What Does An Employment Lawyer Do For Clients?

Employment law is one of the biggest branches of law in existence — and employment lawyers certainly have their work cut out for them. They cover claims about sexual harassment, wages, unfair hours, severance packages, discrimination, wrongful termination, whistleblowing, and retaliation. Discrimination and wrongful termination take up most of an employment lawyer’s time. It’s all about compliance.

A “wage and hour” lawsuit occurs after a compensation dispute. Was an employee not paid after working? Did the employee not receive all benefits due? Was an employee improperly paid? Perhaps the employer violated a different statute. Sometimes, employees are asked to work off the clock for under the table pay. This is illegal. Sometimes, employees are denied overtime. 

Sexual harassment occurs when an employee feels uncomfortable due to off-hand comments, inappropriate touching, requests for dates, etc. It’s important to recognize that one comment does not amount to harassment. A victim can only build a case when a pattern of behavior is recognized. More importantly, the victim must find a way to prove the sexual harassment in a court of law (or convince the company to settle out of court). 

Discrimination claims are common but difficult to prove. Discrimination occurs when an employer hires certain individuals or terminates others based on certain attributes like sex, gender, skin color, religion, ethnicity, age, etc. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits this type of behavior by employers. 

Retaliation occurs when an employee is terminated for specific reasons. For example, let’s say you chose to discuss sexual harassment with Human Resources (HR). Your employer cannot “retaliate” because you made that choice. Maybe you saw your employer or a coworker engage in unsafe or unlawful activity. You have the right to blow the whistle. If your employer terminates you afterward, you have the right to sue. 

There are other reasons you might hire an employment lawyer. For example, let’s say you were discussing pay with other employees and your employer threatened to fire you (or actually did). Your right to discuss pay is guaranteed by federal law. The only thing to keep in mind is that you can only have these discussions when it is normally appropriate to speak to coworkers (either while working or on break). If you are normally barred from talking, then you can be fired regardless of what the discussion was about. 

Another reason to hire an employment lawyer? Let’s say you were injured at work. You believe you have the right to workers’ compensation, but your employer says no. You should definitely discuss your claim with a lawyer! You have the right to financial security. Your boss does not have the right to put yours at risk.

What does an employment lawyer do on a daily basis? Check https://www.cmlaw.com/ for additional information or to speak with a qualified employment lawyer. Remember: you have rights according to state and federal law, but it’s up to you to find help in order to protect those rights. Legal action is the first step when holding your superiors accountable for their actions.

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What Is A “Safe Working Environment” By Law?

State and federal laws require varying degrees of safety to be provided by employers. What is a “safe working environment” by law? In general, you already know the answer through intuition. Employers must implement various preventative measures to mitigate the chances of workplace injuries. Keep in mind, though, that “safety” is partially about an employee’s feelings as well. That’s why it’s illegal to harass or intimidate fellow employees at work. 

Employees have certain rights.

Employees should receive adequate training when required to use dangerous chemicals or machines to perform tasks. They have the right to receive this training in various languages to ensure comprehension. Employees also have the right to use machines that are maintained for safety. They have the right to Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to prevent contact with dangerous toxins or chemicals. 

When could those rights be violated in subtle or unseen ways? Take a look around your work station. You should find a fire extinguisher not too far away. There should be a list of dates on a tag on the fire extinguisher to ensure it functions properly. Busy employers sometimes skip routine checks.

Do you believe your employer is violating state or federal laws or OSHA standards? You have the right to request an inspection by an OSHA-certified individual. You have the right to speak to this individual. You have the right to report any injuries that occur in the workplace, and you can also view records of past injuries. You have the right to your own work-related medical records. 

Many employees fear retaliation for making reports or requesting additional information related to workplace safety, but they should keep in mind: retaliation is illegal. If your employer treats you differently because of these actions, then the employer or the employer’s company could open themselves to liability. 

Not sure if the appropriate measures have been taken in your workplace? You can contact OSHA at your earliest convenience.

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Which Type Of Business Formation Should I Choose?

Let’s say you have the perfect idea for a new business. There’s a new product or service you know the world needs, and you might be the only one providing it. But you’ve never started a business before. You’re learning everything starting from scratch. One of the first aspects you’ll learn is called “business formation,” which is an actual step during the business building process that will result in making your new business a legal entity. 

Before you can make your business legit in the eyes of the law, you need to determine which type of business formation makes the most sense for you and your customers or clients.

Do you prefer a sole proprietorship? These are perhaps the easiest businesses to build, in part because you will have complete creative control over where your business goes. The biggest disadvantage (or advantage, depending on what you want) is that your personal assets and business assets are bound together. Your business is tied to your personal livelihood. That means any liabilities incurred by the business are your own responsibility, too. You’ll find it more difficult to obtain loans through banking institutions. But if your business is relatively low-risk, a sole proprietorship might be the way to go!

Will you have a partner in crime? You will choose a partnership business formation. You can opt for a limited partnership or limited liability partnership. The latter means each partner has limited liability (which protects partners from debts without retaining responsibility for the actions of the others), while the former means one partner has limited liability while the other does not. Often, attorneys choose to build partnerships over sole proprietorships.

Certainly you’ve heard of an LLC: Limited Liability Company. This formation is a near-combination of corporate and partnership. An LLC is used to shield someone’s personal assets from business liabilities. Should your business face bankruptcy, you won’t have to declare yourself — which means your car, home, and bank accounts are mostly safe. The biggest thing you need to know about an LLC is that members of the formations are bound to self-employment laws and statutes. Members will need to play self-employment taxes, which can be quite large.

A corporation is a legal entity all its own. The corporation is subject to taxes and liability, but stands to make a profit. It’s more expensive to build a corporate entity, but individuals who lead the corporation are very protected against personal liability. Most shareholders can buy or sell stock, and the corporation’s day to day business won’t change. Raising funds is easier in a corporation.

Other types of business formations include an S corp, B corp, close corporation, nonprofit corporation, and cooperative. It’s also possible to mix and match sometimes. For example, an LLC might be formed in such a manner as to be taxed as a C or S corp. There are pros and cons to each type of formation, and ultimately you should research each and choose carefully.

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A Summary Of Important U.S. Employment Laws

Many workers are protected by law from overwork or underpayment. What other protections are in force? Employees have the right to a safe work environment. This is why COVID-19 has changed the way most businesses operate. Employees are required to wear masks and stay six feet away from each other. Perhaps plastic barriers prevent direct contact with customers or clients. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for guaranteeing workplace safety. Employees who feel their rights to a safe workplace are violated can contact OSHA to rectify the situation. OSHA also oversees Workers’ Compensation programs, which guarantee employees the right to compensation when they are injured on the job.

Employees almost always have the right to form a union in order to collectively bargain for better wages or benefits.

Employees have the right to “blow the whistle” on an employer for breaking laws or unethical behavior. Employees cannot be terminated for these reasons.

Employees cannot be terminated on the basis of race, sex, gender, ethnic background, religion, or disability. The Supreme Court recently ruled that sexual orientation was included in these protections. 

Employers cannot use a polygraph on their employees in most circumstances. 

Law governs how employee wages can be garnished under certain conditions such as when a creditor lawsuit is won in court.

Employees have the right to 12 weeks of unpaid leave after the birth or adoption of a child. They also have the right to 12 weeks of unpaid leave due to serious illness in the immediate family.

Former veterans have a legal right to preference when employers are hiring. 

Employers have a number of resources available to them to ensure laws are followed (and should obtain legal counsel as well). These resources include elaws Advisors (online tools), the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a National Call Center for toll-free assistance and employment/workplace information and issues, and website support provided by the EEOC and DOJ. State resources are also available in most states.

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Can Divorce Result In Wage Garnishment?

Divorce is one of the most costly endeavors a person can embark upon — and maybe it should be, since couples take a vow to keep one another in sickness and in health for the rest of their lives. But should it cost on average more than $10,000? There are many factors to consider when thinking about this figure. Divorce can result in alimony or child support payments in addition to an equitable division of assets. How do people pay for it all? Can a judge mandate someone’s wages be garnished?

There are two reasons a former spouse’s wages might be garnished. First, the former spouse refuses to pay for child support or alimony. These are court-mandated payments, and refusing to pay them is technically a crime. Someone can even be fined a greater sum — or put in jail.

Second, the former spouse simply fails to pay for alimony or child support. This usually means a person simply can’t make the payments without drastic changes to quality of life, but a judge can still mandate wage garnishment. 

It should be noted that an employer can not terminate an employee for garnishment proceedings for a single debt. This right is provided by the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA). But an employee can be fired if wages are garnished for more than one debt. The CCPA protects an individual from having more than 50 to 60 percent of their wages garnished to pay debts.

Not sure whether your wages are being garnished legally? Bob Matteucci has defended clients at his firm Matteucci Family Law for years. You can set up a private meeting or free consultation to discuss the details of your case and find out how to protect yourself from wage garnishment.

Most wage garnishments will stop when a person files for bankruptcy, but state exemption laws are in effect. What other exemptions exist? Usually, certain types of income cannot be garnished by law. These include social security, disability, retirement, child support, or alimony (the latter two being the subject of our discussion, but it’s possible you could be receiving child support and alimony from one former spouse only to have to pay both to another).

If you qualify for an exemption, you can file a claim in the court that mandated your wages be garnished in the first place. You’ll need your name, the name of the creditor (in this case your former spouse), and case number. The judge won’t rule in your favor without reason, so be sure to provide copious details about your financial situation.

In general, it is much more difficult to protect wages from garnishment after divorce, and you should be prepared to pay the full amount. But if child support or alimony are destroying your quality of life, it’s worth the attempt. Keep in mind that if you can pay child support or alimony, you should. If a judge finds out that you withheld important information to protect your own assets, you could be in legal hot water.

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What Are The Weirdest Employment Laws Worldwide?

Most people who have been working more than a year or two have experienced their fair share of dinnertime story events — many of which were probably based on a whacky U.S. law that should never have been written. Sometimes courts don’t allow certain documents to be revised. Sometimes OT laws are overbearing for an employer. Sometimes direct deposit is mandated by an employer. But when you look at laws across the globe, ours are just the tip of the iceberg. 

You don’t have the right to bathroom breaks in the United States — if those breaks come often. That means an employer could technically outline how many bathroom breaks you’re allowed in an employment agreement.

New Zealand citizens who are caught wearing a “funny” hat into work might receive a massive 10 percent pay cut for breaking a uniform code. Who’s laughing now?

Ever wonder why Japanese citizens are so thin? It’s because of the “Metabo Law,” which requires employers to measure employee waistlines. Ate too much before the measurement? Tough luck. You might find yourself in mandatory dieting classes. And you thought U.S. labor laws were draconian.

Still, they might not be as bad as laws in China! There, women are legally barred from “physically demanding” jobs like mining or logging. And don’t even think of carrying heavy goods!

We’re surprised Portugal doesn’t have higher immigration rates — because once you take a job, you can lock yourself in for good. That’s because it’s illegal to fire an employee in the country. You need to offer them a deal to get them to leave. Granted, they are probably much more careful about who they hire than your typical American employer. A similar law in India requires government oversight in order to fire an employee when the company has more than 100.

In Isesaki, Japan, employees are required to stay clean-shaven. The law resulted from an old man’s encounter with a “hairy” individual.

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What Happens When A Coworker Assaults You On The Job?

Most employment contracts specifically state that conversations about controversial subjects are off limits as soon as you walk through the front door. That means no talking about religion or politics. But guess what? Disputes will occur regardless of whether or not controversial subjects are ignored. People argue. And unfortunately, people fight. What happens if a coworker assaults you on the job?

First and foremost, most states define assault as more of a threat. Battery occurs when there is unwanted physical contact. That’s why the crimes are often combined into a single charge: assault and battery. Together, they usually mean violence was involved in a confrontation. What that also means, though, is that you can take legal action even if you only felt threatened. 

Not sure which next steps to take? An anonymous lawyer for ronaldfreemanlaw.com said, “Even if your employer wants to keep the police and courts out of it, it’s in your own best interests to find legal counsel. Almost always, it makes sense to call the police to make a report of what happened. Usually there are witnesses at work. Find out what they saw. And don’t worry. Your boss can’t retaliate or fire you for doing things the right way. If he does, it just means you get to sue.”

Were you physically injured during the confrontation? You should find a safe location — and speak with a supervisor about calling the police to report the violence. Ask a friend to photograph the scene of the crime and speak with others who may have seen what happened. You should also seek medical attention right away. A police report is normally required before you can seek compensation in these circumstances. And so are medical bills. Keep copies of any documents you receive.

When you return home, recollect the event as best you can, and then send an email or letter to your boss. Keep copies. This ensures that everything is on the record, and no one can deny an assault took place. You’ll also want to take pictures of any injuries. Keep a written journal of how you feel daily. Your pain and stress will make a difference during a potential injury claim.

Should the assault have been prevented? Submit a grievance to let your employers know why you believe this should never have happened. At the same time, make sure your employer has filed a RIDDOR report if you take more than seven days off from work due to the injury.

What else can you do? You can request additional staff or training. You can request a risk assessment. More likely, you will want to speak with a personal injury or criminal defense attorney (regardless of which side of the case you’re on). These individuals are trained to give legal advice to any relevant parties even if those parties don’t plan to retain their services. And you’ll want that advice before you decide on the next steps.

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What Impact Will SCOTUS Have On Employment Law In 2022?

Conservatives dominate liberals in the Supreme Court 2 to 1 — and even though the highest court in the land is supposed to be non-partisan, most of us know what kind of impact this could have on any controversial law on the docket. What can we expect? Here are a few ways that the new SCOTUS might impact employment law over the next twelve months. 

One of the biggest impacts involves the continued debate around vaccine mandates. Many jurisdictions have tried to implement mask or vaccine mandates in schools. The more radical conservative groups have gone so far as to describe these mandates akin to “rape.” The Supreme Court has so far allowed several states to move forward with such mandates. Will federal mandates hold? We’ll know soon.

Another case will determine how flight attendants are paid. Should airlines comply with wage-based legal codes in states where the flight attendants live? The laws are murky because attendants don’t actually work in their home states — they work all over the country.

Whether or not employers can force arbitration has long been a question before the courts. But what about whether or not employees can use a loophole to avoid arbitration clauses by filing lawsuits on behalf of the state and not themselves? The Private Attorneys General Act currently allows plaintiffs who do just that to hold onto a quarter of the funds for any verdict won. The Supreme Court will soon decide.

Yet another case will set in stone exactly how employee retirement plans can or cannot avoid litigation. The question before them is whether or not these plans can offer cheap investment options to avoid excessive-fee lawsuits, which have been filed often over the last few years.

We also expect SCOTUS to inevitably hear more cases about new legislation related to COVID-19 as these laws are drafted throughout the year — primarily because we expect the pandemic to continue into the foreseeable future, and likely become endemic to our population.

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Legal Roadblock For Automation In New York City

When we contemplate how far automation has come in the last ten years, we usually visualize big cities. New York, Los Angeles, even Seattle. These are the places where technology has been meaningfully developed or implemented in a way the public can see and experience. But local and state governments have long considered stricter regulations to determine what businesses can and cannot do. NYC recently experienced a legal setback in automation. Here’s why.

Specifically, the tools many employers use to streamline the hiring process are automated. They are based on algorithms that help them decide who deserves to be there and who does not. But research suggests those algorithms might be biased against people of color. This has resulted in state and local governments to reconsider whether they should be legal.

A new NYC law due to go into effect on January 1, 2023 will prohibit employers from using these systems during the hiring process.

The law states that an employer cannot use an “automated employment decision tool” to sift through prospective employees. There are exceptions. If the tool has been put through a bias audit within the last 12 months, it may still be used. More importantly, the results of that audit have to be published to the employer’s website and made available to the public before the systems can be used again. 

Automated employment decision tools are defined in the legislations as “any computational process, derived from machine learning, statistical modeling, data analytics, or artificial intelligence, that issues simplified output, including a score, classification, or recommendation, that is used to substantially assist or replace discretionary decision-making for making employment decisions that impact natural persons.” 

Excluded tools include those that do “not automate, support, substantially assist or replace discretionary decision-making processes and that does not materially impact natural persons, including, but not limited to, a junk email filter, firewall, antivirus software, calculator, spreadsheet, database, data set, or other compilation of data.”

Penalties for each violation of the new law will include a $500 fine. Additional violations will result in much steeper fines.

Will your business or employees be affected by new automation legislation or employment laws in New York? Check here for more information: www.woodslaw.com

Laws like these are cropping up all over the country while businesses implement ever more powerful automation processes. Only a short distance away in New Jersey, company NICE announced new AI software that will use Robotic Process Automation (RPA) that businesses can use to make tasks easier. 

President Barry Cooper of the NICE Workforce and Customer Experience Group tweeted, “The digital age is powering productivity, improving service experiences, and accelerating ROI. By digitizing processes and prioritizing automations that drive maximum business value, our latest RPA capabilities are accelerating the path to a digital-first strategy.”

New applications include click-to-document, ROI-based automation process recommendation, and a built-in resource center. Like all automation, these applications seek to reduce the number of — or eliminate — hourly expenditure by employees to save businesses money.

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What You Need To Know About Employment Law In 2022

Many pieces of legislation will take effect by January 1, 2022. Employers should speak with their legal teams to implement the requisite changes as soon as possible. Some of the following are major changes, while many represent only minor inconveniences. Consumer spending is at an all-time high this holiday season — and that means more opportunity to take a shot in court at big enterprises that make mistakes. 

One of the biggest changes is what subjects are prohibited as part of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs). The “Silenced No More Act” prohibits NDAs from preventing employees or former employees from whistle-blowing about workplace harassment or retaliation. It was partially based on the resulting fallout from the #MeToo movement, which has landed many high-profile men in trouble for sexual harassment or assault in the workplace. The new law will go into place on January 1, 2022. 

California SB 762 amends existing laws to require arbiters to supply an invoice for fees and due dates once filing is done. Invoices are due on receipt by law. That means an employer that makes an employee sign an arbitration agreement must pay up the second the invoice lands. 

The California Family Rights Act has been expanded to allow employees to take a leave of absence in order to care for someone. The law also allows one of these individuals to be a parent-in-law. 

Other laws have been put into place to determine how employers must respond to COVID-19. They require employees to notify any employees who may have been exposed to coronavirus at work within 24 hours. This notice must be provided to an employee in writing (via email or text if applicable). Should the number of cases meet the criteria for a “COVID-19 outbreak” designation, then the employee must provide notice to the public health agency within 48 hours. 

Laws also add provisions for food delivery, warehouse distribution, intentional wage theft, etc. You can find additional details here.

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