Scenarios in Which Employers Need an Employment Lawyer
Employment law is continually evolving, with the legislature issuing new opinions and interpretations of the law every day. While minor corrections and updates of the law are common, things become difficult when the court overturns any one of the major statutes. In such scenarios, it becomes essential to obtain services of a competent employment lawyer especially if you are an employer. Although most employment matters are pretty much easy to deal with, there are issues, which are particularly tricky and require legal expertise. In this post, we take a closer look at some of the scenarios in which employers require the services of an employment lawyer. Take a look.
Advice on employment decisions
In cases where there is a chance that an employee could sue, you must consider getting legal advice before firing an employee for misconduct, poor performance, or overall negative behaviour. An employment lawyer can not only tell you whether the worker’s termination will be legal but also help you take necessary steps to minimize the risk of any potential claim. Here are few scenarios in which you should consider seeking advice from a lawyer to review your decision to fire:
- The worker has a written or oral employment contract that curtails your right to fire;
- The employee may believe that he or she has an implied employment contract;
- The employee has benefits, retirement money or stock options that are due investing shortly
- The employee recently filed an unfair dismissal claim with a government agency or complained to you of unethical activity in the workplace;
- The employee recently filed a complaint of harassment or discrimination;
- The employee recently revealed that he or she is in a protected class (the employee is pregnant, practices a particular religion or has a disability);
- Firing the employee would drastically change the demography of your workplace;
- You are worried about the employee's potential for vandalism, violence or sabotage;
- The employee has access to your company's important trade secrets or competitive information;
- The employee completely denies committing the acts for which you are firing him or her, even after an investigation;
- You are firing the employee for taking excessive leaves of absence (if you are concerned that the leaves may be covered by any legislative ruling) ;
- The employee has hired a lawyer to represent him or her in all further interactions with you.
Issues pertaining to employee classifications can largely affect your workforce and potentially create an increased liability. Therefore, prior to classifying a particular position as exempt or non-exempt or marking a group of individuals as independent contractors rather than employees, you should discuss the same with a lawyer. Any misclassification can later come with a hefty price tag, which may include penalties for multiple employees and several years of unpaid overtime.
You may also require the services of a lawyer to review any decision that will affect a significant number of employees. In cases, wherein you are planning to lay off some employees, change your existing pension plan or discontinue an employee benefit, it would be a smart move to run your plans by an employment lawyer before implementation. The lawyer can advise you about the potential legal pitfalls that you might face and help you avoid them.
Representation in legislative proceedings
Complaints and Claims
There are situations in which an existing or former employee may initiate some adversarial process rather than a full-fledged claim. For example, he or she might file an administrative charge of discrimination, harassment, or denial of unemployment benefits, with the Employment Tribunal.
In addition, having a competent no win no fee lawyer to represent you in a court of law is a huge asset. Therefore, in these scenarios, you should consult a reputable employment lawyer before taking any action. The lawyer can provide legal advice on the strength of the claim, how to handle an agency investigation, how to prepare a response to the charges and how to present evidence at the proceedings. Such scenarios may include:
- The employee presses serious claims that could result in a large damage compensation;
- Other former or existing employees have made similar allegations, either within the workplace or to the agency;
- The employee has indicated to file a claim (in this situation, the employee could only be leveraging the administrative proceedings to collect evidence against you).
Employment claims can be very complex and financially draining. There are actions that you need to make immediately, thus protecting your rights and also preserving evidence. Usually, the allotted time frame for taking action is quite short, many courts need you to file a formal, legal response to a lawsuit within just a few weeks.
Policies and handbooks
You can also ask a lawyer to thoroughly review your personnel policies and employee handbook and check whether they are legally relevant. First, an employment lawyer can help you ensure that your policies do not violate any laws regarding family leave, overtime pay, final pay checks or occupational safety and health, among other aspects of employment. The lawyer can also check for any language that might create unintentional obligations towards your employees.
Contracts and agreements
Having a competent employment lawyer by your side, you can easily review and troubleshoot all employment-related agreements that you have in place to handle your workers. Employment agreements like employment contracts, releases or severance agreements need to be air-tight and comprehensive to nullify any loopholes. The lawyer can help you check your contracts to ensure that they contain all the essential legal terms and are enforceable by law.
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