Chances are that no matter how large or small your business is, if you employ other people, you are always at risk of an employee lawsuit. Employment litigation is burdensome for any business enterprise, as a lengthy court battle can drain time and business resources as well as divert your attention from daily operations. Having expert legal counsel available to guide and protect you from employee litigation is an invaluable business asset. A New Jersey business attorney can help you implement preventative measures like the following:
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) governs employment standards in the U.S., and many employee lawsuits are triggered by FLSA violations such as failure to pay overtime by misclassifying employees as exempt from overtime pay. Most New Jersey employees are considered nonexempt — and for those that can be classified as exempt, specific FLSA and state employment law criteria must be met before they can be denied overtime pay. The federal and state regulations governing employment are numerous and ever changing; with the assistance of an expert in business litigation and employment law, you can ensure your business complies with the labor laws that govern your relationship with your employees.
Anti-Discrimination Law Compliance
Federal law prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, religion, color, sex (including pregnancy), age, national origin or disability. In addition, under New Jersey law, employers cannot discriminate on the basis of relationship status, gender identity or expression, military service, sexual orientation, blood trait or genetic information. To avoid a discrimination lawsuit, it is essential that business owners codify their commitment to fairness and nondiscrimination with formal company policies. Supervisory staff must be properly trained in nondiscrimination practices and the company must demonstrate an ongoing commitment to fairness in the workplace.
Leave Law Compliance
Under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), companies with 50 or more employees must provide qualifying employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave without affecting their job status for (1) the birth or adoption of a child; (2) care of a seriously ill immediate family member; or (3) care of an employee’s serious health condition. New Jersey also has its own version of FMLA called the NJ Family Leave Act (FLA). The FMLA was recently amended to require employers to provide 26 weeks of unpaid leave to military family members — a spouse, parent, child or next of kin — to provide care for a wounded veteran.
Equity in Compensation
While it is legal to compensate employees based on prior work experience, pay history or even an existing relationship, paying people who perform the same job differently can lead to litigation. Employees working the same job should have similar salaries and any difference should be based on documented performance.
The more rules your business has, the more likely it is that someone will violate them. When it comes to the workplace, you should only establish rules that are vital to the smooth operation of the business. When you make rules that can be considered by some as discriminatory — such as a strict dress code that could conceivable violate religious freedom — you increase the risk of an employee lawsuit.
Johnson Legal PC has successfully represented small to medium size businesses as well as corporations. We understand the ever-changing landscape of the business world and are equipped to quickly adapt and keep clients on track towards organizational goals. Contact us to learn more about how a great corporate attorney can help your business thrive.