Employment laws can have a wide-ranging impact on your company. As an employer, you must be aware of laws pertaining to several things. These things include wages and hours, healthcare, discrimination, retaliation and harassment, employment contracts, hiring and firing, workplace safety, & so on.
Employer lawyers assist companies in avoiding legal issues arising related to these employment laws. If your company is dealing with any of the following situations, it may be beneficial to consult with an employer defense attorney regarding employment law.
In this extensive blog, we’re going to shed light on the ten major situations in which you need assistance from an employment attorney. Setting priorities for legal counsel in these situations is more than a precaution; it is a strategic investment in your company’s long-term viability and success.
So, why wait? Let’s take a deep look at each situation to gain in-depth insights.
On this page
- Situation #1 — When You’re Hiring for a New Position
- Situation #2 — When You Want to Sign an Employment Contract
- Situation #3 — When You’ve to Establish Employment Policies & Create an Employee Handbook
- Situation #4 — When You Want to Terminate an Employee
- Situation #5 — When an Employee Has Sued You
- Situation #6 — When You Decide to Sue an Employee
- Situation #7 — When an employee has made an administrative complaint.
- Situation #8 — When You’ve to Respond to Internal Employee Complaints
- Situation #9 — When You’ve to Lay Off Employees
- Situation #10 — When You Make Changes to Your Policies or Employee Benefits
- Representation in legal and administrative proceedings
- Final Words
Situation #1 — When You’re Hiring for a New Position
Different kinds of positions are subject to different employment rules. When establishing a new position, it is essential to classify the role correctly.
For instance, an employee’s freedom from overtime, breaks, and other regulations imposed by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act may or may not be exempt based on the job description, pay scale, and mode of payment. Also, specific rules determine whether someone is classified as an independent contractor rather than an employee.
Misclassifying a role can result in significant financial consequences. An employment attorney can assist you in understanding the rules that relate to you and ensure that you comply.
Situation #2 — When You Want to Sign an Employment Contract
There are several situations in which you may desire to sign a contract with an employee. When you have a highly competent employee or an employee with a unique skill set, you may give specific protections or assurances as an incentive for them to work for you.
Non-solicitation, non-compete, or non-disclosure agreements may also be necessary if your employees have unique access to client lists, trade secrets, or other sensitive details.
Any time you sign a contract with an employee, you should have a lawyer draft or review it to ensure that your interests are protected. These agreements must include clear language that anticipates various future circumstances. Without a legal answering service, trying to draw up an effective contract could result in future expensive litigation.
Situation #3 — When You’ve to Establish Employment Policies & Create an Employee Handbook
Having established employment policies in an employee handbook is usually a smart idea. It can protect you from legal action and help set expectations for your employees. You can craft policies and a handbook that complies with all applicable state and federal legislation with the assistance of an employment lawyer.
Policies that outline your obligations to your employees and set restrictions on your liabilities may also fall under this handbook. It’s an excellent move to have an employer attorney review your handbook for legal issues, even if you decide to write it yourself.
Situation #4 — When You Want to Terminate an Employee
In the U.S., an employer may terminate an employee for any reason at all or at any point for any legal reason. However, you cannot lawfully terminate an employee:
- For a discriminatory motive, such as their ethnicity, religion, or gender.
- Because they have used or are about to claim benefits that they are legally entitled to, including Family Medical Leave or Workers’ Compensation;
- Reasons for termination may include retaliation, such as filing a harassment complaint or violation of an employment contract.
If you are concerned about terminating an employee, an employer attorney can help you understand the process and advise you on how to proceed while limiting monetary liability.
Situation #5 — When an Employee Has Sued You
If an employee has sued or threatened to sue you, you should contact an employment lawyer immediately. There is not much time to waste, especially if you have received a legal complaint. A complaint gives you a limited amount of time to respond.
Suppose you fail to do so; you may lose many of your rights to properly defend against the employee’s allegations in a court of law. An attorney can assist you in meeting all deadlines and filing a response that protects your defenses.
Even if legal action has not yet begun, an employment attorney can assist you in negotiating with the employee’s lawyer and trying to get a settlement without incurring extensive costs.
Situation #6 — When You Decide to Sue an Employee
Lawsuit from dissatisfied employees is a major problem for employers. Are you aware that there are times when you may need to sue an employee or former employee to protect your company’s interests?
You can have a cause of action against an employee for reasons such as:
- Breach of employment contracts, non-compete, non-solicitation, or non-disclosure agreements.
- Tortious interference in your business connections.
- Indemnification for losses you must pay for an employee’s negligence;
- Breach of obligation of loyalty, or
- Theft or destruction of business property.
If an employee has done something that harms your business, you should consult with an employment lawyer about what you can do.
Situation #7 — When an employee has made an administrative complaint.
There are numerous federal and state regulations in place to protect employees against harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and unlawful labor practices. Each of these regulations provides a mechanism for employees to file administrative complaints in order to find solutions. This way, you won’t need to be worried about how to protect yourself from discrimination in workplace; you need
It’s crucial to speak with an employment attorney if one of your former or current employees has made an administrative complaint. They can provide you with advice on how to defend yourself against allegations and how to cooperate with any investigations. In an administrative hearing, they can also represent you.
Situation #8 — When You’ve to Respond to Internal Employee Complaints
In many cases, employees try to address concerns with their employer before turning to legal or administrative action. In fact, several regulations require employees to do so before they can seek such remedies.
If you get an internal complaint of harassment or discrimination, or if an employee raises any other concern that may have legal implications, you should speak with an employment attorney to determine the best way to address the concern.
You may need to implement new policies, discuss the matter with management, or take action against certain employees. An attorney can assist you in determining which steps are appropriate for your specific situation.
Situation #9 — When You’ve to Lay Off Employees
The majority of employers find themselves in the disappointing but sometimes necessary situation of having to lay off employees. Depending on the number of employees you are laying off, the size of your company, and its location, you may be essential to follow specific federal or state layoff rules.
These rules may mandate you to provide a specific amount of notice or even offer severance compensation or ongoing health benefits for some time. An employer attorney can help you determine what rules apply to your circumstance.
Situation #10 — When You Make Changes to Your Policies or Employee Benefits
Seeking legal advice from an employment attorney is an effective move before making any changes to the benefits you provide to employees or introducing new policies. Since there are so many laws and regulations pertaining to employment, it is easy to run afoul of them.
An attorney can assist you in ensuring that your new policies are compliant and that any changes you make do not violate employee rights.
Representation in legal and administrative proceedings
Lawsuits — If a current or former employee sues you, contact an employment lawyer immediately. Employment litigation can be extremely complex. You must take specific actions promptly to protect your rights and preserve evidence that may be used in court.
The time frame for taking action is extremely limited; many courts need you to file a formal, legal response to a lawsuit within a few weeks. As soon as you get notice of a lawsuit against you, start searching for a lawyer.
Claims and complaints — Sometimes, a current or former employee starts an aggressive process other than a lawsuit. For instance, an employee may file an administrative charge of discrimination, retaliation, or harassment with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or a similar state agency.
Alternatively, a former employee may appeal the denial of unemployment benefits, which in several states allows the employee to request a hearing.
Navigating the complex landscape of employment laws is a crucial aspect of running a successful and legally compliant business. Consulting with an employment attorney in various situations can save your company from potential legal pitfalls and financial repercussions.
Whether you’re hiring for a new position, establishing employment policies, terminating an employee, or dealing with internal complaints, legal assistance is a must.
From addressing administrative complaints to handling layoffs and contract negotiations, seeking legal advice ensures — your company works well within the bounds of the law. Also, protecting both your business interests and the rights of your employees.
Working with an employment lawyer becomes an essential strategy for proactive risk management and preserving an inviting workplace in an ever-changing legal environment.