Employees have the right under state and federal laws to be free of hostile work environments and discrimination based upon race, sex, religion, age, or disability. However, not all work environments employees dislike are hostile, nor are adverse actions based upon discrimination. Companies that work with an experienced attorney at Trimboli & Prusinowski are able to respond to employee claims and ensure they do not have hostile work environments or engage in discrimination.
If a complaint with an agency or in court is filed alleging a hostile work environment or discrimination, the company needs experienced, quality representation by attorneys who specialize in the field. Trimboli & Prusinowski’s attorneys have handled many discrimination claims and will work with the business to defend against these claims.
Wage and Hour Disputes
One of the most common disputes between an employer and employee is concerning what wages the employee was paid. After an employee files a claim the Department of Labor will often hold a hearing and determine whether anything is owed to the employee. The company may need to have an attorney represent it in the hearing. Trimboli & Prusinowski regularly handles these hearings and provides zealous representation to businesses on these claims.
Employees can also file wage and hour or FLSA claim against the business in state or federal court. The business needs to be represented by experienced attorneys to defend against these claims as there can be substantial damages assessed, including attorneys’ fees and liquidated damages, if the company does no prevail. Trimboli & Prusinowski regularly represents businesses and closely held companies in these cases.
Department of Labor Complaints also lead to audits of pay practices. Legal representation during the audit can make a significant difference in presenting the information and potential assessments. Having a Trimboli & Prusinowski attorney represent the company during the audit can assist in minimizing any liability that may exist. Its attorneys can also handle any post audit hearings or negotiations that may be required.
Construction companies working on public projects must comply with Prevailing Wage laws, including registration and employee pay rates.
The Department of Labor performs spot checks to verify that all of the contractors are properly registered, and employees properly paid. Also, employees can file a complaint with the Department of Labor if they believe that they have not been paid the appropriate wages. In either case, the Department of Labor may conduct an audit of the wages paid to verify appropriate rates and overtime.
Companies under audit have a right to legal representation and can contest assessments against them. Trimboli & Prusinowski is experienced in addressing prevailing wage matters including representing contractors during audits, appealing penalty assessments and negotiating settlements concerning alleged violations.
Employee handbooks clearly set out the company’s policies and procedures. They ensure that the company, its supervising staff and personnel are all aware of their responsibilities and expectations. In the event of discrimination lawsuits, properly prepared handbooks provide the employer with defenses to the claims.
The attorneys at Trimboli & Prusinowski regularly draft and implement handbooks.
Some employees may require more than general policies for their position. Compensation structures, restrictive covenants, confidentiality provisions, and arbitration agreements, among other things, may be unique for certain employees which can be put into an employment agreement. Many provisions need to be properly prepared, and the attorneys at Trimboli & Prusinowski are able to assist in setting up new agreements or revise existing agreements based upon changed circumstances to assist with protecting the company and structuring an employee or executive’s terms of service.
Restrictive Covenants / Non-Solicitation Provision
A company’s most valuable assets are its clients, customers and employees, which need to be protected. The company can require restrictive covenants to be signed precluding specific employees from forming or working for competing businesses, soliciting customers and clients away from the company, or taking the company’s employees to another employer. There are limits to the breadth and scope of these agreements and drafting them properly is paramount in ensuring their enforceability. Trimboli & Prusinowski attorneys regularly draft and enforce these provisions to protect the company and its assets.
Separation Agreements and Severance Policies
In the unfortunate event an employee needs to be let go, a separation agreement may be warranted. A separation agreement can protect the employer form a future lawsuits and reduce the uncertainty related to releasing an employee. There are specific provisions that must be included in a separation agreement to comply with applicable law. The company should have an attorney such as those at Trimboli & Prusinowski draft an appropriate agreement for its situation and protect the company’s interests.
When a number of employees are released at the same time, a severance or early retirement package may be provided. Trimboli & Prusinowski can assist in structuring packages which are best suited for the employees at issue and the situation at hand.
Employees and others have many avenues to publish unfavorable information about companies. This can be related to employees’ experiences working for the company, customers giving their opinion on services, or other business related information on internet sites or through mass emails to others. This information can be published when a disgruntled employee leaves; a client/customer is dissatisfied despite efforts to correct any misgivings, or by a competitor seeking to get a greater market share. Sometimes the negative information is false. When false information is published that causes harm to a company, the company may have a defamation or false light claim against the publisher.
Jim Prusinowski has litigated defamation claims to the New Jersey Supreme Court and is one of the State’s foremost experts on defamation in the workplace.
When false information is circulated by anonymous emailers, quick action is often required to obtain the identity of the person sending the emails. When a business learns of possible defamatory publications it should take action as soon as possible to investigate the publisher and determine what course of action it can take. Trimboli & Prusinowski’s expertise in this area can assist businesses which believe defamatory information has been published about it.
Employers are entitled to representation when an unemployment appeal is filed by a former employee. Companies are encouraged to respond to unemployment claims to minimize their unemployment assessment and to help reduce fraud. An employer may need representation to assist in showing there is no basis for approving benefits an employee seeks. Trimboli & Prusinowski can assist employers in their presentation of facts and law to an unemployment appeal examiner.
Collective Bargaining Agreement Negotiations
All businesses should have experienced professional negotiators assist them with negotiating union contracts. Knowing what the NLRB requires to be negotiated and what is managerial prerogative can assist in ensuring the company retains its authority and ability to operate effectively and efficiently. Trimboli & Prusinowski is experienced in traditional labor law and negotiates for businesses against unions. Trimboli & Prusinowski’s experience as Labor Counsel can assist and protect the company’s interests during negotiations and ensure proper application of the contract’s terms.
If non-union employees are considering forming a labor association, then the company should contact Trimboli & Prusinowski to discuss what options it may have. There may be actions that the company can take concerning a possible formation of a labor union and prepare for the possibility of the formation of a labor association if one is created.
Many contractors and construction companies agree to project agreements with labor unions and employee associations. Often apparently simple agreements can have significant provisions which are not spelled out. Prior to entering into a project agreement, a contractor or construction company should have an experienced attorney, such as those at Trimboli & Prusinowski, review the agreement and advise the company concerning its obligations and mandates.
If a project agreement has already been executed, the contractor or construction company could benefit from having Trimboli & Prusinowski review it and provide advice concerning the obligations that have been agreed to. This can assist the contractor or construction company to anticipate long term obligations it may have to employees as a result of the agreement.
Employee associations often seek to enforce terms of a collective bargaining agreement which was entered through a project agreement. Companies which receive a notice or demand from a labor union should contact Trimboli & Prusinowski to assist it in addressing the demand’s claims and advise it concerning the options it may have regarding the matter.
There are a number of administrative agencies that regulate work including the Department of Labor, Division on Civil Rights, Division on Human Rights, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Unemployment, and others. Our attorneys have experience dealing with all of these agencies in administrative forums such as the Office of Administrative Law, Wage and Hour hearings, and workplace audits. Closely held businesses should rely upon Trimboli & Prusinowski’s experience and knowledge regarding the various agencies whenever an employee makes a claim or the agency seeks to compel an audit or other compliance.