10 Employment Law Mistakes to Avoid – Part 1

Employment Law Cartoon

The contemporary American workplace is susceptible to numerous federal, state, and local legal guidelines that impose strict obligations on businesses (e.g., wage and hour law regulations, nondiscrimination laws and regulations, etc.). Most companies, especially smaller companies, usually do not completely understand the scope of such obligations and, therefore, frequently (albeit inadvertently) violate legislation. These violations can cause costly lawsuits, and also civil and criminal penalties.

In my experience as being a defense attorney, in addition to being a plaintiff’s lawyer, the most common employment law mistakes done by corporations are listed below.  Therefore, you should try to avoid them at all costs.

  • Misclassifying staff members as independent contractors. Generally, only workers who operate their particular separate businesses are “independent contractors.” Few workers meet this test. Actually, most personnel are considered “employees” by law, meaning they’re eligible for many of the workplace protections.

  • Misclassifying non-exempt personnel as exempt. Generally, all personnel are eligible for minimum wage and overtime pay unless they meet the exemption rules under state and federal law. The rules (e.g., for executive, administrative, and professional employees) only apply in limited circumstances.  Because of this misclassification, many personnel that classified as “exempt” have entitlement to minimum wage and/or overtime pay.

  • Not complying with state wage payment legislation. For example, the state of New York imposes several specific rules regarding how businesses are forced to pay their staff members. These rules include providing new personnel with written notice of the rate of pay and regular pay date; prohibiting deductions from wages without the that employee’s written authorization; requiring written contracts for commissioned salespersons; and providing terminated personnel with written notice of the last day’s work, their last day’s benefits, and their right to submit an application for unemployment benefits.  Know your state’s wage payment legislation. Conduct a Google search on your state’s Department of Labor.

  • Not using a worker handbook. A laborer handbook is a crucial tool for effective employer-employee relations. It notifies personnel of the company’s values, policies, and procedures; promotes compliance with labor and employment laws; and it helps create an orderly, efficient, and transparent workplace.  This handbook also lets employees know what is expected from you as their employer.

  • Not documenting worker job performance. A well-managed enterprise clearly communicates its employees’ duties and responsibilities through written position descriptions; trains and supervises staff members to be sure they are meeting these requirements; and gives regular, objective, consistent feedback through written evaluations and, where necessary, disciplinary actions.   Failure to document performance can result in a potential lawsuit by the staff member.

So you? Exactly what are your top mistakes made in employment law?


About the Author:

Stacia W. Abner writes for labor law training courses, her personal blog where she writes about her experience as defense attorney to assist workers and corporations handle the facets of employment law.

Image: stus