Owning less than a majority share of a business can put you at risk of minority shareholder oppression. It occurs when those who own greater shares violate the rights of those who own less than half of a company’s total shares.
Oppression of minority shareholders is a little-known risk for those looking to buy into a company. It is wise to learn about shareholder oppression and what you can do if it is happening to you.
What are your shareholder rights?
After putting substantial amounts of money into a business, you should be able to monitor the status of your investment. However, majority shareholders sometimes suppress the rights of those holding minority shares. You have the best chance of identifying oppression when you understand these rights.
Ohio law gives all shareholders the right to view information related to the corporation upon request. You may also make and keep copies of the requested information.
Generally, minority shareholders have the right to:
- Access minutes and Articles of Incorporation
- Receive notice of scheduled meetings
- Inspect business records and books
- Access shareholder records
You must follow the proper procedures when seeking access to books and records. In Ohio, you must submit a written demand to view the information and state the specific reason you wish to do so.
What are your legal options?
To determine the right approach, consider consulting with someone who understands business law. Together you can investigate your situation to decide the best course of action. Taking this step first ensures you have legal counsel already in place if you decide to file a minority shareholder lawsuit.