3 Employer Legal Landmines

[Maria’s Comment: This week a colleague, Devora L. Lindeman, Esq., a Partner at Greenwald Doherty, whom I met through LinkedIn a few years ago, sent me her newsletter and I enjoyed reading her tips and used the template she attached.  This topic is of interest to Financial Advisors, Planners or Managers who have team members or are thinking about it. AND it’s of equal interest to all CEOs, small business owners, and HR professionals, too. Thank you Devora for being my 2nd Blog Guest Author and for providing me with permission to share your tips with my blog subscribers and viewers.  Enjoy this excerpt from Devora’s newsletter!]


3 Employer Legal Landmines

manontiteropeSMID-10075457There are many issues that could have been avoided IF ONLY the employer did a little preparation and/or education.  These issues may cause employers to inadvertently step in legal landmines or walk on a very thin line.


Emergency Contact Forms

The start of the new year is a good time to have every employee update their Emergency Contact Forms.  What are you going to do if an employee stops showing up to work and doesn’t contact you?  You need someone to call.  While it may seem hard to fathom, you may be the only one who knows this person is not accounted for.  They could be sick at home or worse.  Download a copy of the form from EmployeeContactFormDL12-13E-Newsletter


Reference Checking/Criminal Background Checks

When you have a promising candidate, check this person’s references BEFORE you make the candidate an offer of employment.  However, if you want to do a criminal background check, you may need to give the candidate a conditional offer of employment before running the background check.  It is now illegal to ask about criminal convictions on an employment application (so-called “Ban-the-Box” laws) in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and in certain cities including Newark, Philadelphia, Buffalo and Seattle. If you are uncertain of the laws that apply to your jurisdiction, consult with your employment attorney.


Employment Contracts

Although I generally recommend against having an employment contract with employees (usually, an offer letter specifying the terms of employment and an employee handbook with your policies and benefits will suffice), if you are going to utilize an employment contract, be sure that both you and the employee are clear as to the terms of the contract and that you have a document in writing to which you both agree (and which you both sign).  If you make the contract for a specific amount of time, then the employee is no longer at-will which can create multiple headaches for your company.  If you must do a contract for a year or two, be sure the contract has an escape-clause.  Otherwise, even if you have a poor performing employee, if you promised her 1 year of employment and terminate her after 5 months, you are going to be legally obligated to pay her an additional 7 months of compensation — unless the contract specifically says that you do not need to do that.


About Devora

Devora represent companies and management in all aspects of employment and labor. She’s a partner at Greenwald Doherty LLP, located in NY. [Maria’s Comment: Here’s a sample list of what an employment and labor attorney covers and a link directly to their company website.]

Employment lawyers, such as the experienced lawyers at Greenwald Doherty LLP, are ready o help you with all of these and the other crazy laws that apply when you have employees.  Questions? Call Devora in NY at  845-589-9300.

If there is any particular topic you would like to see addressed in Devora’s newsletter or to request a subscription to her newsletter, please contact Devora directly. You can connect with Devora on LinkedIn® at   www.linkedin.com/in/devoralindemanesq Her email address is dl @ greenwaldllp.com (remove the spaces between all the words)

To request that Devora speak at your next meeting or conference contact her at the phone number or email address above. She’ll be happy to discuss potential topics. You can listen to Blog Talk Radio Show Host Yvonne Brown interviewed Devora here.


©2013 Greenwald Doherty LLP.  All rights reserved. May not be reprinted without permission.  This information is a general summary only, intended to provide general information, and is not meant, nor should it be construed, to be legal advice or counsel regarding specific situations or specific laws.  Consult with counsel for specific guidance regarding your particular situation or regarding the applicability of any law.  This newsletter does not create an attorney-client relationship and may be considered to be attorney advertising.

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