Firing an employee
Not every personnel decision carries the potential for a lawsuit, but if you suspect the person you want to fire for misconduct or poor performance might have a complaint against you, an employment lawyer can help minimize your risk. Some cases where you might want to consult a lawyer include:
- The employee is covered by an employment contract.
- The employee is soon to be vested in a stock plan or retirement account.
- The employee is a member of a protected class, such as a pregnant woman, a person with a disability, or a religious minority.
- The employee has access to trade secrets or valuable proprietary information.
- The employee believes the firing is in retaliation for whistleblowing.
- The employee has complained about harassment or discrimination, or filed a complaint against you.
In many cases, it‘s also a good idea to have a lawyer look at any proposed severance packages, especially for high-level employees.
It's essential to classify positions correctly to avoid facing huge fines, back pay and overtime pay, and legal penalties. A lawyer or law firm can help you identify which positions are exempt versus non-exempt, and whether a work relationship is that of an independent contractor (a non-employee who works on a contract basis) or an employee. Employee handbooks, policies, and procedures It's a good idea to have a lawyer review your office policies, procedures, and employee handbooks to make sure you don't violate any employment laws. A lawyer can ensure you meet requirements for wages, overtime, and family medical leave, among others.
Lawsuits and complaints
If one of your employees has filed a harassment or discrimination complaint against you with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or other state agency, or if you are the subject of a lawsuit by a disgruntled employee, contact a lawyer immediately. Even for lesser claims, such as appealing a denial of unemployment or worker's comp benefits, you may still want to consult your lawyer. This is especially true if the employee has their own attorney.
Contact Barbas Cremer to begin your objective investigation and to protect the company from liability.