Fulfilling Your Legal Obligations to Your Employees

iStock_000015737994Small-300x300In practically everything we do, there’s perhaps a law that governs it. Even though in democratic countries, there’s freedom of expression, people can’t just say anything they want. Indeed, no there’s no freedom that’s absolute. Despite the belief of some that their freedom is curtailed by certain laws, laws are there to maintain order. Without them, there’d be anarchy and chaos.

If you own a company, whether it’s big, medium or small, you have certain obligations as an employer. Failure to fulfill these obligations can result to your employees filing cases against you. Needless to say, you don’t want this thing happening as it can adversely impact your business. Since you’re running a company and you have your hands full, you may not have the time to take care of certain legal matters in your company that concern your obligations to your employees.

So you can focus on your core business, you can just get the services of a lawyer or a law firm to ensure that your company fulfills its obligations to its workforce.

Employment Benefits 101

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There are a lot of questions that fresh graduates might ask when it comes to landing their first job, a real job that offers employment benefits. Most of the questions would arise from the standard “My company gave me X number of vacation leave. Is this the legal amount?” to the most complex ones like “My company wanted to give me a house but the payment scheme is complicated. Is this even possible?”. It all varies from one company to another. Some companies are willing to provide shelter for their employees given a fixed period of time after joining the company and the payment schemes are not that complicated.

My general advice for fresh graduates is to ensure that the following are given to you on your employment: insurance, leave options and availability (maternal, vacation, sick, paternal, and so on), and other standard employment benefits. These shouldn’t be missing from your contract, even if you’re just on a probationary status. You should also check the clause or paragraph for salary increases in case you feel like you’ve been working for the same pay grade for a good number of years. If you want, you can get your contract checked by your lawyers before signing them.

“You have the right to claim for workers’ compensation benefits for any work-related injuries you sustained.” – Mike Ericson –

Employees without Contracts – A Violation of Rights

Employees are so quick and eager to land a job to the point that they don’t even care if they sign a contract or anything. When something happens to them, they cannot go to the company for help because they never signed documents that indicated that the company is obligated to help them or that they’re even part of the company at all. This is something that employment lawyers like us handle on a timely basis. Sometimes, there are cases wherein a company hires a lot of people in one go and they forget to give out the important documentation like contracts because it takes too much work and money to get them notarized.

As a lawyer, I would encourage all employees to get something signed like a contract to validate their employment and make it official. If there are no contracts present, walk away from the company. Trust me, nothing good will ever come out of your contract-less employment in that company. Your rights and your future are not going to be secured in that company if you don’t sign anything. This is also very important if you’re going to be working in high risk environments like a construction site. If you feel like the company is not doing something about the contracts, you can come talk to us.

Understanding Workers Compensation Discrimination and Retaliation

iStock_000005426694_Large1-700x300One of the risks of being an employee is getting injured while in the line of work. Regardless if you are on a temporary or permanent, or you work either full-time or part-time, you have the right to claim for workers’ compensation benefits for any work-related injuries you sustained. However, if you have been discriminated against because you are filing such a claim or receiving benefits from it, then you must exercise your employee rights in order for your employer to be held accountable for its actions or inactions.

Employer discrimination and retaliation

If you are an employee and you are receiving workers’ compensation, you are classified as a member of a protective group under the federal and California employment and labor laws, although it is temporary. For you to be in such a group, you must be outside of the normal parameters that make up the entire workforce, such as race, gender, age, sexual orientation, nation of origin, and religion.

Thus, being within a certain protective group means that you cannot be subjected to any kind of adverse employment decision, such as demotion, deprivation of salary, or termination. In other words, your employer cannot discriminate against you for claiming or receiving workers’ compensation benefits because of your age, sex, gender, race, religion, nation of origin or any other characteristics of a protective group.

An employer may also unlawfully retaliate against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. This does not necessarily involve you being within a protected group. However, there have been cases in which employers question the credibility of certain workers’ compensation claims.

Thus, if there are isolated incidents wherein several employees were found to have been faking or exaggerating their injuries, employers often failed to address other legit injury claims, if not all of them. Making such generalizations on certain incidents of system abuse would be unfair for those who have real and serious physical or mental injuries, and may result in some employers facing claims or lawsuits of discrimination or retaliation.

Another reason for your employer to unlawfully retaliate against you for filing a claim is due to the increase in workers’ compensation insurance premiums resulting from new claims. Employers that handle claims of workers believe that an increase in insurance premiums would mean additional expenses and burden for them. Some employers may also have to refuse claimants to not file for workers’ compensation, instead offering them additional pay for their healthcare expenses which may not be covered by their health insurance.

Seeking legal assistance

If your employer discriminated, harassed, or retaliated against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim or receiving its benefits, then you must seek legal assistance right away. In case you have been terminated after you returned to work after using up all your benefits under workers’ compensation, it is imperative that you hire an expert wrongful termination lawyer who can help you obtain the justice that you deserve.

3 Types of Cases an Employment Litigation Lawyer Can Help Employers Handle

businessmanwithlaptop-thumbIf you own a business, you can benefit from staying in contact with an employment litigation lawyer. There are many instances in which you could be facing a lawsuit from a disgruntled employee or applicant. If you want to be proactive, not simply reactive, you should get in touch with an attorney who is knowledgeable about the most common types of lawsuits employers face. In the meantime, get to know the basics about these types of cases.

Some employers are accused of discrimination when it comes to their hiring practices. Even if you have a legitimate reason not to hire someone, you might face a lawsuit if the applicant becomes upset with your decision. The applicant may claim you did not hire him or her on the basis of race, sex, disability, or other traits that are often involved in discrimination lawsuits. If an applicant even suggests that you are being discriminatory, you should talk to a labor lawyer to find out if there are any actions you should take right away.

Once you hire staff members, the chance of facing a lawsuit does not end. One of the most common accusations in the workplace is sexual harassment. In some cases, the accusation is false and the lawsuit may not have any evidence to support it. But sometimes, employees at any level are not even aware that their actions or words constitute sexual harassment. This is why it is important to make sure your staff members and management go through sensitivity training if it is clear that they are not up to date on the definition of this accusation. Even a compliment in the workplace can lead to a lawsuit, which is why you will likely need advice from a labor lawyer at some point.

Not surprisingly, terminating an employee can also lead to a case against your company. In fact, many employers find it helpful to seek the advice of an employment lawyer before even making any moves to fire staff members. An attorney can help you get together any evidence you will need to show that you have a good reason for the termination. This can reduce your risk of having a wrongful termination case brought against you.

You can hire an employment lawyer to be on your staff, provided your company is large enough to have a legal team. If you have a smaller business, you can simply contact an attorney any time you need advice on a situation, even if you are not yet sure you will be sued. Getting legal help can protect your company and employees.