Do you know how constitutional law affects your business?
The United States Constitution contains several clauses that may apply to business activities. Business owners should understand their rights and legal issues that may affect their business. Consult with a business lawyer to learn more about the law and how to keep your business protected.
What are business constitutional rights?
We are all familiar with the US Constitution in the context that it ensures that individual rights are protected. But what you may not know is that many clauses in the US constitution also apply to business.
Although any given business-related legal issue may involve country, district, and/or federal courts, many applicable laws originate at the federal level.
Or at least have a federal component.
Examples of different types of rights include:
- Corporate Rights
- The Commerce Clause
- The rights to free speech
- The rights to free association
The Constitution is about congress as a governing body and not about businesses.
So gray areas may apply when it comes to the right of a given business to censor—e.g., let’s say on a media channel.
Request a free strategy session with us to learn more about how constitutional law can affect your business.
Freedom of Speech/Corporate Speech
Freedom of speech is a basic right for individuals and businesses. However, there are limits to this. Defamation, for example, would be a type of freedom of speech that could be debated in the interest of protecting the rights of a business (or individual).
Obscenities or violence are other examples of limitations. Businesses should note this, especially regarding commercials and advertising; commercial speech is protected in the first amendment but not in all situations.
Corporations have a certain level of protection when it comes to advertising but need to practice diligence if they are moving into the area of political speech – for instance, if they are donating to a political party.
The Rights of a Corporation
Businesses like corporations are, to some extent, treated like citizens in the context of the types of rights that they have — for instance,.they are obligated to pay taxes, and they can be sued.
This is called corporate personhood and relates to the fact that businesses are property to be protected.
Whether or not your business is vulnerable to certain legal actions could depend on the type of business structure you have.
As you build your business, consult with a business lawyer to ensure you are protected under constitutional law.
The Commerce Clause
The Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8) offers the federal government a certain level of power to regulate commerce in the context of trade. This is probably the most important clause for any US business. This applies to both international trade and that which occurs between states.
Any business relationship with a foreign company is subject to foreign trade regulations.
The Rights to Free Association
Businesses and individuals are allowed to “associate” with religious or other types of groups regarding information that they produce and distribute.
But it’s important to note that this freedom of association does not apply to any employment laws. Businesses must be diligent about labor laws and ensure that hiring and employment practices follow those outlined by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.
Data Privacy and Cybersecurity
Although there is no single federal or constitutional law addressing issues to do with cyber law, as it is a new and emerging field, there are several elements in the constitution that may fall under the heading of cyberlaw.
- Crimes against people (e.g., harassment, stalking, pornography, identity theft)
- Crimes against property (e.g., DDOS attacks, hacking, copyright infringement)
- Crimes against the government (e.g., hacking, cyber terrorism)
Some examples of federal laws which affect businesses include:
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) laws apply to health care providers but also some associated businesses
- The Consumer Privacy Protection Act of 2017 is a federal bill meant to strengthen issues to do with sensitive information and security breaches. Some commercial companies are obligated to have comprehensive consumer privacy and data security programs.
- The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) is an information security and privacy law which primarily applies to financial institutions.
- The Federal Trade Commission (and FTC Act) has several programs to guide businesses in best practices around consumer protection.
Businesses should be aware that cyberlaw is an evolving field where the federal government will likely have more power in the future.
A Business Lawyer Will Help You Understand the Law and Protect your Rights
Constitutional law is important when it comes to your business. Having a reputable business lawyer on your side is important, and this should happen when you start your company… not when you get stuck in a legal conundrum.
A business lawyer can help you understand the law and guide you towards best practices so that you are less likely to make costly mistakes.
We’re here to help you build your business so you can feel secure and confident that you are doing things right.
Call toll-free 855-976-3783 today or book a consultation online.
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