Workplaces a full of complex relationships, dynamics, and rules. They are also governed by a complex and ever-changing patchwork of federal laws and state laws. Employment attorneys are experts in employment law; they help employers run their businesses, help employees understand their rights, and assist both parties to navigate and through these complicated work environment issues.
Employment lawyers are an essential resource to anyone navigating a legal dispute in the workplace. Employment attorneys can also serve as an important resource before, during, and after an employment relationship to avoid conflict and promote fair and healthy jobs.
Before The Employment Relationship Begins
When an employer employs any worker, an employment contract is established. Before you enter into any employment contract, it is important to consider the terms of the agreement. It may be helpful to consult with an employment attorney prior to establishing an employment contract to ensure that the terms of the contract are fair and legal.
All employment contracts are protected under the law, but some are harder to prove than others. An employment contract may take the form of a signed written document, may be based on provisions in an employee handbook, or could be established through a verbal agreement. Whether written or implied, an employment contract establishes the terms of the relationship between the employer and the employee.
Employment contracts often cover topics such as employee classification, compensation, bonuses and commissions, the duration of employment, employee schedule and responsibilities, sick time, performance expectations, and just causes for termination, among other things. Employment contracts may also include confidentiality agreements, non-compete clauses, and intellectual property agreements.
Prior to establishing an employment contract, signing an employment agreement, or hiring a new employee, hiring an employment attorney to review the terms of the contract can be helpful. Proactively consulting with an employment attorney will likely limit legal disputes down the line.
During The Employment Relationship
Employment disputes are most likely to begin during the course of an employment relationship. It is very helpful to consult an employment attorney if you are having problems at work. Common problem areas include the following situations:
· Sexual Harassment
· Workplace Discrimination against a Protected Class
· Health and Safety
· Medical Related Leave
· Wage and Hour Violations
· Employee Benefit Issues
· Breach of Contract
Employment issues, such as those listed above, can be incredibly complex, and can also be confusing, upsetting, and overwhelming. Many who are facing unlawful conditions and or illegal treatment at work do not know how to proceed. Consulting with an employment attorney at this stage is incredibly helpful. An employment attorney, familiar with state and federal law, will be able to assess the strength of claims you may have, and may be able to give you advice on how to proceed.
Speaking with an employment lawyer does not mean that you will have to bring legal action. With the help of an employment attorney, employees are better able to advocate for themselves within the workplace to avoid litigation. If litigation is inevitable, an employment attorney will be able to provide advice as to how to gather and save evidence to support and strengthen legal claims.
When The Employment Relationship Ends
In California, employment is considered to be at-will. At-will employment means that an employee can chose to leave their job at any time, and that an employer may layoff or fire an employee at any time without cause. There are many legitimate reasons that an employment relationship might end. However, terminations may also be illegal.
A termination is only considered to be illegal if the reason for the termination violates specific federal or state employment laws. There are specific motives for termination that are illegal and may give rise to a wrongful termination claim:
· Employment Discrimination
· Employer Retaliation
· Whistleblower Retaliation
· Constructive Discharge
· Breach of Contract
If an employment relationship ends, an employment attorney may be able to determine whether or not any labor laws have been broken. If you believe you are the victim of a wrongful termination, consulting with an employment attorney will empower you to know what options you have, and what steps to take moving forward with regards to your former employer.
Terminations can be very complicated even if they seem straightforward. Employers and employees alike can benefit from consulting with an employment attorney to ensure that that law is being followed.
What To Consider
It is no secret that hiring an experienced employment lawyer can be expensive. Whether or not it is worthwhile to hire an attorney depends on the specific circumstances of the issue, and on the attorney fee agreement.
Importantly, many lawyers will offer an initial consultation, and much of the advice that an employee or an employer might need can be gathered from a simple consultation. Consulting with an attorney is always smart; it will likely help to prevent future costly litigation down the line, or allow you to position yourself in a favorable position moving into any future litigation.
When hiring legal representation, it is important to understand the cost-benefit. Your attorney can advise you about the damages you might be able to recover, along with what fees they may charge you. In some states, including California, you may be able to recover your legal costs if you prevail in your case. Be sure to understand the attorney fee structure, what their flat fees are, and what they may charge you. Some attorneys may also offer a contingency fee, meaning that they will only recover if you prevail in your case.
There are many factors to consider, personal, financial, and otherwise when deciding whether or not to hire an attorney or take legal action by bringing an employment case. However, it is only beneficial to have an initial consultation if you ever feel that you could benefit from legal advice about your legal rights or your employment relationship.
Navruz Avloni is an experienced employment attorney dedicated to fighting for employee rights and for fair and safe working conditions. If you believe you could benefit from speaking with an employment attorney at any point, call the Avloni Law Firm for a free consultation.