Common sense is no longer a reliable guide for making employment decisions and ensuring legal compliance. It is not a reliable guide because the current set of highly complex and often conflicting laws often run directly counter to common sense and common experience. We know the laws and we know what it is like to manage people and operations. Our lawyers have real life work experience outside of law, including extensive experience in managing people and businesses. As a result, we provide clients with practical and effective solutions which eliminate the potential liabilities.
Wage and Hour Compliance
Compliance with the laws governing the hours employees may work and the payment of wages and benefits requires an understanding of federal, state and local law. Unfortunately, these laws have thousands of technical requirements, many of which are contrary to “industry practices.” Moreover, California law provides lucrative incentives for employees and their attorneys to find violations and file class action lawsuits. We know the details and nuances in the law and have extensive experience making the law work for clients. Through audits and employee-specific advice, we make sure clients avoid mistakes and cut off exposure to liability.
Managing Medical Issues
Employee medical issues often require the simultaneous application of five distinct areas of law; workers’ compensation law, disability discrimination law, leave law, privacy law and contract law. The applicable law may be federal, state or local. In many instances it is a complex combination of them all. The potential for making an honest mistake and stepping on a landmine is extremely high even for a knowledgeable employer. We are experts in providing advice on how to manage employee medical issues without violating the law and without undue hardship on operational efficiency.
Managing Leaves of Absence
Employees in California have the legal right to more time off from work for more reasons than employees in any other state. The dizzying array of laws include time off to vote; for medical issues; to care for family; to serve in the military; to serve the community; as a crime victim; to learn to read; to recover from addictions; for jury duty; to bond with children; to attend the school functions of a child; and to donate organs. Moreover, each form of protected leave under the law carries with it detailed regulations and employer mandates. We are leave law experts, and we know how to plan and document leaves in a way that virtually eliminates the potential for liability.
Responding to Complaints of Harassment
California employers have specific duties when it comes to complaints of unlawful harassment. Most employers are not familiar with all the specifics, and they do not receive enough complaints to become skilled at responding. This can lead to mistakes that increase exposure and prolong litigation. We regularly analyze complaints of harassment that come from a wide variety of situations. Moreover, we know employment litigation. This gives us the ability to provide unparalleled guidance on resolving the complaint efficiently, and at the same time, ensuring that “bad evidence” and liability will not arise out of the response.
Drug and Alcohol Testing
In many industries dealing with employees under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a daily occurrence. In others, it is more sporadic, but no less difficult. Employers who test for drugs and alcohol must navigate a variety of state and federal laws. We know the laws and how to navigate them in the most effective and efficient ways. We assist clients in the development of testing programs and the communications and documentation related to the testing.
Development of Employment Policies
Employment policies can be the make-or-break piece of evidence in an employment claim. Properly constructed policies can virtually eliminate some common claims. Policies and employee handbook templates are available for a wide variety of sources. Many are available at no cost. Many are also worse than no good. In order to serve their function of improving operations and minimizing exposure, employment policies must fit the employer’s unique circumstances and must be written with the knowledge of how the words will be used in litigation. We are experts in the development of polices that give clients the greatest flexibility and freedom of operation while protecting the client to the fullest. That is no small task, and something that many human resource and legal professionals simply cannot do.
Contracts and Agreements
We have extensive experience in drafting a wide variety of agreements applicable to the employment relationship. We know contract law and the particular nuances applicable to the employment relationship. As a result, clients receive agreements that serve the desired purpose without unnecessary delay or cost.
The existence of an employment agreement does not eliminate employment disputes or litigation. In fact, a poorly conceived and written agreement will increase the potential for a dispute and litigation; the exact opposite of what it is supposed to do. Legalese and fancy language does not increase the value of an agreement. On the other hand, precise wording and careful consideration of contract law is critical in achieving the desired result. We know how to achieve the proper balance.
Confidentiality & Trade Secret Agreements
Maintaining the confidentiality of information can be critical. Release or misuse of proprietary information can be devastating. Release or misuse of private information can result in costly litigation. Unfortunately, California law does not favor employers in the protection of their interests. It is therefore critical to know the details of the law and have extensive experience in developing agreements that work. We do.
Severance agreements can be used for numerous purposes including ending the employment relationship on a positive note and eliminating the possibility of costly litigation. Achieving the desired effect of the agreement requires knowledge of multiple areas of law and careful drafting. We know how to make agreements that work and how to counsel clients in using them.
Agreements between employers and employees can take many forms and serve many purposes. The law permits some agreements and prohibits others. We have drafted all kinds of agreements to serve our clients’ interests from employee loan agreements to on-duty meal period agreements to relocation expense reimbursement and recapture agreements. We listen to clients and use our knowledge of the law to create agreements that achieve the desired result.