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When Does an Employer Need an Employment Lawyer?

Occasionally, an employer needs an employment lawyer to settle disputes with employees. When the need arises, the Houston civil litigation attorneys at Universal Law Group provide aggressive representation to protect your reputation.

When an Employer Needs an Employment Lawyer

There are times when even conscientious employers require the help of a civil litigation attorney. While it’s possible to handle employment matters internally, some of the issues that arise require certain legal expertise. 

Employment law changes rapidly as courts and government agencies offer new opinions. At times, these new interpretations completely overturn a previous understanding of the law. Moreover, it’s important to understand that lawsuits from former employees carry the potential of huge damages against the employer. 

With that in mind, it’s easy to see why a company might seek out legal advice. On the other hand, companies don’t need employment attorneys for every decision they make. Below are a few examples of when an employer might need an employment lawyer. 

When Does an Employer Need an Employment Lawyer for Advice on Decisions?

As civil litigation attorneys in Houston, we often help companies make difficult decisions about employees. Here are a few examples of that work. 

Firing an Employee

Firing an employee is a tricky situation at times. An employer needs an employment lawyer when they believe an employee might sue for wrongful termination. Oftentimes, this concern arises before a company fires someone for performance issues, misconduct, or other bad behavior. 

With a civil litigation lawyer, you have someone to provide guidance around legal termination. Additionally, we help you minimize the risk of a lawsuit. 

In these examples, a review from an attorney might be beneficial. 

  • Written or oral contracts that limit an employer’s right to fire
  • The employee believes they have an “implied employment contract” that limits the employer’s right to fire
  • The employee has stock options, benefits, or retirement money due to vest presently. 
  • If the employee recently filed a claim with a government agency or complained internally about unethical/illegal activity 
  • The employee recently filed a complaint about harassment or discrimination
  • Termination of an employee drastically shifts workplace demographics
  • The employee recently revealed membership to a protected class (disability, religion, pregnancy, etc)
  • You feel concern about the employee’s potential for sabotage, violence, or vandalism
  • The employee has access to confidential information 
  • Excessive absences might be covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Even after investigation, the employee denies committing the terminal offense. 
  • The employee hired an attorney to represent them. 

Employee Classification

Classification issues impact a large portion of the workforce. Often, this shift creates the potential for additional liability. Before you classify a position as exempt or nonexempt or label a group as independent contractors, employers need an employment lawyer for guidance. 

Generally, misclassification of employees comes with a hefty price tag. This is because some cases retroactively cover years or unpaid overtime or include multiple penalties. 

Other Decisions with Legal Weight

An employer might need an employment lawyer to review decisions that impact a large number of employees. For instance, if you plan to adjust your pension plan or discontinue a benefit, it’s good to run this idea by a lawyer. 

As civil litigation experts, we uncover potential legal pitfalls employers face and offer advice on how to avoid them. 

Representation in Legal Proceedings

When an employee files a complaint or hires legal representation, it’s a good answer to “When does an employer need an employment lawyer?” In these situations, it’s best for lawyers to handle communications, research, and strategy. 

Experienced employment attorneys understand how to navigate legal proceedings and administrative processes with courts and government agencies. With appropriate representation, you arm yourself with the protection you need. 

When an Employee Files a Lawsuit

When a current or former employee files a lawsuit, an employer needs an employment lawyer immediately. Oftentimes, employment lawsuits are complex. There are certain actions that are crucial to protect your rights and preserve your reputation. 

Moreover, a lawyer preserves evidence and builds your defense. With time limits around these actions, it is essential for an employer to act quickly. As soon as you receive notice of a lawsuit, it is vital that you look for a lawyer. 

Claims & Complaints

Current and former employees have certain rights under federal and state employment laws. At times, they initiate an adversarial process that falls short of a lawsuit. For instance, when an employee believes their termination was unlawful, they might file an administrative charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 

Alternatively, they might request an administrative hearing when the state denies their unemployment benefits. In these situations, an employer needs an employment lawyer at least for a consultation. 

While some employers have the capacity to handle these administrative processes internally, most benefit from the help of an attorney. As civil litigation attorneys, we offer advice on the strength of the employee’s claim and help companies prepare a response. Moreover, we have experience with administrative hearings and agency investigations. 

Here are a few instances in which an employment lawyer benefits an employer. 

  • An employee raises serious claims with the potential for a large award of damages. 
  • Other employees made serious allegations in the past, either internally or with an agency. 
  • The employee has legal representation already. 
  • An employee indicates that they intend to file a lawsuit. 

In certain cases, employees use administrative hearings as a means to gather the evidence they need before they file a lawsuit. When you suspect this, seek out the guidance of an employment lawyer. 

Document Review

When does an employer need an employment lawyer? Oftentimes, there are seemingly simple matters in which an attorney provides significant benefits to an employer. When you need to review legally binding documents, an attorney understands how to parse through the language and identify potential pitfalls. 

Contracts & Agreements

With an employment lawyer on your side, you have someone to review and troubleshoot agreements you use a standard with employees. For example, severance agreements, releases, and employment contracts often have the same information used repeatedly. When these documents contain an error, it leaves the company open and vulnerable. 

Lawyers check these documents to ensure they contain the necessary legal terms. Moreover, they ensure a court will enforce them. 

If you unknowingly include language that leaves you vulnerable later or goes beyond what the law requires, a lawyer brings these issues to your attention. 

Additionally, civil litigation lawyers offer advice about when to use which contracts or agreements. For example, you might not need to enter into a contract with every new worker. 

Policies and Employee Handbooks

Employment lawyers often also review personnel policies and employee handbooks. The goal of this review is to ensure policies don’t violate any laws. Common mistakes might violate laws regarding safety, final paychecks, overtime pay, or family leave. 

Additionally, your lawyer checks for language that potentially creates unintentional obligations or might recommend additional policies. 

When Does An Employer Need an Employment Lawyer? If You’re Asking, Schedule a Free Consultation 

If you find yourself asking “when does an employer need an employment lawyer” and happen to be an employer, give us a call. Universal Law Group’s civil litigation attorneys provide employers with legal guidance on an array of issues. 

Oftentimes, employment disputes draw themselves out and become expensive without appropriate representation. Employers of any size might benefit from even a basic review to avoid litigation. 

At Universal Law Group, we work with public and private businesses to help them prevent litigation from employees. When a dispute arises, we also offer legal representation as Houston employment lawyers. 

As problem solvers, we have extensive court experience in a broad spectrum of practices. If you have litigation or feel concerned over potential litigation, schedule a free consultation with our team today.