Get Started: Employee lawsuits; tax cuts; lending

ADVOCACY GROUPS WEIGH IN ON EMPLOYEE SUIT

The National Federation of Independent Business and several other advocacy groups filed a friend of the court brief with the Supreme Court recommending that it uphold a federal judge's ruling to dismiss a proposed collective action under the Fair Labor Standards Act. In the case, the employee charged that she worked through her lunch break many times but wasn't paid because of the company's automated payroll system.

The employee sought to represent herself and other employees in what's known as a collective action. A collective action differs from a class action in that plaintiffs must specifically agree to be part of the case. In a class action, members of a group are assumed to be part of the case and don't need to specifically agree to join it.

The employer, Genesis Healthcare, offered the employee a settlement and no other workers joined the suit. It was then dismissed by a federal judge, but that ruling was reversed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and the case was subsequently accepted by the Supreme Court.

The issue before the Supreme Court is whether an employer — in this case, Genesis — can have a proposed collective action under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act dismissed by offering to pay a plaintiff everything that he or she can hope to recover. The NFIB says that it is concerned about the potential effect of this case on employers. The NFIB was joined by several other groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Health Care Association, and the National Center for Assisted Living.

HOUSE TAX HEARING

The House Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access holds a hearing Thursday on small business owners' concerns about the pending expiration of tax cuts instituted during the Bush administration. Many lawmakers and business owners are concerned that the end of the tax cuts would hurt owners who report their business income on their personal tax returns. President Barack Obama has proposed ending the cuts for individuals who earn more than $200,000 and couples who earn more than $250,000. Opponents of that plan say higher taxes would stop many small businesses from expanding or hiring more workers.

Witnesses at Thursday's hearing include Doug Harmon, owner of Twin City Die Castings Co. in Minneapolis, and Scott Hodge, president of the Tax Foundation, a group that does research into the impact of taxes.

AND ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ATLANTIC ...

Small and medium-sized businesses in Britain have some of the same issues about credit as their counterparts in the U.S. A report by BDRC Continental, a market research company, found that in the second quarter of this year, 43 percent of British small and medium-sized businesses had borrowed money, down from 51 percent in the first and second quarters of 2011. That is in line with surveys that have shown that U.S. companies are borrowing less.

The report, compiled from a survey of nearly 21,000 businesses, also showed that fewer British businesses expect to apply for new or renewed loans in the next three months. Fourteen percent said they would apply, compared to 16 percent in the first quarter of this year. Those who expect to apply are more pessimistic that they'll get a loan — 39 percent said they were confident they'd get a loan, down from 52 percent in the first quarter. The most pessimistic were the smallest of firms — those who were confident fell to 37 percent from 52 percent.

WOMEN BUSINESS OWNERS MEET

The National Association of Women Business Owners is holding its annual Women's Business Conference starting Oct. 4 in Louisville, Ky. The theme of the two-day event is "Start Something," a focus on entrepreneurship and innovation.

Speakers at the conference include business owners, Small Business Administration head Karen Mills and Patricia Greene, a professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College in Massachusetts. The conference will also include seminars on topics including work-life integration, using social media in your company and taking your business global.

You can learn more about the conference at http://nawbo.org/section_231.cfm

SBA's FAQ

The Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy has updated its Frequently Asked Questions page on its website. The page has information, statistics and charts about small business — for example, what is a small business and what percentage of small businesses get government contracts. It also has links to other parts of the SBA site that have more detailed information.

You can access the FAQ page at www.sba.gov/advocacy/7495

SMALL BUSINESS CONTESTS AND OPPORTUNITIES

The Big Reboot is a series of contests sponsored by Toshiba, Intel and Staples awarding $10,000 in technology to six small businesses. Four of the contests are still open: Powering Innovation, which ends Sept. 23; Powering Service, ending Oct. 14; Powering Products, ending Nov. 11 and Powering Good, ended Dec. 25. Owners can submit stories about their companies to enter the contests. Visitors to the contest website, www.thebigreboot.biz , will vote to choose the winners.

Dell Inc. has created a $100 million loan fund to help proven startups. Companies can apply if they have already have angel or venture capital funding. They also need to supply Dell with financial information. If accepted, a company can get up to $150,000 in credit. It can also get help with its technology. For more information, visit http://eir.dell.com

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