Businesses may be subject to lawsuits over situations big and small. No matter the industry, a business must be careful to protect itself from litigation as much as possible. A company that sells party supplies is still a business that has been locally incorporated and could be sued by an employee at any time. As a corporation is formed, the management team must retain a skilled employment lawyer who can help. Companies that try to complete this task alone may have a lack of understanding of employment laws and statutes in Pennsylvania. Businesses can face lawsuits at times, and litigation help is required so that the company is ready for any eventuality. If necessary, a lawyer can review processes the business uses to avoid the appearance of bias or discrimination.
Should My Business Prepare for a Lawsuit?
A company that has employees and serves customers could be sued at any time regarding a wide variety of matters. Business owners should not be pessimistic. At the same time, businesses must be realistic, and one of the most realistic steps for any company is the retention of a lawyer. An employment lawyer can handle all the legal matters listed below. A business must defend itself vigorously against legal action, contract violations, discrimination claims, injury claims, and a host of other issues. Additionally, a business should have an attorney review all employee contracts, agreements, and other aspects of how the business manages its human resources department. A business must also be prepared for lawsuits brought by outside entities.
Which Types of Lawsuits Could My Business Face?
Businesses are open to liability from all angles, and the following types of lawsuits could be brought at any time. Business owners, executives, and/or managers can refer to their lawyer at any time to defend themselves. Even though businesses may feel prepared because policies have been enacted to prevent these issues, a lawsuit could be filed regardless.
Employment Discrimination: Employment discrimination lawsuits occur when an employee or prospective employee feels as though they suffered discrimination due to their status in a protected class or during the company’s hiring practices. An employment discrimination lawsuit can involve anything from the application and interview process to incidents that occurred inside or outside the office.
A lawyer can collect evidence showing that the business did its due diligence and followed all applicable laws. A lawyer might also show that another employee who engaged in the harassment did so of their own accord and was reprimanded or terminated as a result of their misconduct. These cases may also be litigated before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), state agency, and/or a case worker assigned to the employee.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment cases can occur regardless of the gender or gender expression of the victim or aggressor. Sexual harassment may occur in the office when supervisors, colleagues, or independent contractors harass another employee. When a lawyer takes the case, they will show that the human resources department investigated and disciplined or terminated the aggressor. A lawyer can also show that, in some cases, the company had no idea that sexual harassment occurred. Businesses cannot respond to allegations they did not know about.
In like manner, a lawyer will investigate the case to ensure that the accusations are true. A business may find that the allegations are false, and it must protect itself, potentially, with a countersuit. A business may be accused of retaliation, and a lawyer will produce records that show retaliation has not taken place at the corporate level. Additionally, a business can show that any managers or executives who engaged in retaliation have been disciplined or terminated.
Non-Compete Issues: Non-compete agreements are often signed by employees stating that they cannot work for a direct competitor in the immediate area for a certain period of time. Employees might claim that these agreements are not reasonable. When a business hires an employment lawyer, they will build a compelling case showing that the business had reason to have the employee sign a non-compete agreement. The scope and duration of the agreement will be explained in open court, and a lawyer will show that the business would suffer irreparable harm if a valued employee with specialized knowledge or connections left for a direct competitor.
Non-Disparagement Issues: Non-disparagement agreements are used when the business wants to prevent negative recruiting, negative online reviews, or character assassination after an employee leaves. The business may have already suffered from disparagement in any of the forms listed. A lawyer will review the allegations against the employee, discover evidence proving the employee violated the agreement, and seek damages, if necessary. A lawyer may seek to reverse some of the damage done, and the lawsuit can serve as a precedent for the business so that future employees take their contracts seriously.
Confidentiality Issues: A confidentiality agreement is often used by businesses when they would like to prevent the public release of confidential information. Employees may leave the business with information to which only a few people are privy. Confidentiality agreements give the business legal recourse if private information is revealed after the employee is let go or takes another job.
A lawyer will investigate the release of confidential information, how that information was released, and if the employee violated their contract. If an employee believes they have been wrongfully sued by the employer, the company’s lawyer can explain to the court why the confidentiality agreement is required, and damage was caused as a result of the breach of the employee’s contract.
Trade Secrets: Trade secrets are often held by a business as they are not trademarked or protected by a patent. Confidentiality agreements or similar contract language will prevent the release of trade secrets or the sharing of those secrets with the competition. This specific information has been protected by the business, and a lawyer will show that that information is protected under the employee’s contract. The lawyer can take the litigation a step further by showing precisely how the employee released trade secrets to the public or a competitor.
If these trade secrets have been stolen or propagated by another company, a lawyer can show that the competing business engaged in illegal acts. In some cases, the business might sue to stop the sale of a product or service that it created in-house. The business may be countersued, and their lawyer will handle all litigation to ensure that trade secrets are concealed or protected.
Customer and Employee Injuries or Deaths: Employees could be injured or killed at work. Customers may be injured or killed on the company’s property, and the business may face lawsuits petitioning for damages. A lawyer can help protect the company from liability by showing that the company has taken all the necessary steps to maintain its facilities. Allow a lawyer to defend the business against cases caused by car accidents involving the company’s vehicles, as well. Vehicle accidents should be covered by insurance, but the business may need a lawyer to show that the vehicles were properly maintained, and the company hired licensed drivers.
Wage Law Violations: Employers are tasked with paying employee wages properly, but lawsuits may be brought when an employee or contractor allegedly was not paid properly. A lawyer will review all contracts and show that the business paid each employee appropriately. Overtime payments can be tracked, and a lawyer can refer to employee contracts during litigation. Provision of lunch breaks and rest breaks may also be included in a lawsuit, and an employment lawyer will show that the business followed all applicable laws.
How can an Employment Lawyer Assist My Business?
When a business begins its operations, a lawyer should be retained to assist with any lawsuits or legal issues that may arise. Businesses often do not know how to respond to complaints, and it is often impossible to handle all these issues in-house. All legal documents or services of process should be forwarded to the company’s employment lawyer.
While a lawyer can send a cease and desist letter, communicate with other lawyers, or speak with insurance companies, they may also negotiate a settlement of the case if that course of action is warranted. Companies and their executives need to know how to handle each case because settling may be necessary in certain cases while going to trial is the safer option for a business that has been wronged. Businesses may also choose to run all their employment and management decisions through a lawyer who can explain how the business might protect itself from liability.
Are EEOC Cases Different from Traditional Lawsuits?
EEOC cases are fundamentally different from traditional lawsuits. The business is forced to respond to all charges of discrimination at the federal or state level. For example, employers in Pennsylvania may respond to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, or businesses located within the Philadelphia city limits will respond to the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. A business may have a massive handbook with a range of policies to prevent these problems, but the business cannot simply refer to the handbook as a defense. The EEOC or relevant state agency wants to know that the employee’s rights were not violated in any way. Only a lawyer can prove the business operated in an upright and lawful manner.
Allow an employment lawyer to build a compelling case and attend all meetings held in conjunction with a federal or state agency. Keep in mind that businesses are often seen as guilty until they are proven innocent because these agencies represent employees. Case workers have seen complaints involving illegal activity on the part of other businesses. These case workers may allow their feelings about those cases to transfer to a current case. The company starts at a disadvantage, but a skilled lawyer shows that the company acted appropriately. In short, a lawyer explains the case in terms the agency will understand.
Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Offer Litigation Help to Businesses
Reach out to the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. when you need litigation help for your business. We will review legal notices, assist the business with its operations, and defend the business against litigation. Call us today at 215-569-1999 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we assist businesses with litigation throughout Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.