) This is because situations that have ethical considerations may not always be as clear cut as other laws or situations. For instance, while a business is completely at liberty to determine what price it wants to sell its products or services, a situation in which two or more companies come together and collude to sell their products which are either similar or the exact same, at the same price, will often be considered to be unethical by any government. Such situations are referred to as price fixing, and there are usually laws against this in most governments of the world.

  • Employment & Labor Laws
    In this era of global migration, there is a very high possibility that a business owner who is looking to hire employees, and puts out a job advert will receive applications from people of various nationalities. The issue with this is that, it is possible that some of these applicants might not be legally permitted to work in the country. If such a business is caught hiring illegal immigrants, or even legal immigrants who do not have the right to work in the country, such a business can get into a lot of trouble with the government, and the penalties they could face range from minor to major fines, all the way to jail time in extreme or severe cases.In addition to the hiring of illegal or undocumented workers, there are also laws governing labor in general. Any business that has more than one employee will have to deal with rules and regulation that govern things like number of working hours for employees, the provision of a safe working environment, paid and sick leave, dismissals, employee relationships and more. Issues that exist within the business in any one or more of the above mentioned areas can easily come back to bite the business, if not handled properly.
  • Customer/Consumer Protection Laws
    The customers of a business, and the relationship that the business has with them, are often the most valuable asset of that business. Customers can unfortunately find themselves on the short end of the stick when it comes to that relationship with a business. It is for this reason and more, that there are several different types of laws, rules and regulation that govern the relationship between a business and its customers, or the general public.These laws cover a vast range of topics from product marketing/advertising, misrepresentation, product liability, privacy and much more. The consequences for violating any one of these consumer protection laws can range from fines, to having the business license revoked, to civil or class action lawsuits, and all the way to jail time for individuals directly fingered in violating whatever law in in question.

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About the Author

I have practicing since 1998 representing New York clients. I represent clients in a variety of practice areas, including personal injury, car accidents, slip and fall cases, general business law, real estate, bankruptcy and debt management or settlement.