We’d all like for our work to be smooth sailing, but the reality is that disputes arise all the time between employers and employees or independent contractors. Although many of these disputes can be worked out before you ever have to go to court, it’s important to handle them correctly and understand the laws at-hand. That’s where employment lawyers come in.
Whether you’ve found yourself in a tricky business situation that requires litigation, or whether you’re trying to avoid litigation at all costs, we’re here to answer your question: “When should I consider an employment law firm?”
Scenarios that might require assistance from an employment lawyer include:
- Being sued
When Googling “when should I consider an employment law firm for help,” this scenario is likely one of the most common that comes up. If you are being sued by an employee or contractor (or alternatively, if an employer is suing you), it’s time to lawyer up. For new business owners, your first lawsuit can be a rite of passage. Of course, civil claims like these can be extremely confusing, particularly in cases involving breach of contract. These kinds of cases actually make up 33% of civil cases filed in state courts, and your lawyer can be a priceless asset when it comes time to interpret these contracts.
- Wrongful termination
If you feel you were wrongfully fired from a job — or alternatively, you are demoted or suspended without pay — due to filing a worker’s compensation claim, refusal to participate in discrimination or other illegal activity, a recent surgery or pregnancy, divulgence of a medical condition, participation in jury duty, a leave of absence (for medical or family reasons), or other reasons, you should contact an employment lawyer right away. In these cases, an employer would have broken employment laws or may be retaliating against you for various reasons. Likewise, if you have been accused of wrongful termination, then it’s time to lawyer up.
- Wage payment failure
In some cases, employers won’t pay employees what they are owed relating to the number of hours they’ve worked. You may actually be misclassified as being exempt from overtime or as independent contractors when they actually aren’t. Some employees will be owed back wages for multiple years. It’s definitely not outside the realm of possibility, so don’t implicitly trust that your employer will pay you what you’re actually owed. If you’re suspicious, you may want to contact a lawyer.
If you are being discriminated against in the workplace as a result of your age, gender, religion, ethnicity, disability, your national origin — or you have faced sexual harassment or discrimination due to pregnancy or marital status — you should at least contact a lawyer to find out the laws in your state and how they might apply to your situation. Some smaller businesses may be exempt to discrimination laws, but this is not true in every state. Some states have also declared discrimination based on sexual orientation to be illegal. Keep in mind that bullying or discrimination based on factors notincluded in this list do not apply, as they are technically legal in and of themselves.
- Document-related confusion
Companies will often call in a lawyer for business owners if they are signing contracts or negotiating. If you are signing an important document, you should have help from a lawyer as well. If you are asked to sign some kind of agreement you don’t fully understand (especially if it’s a confidentiality agreement, a noncompete clause, or anything to do with arbitration or payment), this is one of those “When should I consider an employment law firm” answers. Unfortunately, some employers will try to take advantage of your lack of knowledge. Before you sign anything, have your lawyer take a look first.
By no means does this list provide every “when should I consider an employment law firm for help?” scenario, but it does cover many of the most popular situations you might encounter. For additional assistance or to schedule a consultation with our Texas employment lawyers, get in touch with us today.