At Arlington Law Group, we work with businesses entering and maintaining employment relationships to minimize the likelihood of disputes and ensure a working relationship that satisfies all parties.
However, even the most carefully planned engagement can give rise to disputes, and we are available to help businesses properly plan for and navigate through any issues that do arise in the course of an employment relationship.
Compliance and Prevention
At Arlington Law Group, we work hard to ensure our clients are fully informed of their legal responsibilities and rights while hiring, managing, and terminating employees. We work with clients from the very beginning of the employment relationship process, ensuring that costly mistakes are avoided and that risk is minimized. We are also here to advise and advocate for our clients in the event a dispute arises that concerns an employment relationship or if they need help with legal compliance in already ongoing employment relationships.
We assist with a variety of tools for employers:
- Contracts and Restrictive Covenants: We assist you in negotiating agreements with employees and drafting the right contract and terms for your needs. We can also provide advice on which employees should have contracts and which should not. In the event a contract dispute arises, we are available to advise you and guide you through the best dispute resolution procedure for your business.
- Employee Manuals: Arlington Law Group has helped a variety of employers develop their employee manuals. We can assist you by drafting an employee manual that communicates precise guidelines for employee behavior and responsibilities. We take great pride in our ability to craft a clear and comprehensive manual tailored to the needs of your specific business.
- Policies and Procedures: The establishment of clear policies and procedures facilitates the smooth operation of your business and can protect you in the event of a client or employee complaint. Arlington Law Group works with you to determine what policies and procedures to put in place and how best to ensure they are followed by both employees and managers.
- Hiring Policies: The hiring process can be overwhelming, and it can be difficult to determine which candidate is best for the job. Establishing a clear hiring policy not only helps you identify what you are looking for in an employee, it also serves to protect you in the event a candidate makes a discrimination claim. Certain screening techniques and interview questions are prohibited by Federal law and EEOC regulations. A precisely outlined procedure for resume collection and screening, interviewing, and final selection is therefore very important. Arlington Law Group can help you develop that procedure and ensure that every element of your hiring process is in compliance with the law.
- Complaints: Dealing with employee complaints can be a delicate process. Having an established procedure for the filing, investigation, and addressing of grievances is one of the best ways to protect your business from claims of harassment, discrimination, hostile workplace, negligent hiring or supervision, unsafe work environment, and other claims that might be brought by employees.
- Termination Policies: Neither employees nor employers enjoy contemplating the end of a relationship, but having well considered and clearly articulated protocols for the termination of an employment relationship is key to the smooth running of your business. Arlington Law Group will help you devise a plan for making termination decisions, negotiating severance packages, drafting termination agreements (including waiver of claims and non-compete agreements), and addressing any other questions or issues that may arise when severing the employer/employee relationship.
- Wage and Hour Laws: Planning for your business will often require you to make determinations regarding how many employees you will need and what levels of pay or benefits you can afford. Arlington Law Group can help you ensure that your staffing plan complies with wage and hour requirements and limitations.
- Compliance with Local, State and Federal Law: Maintaining a business is hard work. Dealing with employment law issues can be a job in itself. We are here to ensure that every aspect of your enterprise is in compliance with Local, State, and Federal Laws so you can focus on the real business at hand.
Employment Law Disputes
Arlington Law Group provides assistance and representation for employers in a variety of circumstances involving dispute resolution, mediation and other negotiations. Issues can arise in the course of an employer/employee relationship that raise questions about the employee's and the employer's rights. The list below outlines certain key laws and acts that govern the employment relationship.
- Affordable Care Act ("ACA" or "Obamacare"): The Affordable Care Act (often called "Obamacare") is a new and emerging area of the law that can be confusing for employers and employees alike. Not only does it regulate certain practices of employers in relation to their health insurance coverage and policies, but it also includes anti-retaliation provisions to prevent employers from taking certain actions against employees who seek to enforce their rights under the act or report possible employer violations.
- Wrongful Discharge: Case law prohibits terminating employees for certain reasons that are against public policy, even without a specific statute prohibiting such a termination. Because different jurisdictions have made different determinations on what constitutes "wrongful discharge" and the only way for an employer to know is careful examination of the relevant judge made law, having an attorney guide you through wrongful discharge claims is particularly important.
- The Family Medical Leave Act: Under FMLA, employers with a workforce of fifty or more people are required to allow eligible employees unpaid leave of up to 12 weeks for certain health and family related situations. These include caregiver responsibilities to family members, pregnancy, and other medical issues or family obligations. In qualifying situations, employees are entitled to job-protection and cannot be terminated for exercising their rights under FMLA. Even if your company, as the employer, does not have sufficient employees to fall under the FMLA, certain state laws may provide similar rights to your employees.
- Maryland: the Flexible Leave Act of Maryland provides protections for employees of employers who have a workforce of 15 or more people. Under this state law, employees are entitled to use their earned leave with pay for medical and family reasons, and may not be discriminated against for electing to use their leave in this way.
- District of Columbia: DC has a very generous Family and Medical Leave Act which imposes requirements on employers with 20 or more employees working in DC on or after April 1, 1991 (excepting the US government). Employers must allow qualified employees up to 16 work weeks of medical leave and 16 work weeks of family leave during a 24 month period. To qualify, an employee must have worked for at least one year for the employer, and must have worked at least 1,000 hours within a 12 month period before requesting such leave.
- Fair Labor Standards Act: The FLSA sets standards for wages and overtime pay. Under this Act, covered employees in most industries have the right to Federal Minimum wage and overtime at a rate of one and a half times their normal rate for hours worked. As of 2014, certain states have raised their minimum wage rates and there are efforts in Congress to raise the Federal Rate. If your company is not in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act, severe government penalties and civil judgments can result.
- Americans with Disabilities Act: The ADA protects individuals from discrimination whether they are applying for a position or are already employed. Discrimination occurs when an employee or applicant is treated differently or unfavorably due to a disability, previous disability, or relationship with a disabled person. Disabilities include past, present, and temporary physical and mental limitations. Employees with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodation by law.
- Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act: USERRA protects service-members' employment and re-employment rights when their duties to the US Government call them away for a period of service. It also prohibits employer discrimination against former or current members of the uniformed services, including the Reserves and the National Guard, who are applying for positions or are currently employed.
- Occupational Safety and Health Act: OSHA covers health and safety standards in most private and public sectors. As an employer, you have a duty to provide a safe work environment free of recognized hazards and ensure that certain records relating to workplace safety are maintained.
- Whistleblower Statutes: Many laws regulating industries also protect employees who report violations of those laws. If your employee suffers retaliation because of reports or complaints the employee has made, that employee may be entitled to relief.
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: The EEOC is charged with enforcing Federal anti-discrimination laws. These laws apply to most employers with 15 employees or more (though certain restrictions apply only to larger employers). Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information. Federal law also prohibits retaliation or discrimination arising from an applicant's or employee's attempt to assert his rights or participation in an investigation or lawsuit involving claims of discriminatory practices.
- Breach of Contract: If an employee has a written or oral contract with an employer, and they believe they have been terminated or otherwise wronged in violation of the terms of the contract, the employee can file a lawsuit for breach of contract. Employees may even claim that certain documents, such as letters offering employment, emails or employee handbooks, constitute contracts of employment.
Handling a Claim or Complaint
Certain laws providing employee rights also contain limitations on when and how a claim or complaint may be filed. For example, if an employee files a claim regarding a Hostile Work Environment and you as the employer have a procedure in place for addressing complaints of that nature, the employee will have a harder time maintaining a claim with a government agency. As another example, certain claims must first be filed with the Administrative Agency that enforces the regulations that provide the right that has been violated, and handling an employee's claim at this juncture is critical to avoiding a judgment at the federal or state court level.
If an employee claims that his or her rights have been violated, Arlington Law Group can help you figure out what options are available to you, and will represent you in negotiating and defending those claims as needed for your particular situation.
Arlington Law Group can provide help to businesses with policy, prevention, dispute resolution and mediation representation relating to the following federal and state laws:
- False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729 and 3730 et. seq.
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq.
- The Reconstruction Era Civil Rights Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C §§1981, et seq.
- The Civil Rights Act of 1991, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §1981a, et seq.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq.
- The Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. §§2601, et seq.
- The Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §201, et seq.
- The Employee Retirement Income and Security Act of 1974, as amended, 29 U.S.C §1001, et seq.
- The Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. §201, et seq.
- The Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 701, et seq.
- Whistleblower Protection Statutes, 10 U.S.C § 2409, 12 U.S.C. § 1831j, 31 U.S.C. § 5328, 41 U.S.C. § 265
- Virginia Human Rights Act, Virginia Code Chapter 39, §§ 2.2-3900 et seq.
- Virginia Whistleblower Act, Virginia Code §§ 40.1-51.2 & 51.2:2
- Virginia Payment of Wage Law, Virginia Code § 40.1-29
- Virginia Minimum Wage Act, Virginia Code §§ 40.1-28.8 through -28.12
- Virginia Child Labor Laws, Virginia Code §§ 40.1-78 through -116
- Virginia Prevention of Employment Law, Virginia Code § 40.1-27
- Virginia Equal Pay Irrespective of Sex, Virginia Code § 40.1-28.6
- Virginia Payment for Applicant or Employee Medical Examination, Virginia Code § 40.1-28
- Virginia Polygraph Tests for Employment, Virginia Code § 40.1-51.4:3
- District of Columbia Employee Sick Leave, D.C. Code §§ 32-131.01 through-131.17
- District of Columbia Employment of Minors, D.C. Code §§ 32-201 through -224
- District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave Act, D.C. Code §§ 32-501 through -517
- District of Columbia Health Care Benefits Expansion, D.C. Code §§ 32-701 through -710
- District of Columbia Health Coverage Continuation, D.C. Code §§ 32-731 through -734
- District of Columbia Lie Detectors Law, D.C. Code §§ 32-901 through -903
- District of Columbia Minimum Wage Law, D.C. Code §§ 32-1001 through -1015
- District of Columbia OSHA, D.C. Code §§ 32-1101 through -1124
- District of Columbia Parental Leave, D.C. Code §§ 32-1201 through -1206
- District of Columbia Wage Payment and Workplace Fraud Laws, D.C. Code §§ 32-1301 through -1331:15
- District of Columbia Unemployed Anti-Discrimination Law, D.C. Code §§ 32-1361 through -1368
- Maryland Employment of Minors Laws, Md. Labor and Employment Code § 3-201 through -216
- Maryland Equal Pay for Equal Work, Md. Labor and Employment Code § 3-301 through -309
- Maryland Wages and Hours Laws, Md. Labor and Employment Code § 3-401 through -431
- Maryland Employee Leave Laws, Md. Labor and Employment Code § 3-801 through -803
- Maryland Workplace Fraud Laws, Md. Labor and Employment Code § 3-901 through -920
- Maryland OSHA, Md. Labor and Employment Code, Title 5
Arlington Law Group Is Here to Assist You
Whether you are trying to establish guidelines and procedures for employees and managers, attempting to ensure that your business is in compliance with law, or facing a dispute with an employee, Arlington Law Group is able to provide legal assistance. Arlington Law Group offers a personalized, tailored approach to legal services addressed specifically to each business's legal needs.