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July - August 2003

Legal Ease

Legal Vise
How the Law Affects Window and Door Manufacturers
by Steven Haber

Editor’s note: “Legal Ease” is a new addition to DWM magazine. The column will appear in future issues and will focus on legal matters relating to door and window 

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”¹ I recently began counseling a medium-size business client with approximately 250 employees with offices in four different states and two different countries. I was amazed to learn that this client had been operating a profitable business for almost 20 years without a good understanding about how the law impacts its business. There have been many things said about the law over the years, but one thing that I can tell you for certain, is that the law is pervasive and that it impacts just about everything a window and door manufacturer does. I advise you to take a proactive approach in dealing with legal issues facing your business.

The business world is like a battleground with legal minefields between you and your strategic goals. A relatively small investment in education and legal advice can pay for itself ten-fold, as it may enable you to avoid otherwise unforeseen future liabilities.

The law can affect your business in numerous ways. For example, the physical plant used by a business is subject to local zoning ordinances. Leases or purchase agreements are negotiated for the facilities that implicate real estate and tax laws. State and local occupancy certificates and licenses may also be required.

Acts That Act Upon Us
If your business has employees, there are scores of federal, state and local laws that you need to be aware of including, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (title VII), Civil Rights Act of 1991, Equal Pay Act of 1963, Age Discrimination and Employment Act of 1963, American with Disabilities Act, wage and hour statutes, National Labor Relations Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, Family Medical Leave Act, etc.

I have seen numerous businesses entangled in litigation and subject to fines and clean-up 
orders as a result of environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (also known as the Superfund), the Endangered Species Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Even after your product leaves your possession, you can still have ongoing liability as a result of tariffs, taxes, import and export laws, Consumer Protection statutes, products liability law, express and implied warranties.

The point is that the law touches on practically every aspect of running your business, and you will be more likely to succeed if you are mindful of how it affects you. The purpose of this column will be to discuss legal issues that matter to the window and door industry and to sensitize you to issues that may have a significant impact on your bottom line.

I concentrate my law practice on commercial litigation, providing representation to clients who are involved in business disputes. On more than one occasion, I have witnessed very expensive problems that could have been avoided with a small amount of planning and 

Feedback Wanted
I will strive to make this column practical and useful for you, and encourage you to contact me to discuss any subjects that you would like me to address in future columns. 

Steven Haber
is a partner at Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell and Hippel LLP, a full-service law firm headquartered in Philadelphia. Further information about Haber and his firm can be found at www.obermayer.com.

¹This ancient proverb has been traced back over 750 years to ‘De Legibus’ (c. 1240) by English Jurist Henry De Bracton (d. 1268).

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