Legal Guide

When to Hire a Lawyer for Issues at Work

There was already a myriad of employment laws that were stressing employers, before COVID-19 rules added to the number. Employment laws guard the relationship between employers and employees. They also protect employees’ interests.

As an employee who wants to know your rights in the workplace, you must familiarize yourself with employment laws. If you are an employer, all your operations, documentation, and general work conduct must be lawful to avoid employee lawsuits. Most times, all these goals are difficult to achieve without an employment lawyer.

Who is an Employment Lawyer?

An employment lawyer is an attorney who specializes in employment law. He or she can offer legal counsel to an afflicted employee or employer. They can also help employers create documentation and make decisions regarding employment that are consistent with the law.

When to Hire an Employment Lawyer: Employers

As an employer, you may have trouble keeping up with the numerous federal and state employment laws and regulations. Luckily, you do not have to wade through documentation, deal with conflicts, or wonder if you have already violated some employee rights. You can hire a lawyer when you need:

  • Representation in a legal or administrative suit

If an employee has filed a case against you, call a lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney will help you preserve evidence and prepare a formal response within set deadlines.

  • Representation in collective bargaining negotiations

A collective bargaining agreement (CBA) happens between an employer and a labor union.  These negotiations involve discussions on workers’ wages, work benefits, and working conditions. Hire an employment attorney who understands the ins and outs of a CBA, especially when you cannot reach a consensus with a labor union.

  • Legal counsel before laying off employees

If you want to lay an employee off, a lawyer can help you determine if the termination will be lawful. He or she can also advise you on how to reduce the chances of a lawsuit.

  • To draft or review employee documentation

Employment contracts and employee handbooks are a must-have in every business. These documents contain company information and detail expected employee conduct.  A lawyer can help you draft both a compliant contract and handbook. If you already have these in place and want to know if you have prepared these documents in accordance with the law, you can hire a lawyer to review them.

When to Hire an Employment Lawyer: Employers

It’s challenging to find a job in 2020. There are more candidates than there are jobs, which may make you feel powerless against unethical employers.

The good news is that you have a say right from the recruitment process. You can hire an employment lawyer to help you claim your rights. Some of the instances when an employment attorney comes handy are:

  • Following an illegal termination

Any termination that violates the employment contract is unlawful. Some recent cases of illegal termination relate to pregnancy and discrimination and unequal pay (also a form of discrimination).

In a 2013 case, the court awarded Kourtney Liggins, a former catholic teacher, $3.75 million as compensation for wrongful termination. While the company claimed to have fired her due to her poor work ethic, it later found out that the real reason behind her dismissal was an out-of-wedlock pregnancy.

  • When your employer forces you to sign off your rights

Employers are increasingly pushing their employees to sign a release (sign off their rights to sue after termination). At times, an employer can threaten you with termination if you refuse to sign a release. Some of these releases are narrow, meaning that you waive your right to sue a company in certain events. Others are broad, where you give up your rights to sue in any and every situation.

Always consult an employment law attorney before you sign a release. You might be signing your life away without knowing it.

  • In cases of workplace harassment

There are more than ten types of harassment that you can experience at the workplace. Two of the most common ones are:

  • Discrimination based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or otherwise
  • Physical, verbal, or sexual harassment

An example of how verbal misconduct can create a workplace harassment claim was the case of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Golden Corral’s parent company, Jax, LLC. An assistant manager at Jax, LLC, harassed an autistic employee by calling him names like “stupid” and “retard” and even went on to demand oral sex. 

EEOC won the case which the defendant settled at $85,000.

Hiring a Lawyer for Issues at Work

Both employers and employees must understand employment laws. As an employer, this helps you to steer clear of violating your employees’ rights. If you know the law as an employee, you can prevent an employer from violating your rights. When in conflict, consult or hire an employment lawyer.

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