Even the most conscientious employer may require the assistance of a lawyer from time to time. Although one can handle most employment issues easily, some are particularly difficult and will necessitate a lawyer’s help.
Employment law is subject to rapid change. Every day, courts and government agencies issue new opinions interpreting these laws, sometimes completely contradicting what everyone assumed the law meant.
When you consider that lawsuits former employees bring can result in massive damages against their employer, it is easy to understand why you should seek legal counsel if you find yourself in over your head.
Read on to learn why.
A lawyer can assist you in making difficult decisions regarding your employees. If you are concerned that a worker will sue, you should seek legal counsel before firing them for misconduct, poor performance, or other bad behaviour. A lawyer can advise you on whether terminating the employee is legal and how to reduce the risk of a lawsuit.
Think about having a lawyer review your firing decision when:
- The employee presents an employment contract (written or oral) that limits your right to fire them.
- The employee states they have an implied employment contract that restricts your right to fire them.
- Benefits, stock options, or retirement funds are about to vest for the employee.
- The employee filed a complaint or claim with a government agency or has complained to you about illegal or unethical workplace behaviour.
- The employee filed a discrimination or harassment complaint.
- Firing the employee would drastically alter the demographics of your workplace.
- The employee disclosed that they belong to a protected class, such as being pregnant, disabled, or practising a particular religion.
- You’re worried about the worker’s propensity for violence, vandalism, or sabotage.
- The employee has access to high-level trade secrets or competitive information at your company.
- Even after an investigation, the employee denies committing the acts they are being fired for doing.
- The employee has retained the services of a lawyer to represent them in dealings with you.
Legal and Administrative Procedures
Claims and Complaints
A current or former employee may initiate an adversarial process other than a lawsuit. For example, an employee may file an administrative charge alleging discrimination, retaliation, or harassment. Alternatively, a former employee may file an appeal against the denial of unemployment benefits, allowing them to request a hearing in court.
In these cases, you should, at the very least, consult a lawyer. You will benefit from legal counsel on the strength of the employee’s claim, preparing a response to the charge, handling an agency investigation, and presenting evidence at the hearing.
If your current or former employee sues you, consult with an attorney right away. Employment lawsuits can be extremely complicated, so you must take specific actions immediately.
It ensures that your rights are protected, and evidence is preserved, which you may use in court. Some courts will oblige you to file a formal response to a lawsuit within a few weeks. Get in touch with a lawyer as soon as you receive a case.
Agreements and Contracts
A lawyer can go over records that you regularly use with your employees, including contracts, severance agreements, or releases. An employment lawyer can review your contracts to ensure to include all of the required legal terms that a court will enforce.
If you have any language that may cause problems later, or if you go above and beyond what the law requires, a lawyer can bring these issues to your attention. They can also advise you on when to use these contracts.
For example, you may not want to pay severance to every departing employee or enter into an employment contract with every new one.
Policies and Handbooks
You can also hire a lawyer to conduct a thorough legal review of your employee handbook or personnel policies. To begin with, they can ensure that your policies do not violate any laws, such as those governing overtime pay, family leave, final paychecks, or occupational safety and health, to name a few.
A lawyer can look for language that may imply unintended obligations to your employees. Moreover, they may advise you to consider additional policies.
Hiring a skilled lawyer is a great way to prevent employment problems from turning into major issues, further protecting your enterprise and its reputation, which took you a long time to build.
If you need the services of an employment lawyer in Brisbane, turn to Saines Legal. We have a team of lawyers experienced and knowledgeable in all areas of employment law. Give us a call today.