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February 2017 Archives

How Employment Law Can Protect You as an Employer

The recent upturn in Pittsburgh’s Gross Domestic Product is directly attributed to the blossoming employment rate. Whether you are seeking a new job in Pennsylvania or a company is launching its latest product, it is crucial to understand the various policies making up employment law. In the past, employers have fallen victim to various accusations filed by aggrieved employees. From unsafe work conditions to sexual harassment lawsuits, employers have shouldered most of the blame and ultimately paid the price with ludicrous out-of-court settlements.

Fortunately, the enactment of the Employment law has equipped employers with adequate knowledge essential in settling employment disputes. With the aid of experienced employment attorneys, you are assured of reliable legal services such as:

  • Human resources guidance: Prominent employment attorneys will systematically guide you in creating effective internal policies as well as enforce them adequately.
  • Competent counsel against harassment claims and employment discrimination lawsuits: It is common knowledge that unsatisfied employees tend to file unsubstantiated claims regarding harassment and discrimination. Fortunately, your lawyer will provide an aggressive defense and help you avoid similar charges in future.
  • Employment contract: As experts in the employment industry, they will effectively help you draft, enforce and negotiate contracts aimed at protecting your interests and business at large.
  • Unemployment compensation: With the rapid development of several Workers’ Unions, your employment attorney is obliged to advise you on whether to contest an unemployment compensation claim or pay up to protect your reputation.
  • Compliance with wage stipulations: As your attorney, it is their legal responsibility to ensure that all employees are compensated in compliance with the law.

Having a prominent employment attorney provides you with more benefits than you can imagine. For instance, such lawyers are highly skilled in the provision of responsive services in time to swiftly handle any occupational dispute with an employee. They are adept in the dissemination of practical solutions to unique challenges faced in the employment industry. More importantly, they will apply the law to solve your unique predicament and safeguard your business.

Despite the various regulations in place, employers can easily slip up and face a professional upheaval related to wrongful termination, sex and age discrimination and workplace safety. In such a case, do not roll over and agree to any demands presented by the plaintiff. On the contrary, get in touch with your employment lawyer for adequate representation against workplace pitfalls.

When is an employer required to give unemployment compensation?

Unemployment compensation is often an agreeable arrangement. If an employer has to lay off a worker, compensation is usually the least the company can do. But, sometimes employees will take advantage of unemployment compensation. In other words, they may demand it when they don't deserve it. Thus, employers should know in what circumstances the government requires them to pay.

Fired employees often qualify for unemployment compensation. A legit example is after a layoff. But, an employee that performs misconduct can be exempt from payment. This misconduct usually has to be intentional and recurring. Examples include:

  • Frequent and unexcused lateness and absence.
  • Not following workplace rules.
  • Being intoxicated while working. 
  • Sleeping while at work.
  • Lying. 
  • Sexual harassment. 
  • Causing considerable damage to a business.

Those who quit aren't usually supposed to receive unemployment compensation. But, sometimes there is a "good cause" for leaving which then necessitates reimbursement. "Good causes" can include:

  • Sexual harassment or discrimination that the employer didn't fix.
  • An employer relocated an employee's job or their spouse's job to somewhere far away.
  • An employer compromised an employee's health.
  • Convincing personal reasons, such as caring for a sick family member.

If you believe that one of your employees is wrong in requesting unemployment compensation, you may want to consult an attorney that specializes in employment law. They can help you determine whether your employee deserves compensation or not. And, if an employee demands reimbursement where none is due, an attorney can help fight for your company's rights. They may also prevent your business losing a significant amount of money as a result.

Avoiding complications when starting a business

Starting your own business is an exciting endeavor. Whether you have reached the decision to start your own company as a result of a declining economy and strained job market or you are in a position to finally go after your dream of opening a brick and mortar or online store, provide a service or sell your art for example, there are many things you will need to consider to avoid complications when starting a business.

Although starting a business is an exhilarating experience, just like with any major decision, there are many factors to consider. After you have decided on a name, ensuring that it is available to use, you then have to determine the type of company. Should the business be incorporated, are you going to start the business alone or with a partner, have you determined a plan and goals that are achievable?  If there is a partnership involved, every invested party needs to decide how funds will be disbursed, how partners are paid, what funds will be reinvested in the business. These are all questions to answer to ensure success.

If you plan to hire employees as opposed to independent contractors, you will have a host of additional parameters to meet. For example; when you are the employer, you must also ensure that all your bases are covered with regards to employees such as employment benefits, employment-related disputes and unemployment compensation. Paperwork, licenses, laws regarding taxation and ensuring you are adhering to all legislation requires a detailed plan of action.

There is help available to ensure the success of your new venture.  Contacting a business law attorney experienced with the many intricacies of starting and growing a viable business or company is the best place to start. They can walk you through every step of the process and take care of the legal issues to you can focus on seeing your dream come to fruition.

Are my employees exempt from the FLSA?

If you run your own business, you're probably aware that the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) governs overtime pay, minimum wage and child labor standards. However, the ins and outs of the FLSA can make it a bit confusing to interpret. For example, you may be wondering when you have to start paying overtime or, depending on the business, whether your employees are even subject to the FLSA.

These are important questions to answer because noncompliance could result in penalties. So, let's take a look at some of the basics. The majority of workers in the U.S. do get protections from the FLSA, meaning they must be given the current minimum wage and paid overtime when they work over 40 hours in one week. 

However, there are some conditions under which your employees would be considered exempt. First, if they make $455 or more a week or $23,600 every year. Also, if the employee is paid a set salary. There are some other conditions as well:

  • If the employee has managerial supervision over at least two employees and is in a position to hire, fire or give assignments.
  • If the employee works in a highly skilled field such as teachers, lawyers, physicians and nurses.
  • Some administrative positions like human resources, public relations and accounting are also exempt.

Staying compliant with the FLSA isn't always easy. That's why it might be a good idea to speak with an employment law attorney who can help you make sure you're on the right side of the law.

A primer on defamation

As a business owner, there are few things more important to you than the reputation of your business. So when someone says something derogatory about your services or the way your business operates, it can hurt you both emotionally and financially. Potential clients may see it and decide not to use your business because of what someone else said. Now what if the derogatory remarks were false and made by a former employee or a competitor who is looking to ruin your business?

In that case you may be able to file a defamation suit and recover damages for the injuries to your business and your reputation. In order to prove that your were defamed, there are a few requirements:

  • A statement has been written or spoken about you by a second party.
  • That statement has to have been "published," meaning it was seen by a third party. This does not mean it has to be "published" in the traditional sense.
  • The statement has injured you in some tangible way, like damaging your reputation and causing you to lose out on work.
  • The statement has to be demonstrably false. True statements, even when they hurt, aren't considered defamation.
  • Finally, the statement can't fall into a protected category of speech. One example would be someone testifying at a trial.

 

If you feel the defamatory statement meets these requirements, you may want to consider speaking with an employment law attorney. He or she can listen to your case and may be able to help you move forward with it.

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Kisner Law Firm, LLC
Gulf Tower
707 Grant St., Suite 2646
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
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Phone: 412-208-4263
Fax: 412-235-6704

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