Advice and Counseling
Employers must navigate and comply with a complex range of federal, state, and local employment laws. Even the most diligent employer can miss a requirement, which may lead to costly and time-consuming employment litigation. We provide advice and counseling to employers to stay in compliance with employment-related practices such as hiring, payroll, wage and hour laws, leaves of absence, employee performance and discipline, terminations, and more. Reviewing and updating employment-related policies on a regular basis can protect an employer from lawsuits.
Due Diligence in Acquisitions Involving Employees
Mergers and acquisitions involve a human side as they often require the hiring, termination, or merging of workforces. Prior to an acquisition or sale, we perform a thorough review of employment agreements, employment policies, employee benefits, bonus and other compensation programs, previous and pending employment-related disputes, sexual harassment and discrimination claims, wage and hour compliance, and other employee-related legal and administrative documentation and practices. When representing a potential buyer, our analysis supports the buyer’s ability to identify potential areas of concern which may allow the buyer to negotiate more favorable purchase terms. When representing a potential seller, our analysis may include recommendations to the seller to put additional measures in place to reduce risk of an employee claim and permit the seller to clean up potential issues before disclosure to a potential buyer.
Developing an effective employee discipline plan can be beneficial to both the employer and employee and can serve as a deterrent to future employee misconduct. We recommend taking a proactive approach by addressing employee performance issues swiftly and directly, and we provide guidance and evaluation on discipline and termination decisions. By following best practices and documenting appropriately, we can help accomplish the employer’s goals with the employee. We also work with employers to establish a workplace code of conduct and other policies that are consistent and fair to employees, are in compliance with local, state, and federal employment laws, and are clearly communicated in writing to employees.
Independent Contractor Analysis
Worker classification is a complicated issue, particularly after the adoption of AB 5 in California. To classify a worker as an independent contractor, businesses have the burden of meeting the ABC test, a three-pronged analysis of a worker’s status, or meeting an exception. There are several statutorily defined exceptions to AB 5, and court decisions and changes by the California Legislature continue to further modify the landscape of laws that pertain to independent contractors. To avoid the time and expense associated with misclassification, we perform detailed analyses of worker classifications and make recommendations to our employer clients to reduce risk.
Workplace investigations should be initiated when a complaint of unlawful harassment discrimination, retaliation, or improper conduct has been made. As an unbiased, credible third party, we conduct a thorough investigation of complaints and present our findings. We may also assist employers in conducting their own investigations where appropriate, and work with clients to implement corrective action as necessary.
Leaves of Absence
Employers have legal obligations with regard to employee leaves of absence that are often complicated and may involve more than one leave right. Employees may be entitled to leaves due to a work-related injury, pregnancy-related disability, family care obligation, their own serious health condition, military service, or other legally-protected reason. It is important to understand the employer’s obligation to provide certain notices, reasonable accommodation if it does not pose an undue hardship, and other legal requirements implicated by leaves of absence and how they intersect with issues like sick pay, vacation time, and paid time off (PTO). We help employers navigate complicated leave laws to establish best practices, proper documentation, and ensure compliance.
Risk Mitigation Strategies
Employers can reduce their chance of being the target of an employee lawsuit by developing strategies that mitigate risk. The most important part of these strategies is a clear understanding of the federal, state, and local laws that affect the employer’s business along with a clear plan for implementation of the strategies. A comprehensive employee handbook containing the employer’s policies and expectations, sufficient training programs, and regular wage and hour and other employment-related audits, serve to reduce the risk of employee claims.
Workplace Health and Safety
Workplace safety is mandated through a number of regulations, and strict compliance with these regulations can greatly reduce an employer’s chances of incurring a hefty penalty from OSHA or a worker’s compensation claim. We provide effective Injury and Illness Prevention Programs (IIPPs) and help our employer clients develop important written workplace safety guidelines, programs, and procedures.