California has some of the most liberal employment laws in the United States. While this ensures that workers can enjoy a safe and inclusive work environment, it creates a tricky regulatory environment for businesses alongside other essential workplace rights.
There are several obligations that employers in California must fulfill, and failure in any respect could expose the company to liability running into hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. The employment laws can be unforgiving, and even minor oversight can result in excessive punishment. As a result, employers must make every effort to stay on top of their obligations, even in the constantly changing legal and regulatory environment.
The assistance of experienced employment attorneys is crucial to staying on the right side of California employment law. Business executives may not be aware of these laws and their obligations without an employment attorney’s help. It is essential to consult with an experienced labor and employment attorney before making any important decision in structuring workplace policies.
At Ivie McNeill Wyatt Purcell & Rodney Diggs, our attorneys understand California employment laws and how to minimize liability for our clients. We have helped manage employment risk for several years, saving valuable time and resources. Over the years, our attorneys have advised multiple businesses, big and small, on employment law and practices. Reach out to our attorneys to schedule a consultation today.
Regulatory Compliance for Small Businesses
Our labor and employment law attorneys at Ivie McNeill Wyatt Purcell & Rodney Diggs have been advising businesses on their employment obligations for years. We have helped numerous small businesses across California understand and implement their legal obligations, saving valuable labor and financial resources. Some of the issues we advise small businesses in California on include:
Misclassification occurs when an employee is wrongly or illegally classified as an independent contractor. Under California law, there are several important worker protection laws that apply only to employees. For instance, minimum wage laws, regulations relating to meal and rest breaks, and overtime only apply to employees.
When a worker is wrongly classified as an independent contractor, they are not eligible for these benefits. In addition, employers do not have a responsibility to file W-2 forms on behalf of independent contractors.
Misclassification can constitute a significant problem for employers due to the consequences that can result. A worker who has been misclassified is entitled to file an action against their employer for the oversight. They may be entitled to recover compensation in back pay and even punitive damages, where the misclassification was intentional.
Due to the technical nature of misclassification laws, it can be easy to mistake an employee for an independent contractor. To help businesses successfully navigate these laws, our labor and employment lawyers provide dedicated legal advice to minimize legal risk in these circumstances.
Wage and hour violations
Under California wage laws, workers are entitled to be paid accurately and on time. Employers may not withhold wages illegally or deprive any worker of wages they have legally earned. Employers must adequately calculate the wages their workers are entitled to and pay these wages fairly.
Rest breaks are considered part of compensable time. The time workers spend going through checkpoints or reaching their workstation is often regarded as compensable time. Failing to compensate workers appropriately for this time, requiring workers to work through rest breaks, or paying inadequately for overtime are all violations that can result in employers’ legal liability.
To avoid the possibility of incurring legal liability, it is essential that employers critically review their compensation structure. Experienced wage and hour attorneys can assist with creating a legally-compliant compensation structure.
California has a robust workers’ compensation system designed to ensure workers get the financial support they need after suffering workplace injuries. As a result, employers must maintain appropriate workers’ compensation insurance and must complete all the necessary contributions.
When a worker is injured on the job, employers must assist them with completing all legal processes towards recovering compensation. A worker who has chosen to file a workers’ compensation claim should not be discriminated against or targeted for retaliation on this basis.
The duties of employers towards workers concerning workers’ compensation are often onerous. For assistance with understanding the legal implications of these duties and structuring appropriate policies, it is best to consult with experienced labor and employment attorneys.
Sexual Harassment Training
Since 2004, California laws have made it obligatory for businesses with five or more employees to provide sexual harassment prevention training for all their workers. The initial deadline set under this law was January 1, 2020, but it has been extended till January 1, 2021, by the SB-778.
The law also makes provision on the modalities for the training with regards to required hours and qualifications. Persons recognized by the law as trainers for this training are;
- Human resource professionals
- Harassment prevention consultants
But they must meet certain conditions to qualify as trainers. These conditions relate to their areas, years, and jurisdiction of practice. Our attorneys help clients in this regard by administering the training and explaining records that must be kept.
General Legal Compliance for Employers and Employees during COVID-19
We face perhaps the most significant public health challenge in our lifetime as the novel coronavirus still ravages the world. In attempts to flatten the curve, certain obligations are imposed by the government that must have compliance. Employers must now take active steps to ensure workplace safety in light of this new challenge to employees’ health and safety. Small businesses are not left out of this struggle as there is barely any exemption from fair employment obligations, health, etc.
Regulatory bodies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have set guidelines and best practices for navigating these difficulties. Some of these include your right as an employer to take an employee’s temperature or ask them to go home if they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. For employees that test positive, employers are required to close off their areas of the office and take other measures to minimize employee exposure to the virus.
Our employment attorneys at Ivie McNeill Wyatt Purcell & Rodney Diggs provide legal support to businesses on the following areas:
Legal Advice and Counseling
An essential item on most of our clients’ agendas is regulatory compliance. This is in response to the tightening focus of regulatory authorities on the affairs of corporate bodies. Yet, it is almost impossible for employers or owners of small businesses to be aware of all the laws bordering on employment and how to stay in compliance.
We cover this gap by providing advisory services through our legal knowledge. We help create suitable employment arrangements and workforce strategies. Our advisory services cover a wide range of regulatory issues with an eye for business-oriented approaches to compliance.
One of the significant areas where businesses make mistakes today is the misclassification of exempt and non-exempt workers. Failure to follow legal standards regarding allowances of persons in either class could ground unwanted liability. Our attorneys can guide you on this and more.
Investigations and Evaluations
We provide expert hands for the evaluation and analysis of employee complaints in the workplace. This is complementary to the work of the human resource team at the given business.
Poor handling of employee complaints may ground further liability and huge penalties under the law. To avert this, our employment attorneys help clients to navigate this technical terrain. We investigate and evaluate any claims that may arise from the employment relationship.
Formulation of Workplace Policies
Favorable workplace policies are essential to effective employee relations in a company. This falls mostly in the human resources department of a company, where available. However, we work with these teams to ensure compliance with federal and state laws, which are always changing.
We help our clients adapt to law and economy changes by recalibrating their existing workplace policies to fit prevailing situations.
Legal drafting is an art exclusive to lawyers, and our employment attorneys have mastered this art to sufficiently provide our clients with the following services:
- Enforceable Contracts: Contracts are at the heart of businesses. For services or goods to be exchanged, there has to be an agreement or contract to that effect. However, a bad contract may be detrimental to the business. Our attorneys are experts at drafting enforceable contracts best suited to the client’s business without shortchanging the business owner’s interests.
- Employment-Related Agreements and Protection of Intellectual Property: The type of employment contract determines, to a large extent, the designation of staffers. Employment contract templates may not provide for these differences and cause problems in the future. Our attorneys understand the key differences and can draft water-tight employment contracts. We also prepare non-competes, non-disclosure, and non-circumvention agreements for employers. This is to protect our clients’ intellectual property. These clauses could be inserted to prevent employees from leaving with confidential information or assign employee creations during the employment to the employer. We draft all the major agreements in an employment relationship to protect our clients’ interests while ensuring legal compliance.
- Employment Policies: We help our clients develop workplace policies, handbooks for employees, and other relevant documents. This ensures that our clients’ wishes in risk mitigation and proposed workforce strategies are carried out.
We help clients review employment contracts and negotiate on their behalf with employees and independent contractors. Our attorneys can identify leverages and maximize them to our clients’ benefit for negotiation of compensation, severance pay, and other clauses in the employment contract.
Negotiating employment contracts is not within the exclusive preserve of employees. There are management dimensions to these negotiations to safeguard the companies’ interests. Employees seeking negotiation of contracts would almost always come with attorneys of their own. It is dangerous to head into such meetings as an employer without having an attorney.
Legal Representation and Dispute Resolution
Our attorneys are highly skilled in employment litigation and dispute resolution. While we try to secure resolution of disputes outside of the court, we are very well-equipped to handle our clients’ cases in court. We adopt effective case management strategies to ensure that our clients’ businesses are not harmed.
Our firm specializes in providing quality legal representation to employers and business managers. We leverage our knowledge of California and federal labor and employment laws and essential strategies to ensure our clients’ rights are secured. We can provide comprehensive representation in any of the following cases:
- Breach of employment contracts
- Workplace harassment
- Employment discrimination
- Wrongful termination
- Labor board citations
- Workplace retaliation
- Violation of Wage and Hour Laws
- Equal Pay disputes etc.
Administration of Required Training for Employees
The extended deadline for some training obligations affords employers some time to prepare for mandatory training. Although the search for administrators may get tedious, this is particularly so for employers organizing effective training not only for regulatory compliance purposes.
We have an expert team of employment attorneys that can provide some of these legally required trainings. For example, our attorneys are qualified to administer sexual harassment prevention training. What sets our training apart is that they are highly interactive, goal-oriented, and tailored to suit the employer’s goal.
The law firm of Ivie McNeill Wyatt Purcell & Diggs Can Help You
Having strong legal representation and well-informed legal advice is crucial to the success of a company. Our employment attorneys have been delivering these critical services to clients for years, yielding positive results. We can help with your business’s legal issues too. Contact us and let us discuss your matter or concerns.