By Heidi Buechner
Owning a small business is an extremely rewarding endeavor, but it can also be a challenging one.
At any moment, you may be faced with an obstacle that requires you to make a difficult decision about the way you conduct your business.
Understanding the rights you have as a business owner is key to building a strong foundation for your company and keeping it protected. Here’s what you need to know about your rights and how to get the legal support you need to protect those rights and your business.
The Right to Refuse Service at Any Time
As a business owner, you want to serve as many customers as possible. However, there may be situations in which it does not feel right for you to provide service, or situations where providing service to a particular customer may endanger you, your staff, or your business as a whole.
You do have the right to refuse service to a customer in scenarios like the above; however, you must be careful that you are not refusing service in a way that may seem discriminatory.
You do not have the right to refuse service to a customer based on sex, religion, national origin, color, race or gender. The Americans with Disabilities Act also prohibits public businesses from discriminating against those who have disabilities.
The Right to Speak Freely Regarding Your Business
Freedom of speech applies to you as a business owner as much as it applies to every individual in the United States. You have the right to speak freely about various topics related to your business, and your opinions and thoughts can go a long way to help shape your organization into the company you want it to be.
However, be selective about the conversations you have during business hours. Topics such as sexuality, religion, and politics can often be misconstrued and are better left outside the workplace.
The Right to Make Changes to Your Business
As a business owner, you may come across opportunities where your business can grow. To take advantage of those opportunities, there is a chance you will need to make significant changes to your daily operations.
You do have the right to change your business in any way you see fit, as long as you’re adhering to local and federal laws while you do so. Also, don’t forget about your customers! Any changes you make to your business should benefit your clientele, and keep them from seeking services from your competition.
Finding good employees to work for your small business can be a challenge. After reviewing numerous resumes and conducting interviews, you will come to a point when it’s time to make a hiring decision.
To help reduce risk and possible liability, you have the right to conduct a background check on your prospective employee. Background checks can give you insight on a person’s education, past employers, criminal records, medical history, reputation, and references, which will help you identify if the person is a viable candidate for your business.
If you choose to hire an outside company to conduct a background check on your behalf, you must obtain permission from the applicant or employee before beginning the process.
To better understand and protect your rights as a business owner, it’s important to seek the help of an experienced small-business attorney. A small-business attorney can help you develop a plan for your business and assist in making sure your business is running effectively and protected legally.
Heidi Buechner is Responsible Attorney for Heidi Buechner Law, PLLC, an online-based virtual law firm that provides legal guidance on starting and protecting a business. It offers comprehensive legal consulting that accommodates a business owner’s schedule and is accessible via computer, phone or tablet.