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How Co-Owners of Small Businesses Can Recognize and Respond to Business Oppression

If you own a minority interest in a small business, whether a partnership, limited liability company or corporation, you’re entitled to have your rights respected by those in effective control of the enterprise. Unfortunately, not everyone in your position is treated as fairly as they deserve. In Illinois, when majority owners of a business engage in illegal, oppressive or fraudulent conduct, minority owners have legal remedies.

The first step in stopping business oppression is to recognize the various ways in which it can occur. The majority might ignore your input on major decisions, dilute your ownership interest, fail to pay earned dividends or refuse to let you inspect business records. In the worst-case scenario, majority owners might even try to force you out of the business.

If you believe you are a victim of oppressive conduct, or you suspect that company resources are being misused or wasted, you can bring a lawsuit against the majority owners. If you prove your case, the court may order a number of measures to be taken. These may include ordering that the majority take or refrain from certain actions or setting aside any decisions deemed injurious to the minority owners. The court may also order an accounting of business finances, assets and debts.

Among the remedies that may be granted are ordering the payment of dividends, awarding damages and forcing the majority to buy out the minority owners’ interests at fair value. In some cases, the court may appoint a custodian to manage the business.

The correct remedy depends on the facts and circumstances, as determined by the court after hearing the evidence. The last resort is dissolving the business, if no other remedies will suffice.

Your best path to success in enforcing your remedies is to retain an attorney who is experienced in fighting business oppression. Your attorney can use the litigation discovery process to compel the defendants to divulge information helpful to your case. A skilled attorney can also effectively contest the evidence and defenses presented by the majority owners.

Schwartz Law Group, LLC in Chicago has a distinguished history of representing Illinois minority business owners fighting oppression. Call us at 312-436-1442 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation with an aggressive corporate litigator who is ready to protect your interests.

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