Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Employment Law Presents A Rapidly Evolving ‘Legalscape’

A review of employee manuals, procedures, non-compete language and other documents can be an essential step in laying the groundwork for a smooth business launch and operational success.



Photo by Deagreez/iStock/Getty Images Plus

 

 

In 2016, the Obama-era Department of Labor proposed changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act that, if enacted, would have made large numbers of employees newly eligible for overtime compensation.

Federal law, as of 2004, established that certain executive, administrative and professional employees are eligible for overtime compensation provided that they don’t make $23,600 or more annually. Twelve years later, the DOL recommended that the exemption amount be increased to $47,476.

The proposal precipitated angst among many employers and celebration among employees who anticipated a pay raise. Both reactions proved premature.

A number of states and pro-business organizations filed lawsuits challenging the proposal and asserting that it represented an overreach by the DOL. Ultimately, they prevailed and the proposed increase in the exemption amount went away.

Still, reports Thomas Hoffer, an attorney and partner at the Destin law firm of Matthews & Jones LLP, the abandoned proposal had effects still being felt.

“The proposal,” Hoffer said, “focused the attention of both employers and employees on wage-and-hour issues and we have seen a resurgence of claims in that area. Employers made changes in anticipation of enactment of the proposal and that further contributed to bringing wage-and-hour concerns to the forefront.”

Employers and employees found themselves dusting off handbooks and revisiting policies. And, changes like the one that the DOL proposed may properly lead an employer to seek clarification from an employment lawyer regarding how a policy change might affect him.

That contact is especially critical when businesses are being established, Hoffer said. A review of employee manuals, procedures, non-compete language and other documents can be an essential step in laying the groundwork for a smooth business launch and operational success.

“The idea, of course, is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Hoffer stressed.

Businesses are well advised, too, to contact an employment lawyer whenever they are contacted by a regulatory agency or learn that an employee has contacted an agency such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or an advocacy organization like the Southern Center for Human Rights.

“Many times, an employer will wait before contacting an attorney and try to navigate the process himself or herself,” Hoffer said. “They find themselves dealing with a cause determination or a lawsuit and they have already committed themselves to positions.”

Hoffer anticipates that due to the #metoo movement and the torrent of sexual harassment cases making headlines, changes with implications for employers may be forthcoming to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion.

Employees may wish to contact an attorney whenever they believe they may have been unlawfully slighted or aggrieved.

“In some cases, there may have been an actionable offense,” Hoffer said. “But there is a lot of misinformation out there and people may not understand that, in an employer-friendly state like Florida, the causes of action are relatively limited.”

Hoffer is prepared to counsel employers on preventive actions they can take to diminish the likelihood of employment-related claims being filed against them, and to mitigate the exposure where mistakes have been made.

“But you can’t take proactive steps after the fact,” Hoffer stressed. “You can’t go and draw up these things after someone has complained and expect it to do any good.”   

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored by Matthews & Jones LLP

Employment Law Presents A Rapidly Evolving ‘Legalscape’

A review of employee manuals, procedures, non-compete language and other documents can be an essential step in laying the groundwork for a smooth business launch and operational success.

Nondisclosure agreements: A valuable tool in protecting privacy and business interests

The prominence in the news of NDAs has resulted largely from interaction between the President Donald Trump and adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

Starting a New Business: Corporation, LLC or Partnership?

When you are forming a new business, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. Professional advice provides strong foundation for new ventures.

Computers Approach the Bench: Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing the legal profession

“Artificial intelligence is changing the way lawyers think, the way they do business and the way they interact with clients,” writes Julie Sobowale in the American Bar Association Journal.

A Proactive Approach: Elder law attorney helps clients prepare for the future

As people age, medical issues inevitably present themselves. Legal issues, too, invariably emerge, but what makes them different is their relative predictability. Edler law is among attorney Andrew Wheeler’s areas of practice and he frequently speaks to groups about legal issues affecting aging individuals and their families.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive » LEGAL STORIES PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED IN 850 MAGAZINE

High-Impact Lawyers

High-Impact Lawyers

There are about 5,350 lawyers practicing in Northwest Florida. The vast majority quietly ply their trade in the office. Others have names that were, for a time, or still are at the forefront of public consciousness. Meet 10 such attorneys from throughout the region.
Fair Labor Standards Act

Fair Labor Standards Act

While most employers are familiar with the minimum wage and overtime requirements, confusion ensues when determining if an employee is entitled to overtime. An exempt employee is not entitled to receive overtime compensation. A nonexempt employee, however, is.
A New Health Insurance Era

A New Health Insurance Era

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will change the way small businesses and their employees purchase and manage health insurance. Dramatic changes to a complex and personal product such as health insurance present challenges and opportunities for those affected.
Recovering Your BP Losses

Recovering Your BP Losses

Under a new claims process, approved by a federal judge in November, businesses do not have to prove that BP was directly responsible or the direct causation of their revenue losses. Instead, it is a black and white, numbers-driven process.
How And When to Find a Good Attorney For Your Company

How And When to Find a Good Attorney For Your Company

If you're in business, chances are you've already dealt with a situation where you needed an attorney — whether you know it or not. From incorporation to employee I-9 forms, the advice of a competent legal mind can save you money, worry and time in the long run.
2012 Legislature was a big win for business

2012 Legislature was a big win for business

When the Florida Legislature adjourned, a collective sigh could be heard from business interests across the state. Despite lawmakers’ obsession with cutting state spending, they managed to pass a host of bills to benefit business — and hopefully give a little boost to the state’s economic recovery.
Experts at finding expert witnesses

Experts at finding expert witnesses

We’ve all seen them on Law and Order. We might have listened to them while serving jury duty. They provide knowledge and clarity to subjects unknown to most people, including attorneys, allowing courts to make informed decisions. But where do attorneys find them, anyway?
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags