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Employment Law

A successful employment relationship depends on many factors. One, of course, is clear communication that enables employees to understand a company’s policies and expectations, while also allowing employees to be heard. a second is knowledge of the basic laws that govern the workplace, from wage and hour regulations to anti-discrimination requirements.

Attention to both factors – adequate communication and legal compliance – will help ensure a productive workforce, and help prevent unwanted lawsuits on the part of disgruntled employees.

Federal, State & local laws

There are multiple complex federal laws that govern the workforce in the United States. As an employer, you should become familiar with these important federal and state laws. Relevant federal laws include:

  • Title VII of the civil rights act
  • Americans with disabilities act
  • Age discrimination in employment act
  • Genetic information nondiscrimination act
  • Equal pay act
  • National labor relations act
  • Family and medical leave act
  • Fair labor standards act: minimum wage and overtime pay
  • and many, many more

FAQs for Employers

An employee handbook is an important communication tool. It helps to ensure that your company’s policies are uniformly understood by those who work for you. The handbook also helps establish evenhanded enforcement of policies, preventing claims of discriminatory treatment. Last, a well-thought-out and comprehensive handbook will help defend an employment action should a disgruntled employee file a complaint.

Yes. A job description will help you stay focused on the job requirements, allowing you to review applicants with established criteria in mind. The description will also help the new employee understand and fulfill the requirements of the job. This is important since they will be measured against these requirements in performance evaluations.

First, all those involved in the hiring process should be trained in the equal opportunity employment laws, state and federal, that prohibit discrimination in all aspects of employment, including hiring. As a general rule, be certain that your questions focus on the applicant’s ability to do the job and their competence for the position. Exercise care regarding subjects that might be perceived as having a discriminatory intent, including appearance, personal life, ethnicity, disability, age, gender, or criminal history.

Yes. The need for workplace security must be balanced against an employee’s privacy interests.  The best way to address this is to communicate to employees that a video surveillance system is in place, and where.  This information should be contained in the employee handbook, and should also be prominently posted.  Additionally, employees should sign consent forms indicating that they are aware of the surveillance and have consented to it.  Last, respect privacy rights by not monitoring in very private places, such as restrooms.

You are right to address this now, at the time of hire.  The best way to protect your company’s rights to the designer’s creations while they work for you is to have them sign an intellectual property assignment agreement.  This type of agreement makes clear that whatever they create during their employment is a “work for hire,” meaning that the company, and not the designer, owns the copyright to the work.  It also makes clear that the employee has assigned the copyright concerning the work to the company.

Yes. A fair and consistent system for evaluating performance and imposing progressive discipline is the first step to preventing and defending employment-related litigation. Because you have no evaluation process, you have nothing in writing to support a termination decision. This employee might bring an employment action against you, arguing that their termination was based not on performance, but on their age, vision problem, and request for an accommodation. Defending this action will be very difficult without a written evaluation record.

No part of the information is intended as legal advice.

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