When To Call A Lawyer

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Lawyer's Hammer

You are a business owner and employ several employees.  It’s very important that you understand your rights and your responsibilities towards your employees. You want to avoid situations and protect yourself at the same time but do you really need a lawyer?  What kind of issues would cause you to have to call one?  Sometimes it’s something as simple as going over your policies and employee handbook.  You can make sure that you aren’t violating any laws regarding overtime pay, family leave, and final paychecks.  There may even be additional policies you may not have even considered. An attorney can go over any contracts or agreements you have with your employees. These could simply be employment contracts, severance agreements, and releases.  They can check to make sure that all the necessary legal terms are included that will be enforced by a court.

 

What about when you have to fire an employee?  Are there any legal issues with that?  You may want legal advice if you’re firing an employee for misconduct, problems with their performance or any other undesirable behavior.  You can find out what steps to take to minimize a lawsuit against you for illegal termination.  You could also have an employee that may believe you have an implied employment contract stating you can’t fire them.  Also if an employee has accounts, benefits, stock options or retirement money that is due to vest that could be a potential problem for you.

 

Some other potential reasons you could need legal advice are the following:

 

  • If the employee has filed a complaint against you of illegal or unethical activity in your business.
  • If the employee is pregnant, has a disability, or practices a particular religion, they are under a protected class.
  • If the worker has had frequent absences.  This could be tricky because it could be covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • If the employee has hired a lawyer and is making serious claims which could result in a large damage suit against you.
  • If a former employee appeals a denial of unemployment benefits
  • If a former employee files a discrimination lawsuit against you and your company

 

You should also see an attorney if you have any employment decisions that will affect a large number of your employees.  If you’re planning on changing the pension plan or have to lay off workers, talking to an attorney first would be a wise thing to do. This way you can avoid any legal pitfalls.

 

If you are given notice of a lawsuit filed against you by a former employee, action needs to be taken. This is something that needs an attorney’s attention immediately!  If you wait, your rights as an employer may not be protected and evidence that could be helpful to you could be lost.  There is a very short period of time for taking action and as soon as you’re notified, you need to do something about it.  Some states require you to file a legal response within a few weeks.

 

So, as you can see, there are times when you do and should hire a lawyer.  It’s better to be safe than sorry.

 

What reasons have you used a lawyer in business?  I’ll like to hear from you.

 

 

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