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Archive for the 'Employment Contract' Category

Mar 30 2011

COPYRIGHT AND RESTAURANT RECIPES

Restaurant owners and chefs often conflict with regards to who owns the copyright to the recipes created by the Chef for the dishes served at the restaurant. This conflict occurs so frequently because the answer requires inquiry into a number of factors in order to make a proper determination ownership.

Recipes that merely list ingredients are not copyrightable. They become copyrightable when they contain expression beyond the mere listing of ingredients, such as mixing and cooking directions, tips, photos, etc. Once they become copyrightable, they must be put in writing (or in some other tangible form such as a recording) in order to receive copyright protection. They are copyrighted the second they are written down and they do not need registered with the U.S. Copyright Office (although registering them does provide additional advantages such as proof of latest creation date, public record, and registration is required in order to file a copyright infringement lawsuit).

GENERAL RULE: THE COPYRIGHT FOR RECIPES CREATED BY THE CHEF WHILE WORKING AT THE RESTAURANT WILL BELONG TO THE RESTAURANT.

Once they are reduced to writing, the timing and circumstances of such will determine who owns the copyright. For example, if the chef copyrighted the recipes prior to working for the restaurant (eg, created and wrote them down), then the inquiry stops there: the copyright belongs to the Chef.  If the Chef created the recipes on his personal dime and time but during his employment period with the restaurant, then the Chef will own the Copyright.  If the Chef created the recipes while working at the restaurant, then the copyright will belong to the restaurant in accordance with the Work For Hire Doctrine in the Copyright Act.  One simple way to eliminate all of the uncertainty is to execute a written “Work For Hire” agreement specifying that all recipes created during the period of employment shall become the property of the restaurant. There are numerous exceptions and nuances to these general rules and a consultation with a qualified attorney should be had to determine actual copyright ownership of recipes in each particular circumstance.

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Nov 10 2009

EMPLOYEES PAY DATE AND RATE MUST BE IN WRITING

For all employees hired on or after October 26, 2009, the New York State Department of Labor requires employers to notify the employee, in writing, of their pay day and pay rate. The new law states that the notice:
1. Must be in writing in compliance with New York Labor Law Section 195.1.
2. Must include the regular rate of pay, overtime rate and regular payday.
3. Must be provided on a form available from the NYS Department of Labor. Get the form here:  www.labor.state.ny.us/workerprotection/laborstandards/PDFs/LS_52_Hourly_Rate_Plus_Overtime.pdf
4. Must be given to new employees before they do any work.
5. Employer must receive a written acknowledgment that the employee has received the notice.
For more info, see the NYS Department of Labor circular at: www.labor.state.ny.us/workerprotection/laborstandards/PDFs/P705_E.pdf

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Oct 01 2009

EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT: Keeping Key Personnel

As the owner of a restaurant, you should consider providing your key personnel with employment contracts. The employment contract will provide the employee with job security, will clarify all of the conditions and duties of employment, and will create a contractual obligation for them to be employed for the term of the contract.

GENERAL RULE: While there is no required form that the contract must take, certain key provisions should be included, such as the (i) term (i.e. length of employment), (ii) compensation, (iii) employees duties and obligations, (iv) confidentiality, non-disclosure, non-compete, and non-solicit provisions, and (v) grounds for termination or a “Just Cause” clause.

The more detail contained in the contract, the less room for disagreement during the employment period. As an owner, be sure to have the “Just Cause” clause worded in a manner that allows you to terminate the employee during the term, without any penalty, if the employee engages in negligence, misconduct, excessive absences, drug use, theft, fraud, fails to perform his duties in a professional manner, performs an act or omission of an act that could be deemed injurious to the company financially or to its reputation, or is convicted (or a plea of no contest) of any misdemeanor or felony.

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