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Running a business comes with risk. You devote your time, passion, and resources to building something that faces many possible adversaries. Legal action by a current or former employee requires a quick response in order to keep business operations running smoothly. Your response must also be careful, though, in order to protect the company’s long-term well-being. If not handled correctly, an employment dispute could be disastrous for your company. You need an advocate who knows New York’s employment laws and can evaluate the claims against your business. The attorneys at The Coppola Firm are ready to defend your business in any NY employment case.
The Coppola Firm represents employers in the Buffalo area in myriad employment matters.
An employment contract defines the duties of both an employee and an employer. A well-drafted contract can protect an employer from many kinds of legal liability. An employment attorney can assist during negotiations to make sure an employer complies with all of their legal duties.
Employers have a duty to investigate alleged misconduct in the workplace. For example, if an employer fails to conduct a reasonable investigation of sexual harassment, they could be liable for damages to the employee who reported the alleged harassment. A skilled employment lawyer can help an employer protect their legal interests by advising them on how to investigate workplace complaints properly.
Employers may have to take action against employees who violate an office code of conduct or engage in other improper or unlawful activities. If an investigation into a sexual harassment complaint confirms the complainant’s allegations, for example, disciplinary action could be necessary against the perpetrator. This could range from a formal reprimand to termination. An employment lawyer can help an employer handle disciplinary matters.
Both federal and New York state laws require employers to pay a minimum wage and overtime compensation to many employees. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets a nationwide minimum wage, while New York law sets a higher one. Wage and hour disputes are among the most common employment legal issues.
Workplace discrimination claims can be very costly for employers. Employment law attorneys can represent employers in lawsuits and other claims. They can also offer legal advice to employers about policies or practices that could help them avoid discrimination claims.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave to certain employees for certain purposes. Determining who qualifies for FMLA leave can be complicated. The employer must fall under the FMLA’s jurisdiction, the employee must meet the law’s eligibility criteria, and the employee must have an approved reason for taking leave from work.
An employee handbook puts important employment information in one convenient place. Employees can consult the handbook to learn about how to qualify for sick leave, vacation time, or retirement benefits. They can find out how to complain about misconduct, such as workplace harassment or discrimination. The employer can establish clear policies for employees to comply with and address issues that affect their business in a legally compliant way. A comprehensive employee handbook prepared by an attorney protects the employer by giving employees all the information they need.
New York law requires employers to provide annual training to managers, supervisors, and others on employment law issues like sexual harassment. An employment lawyer with years of experience in New York can help an employer provide the necessary training.
The relationship between an employer and an employee involves many legal obligations. In the simplest possible employment arrangement, the employee provides services for the employer, and the employer pays the employee. Employment is usually much more complicated than this, however. An employment contract signed by both parties can establish their obligations and address questions like the following:
Sometimes, a labor union represents some or all of a company’s employees. That union is authorized to engage in collective bargaining with the employer on behalf of its members. Federal and state labor laws, such as the National Labor Relations Act, require employers to negotiate with the union about wages, hours of work, and other features of employment. Attorneys can help you negotiate those collective bargaining agreements to achieve the best possible policies for the employer.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that enforces various workplace discrimination laws, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of multiple factors, including race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, and national origin. The New York State Division of Human Rights (SDHR) is the state agency that enforces New York workplace discrimination laws. New York offers even broader protections than federal law. Cases filed with one agency get cross-filed with the other, but the agency the employee went to originally will be the agency investigating.
Before an employee may file a discrimination lawsuit in federal court, they must file a charge with the EEOC. The agency will investigate their claims. It may decide to pursue a case against an employer on behalf of an employee who filed a charge. If not, it will issue a “right to sue” letter that allows the employee to proceed with a lawsuit. There is not the same requirement for New York state law claims. In other words, an employee can go right to state court without first filing a charge at SDHR.
If your company needs to defend itself in front of the EEOC or in federal court, or before the SDHR or in New York state court, The Coppola Firm boasts many years of experience handling these types of proceedings.
Employees can bring numerous types of legal claims in court, such as the following:
Federal and New York state laws view sexual harassment as a type of unlawful discrimination based on sex. It may occur when a supervisor or manager requires an employee or job applicant to agree to some sort of sexual demand as a condition of their job. It can also occur when unwelcome sexual conduct creates a hostile work environment.
Numerous laws prohibit employers from taking adverse actions against employees because they engaged in legally-protected activities like labor organizing or reporting alleged discrimination. Wrongful termination claims are often based on alleged retaliation.
Employees who report certain suspected legal violations by their employers, known as “whistleblowers,” have some legal protections against retaliation.
A common dispute involving minimum wage and overtime pay involves the claim that an employer requires employees to work unpaid hours, such as by mandating certain actions before or after they clock in. If the total amount of time spent working exceeds 40 hours in a workweek, employees may claim they are entitled to overtime pay.
Workplace discrimination on the basis of certain protected categories violates federal and New York state laws. Federal law protects categories like race, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, religion, pregnancy, and genetic information. New York law covers all of these categories and more, including marital status, legal activities performed outside of work, criminal history, and religious observances, among others. In most cases, employees have the burden of proving a connection between an adverse action and their membership in a protected group.
At the end of the employment relationship, a severance agreement can protect an employer’s interests with provisions like a release of claims, non-disclosure agreement that covers trade secrets or other confidential information, and restrictive covenants like non-competes. It is important to talk with an attorney experienced in non-competes, especially with the evolving laws addressing whether they are lawful and enforceable.
Employers have a lengthy and complicated set of legal obligations toward their employees. The full range of duties under NY employment law can be difficult for an employer to grasp while also running their business. The Coppola Firm’s team of employment law attorneys has the knowledge and experience to guide you through your company’s legal duties. We can help you and your business remain compliant with current and future employment laws. Should an employment dispute arise, we can advocate for your rights in arbitration, before the EEOC or SDHR, or in state or federal court.
You need an experienced law firm to protect your company if you have an employment dispute. As a recognized Super Lawyers firm, the lawyers at The Coppola Firm have handled litigation matters involving employment, personal injury, and other practice areas for decades. Our law office is the only woman-owned personal injury law firm in Buffalo. We offer free advice videos and a ground-floor location with free parking. Speak to a Buffalo employment lawyer in our law office today by calling 716-839-9700 or filling out our contact form.
Coppola Firm was exceptional in helping me resolve a difficult employment situation. They were compassionate, responsive, did excellent work and were exceptional advocates on my behalf. I enthusiastically endorse them. This was a professional referral and one I would gladly offer to others based up experience.
Working with The Coppola Firm was a great experience during a challenging time for myself. Jennifer Scharf was responsive, respectful and supportive. Given her experience she helped me come out of a difficult situation in a better position. This was a professional referral and one I would gladly offer to others based up experience.
I found myself in need of having essential legal documents completed with an elderly family member. Things were also tricky due to my family member not living locally. Jennifer Scharf and her team were excellent to work with. They were able to accommodate our needs and were kind, patient, and informative. It is so important to get critical legal documents completed prior to truly needing them. I would strongly recommend anyone to use The Coppola Firm for their legal needs. They showed my family member the dignity and respect they deserved and were very easy to work with.
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