There are many areas in which an employer requires protection when it comes to potential employee issues that may arise. Employers are required to comply with labor laws, and these laws are often complex in nature. Some areas in which you need to be knowledgeable include discrimination, compensation, workers' compensation, benefits, union activities (if applicable), garnishment of wages, privacy issues, medical and personal leaves of absence and sexual harassment issues. Labor law lawyers help ensure that you have the necessary measures in place to protect yourself, and to help avoid employees taking action against you.
Employer/Employee functions of attorneys trained in labor laws
Many labor law lawyers provide in-house counsel; that is, they help employers to formulate and implement policies that help to minimize risks of disputes between employers and employees. Some attorneys may also advise or assist in having supervisory personnel trained in the area of company and employee policies so that claims can be avoided.
When it becomes necessary, a labor law attorney may represent the employer in litigation. When employees file lawsuits concerning wrongful termination, breach of contract, wage and hour, discrimination or violation of privacy, an employer needs an experienced lawyer to represent their rights. While most employers hope that it never comes to this, when it does a skilled attorney can minimize damage.
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Role of labor law lawyers in administrative proceedings
There may be times when an employer must go before the DFEH, DLSE, WCAB or NLRB. When you must go before various boards or commissions, it is a wise decision to have an attorney who is trained in labor laws to represent your company.
Frequently, it is to the employers advantage to go before a board or commission when issues arise as many cases brought forth by employees can be resolved in far less time and without resorting to arbitration or litigation. In other circumstances such as sexual harassment or discrimination, disputes must be reported to the correct authority prior to litigation. Administrative proceedings were initially designed so that employers and employees could resolve issues without having legal counsel, but this route is often ineffective.
It is always best to protect your company in regards to company policy, proper training of supervisory staff and potential issues with employees by consulting with an experienced labor law attorney.