Please note this blog post is written for employers, although we understand it may be of interest to employees as well. At this time, our firm only represents business owners and employers. If you need assistance with a legal matter as an employee, please consult a firm that represents employees.
Employment matters can be tricky.
From hiring and termination decisions to employee disputes and everything in between, there’s no question that human resources departments juggle a variety of complicated issues.
In some cases, however, HR may not have all the answers. And that’s okay! But it’s important to know where to turn when these situations do arise.
“Company HR managers do an amazing job of keeping up with all the details of taking care of the company’s employees. Sometimes they need help understanding how federal and state laws and regulations apply, particularly in unique situations.”HR Attorney Kristi Benson
If you have questions about a particularly complicated employment matter, it might be time to consult with an HR attorney.
BrewerLong is an experienced employment and human resources law firm located in Florida that has the answers you need. Give us a call today to see how we can help you.
If you’re not quite ready to speak with an HR attorney, that’s okay too. In the meantime, here are 6 times when you should consider contacting a human resource attorney for your employment-related legal needs.
1. Hiring Decisions
Before you hire an employee, there are some things you should know.
Many employers don’t realize that legal issues can arise before you even hire an employee. Thus, consulting with a human resource attorney before you begin the hiring process is a great idea. In fact, doing so just might keep you out of hot water in the future.
For example, while asking about an applicant’s age during the interview process might seem harmless, doing so could result in a potential age discrimination claim later on.
Other examples of things you shouldn’t ask a potential job candidate in the hiring process include questions about the applicant’s:
- Sexual orientation,
- Marital status, or
An HR attorney can help you determine what questions are appropriate and which ones are better left unasked.
Another hiring decision that may arise is how to classify a potential worker.
For example, the decision of whether to classify a worker as an independent contractor vs. an employee will impact both the worker’s rights and the employer’s liabilities and expenses. Thus, it is important to know the potential implications before making a decision.
Looking to hire new workers to add to your team can be an exciting process. Nevertheless, you should always make sure you do so in an appropriate, legal, and ethical manner.
If you have questions about how to go about the hiring process in a manner that best protects you from potential legal liability, contact an HR attorney today.
2. Firing Decisions
Just as important as hiring decisions are firing decisions.
The decision to terminate an employee can be difficult. Sometimes, however, it is necessary.
Examples of reasons you may need to fire an employee include:
- Unethical behavior,
- Theft or misuse of company property,
- Poor work performance,
- Poor fit within the company culture, and
- Violation of company policy.
In some cases, you may need to terminate someone’s employment for reasons outside the employee’s control. For example, termination due to company-wide budget cuts may arise that render downsizing inevitable.
Whatever the case may be, the fact remains that firing an employee is a complex task. And depending on the reason for terminating the employee, you may be worried about a potential lawsuit.
Florida is an at-will employment state. This means that an employee can be fired at any time, as long as it is not for an illegal reason. Despite this fact, firing an employee still presents issues in many cases.
Even if you did not intend to fire an employee for an illegal reason, sometimes it may seem that way from an outside perspective. Thus, it is imperative that you take extra caution when firing an employee.
By consulting with a human resources law firm prior to making any employment termination decisions, you can better protect yourself from exposure to legal ramifications.
3. Employment Contract Drafting and Review
As is the case with all types of contracts, an employment contract is a legal document that details important rights and obligations.
While you may not need to have workers sign an employment contract, it is common practice to do so.
Because employment contracts are legal documents, it is important to have them drafted and/or reviewed by an experienced legal professional.
This way, you can better verify the validity of the contract and ensure that it is a fully enforceable legal document that will stand up in court if a dispute ever arises.
4. Drafting Company Policies
Keeping company policies transparent and up to date is a vital part of running a company. Most importantly, it is crucial that new policies do not violate any laws.
When adopting a new policy, it’s always a great idea to contact an HR attorney to review the policy for potential legal issues. This may help you reduce the likelihood of legal challenges in the future.
Additionally, it is a well-known fact that the law is ever-changing. Thus, even for your company’s more established policies, periodic review is imperative.
A human resources law firm can help you review old policies in view of new laws and make revisions where necessary and appropriate.
5. Representation in Administrative Proceedings Brought By an Employee
Employment law is regulated by multiple administrative agencies, including the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Labor.
Sometimes, a current or former employee may file an administrative claim against their employer with such a governmental agency.
When a government agency requests your cooperation in an investigation or administrative proceeding, contact an HR attorney as soon as practicable.
While some employers try to handle administrative matters internally, a human resources attorney with experience in employment law issues can be an invaluable resource. An attorney can help you evaluate the strength of an employee’s claim against you and determine how best to respond.
6. Deciding Whether and How to Sue an Employee
We all hear stories about employees suing their former employers, but employers have rights too. In some situations, it may be appropriate, and even necessary, to sue an employee.
Examples of claims an employer might bring against a current or former employee include:
- Breach of an employment contract,
- Misappropriation of trade secrets,
- Violation of a nondisclosure agreement (NDA),
- Negligence in the scope of work duties,
- Violation of non-compete clauses,
- Breach of fiduciary duty,
- Theft or destruction of company property,
- Defamation, and
- Tortious interference with business or contractual relationships.
Of course, suing an employee is a delicate matter. Nevertheless, sometimes you may be left with no choice. An HR attorney can help you determine whether and how best to go about suing an employee.
Do I Really Need an HR Attorney?
Employment matters are delicate and often complicated. To make matters even more difficult, employment law is constantly evolving. Even so, this does not obviate an employer’s obligation to ensure that it partakes in legal practices at all times.
Thus, while an HR attorney may not be necessary, having one in your corner can certainly be a huge benefit as you navigate your employment-related legal needs.
If you have questions about any employment law matters, consider consulting with an HR attorney today.
Contact a Human Resource Attorney Today
The human resources lawyers at BrewerLong have the expertise and resources necessary to help you navigate your employment-related legal needs.
We are one of Orlando’s leading business law firms, specializing in representing businesses of all shapes and sizes. We are a Florida employment law firm with extensive experience representing employers, specifically, on both sides of the aisle.
Whether you need legal advice, contract drafting and review, or representation in an employment litigation lawsuit, we will always strive to provide you with expert legal representation. So let us handle the law so that you can focus on what matters most: your business.
Contact BrewerLong today for a consultation to discuss your situation and see what our team can do for you.