Areas of Employment Law
What is EMPLOYMENT Law?
Your rights and obligations in the workplace are governed by a variety of federal, state and local laws. As a result, good legal advice is essential to navigating these issues. When problems arise, it can have serious consequences affecting the performance, morale, reputation and livelihood of both parties as well as other employees. Best practice is to consult an attorney to understand what the law requires and how to address disputes promptly. Our attorneys work proactively with clients to minimize conflicts as well as after the fact to resolve problems effectively.
Who We Represent
Our clients include employers of all sizes from small companies to large corporations. In addition, we represent employees, independent contractors and freelancers in contract matters and workplace disputes.
What We Do
Our experienced attorneys can advise you on your legal rights and obligations under state and federal employment laws, including those involving compensation, safe working environments, privacy, discrimination, retaliation and harassment. In addition, we can assist you with transactional matters, such as drafting and/or negotiating agreements involving employment, independent contractors, separation and severance. We also help employers develop appropriate workplace policies and procedures, employee handbooks and training materials.
Under Federal law, employers may not discriminate in the workplace on the basis of age, disability, pregnancy, race, national origin, religion, gender and sexual orientation. This includes treating employees differently in hiring, firing or other terms and conditions of employment or permitting the harassment of employees. Discrimination laws also prohibit employers from implementing a seemingly neutral business policy that has a disparate impact on those within a protected class. If an employee reports or threatens to report discrimination, it is unlawful for employers to retaliate against the employee for asserting their rights. Our attorneys have extensive experience helping employers develop policies to minimize discrimination in the workplace. However, when disputes arise, we are strong advocates on behalf of employers and employees to resolve conflicts effectively.
Many states, New York included, have “at will” employment laws which permit a private-sector employer to terminate an employee for any reason at any given time, absent an employment agreement to the contrary. However, there are exceptions when at will employees cannot be fired or laid off. A wrongful termination claim can be brought if an employer impermissibly or improperly terminates someone’s employment if such termination would constitute discrimination or retaliation. We advise clients on either side of a dispute regarding the laws that apply and advocate on their behalf.
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal statute that requires employers to provide qualifying employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for family or personal medical reasons as well as job protection during the leave period. The law does not apply to all employers or employees and the requirements can be complicated. Our attorneys help clients navigate the rules and minimize potential problems that would interfere with an employee’s rights.
While many individuals are familiar with the concept of minimum wage, employers have a host of obligations under federal, state, and local wage and hour laws. These include rules for exempt and non-exempt employees, overtime calculation, the frequency and manner of payment, wage statements and deductions and other requirements. We advise employers regarding compliance with all laws and represent employers and employees in wage and hour complaints.
There are important distinctions between employees and independent contractors under labor and employment laws. As a result, both workers and employers must understand the rules so that workers receive the benefits to which they are entitled, and employers avoid significant liability for illegally misclassifying employees as independent contractors. We review worker classifications and independent contractor agreements to help ensure compliance with all applicable laws. Furthermore, we advise clients how to address disputes if they arise.
Generally, an offer letter and employment agreement document a new employee’s job duties, compensation, benefits and other factors of the new employment. The purpose is to minimize misunderstandings and future problems in the workplace. As such, we recommend that both sides consult an attorney to draft, negotiate and/or review these documents before signing.
When employees leave a company, there may be concerns about future legal claims. Employers will often give the departing employee a separation or severance agreement to sign wherein the employee receives a benefit package in exchange for waiving his or her right to sue the company. The agreement may also contain non-disparagement and non-compete provisions. We assist employers in drafting appropriate agreements to minimize the risks of a lawsuit. Our attorneys also counsel employees regarding whether it is in their best interest to accept the agreement or attempt to negotiate it.
Every employer should have an employee handbook to ensure employees receive all legally required notices. In addition, it also educates employees regarding company policies, procedures, benefits and expectations. A handbook, when done correctly, may also offer an employer protection in a lawsuit or help establish liability against an employer if poorly drafted. Our firm has extensive experience drafting and updating employee handbooks, so they meet the unique needs of the business.
We can assist you with a number of employment law matters, including:
- Race, gender, sexual orientation, age, pregnancy, religious, disability, and national origin discrimination;
- Wrongful termination;
- Sexual harassment;
- Unequal pay, unpaid overtime or wages, pensions and ERISA violations;
- Breach of employment agreements; and
- Negotiating and reviewing employment contracts or severance agreements.
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