Legal Updates


Hire Employees “At Will” – “At will” employment provides your business with maximum flexibility in employment relationships by allowing for termination at any time, with or without notice, and for any reason.

Use Employment Agreements – An employment agreement is a useful tool in documenting the “at will” nature of the relationship and obtaining the employee’s agreement to obligations of confidentiality, intellectual property and non-competition/non-solicitation.

Don’t Discriminate – It is illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), sexual orientation, parental status, national origin, age, disability, family medical history or genetic information, political affiliation, military service, or any other non-merit based factor. Enforce a “no tolerance” anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy.

Create a Policy Handbook – Educate employees on the company policies and procedures through an employee handbook. Give each employee their own copy and require each to return a signed acknowledgment.

Review Exempt Classifications – Misclassification of exempt employees is a common mistake and a hot button for the Department of Labor. Review the exemption requirements and make sure they actually match the job duties your exempt employees are performing, regardless of their job title and salaried status.

Pay Overtime – Pay non-exempt employees for all hours worked, including on-call time, travel time, trainings and meetings. Calculate overtime correctly and keep thorough and accurate records of all non-exempt employees’ wages and hours.

Provide a Safe Workplace – Make sure to maintain a safe and healthy work environment. Immediately take action to correct any physical hazards or potential safety issues and, when appropriate, conducting safety training.

Document Employee Issues – Keep written documentation of employee performance issues, discipline, complaints and investigations, accommodation and leave requests, which can be critical in defending against any legal claims that may later arise.

Prepare for an Employee Termination Before Acting – Check the employment agreement and policy handbook for any requirements that must be followed, such as payment of accrued vacation and severance obligations. Make sure the personnel file contains all appropriate documentation. Have a final paycheck ready to present at the termination meeting and check the laws or with an attorney before making any deductions. Plan for both a supervisor and an HR representative to attend and handle the termination. You should plan ahead for what to say rather than “winging it.”

Offer Severance in Exchange for a Release of Claims – The best way to end an employment relationship is cleanly, without having to worry about legal claims the employee may assert. Accomplish this by offering a “severance package” that includes a release of all claims against the company and its agents. Make sure the amount is enough to entice the employee and in addition to any severance promised in an employment agreement.