Defending Employers Against Unwarranted Lawsuits & Enforcing Employment Contracts
There’s nothing easy about being an employer. State and federal law creates a delicate balancing act for businesses that must mind their bottom line while also trying to stay compliant with a complex, ever-changing network of employment regulations and case law.
We’ve worked with so many employers who felt completely blindsided when an employee they liked and trusted filed a blistering lawsuit against them after years of peaceful employment. It’s a not-uncommon story in the contentious relationship that inherently exists between companies and the people they employ.
Fortunately, there are steps your business can take to reduce your risk of employment litigation, as well as strategies that an employment law attorney can use to maximize your chances of success against claims brought by your employees.
Defending Against Discrimination Claims
State and federal law include numerous prohibitions against wrongful discrimination in hiring, firing, and other employment practices. The most widely known of these is found in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal law which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national original, religion, and sex.
Other key federal laws speak to discrimination on the basis of age and disability, among other employee classes.
In many states, local discrimination laws go above and beyond the federal rules, providing even stronger protection for employees. Federal law is “the floor,” meaning states can give employees more protection – but not less.
When and how these rules apply, however, is not always straightforward in context. Employers are sometimes genuinely surprised to find themselves on the receiving end of a workplace discrimination lawsuit. Particularly when the employer believes it went out of its way to accommodate the employee and to avoid discrimination.
Beyond merely the damages they seek, discrimination lawsuits can attach a stigma to your business and the people who run it for many years to come. That’s why it is important to defend against these claims when they are unwarranted — and to do so in a way that is both legally effective but also sensitive to the delicate nature of these claims.
Moreover, it is essential that your business take steps now to avoid discrimination claims in the future. An experienced employment law attorney at Oberheiden, P.C. can work with you to develop policies, procedures, and provisions to minimize the risk of discrimination litigation in the future.
Defending Against Harassment Claims
As we post this article, the country is currently embroiled in a staggering series of sexual harassment claims, along with the revelation of sexually untoward behavior in workplaces spanning from Hollywood to Washington, D.C.
These cases serve to highlight how seriously employers must take sexual harassment — and how vigorously you must work to prevent harassment within your workplace. A single claim can prove both costly and devastating to your reputation, especially in the current social context.
Harassment includes a wide range of behaviors, and it is crucial that everyone in your workplace understand the bounds of propriety. There are many kinds of harassment, too — not just sexual harassment. Courts have recognized harassment on the basis of gender, gender identity, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, personal appearance, marital status, and more.
Generally speaking, however, harassing behavior must be either severe or pervasive to support a legal cause of action against the company. Petty comments, minor frustrations, and isolated incidents are generally insufficient to warrant a lawsuit unless they are egregious.
Still, tens of thousands of sexual harassment claims are brought before the EEOC every year. An experienced employment law attorney at Oberheiden, P.C. can help your company avoid these claims in the first place, and to defend against them if they are brought unfairly.
Dr. Nick Oberheiden, founding partner in our firm, has extensive experience in representing public figures and in handling sensitive, high-profile legal matters. If you need help with a difficult harassment claim, please contact our office right away.
Defending Against FMLA Claims
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is one of the most important pieces of federal legislation relating to employment litigation. Anyone responsible for drafting human resources policy or for managing employees’ schedules must be intimately familiar with the provisions of FMLA.
Most notably, the FMLA allows employees (if they are eligible and if their employer is covered by FMLA) to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work without fear of losing their job (if the leave is taken for certain specific family or medical reasons).
There are many rules pertaining to when and how FMLA protections apply. Our national employment lawyers have helped businesses across the country by incorporating FMLA-compliant policies within their employment manuals, training their managers and HR professionals in FMLA compliance, and advising the business owners on avoiding FMLA lawsuits.
Additionally, we have successfully represented companies in lawsuits alleging FMLA violations. Contact our office to learn more about our services for companies facing wrongful termination claims and other unsubstantiated employment litigation.
Enforcing Non-Compete Agreements, Non-Solicitation Clauses, and Other Contractual Provisions
Generally speaking, non-compete agreements (also known as covenants not to compete) and non-solicitation clauses are lawful and enforceable. For that matter, employers and employees are generally free to negotiate whatever terms of employment they like, subject to state and federal law.
There are, however, a great many restrictions and qualifications that apply to non-compete and non-solicitation clauses — and these vary significantly from one state to the next.
Courts are concerned about limiting an employee’s ability to find work elsewhere after leaving your company. But they also recognize your interest in protecting your trade secrets, your competitive information, and the investment you’ve made in training and educating your workforce.
Our employment litigation lawyers can help you draft non-solicitation and non-compete agreements that comply with the specific rules in your state (and to enforce these provisions when necessary).
Getting Your Business Through a Government Audit
Oberheiden, P.C. focuses its practice in defense of employers and businesses against government audits. Dr. Nick Oberheiden and Ms. Lynette Byrd, a former federal prosecutors, head up our firm’s government audit defense team. They have substantial experience resolving matters of regulatory compliance involving:
- Department of Labor (DOL)
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
- National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- Health care regulatory agencies
- And more
Contact Our Qualified Employment Litigation Attorneys Today
Get smart, proactive legal guidance on your side. Whether you are already facing a lawsuit from an employee or want to head one off in the future, our experienced employment litigation lawyers can help. Contact us right away.
Compliance – Litigation – Defense