Digital Resources


  • Changing the Joint Employer Standard in Franchising

Recently, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), in a 3-2 decision along partisan lines, overturned the “joint employer” standard that has existed for the past three decades. This is a highly important decision because if a company is a joint employer, it could be subject to collective bargaining and a large variety of employment-related claims formerly reserved for the direct employer. We invite you to listen to this podcast in which Fox Partners John R. Gotaskie, Jr. and Elizabeth D. Sigety discuss the ramifications of the NLRB’s ruling on the franchise industry.

  • Dusty Franchise Agreements

Reviewing and revising franchise agreements is a critical but often overlooked task. Without proper and timely updates to agreements, franchisors can potentially expose themselves to a host of unexpected legal and administrative risks.
  • Bad Idea: Ignoring Your Online Social Critics

In the brave new world of viral online communications, it is critical to stay in front all of those complaints coming at you and to deal appropriately and successfully with any negative online comments about your brand or business. In this podcast, John highlights some key strategies to effectively diffuse online criticism and avoid potential legal liability for rash responses.

  • What Landlords, Franchisees and Franchisors Should Know About Franchising

Successful franchisors spend considerable time and resources helping their franchisees select what they anticipate will be successful locations based on a variety of factors such as demographics, road access, parking and household income in the local area. In this podcast, John highlights the protective mechanisms that successful franchisors often put into place to protect their investment of time and resources related to their franchise’s sites.

  • Do You Have a Plan for Deploying Monitoring and Tracking Software? (If Not, the FTC May Want To Speak With You)

In this podcast, John explains why organizations (including franchise organizations) should have a clearly articulated plan – one that includes full disclosure to customers – for the deployment of any software that can collect data on customers. The FTC is closely scrutinizing computer and data security issues, even in the absence of new mandates from Congress, which could put companies at risk.

  • Liquidated Damages Clauses – When Are They Enforceable?

In this podcast, John explains the enforceability of liquidated damages clauses and shares insight into how they are evaluated in court. He also discusses the recent case, LSI v. Roundup, which involved the termination of a franchisee.

  • An Overview of P2P Data Breaches

Data breaches are on the rise for companies both small and large – and authorities in Washington, DC, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), are taking action. One type of breach that has become particularly bothersome to the FTC involves peer-to-peer, or P2P, networks. Join John as he discusses this growing concern in this podcast.

  • Accidental Franchising

Did you know companies can unknowingly become franchisors without intending to franchise their business? In this podcast, John R. Gotaskie, Jr. discusses how accidental franchising can occur and what leaders of growing companies should be aware of. Join him as he talks through the potential benefits and risks of accidental franchising and lays out the state and federal regulations related to it.

  • Privacy and Franchising

Consumers express great concern regarding their online privacy and what companies and other “aggregators” of information are doing with the information they collect on the web. The stakes are high and come with substantial risks -- including a loss of consumer confidence in the brand, investigations from state and federal authorities and lawsuits from aggrieved parties -- if franchisors and other companies have incomplete policies and noncompliant practices. In this podcast, John covers the critical steps organizations can take to protect themselves in connection to their online tracking and collection activities.

  • ADA-ES Victory

Partner John R. Gotaskie, Jr., who served as lead trial counsel representing ADA-ES, Inc., a Colorado-based air pollution emission solutions firm, discusses his victory in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, which awarded his client $12 million in a dispute with Calgon Carbon Corporation.

  • Basics of Franchising

John covers some of the basic legal aspects of franchising, including issues of control, trademark and tax concerns, fees and agreements between franchisors and franchisees, state regulation and oversight and the all-important Franchise Disclosure Document.

  • Social Media and Franchising

Social media has changed the way companies advertise their brand. In this podcast, John discusses the benefits and risks for franchisors and franchisees that use social media as a tool to promote their businesses and reach out to customers and other influential leaders of public opinion.

  • Are Your Organization’s Restrictive Covenants Still Enforceable in Pennsylvania?

A published opinion from the Pennsylvania Superior Court has called into question the enforceability of some restrictive covenants in Pennsylvania. In the case, the court considered whether the Uniform Written Obligations Act, as adopted in Pennsylvania, permitted the enforcement of a restrictive covenant entered into after the beginning of employment but without the employer providing any additional consideration. In this podcast, John walks through the specifics of the case and explains why the court decided that such a restrictive covenant cannot be enforced.

  • Fluctuating Standards for Pennsylvania’s Charitable Property Tax Exemption

In this podcast, John R. Gotaskie, Jr. and Rebecca L. Hagan discuss the fluctuating standards for Pennsylvania’s charitable property tax exemption.

  • Do Not Call

John R. Gotaskie, Jr. details the specifics of the clarification in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and explains why the FCC decided to further restrict the rules governing telemarketers.

Franchise 101 - Powerpoint

John presented at the University of Pittsburgh’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business on the ins and outs of franchise law.
View the PowerPoint that accompanied the presentation.

Franchise Law Update Blog - View Blog

John is the editor of the firm's Franchise Law Update blog, which highlights not only the regulatory aspects of franchising but also diverse topics such as business finance, employment, litigation and the protection of intellectual property including trademarks and copyrights.

Recent Blog Posts

  • California Limits Choice of Law and Forum in Employment Contracts In a development that applies to all businesses operating in California, Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a new bill which prohibits employers in California from requiring employees, as a condition of employment, to submit to the law of another state or foreign jurisdiction for disputes related to their employment. Applicable to employees who primarily reside and work in California, the new law provides that employers may not include provisions in employment agreements that require the adjudication of claims outside of California,... More
  • Someone Quit? Act Immediately to Protect Digital Data. A recent article in Wired instructed employees in how to digitally erase all their stuff when they quit their jobs. The problem is that the author drew few distinctions between wiping computers of all personal items–family photographs or videos, personal emails, etc.–and company-related work product. Most franchisors and franchisees will take the position–and rightly so!–that employees’ work product on their company-issued laptops, cell phones, and voicemail accounts is company property. The corollary to the Wired article is what the employer should shut... More
  • Diversity Immigrant Visa Program Opens Oct. 4th The State Department announced that it will begin accepting applications for the FY 2018 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program—commonly called the diversity visa (DV) lottery—beginning Tuesday, October 4, 2016. Applicants who are selected and approved may apply for a green card starting on October 1, 2018. Each year, the State Department randomly selects 50,000 immigrant visa applications from a pool of foreign national applicants who were born in certain countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. The State Department will... More
  • Can Customer Information Be Sold? Carefully, Very Carefully Copyright: wattanaphob / 123RF Stock Photo The Radio Shack bankruptcy case raised a fundamental question regarding the sale of personally identifiable customer information: Can it be done? The answer is “Probably”. (You expected anything else?) When Radio Shack filed for bankruptcy protection, it had collected personally identifiable customer information respecting 117 million individual customers. Radio Shack had promised customers in its privacy policy that it would not “rent or sell” their personally identifiable information to any third party. In the bankruptcy proceedings, the... More
  • What To Learn from the DNC Hacks Copyright: qvist / 123RF Stock Photo The headlines regarding data hacks of the last two months from both the business world and presidential campaigns remind us that our data security is constantly under attack. Whatever you think of the campaigns this year, you need to resign yourself to the fact is that you are almost certainly going to be hacked. I am not suggesting you should forget about electronic walls or moats or fences. You’d be foolish not to have them. But the number one thing to... More
  • Are Your Nondisclosure Agreements Compliant with the Defend Trade Secrets Act? Contributed by Jim Singer, Chair of Fox Rothschild’s Intellectual Property Department. Have you updated your company’s form employee and independent contractor non-disclosure agreements lately? Do they comply with new legal notice requirements relating to “whistleblowers”? If your answer is “no” or “I don’t know,” please read on. Copyright: mipan / 123RF Stock Photo The new Defend Trade Secrets Act helps U.S. businesses protect their trade secrets by asking federal courts to order seizure of property necessary to prevent dissemination of the trade secrets. It also permits businesses to seek injunctions and damages... More
  • At Last, Federal Protection of Trade Secrets The Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) became law earlier this month. As my colleague Josh Horn has noted, the DTSA is a real game changer for the protection of your trade secrets. No longer are you limited to state law for the protection of your trade secrets. What does this mean? It means that, so long as your trade secret is used or intended to be used in interstate or foreign commerce, you now have the legal right to go to federal court... More
  • Remembering Those Who Gave the Last Full Measure of Devotion for Our Country Maybe I’m just becoming a cranky middle-aged man. But the seeming confusion over Memorial Day, especially when we’ve lost almost 7,000 American servicemen and women in the wars we’ve been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now against ISIS, for over a decade and a half, bothers me. I respect and admire our Veterans, but their day is November 11th. And I have the utmost respect for all those currently serving in uniform, including a number of whom I count as friends. But... More
  • Do You Know What Actual Fraud Is? In Husky Int’l Electronics, Inc. v. Ritz, No. 15-145 (U.S. May 16, 2016), a 7-1 majority of the Supreme Court held that a fraudulent conveyance scheme comported with the requirements of “actual fraud” to create a potential new debt dischargeability exception pursuant to section 523(a)(2)(A) of the Bankruptcy Code. This is a significant development in bankruptcy law jurisprudence because, prior to this decision, courts had interpreted section 523(a)(2)(A)’s provisions on nondischargeablity of a debt to require either (a) reliance on... More
  • Chip Cards: Less Fraud, More Chargebacks You are aware that the credit card industry ostensibly moved to chip cards–often called EMV cards–last fall. A major consequence of this move was that merchants who did not accept chip cards had the liability for chargebacks for fraud shifted from the card-issuing bank to the merchant. And the tab for that shift is now coming due. According to some published reports, merchant chargeback rates increased 15% in the fourth quarter of 2015 over the same quarter of 2014. That... More