SLG offers effective employment law counseling for companies and executives, including internal investigations, advising clients on workplace policies and practices, employment handbooks, employment agreements, severance agreements, executive compensation, and other employment-related agreements, issues, and disputes. SLG’s employment attorneys also defend employers in the California courts and in front of the Labor Commissioner.
SLG’s considerable experience with companies ranging from small start-ups to publicly traded companies means that its attorneys are well equipped at negotiating and drafting necessary employment documents no matter the size of the client. The employment law attorneys at SLG are dedicated to protecting employers from litigation or liability related to employee claims. SLG is experienced in handling complex employee relations matters and understands that many seemingly routine business decisions can be implemented in a way to eliminate or minimize future liability.
Effective Employment Practices
One of the most complicated and confusing aspects of starting a new business is hiring employees and establishing employment practices that are in compliance with all applicable state and federal laws. It is important to recognize that these are two separate issues that are equally important to address. When businesses enter into a relationship with their employees, rights and responsibilities are created on both sides, and hiring even one employee often triggers certain rights and responsibilities with respect to federal and state taxes, workers’ compensation insurance, immigration law, and other issues.
SLG’s employment attorneys counsel clients of all sizes, from a single member LLC to a Fortune 500 company, and know what is required and recommended for smooth employment practices. Some of the most common employment practices are having well written documents in place, such as: consulting agreements, offer letters, invention assignment agreements, stock options plans, and executive incentive packages.
Effective Employment Agreements
SLG's business and employment lawyers know how to draft employment agreements that are enforceable under California law. One of the most critical issues facing SLG’s clients is the protection of trade secrets, proprietary secrets, and other confidential information from disclosure. While non-compete clauses in employment contracts are generally unlawful in California, SLG's attorneys can still protect their clients by drafting employment contracts which protect the client's sensitive business information and intellectual property. Additionally, and if appropriate, employment and independent contractor agreements may include non-disclosure provisions, confidentiality obligations, provisions regarding the disclosure of conflicts of interest, and other narrowly tailored contract provisions that protect the employer within the bounds of California’s laws.
SLG's employment attorneys help their clients draft clear and concise employment handbooks. Employment handbooks are not employment contracts but do set forth an employer's legal obligations owed to its employees and, in return, the expectations of those employees. An employment handbook is a set of guidelines by which the employer sets forth critical policies for their employees to follow and provides the employer the opportunity to communicate the envisioned culture of the company. Employment handbooks should include statements that employees are "at-will" unless they have a specific employment contract with the company that states otherwise. The handbook should include an employer’s policies prohibiting discrimination and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other specific laws. Additional topics that may be appropriate in an employment handbook include work schedules, accrual of leave benefits, sick time, workers’ compensation information, workplace safety and intellectual property protection information.
Having comprehensive and well-thought out employment policies and practices in place can go a long way in reducing a business’s legal liability as well as its exposure to such accusations. SLG’s employment lawyers work closely with clients, reviewing everything from hiring procedures to employment handbooks in order to protect them from potential liability.
In addition to hiring employees, a business will eventually need to terminate an employee. SLG's employment attorneys advise their clients on the proper means of termination. SLG's business attorneys draft termination and severance agreements designed to minimize the risk of a future lawsuit while maintaining the integrity of the employer’s proprietary information and future employee raiding by departing employees. Severance packages must be narrowly tailored to avoid violating California law. In fact, if a terminated employee is over 40 years of age, special requirements must be built into the severance agreement to make it enforceable. SLG's employment lawyers are highly adept at drafting severance agreements to avoid impeding the departing employee's rights to work while balancing their client's needs.
Lawsuits and Other Disputes
If a business is faced with a lawsuit or other claim from a current or former employee, SLG's employment attorneys are ready, willing, and able to defend it. SLG's employment lawyers understand that despite best efforts to prevent litigation through clear policies and agreements, sometimes employers still end up in litigation, often through no fault of their own. The employment attorneys at SLG will explore every option before entering into litigation and counseling on wage and hour laws is something that they can provide to their clients to help avoid litigation. When litigation is inevitable, SLG's business litigation lawyers will explore cost-effective and efficient litigation strategies while defending their clients in court. In addition, SLG's employment and business litigation attorneys eagerly represent their clients in alternative dispute forums such as in front of the Labor Commissioner, and in arbitration and mediation.
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Whether you are seeking to establish employee policies or an employment handbook, are negotiating an employment or severance agreement, deciding on stock options and compensation for executives, or have an employment dispute that needs resolution, the employment law attorneys at SLG will aggressively represent your interests and work to obtain the best outcome possible. Keep in mind that it is better to have an experienced attorney on your side during the early stages of a company’s existence to prevent and minimize trouble moving forward.