Brad Nakase, Employer Attorney
Thrust into the corporate world, business owners are often bombarded with the multifaceted phenomena that is employment law. Wages, healthcare, discrimination, employment contracts and medical leave are all things that business owners are bound to come face to face with. Since it can quickly become overwhelming to deal with these issues, employment lawyers are here to save the day. If you come across any of the ten situations below, you should seek out employer attorneys to help your business succeed.
1. Hiring a New Employee
Hiring someone for a new job role is an exciting time for both you and the new employee. However, in the midst of all the excitement, a lot can go wrong if you do not specify the new employee’s role. Their new role will decide whether or not they are entitled to overtime and breaks. It will also decide whether they are freelancers or employees because confusing a job position can have serious financial repercussions. However, you can avoid this mishap if you have a competent employment attorney by your side during such a process.
2. Importance of an Employee Handbook and Establishing Employment Policies
Writing things down on paper can do wonders. Try compiling your employment policies into an employee handbook. The handbook will clearly outline your expectations for employees and will no doubt come in handy in the case of a demand or lawsuit occurring. Sit down with an employment attorney and have them help you put together a handbook with policies as well as state and federal laws
3. Firing an Employee
Many employers utilize at-will employment, this gives you the ability to fire your employee(s) at any point or time, with or without reason. This may sound like a great perk, however, there are limitations. You cannot terminate an employee:
- For discriminatory reasons like their sex, religion, and race.
- For using benefits such as medical leave and/or worker’s compensation
- To get back at them for filing a complaint
- If firing them would violate the employment contract
Before making the decision to fire an employee, get in touch with a lawyer. They can inform you of any legal risks that you may be taking.
- Your Employee Sued You
This is undoubtedly every employer’s worst nightmare and there is no question that the first thing you must do if this happens is contact a lawyer.
In these situations, time is precious. You have to make sure you respond to your complaint in a timely manner. Your attorney will help you stay on top of these deadlines. An attorney can even negotiate with your employee’s attorney and help reach a settlement of sorts.
Suing an Employee
Just like an employee can sue you, you can also sue them. Sometimes this is the only way to protect your business. Reasons to sue a worker include:
- A breach of in the employment contract;
- A breach in agreement; non-solicitation, non-compete, or non-disclosure;
- There being tortious interference in business relationships;
- Indemnification for any damages, needing to pay for one of your employee’s negligence;
- A breach of duty, or breach of loyalty; and/or
- Any destruction or robbery of your company’s property.
Talk to your employment attorney about potential remedies.
An Employee Filing a Complaint
Employees can file an administrative type of complaint. It’s important to note the state and federal regulations that are protecting employees from unjust labor practices, retaliation, harassment in the workplace, and any type of discrimination. If an employee files a complaint, contact your lawyer. They can give you advice on how to deal with this as well as represent your company.
7. Responding to Employee Complaints
Responding to complaints before they grow into lawsuits is one of the best things that you can do as an employer. Consult with your employment lawyer as soon as you receive any kind of internal complaints from your employees, especially if said complaint has a legal implication. There are several actions you can take to address a complaint, these include implementing new policies or taking up the problem with management.
Laying Off Employees
While laying off any employee is a difficult situation, it is often necessary to preserve the livelihood of a company. There are state and federal laws to oblige by when it comes to laying off individuals. For example, you might have to provide a specified timely notice or offering severance pay. An attorney can assist you and pinpoint exactly what you need to do for a laid off employee.
Changing Employee Benefits and/or Policies
You might want to make some changes to the benefits that you are offering your employees. Maybe you found a way to offer better services for an even better price. If this is the case, you need to contact an attorney before taking any steps. An employment lawyer can assist in ensuring your new benefits are compliant with the law.
Creating an Employment Contract
There are several scenarios where an employer makes a contract with a worker/employee. You might have an extremely skilled employee whom you want to offer inducements to or an employee with access to sensitive information. Whenever entering a contract or agreement with a worker/employee, it is imperative that a lawyer is present. He must write up a contract that protects both your interests and that of your employee. This will prevent you from implicating yourself in a lawsuit down the line.