Proactive Strategies and Solutions 

Laws and regulations affecting the workplace impact virtually every aspect of the employer-employee relationship, including recruitment and hiring, compensation, leaves of absence, and termination. Maintaining legal compliance in this highly regulated environment presents a variety challenges for employers. These laws and regulations can be burdensome, complex, and the penalties for noncompliance can be severe. Perhaps most frustrating is the fact that this area of the law is constantly changing. However, employers who choose to be proactive can, through compliance, dramatically reduce their risk of lawsuits and government investigations. We work closely with our clients to develop compliance policies and programs tailored to their particular industries and to the specific needs of their organizations.

Although risk mitigation is the primary objective in employment compliance, that is only part of the reason why it is so vitally important. Another goal of employment compliance is to cultivate a specific workplace culture, and to communicate the values underlying that culture to employees. Employees who believe their employer cares about paying people fairly, making hiring, compensation, and promotion decisions based on merit, and treating everyone with respect and dignity, are likely to: be more motivated; be more emotionally invested in their employer’s business; to work harder; and to have lower turnover rates. (They are also more likely to try and resolve complaints internally, before taking legal action.) In other words, there is inherent value in compliance, even for employers with no concern about being sued.

Practice Overview

  • Employee Onboarding
    • Review recruitment and hiring materials and practices, including job applications, interview procedures, onboarding processes, and pre-employment screens related to drug testing, medical evaluations, and criminal background checks;
    • Draft job descriptions to protect employers from discrimination claims and overtime lawsuits;
    • Convert misclassified “contractors” into employees, while minimizing the employer’s legal exposure to overtime claims and tax penalties;
    • Draft and negotiate employment agreements.
  • Policies, Procedures, and Training
    • Draft employee handbooks and other workplace policies, including those concerning:
      • Discrimination and harassment;
      • Paid Family Leave and other leaves of absence;
      • Social media;
      • Workplace accommodations, including for employees who are disabled, pregnant, religious, or who are the victims of domestic violence, sex offenses, or stalking;
    • Conduct workplace training, including anti-discrimination anti-harassment training, to reduce the risk of discrimination, harassment, hostile work environment, and retaliation claims.
  • Compensation and Wage Practices
    • Audit wage-hour practices and procedures to ensure that, among other things:
      • Employees are properly categorized as “exempt” or “non-exempt” from overtime;
      • Overtime is paid at the correct rate;
      • Time-tracking and recordkeeping systems are compliant;
      • Pay stubs and wage notices contain all legally-required information;
      • Compensation plans, including bonus and commission plans, comply with local, state, and federal laws, including those concerning gender pay equity;
      • Workers are properly classified as independent contractors or “freelancers” or employees, to reduce the risk of overtime lawsuits.
  • Protecting Confidential Information and Client Relationships
    • Develop measures to safeguard employer confidential information, including trade secrets, and client or customer relationships;
    • Draft confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements;
    • Draft non-competition and non-solicitation agreements;
  • Discipline and Termination
    • Develop employee discipline procedures, so that employers are well-positioned to terminate problematic employees with reduced litigation risk;
    • Review Performance Improvement Plans and draft “Last Chance Agreements” for employees with poor performance or disciplinary histories;
    • Examine termination protocols to reduce the risk of post-employment litigation, and to ensure that all legally-required notices are provided upon termination;
    • Work with employers to restructure and, if necessary, reduce the size of their workforces, while minimizing the risk of litigation for failure to provide legally-required notice or for discrimination;
    • Draft separation and release and severance agreements.