Wednesday, September 19

6 Legal Issues to Navigate Carefully Around the Workplace

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An employment lawyer can offer a wide range of advice and assistance to both employers and employees when it comes to workplace issues and disputes. And sometimes these issues are too complex or complicated to be resolved by the parties alone.

These issues can range from disputes about working conditions, employment contracts or various entitlements where there is a wide difference of opinion. They can mediate disagreements and bring a cool and reasoned voice to even the most heated of workplace arguments.

1. Workplace harassment

Harassment and discrimination are prohibited by law and human right legislation, but that doesn’t seem to stop them from happening at work. No one wins when these types of cases end up in court or tribunals, and an employment lawyer may be able to help before a situation reaches that eventuality. Sometimes this might include meetings with the employer to request that the harassment immediately cease and an offer to help negotiate any outstanding issues. In other cases a more formal consultation or mediation may be required on the part of the employment lawyer.

2. Sexual violence

Sexual violence and sexual harassment is particularly dangerous ground for any employer and there is now a higher burden on employers to create and maintain a safe and violence free workplace. For employers that means they no longer have to say that they have a safe workplace, they may be required to prove it. An employment lawyer can help craft and implement a sexual violence and workplace harassment policy to meet these new regulatory requirements. If not, employers can expect to pay an increasing financial penalty for anyone who successfully claims that they were harassed at work.

The result of this heightened awareness on sexual violence and harassment at work has been a dramatic increase in the amounts being awarded to plaintiffs who were harassed at work. In some instances, the awards are doubling from where they were just a few years ago. One recent case saw a single-parent administrative assistant receive a $300,000 settlement in a sexual harassment situation.

3. Legal consequences

In some cases, there may be a legal requirement that has not been fulfilled. In others, there may be some ignorance of the rights of both employers and their employees. In any of these cases there might be a need for the expert advice and guidance of an employment lawyer. This is particularly true in situations that are new, untested or where the jurisprudence is still being developed. Two of those emerging issues in employment law today are in workplace harassment and sexual violence, and terminations and wrongful dismissal.

4. Terminations

Employers need to carry out employee terminations from time to time. It’s just a normal part of doing business. But these terminations must be done in a proper and legal fashion. A wrong step in this area could lead to a lawsuit and damages later. An employment lawyer can ensure that terminations are carried out in accordance with the law and stated company policies. Every employer should have this type of protection against claims and lawsuits.

5. Wrongful dismissal

Today, that is more crucial than ever because several developments have made it tougher and more expensive to dismiss employees without cause. Some recent court cases have broadened the factors that govern payouts to employees in dismissal without cause cases. While at the same time, the traditional factors are becoming less important or being ignored or given a lower profile by the courts. This makes getting good employment legal advice very important before a termination order is issues.

6. Employment law

The rules of the game are changing in this area of employment law in another way as well. The latest trend is to have summary judgements rather than a trial for civil matters like severance pay or notice period complaints. This ups the ante on employers to settle faster and not necessarily in their interest and it also increases the need to make the right set of initial decisions on any termination case. That’s where employment lawyers can come in. They have the latest information and can provide current an accurate recommendations to guide employers in the right legal direction.

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Greg Flynn

Staff writer / Web curator / Beanie hat enthusiast

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