What is an Employment Law Lawyer?
Lawyers specializing in employment law have a broad and deep understanding of the many federal and state laws that regulate the workplace—these range from discrimination on the job, wrongful termination, and sexual harassment to safety violations and privacy.
Employment lawyers either focus on representing employees, who believe their rights have been violated, or employers. Lawyers who represent employers help them remain in compliance with employment laws and defend against employee accusations.
What Does an Employment Law Lawyer Do?
An employment lawyer who works with employers plays several roles. One of the most important, although often overlooked, is as an advisor before there are any problems. They help businesses right from the start remain in compliance with employment laws.
Employment lawyers also represent employers when they face accusations from employees. For instance, if a worker accuses you of wrongful termination, workplace safety violations, or discrimination, a lawyer will provide advice and guidance. They will represent you in any legal actions taken by the employee.
An employment lawyer can act as a mediator before an employee accusation or complaint becomes a full-blown legal action or lawsuit. They can help the employer settle the dispute to the satisfaction of both sides, avoiding costly lawsuits.
Do I Need an Employment Lawyer?
If you are a business owner with employees, even just a few workers, it’s a good idea to have an employment lawyer to advise you. They can help you draft employee handbooks and other documents that clarify the policies and employee rights and provide workers with a transparent process for grievances.
Relying on a lawyer to advise you as soon as you start a business and throughout its operations is smart. There are also specific situations that may arise that require an employment lawyer to help you resolve. These are just a few examples:
- An employee filed a complaint against you.
- You have been accused of misclassifying employees as contractors.
- You will be engaging in collective bargaining negotiations.
- You need to make changes to benefits or pensions.
- An employee is suing the company or you.
- You have a dispute with an employee, and they are willing to mediate rather than take more formal actions.
Consider hiring a lawyer if you have any issues with employees related to workplace laws. This includes labor and organization, benefits, working hours, worker classification, safety, discrimination or harassment, workers’ compensation, privacy rights, or residency status.
What Can an Employment Law Lawyer Do for Me?
You may be tempted to save costs by not hiring a lawyer to advise you on employment practices. Or, you may rely on input from a lawyer who specializes in other areas of the law. There are many good reasons to work with an employment lawyer. These are just a few of them:
Employment law is complicated and involves a lot of laws and regulations from multiple government agencies. An employment lawyer has the right expertise to provide you with the best advice on everything related to employees.
- Prevent problems
Work with an employment lawyer now, before you have issues with employees. They can provide guidance on how to comply with the many complicated laws. They can write or review employee guidelines. These kinds of actions will help you prevent complex, expensive issues later.
- Settle out of court
Even with your best efforts, you may end up in a dispute with an employee or facing an accusation of wrongdoing. A lawyer can be a bridge between you and a worker, settling the issue before it becomes a matter for government agencies or a lawsuit.
- Expert investigations
If an employee sues you or files an official complaint, you’ll need a lawyer with experience to investigate the incident. They know how to uncover all the details of what happened to give you a clearer picture.
Hiring an Employment Lawyer
Start with referrals from friends or family you trust, if possible. A personal referral from a business associate or someone in your network may also be useful. Compile a list of lawyers and law firms specializing specifically in employment law.
You need a specialist to give you good advice and to represent you. Once you have options, interview the firms or attorneys. Ask these and other important questions:
- How long have you been working in employment law?
- Do you only represent employers? Or do you also work with employees?
- Can you provide me with references from other clients?
- Have you worked with a client with a business like mine?
- Do you see any particular issues with my situation that could be problematic?
- What are your fees, and do you suggest a retainer or hourly payment?
- Will I be working mostly with you or with someone else in the firm?
The answers to these questions should help you narrow down your options. Choose a lawyer who has the right experience and the time and resources to handle your needs.
How to Work with an Employment Lawyer
An experienced employment lawyer will tell you what they need. Provide all the documents, paperwork, communications, and other information they request and anything else related to an employment dispute or issue.
Ask questions as they arise and insist that your lawyer keep you informed and up to date about your cases. Be on time for meetings and any court or hearing dates. Update your lawyer on anything that changes as soon as possible. They need your cooperation to do the best job of representing you.
Employment law is complicated. If you have employees, you must have an experienced lawyer guiding your decisions and helping you stay in line with the law. An employment law lawyer is an indispensable ally and advisor.