Employment Law Information Center
At Robert A. Klingler Co., L.P.A., we devote a significant portion of our practice to the representation of employees in disputes with their employers. We welcome inquiries from employees in any industry or employment setting, but we focus particularly on the concerns of executive and professional employees. We evaluate employment contracts, severance packages, non-compete agreements, and more. From negotiating contracts to handling employment discrimination claims of sexual harassment, race discrimination, age discrimination, and cases of wrongful discharge, we have experience handling virtually every type of employment law issue you may encounter.
Employment Law, Employee – An Overview
Employment law covers the relationships between employers and their employees, as well as their potential employees and former employees. Both federal and state laws control various aspects of the employer-employee relationship, and each side’s rights and obligations. Because of the complexity of the employment relationship, this area of law involves issues as diverse as discrimination claims and record-keeping, taxation and workplace safety.
There are also different types of employment relationships. Employment relationships can be based on a contract, or they can be “at-will.” If the employment relationship is based on a valid contract entered into by the employer and the employee, the terms of that contract will govern the relationship. By contrast, an at-will employment arrangement can be terminated at any time, with or without reason, by either the employer (as long as the reason does not constitute illegal discrimination) or the employee.
With all these factors to consider, it is clear why employment law is such a complex area. If you have an employment law concern, contact an experienced employment law attorney who can provide sound advice and skilled representation in a range of workplace-related matters.
Independent contractors perform compensated work for businesses and individuals, but they are not considered to be employees. This non-employment relationship is based on an oral or written agreement between the business and the independent contractor. This contract may provide specific standards for the work product and establish the pay rate for that work. Businesses that hire independent contractors generally do not withhold federal or state income taxes or Social Security taxes from payments to independent contractors, and they do not maintain unemployment or workers’ compensation insurance for those workers. Most independent contractors, therefore, need to make their own quarterly tax payments.
Independent contractors are usually paid by the project, rather than by the hour. Independent contractors have a higher degree of control over the way they work, and they have the ability to contract with a range of businesses. They do not, however, receive many of the legal protections that employees enjoy. If you are a business or a worker involved in or considering an independent contractor arrangement, you should learn the legal consequences. Contact an experienced employment law attorney to discuss your situation.
Privacy Issues at Work
Technology is a boon to business, but it also raises complicated issues of privacy in the workplace. The vast majority of businesses use computers, and technology has enabled employers to monitor nearly every aspect of workplace communications involving employees’ computer and telephone usage. Indeed, many companies take advantage of technology to monitor their employees’ use of the Internet and e-mail. When an employee has a reasonable expectation of privacy, however, such as with a physical space like a locked office, the employee may receive privacy protection. Drug testing by an employer, on the other hand, when the testing is reasonable and not a highly offensive intrusion, is usually acceptable. To help you determine what is and is not private in the workplace, contact an employment lawyer to discuss the validity of your company’s privacy policies and procedures.
Unions exist for the sole purpose of representing the interests of workers, especially in collective bargaining with employers. Collective bargaining is the process of negotiation between the employer and the labor union representatives to determine the key conditions of employment. The result of these efforts is the collective bargaining agreement. This collective bargaining agreement is a contract that is the starting place for resolving conflicts between the employer and its employees. Collective bargaining and union organization is governed by the federal National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). If you are organizing a workplace or engaging in collective bargaining from either side of the table, contact a labor lawyer for experienced counsel on union issues.
The Hiring Process
Applicants for employment positions have rights whether or not they become employees. Under federal law, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate in its hiring process based on race, national origin, gender, pregnancy, age, disability or religion. State and local laws may specify additional protected classes based on categories such as sexual orientation. Employers must abide by anti-discrimination laws at each stage of the hiring process, from placing the ad to interviewing and the final selection of the candidate. There are few exceptions to these rules, but an employer may discriminate on some bases if a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) exists. A BFOQ can be based on a reasonable and necessary job requirement, but this is a narrow exception. If you are concerned about discrimination in hiring, contact an employment lawyer to discuss your situation.
Employment Law, Employee Resource Links
United States Department of Labor
This Web site is for the United States Department of Labor, which provides information for workers, employers and unions.
Wage and Hour Division
This page contains information regarding enforcement of federal labor laws, including minimum wage, child labor and overtime standards set out under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA).
The Contract Employee’s Handbook
This resource contains information to assist independent contractors with management of their careers.
Contact us to learn more about our employment law and employment litigation services.
Business Litigation Information Center
Business Litigation – An Overview
When considering litigation, a business owner should be aware of his or her options. In addition to the courtroom, there are other forums that might be appropriate, depending on the specific needs of the business. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR), described below, may be a desirable alternative to litigation or, if the cause of action is of an eligible size, small-claims court may be another venue for an owner to consider. Class actions may also be utilized by a business in certain circumstances. Additionally, business owners must understand the basic features of class actions, in the event that they are named as defendants.
A business contemplating bringing or defending a lawsuit would be well served by consulting with a seasoned trial attorney to better understand all of the legal options.
In the event your business becomes involved in litigation, knowledge of courtroom procedure is essential. Courtroom procedure can be complicated, and knowing what to expect can enable a business to prepare effectively. In addition, state and federal law govern procedural issues; depending on the jurisdiction and the specific court involved, there may be notable procedural differences. If you are faced with litigation involving a business transaction or any aspect of your business, a lawyer can provide additional assistance and counsel regarding your jurisdiction, court, and possible legal options for your situation. A business lawyer is an excellent resource for information regarding litigation and courtroom procedure.
Business Litigation – Appeals
An appeal is an official request for a higher court to review a trial court decision based on alleged error of procedure or alleged error in application of the law. In civil cases, including business litigation, this may occur immediately following a decision on a motion or at the end of a trial. The ability to appeal and the timing of an appeal depends on the court rules and laws of the relevant jurisdiction. In the realm of business litigation, the appeals court scrutinizes the lower court decision to determine whether to uphold, reverse, or modify it. If you have questions about business litigation, it may be advantageous to consult with a business trial attorney.
Class action lawsuits are brought by named plaintiffs, usually one or two, whose alleged injuries are the same as those of a large number of other parties. The plaintiffs do not have to be individuals; businesses may also be class plaintiffs. The purpose of a class action is to combine many similar causes of action. The cause of the common injury could be from any number of sources, such as from violations of federal regulations, product defects, securities fraud, or environmental issues. When multiple plaintiffs with similar claims are involved, litigating each case individually would be expensive and time consuming. A class action suit allows for a combined effort, potentially saving litigation costs and time spent in preparation for and in court.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
In some instances, a business may want to avoid a complicated and expensive courtroom battle by using instead an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) method. ADR is a way to resolve legal issues without going to court. The two most frequently used forms of ADR, described below, are arbitration and mediation.
Business Litigation Resource Links
Cornell University School of Law
This site provides general information about the judicial process, courtroom procedures, and various legal topics.
National Mediation Board
This government site provides public information on the topic of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), particularly focusing on mediation. Although the site is specific to federal law, it is a good general source of ADR information.
Official United States Government Website
This is a good resource for official federal government information. There are links to the federal and state court systems.
Contact us to learn how we can assist you in reaching your goals in your commercial and business litigation matters.