When you start a business, the first thought is usually not about if you need a lawyer who specializes in employment law. You usually concentrate on the products or services you offer to your customers and the type of employees you need. However, there are times when you will want an employment lawyer on staff, or at least on call for when you need one. Employment law can be incredibly complex, and your HR person can’t always handle all situations. Read on to learn some of the scenarios where you must call an employment lawyer.
1. A Government Agency Shows Up
If you ever have a government representative show up and ask to see records, you need to say, “Please have a seat while I call my attorney.” Call your employment lawyer and do exactly what he or she says. You might not think you have anything to hide, but that doesn’t mean you want to give them free reign with your employee files without asking your lawyer first.
2. To Write Your Handbook
You can write your handbook yourself with policies you want to follow, but you will need to have it looked over by an attorney to ensure everything in it can be legally followed, and that it doesn’t inadvertently create contracts with your employees you don’t want. You also don’t want policies that are illegal to enforce.
3. You Need to Terminate an Employee
As an employer you must follow employment law when it comes to firing employees. There are many situations to consider, and many possible legal violations, so you should check with a lawyer before firing anyone. For example, if you fire Jim for showing up for work late three days in a row, even after being spoken to and maybe written up for the previous infractions, you might think firing Jim is cut-and-dried.
However, if you didn’t fire Sarah for doing the same thing, Jim can claim gender discrimination, and he might win in court. Always check with your lawyer, because he or she can go over past practices and make sure you’re not doing something illegal or ill-advised.
4. An Employee Complains of Harassment
In some cases, the wrong in a harassment claim is easy to fix. Other times, it’s not. If you have a harassment complaint that isn’t obviously straightforward, you need an employment lawyer. What, on the surface, appears to be “just a joke,” is sometimes evidence of long-term discrimination. One way to protect yourself is to ensure your policies and procedures are laid out before you ever get a complaint. These will help protect you in the event of complaints while your employment lawyer determines the best way to handle the illegal harassment or discrimination complaint.
5. You’re Served Legal Papers
Don’t ever think you can handle the situation by yourself if you’re served with legal papers. Don’t make a legal mistake when it’s an easy call to make to your employment lawyer to go over the papers and give you advice. You don’t want to lose a case over a technicality that would have been easily prevented by a lawyer.
6. You Need to Lay People Off
Like firing an employee, layoffs should be easy and simple, but there are laws you need to follow. There are rules regarding severance, how your employees may sue, and if you have the right to have employees sign clauses in exchange for severance packages.
It’s best to develop a business relationship with an employment lawyer before you need one.This can benefit you when you need advice with one of the above scenarios.