How We Help Companies
Employment contracts and agreements
Employers retain lawyers to customize these agreements for particular situations. Employees can retain lawyers for the same purpose, or to explain contractual provisions and to review existing agreements for fairness and legality. Employment lawyers can also negotiate specific terms and conditions to be put into an agreement, such as wages, hours, vacation time, benefits, severance packages, overtime, and so forth.
Employment Practices Liability Defense
If you are facing a claim or lawsuit for discrimination, wrongful termination, sexual harassment, or retaliation, we can help you. We can counsel and defend you in front of government entities or state and federal court.
Human Resources Counseling and Training
We can train managers and supervisors to ensure unprofessional behavior is not tolerated in the workplace. Harassment or discrimination in the workplace can leave your business open to liability. We can train your management on proper discipline structures, how to handle employee complaints, and how to terminate an employee in a lawful way. We will assist your HR department in crafting and implementing the correct structures and policies to protect your company from liability.
We can handle labor relations on behalf of your management. We can liaise with unions on your behalf, negotiate contracts, or defend your company against an unfair practices claim.
Personnel Policies, Employment Agreements, and Restrictive Covenants
Prevention is the best defense. We encourage clients to seek our help in drafting workplace policies, contracts, agreements, and handbooks to ensure they are legally sound and unambiguous. These will put you in a strong position for any claims or lawsuits and look after your business interests.
Wage and Hour Compliance and Lawsuit Defense
Our companies can represent you if you are being investigated by the Department of Labor or another government entity. We will prepare your company for audits, keep you updated with the progress of the investigation, and if necessary, defend you against litigation. We recommend being proactive and helping you with policies and contracts to avoid wage and hour violations and their negative exposure.
Whistle-blower claims often result in negative press and damaged reputations. The minute one arises, we will prepare a plan of action to defend your company and start damage control. We recommend proactively responding to employee complaints before they escalate into litigation and offer mediating services. Our clients also benefit from our policy and procedures counsel to reduce the number of employee complaints.
Employee claims involving sexual and other harassment
Besides harassment based on various protected categories such as race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation (see below), employment lawyers handle cases involving intimidation or harassment on the job, whether of a spoken or physical nature, that creates a hostile work environment. Such harassment can take many forms and can be directed by a superior to a subordinate, between workers at the same level, and even by a subordinate to a superior.
Parental leave, sick leave, pension plans, stock options, severance packages, and other benefits
Employers and employees may disagree on what the employee should be entitled to receive, or the employee may argue that he or she has been improperly refused these benefits. Employment lawyers both interpret the provisions in existing agreements governing these topics and draft new agreements as needed.
Retaliations and reprisals
It is illegal for employers to retaliate or to engage in reprisals against an employee due to the employee’s assertion of his or her legal rights. For example, if an employee complains about unsafe working conditions, demands the amount of wages required by law or contract, or refuses to do something illegal, then the employer may not respond by demoting, firing, or otherwise punishing the employee (for instance, by forcing the employee to work solely on the night shift). In this situation, an employee can retain an employment lawyer to defend his or her rights, and the employer will in turn also have employment lawyers working on its behalf.
Recruitment and discharge/termination (hiring and firing)
While Labor laws do not grant anyone the right to a job, discrimination (see below) in the hiring process is illegal. And while the traditional doctrine of at-will employment still allows employers to fire workers for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all, numerous exceptions apply. Employees who believe they have been discharged on the grounds of race, irrelevant disabilities, gender, color, religion, age, medical conditions, marital or family status, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation may retain employment lawyers to represent them and to assert their rights against the employer.
Class and Collective Action Defense
When multiple employees are seeking action, things can become complex. If they are wage and hour disputes, damages can be costly, not to mention the negative press. We are adept at managing these cases to control your exposure and reach a prompt and favorable result.
Significantly, discrimination and discriminatory practices are among the most recurrent topics in American employment law. One of the most important statutes in this area is the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under this law, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against any person, whether in recruitment, hiring, promotion, or firing (discharge) on the basis of legally recognized, protected, and immutable (unchangeable) categories that have no bearing upon the ability of a job candidate or of a worker to perform a job. These categories include a person’s race, gender, color, religion, age, medical conditions, marital or family status, ethnic origin, and sexual orientation. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination based on physical difference factors unrelated to the job description (for example, a person in a wheelchair who applies for a bookkeeper’s job). People who believe that they have been subjected to unfair or discriminatory treatment can hire an employment lawyer to represent them in claims against the employer for damages (payments of money) or reinstatement (restoring a former job or salary level).
Occupational Health and Safety
The right to a safe and healthy working environment—is another focus for employment attorneys. Under the federal Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1970, companies and employers are required to provide employees and workers with an environment free from recognized hazards, such as exposure to toxins, excessive noise levels, mechanical dangers, heat or cold stress, or unsanitary conditions. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA) is the federal agency tasked with enforcing this law. Employment attorneys represent both companies and workers in claims of unsafe practices, and any injuries or even deaths that may occur as a result.
Employment attorneys work both in and out of court. For example, the work of negotiating, or drafting contracts, does not involve going to court at all. It is also possible for employment lawyers to assist workers and businesses in settlement of various disputes without any need to file a lawsuit. On the other hand, employment lawyers can pursue litigation—filing a lawsuit (bringing legal action).