HR Counseling Advice

Personnel Decisions

Straggas Law Group provides counseling to businesses on all of their employment policies and practices. A properly functioning business should have clear and easy to understand workplace policies that are communicated to employees, complied with uniformly by management, and strictly enforced in the workplace.

Potential liability for your business starts before you hire an applicant. Straggas Law Group can assist your business to develop compliant pre-hiring practices to help avoid lawsuits and penalties.

Compliant hiring of a new employee has gone far beyond obtaining a Form W-4 and a Form I-9 and related documents. The Department of Labor Standard Enforcement (“DLSE”) has prepared pamphlets regarding disability insurance, paid family leave, sexual harassment, and rights of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and staking that most employers must distribute to new hires.

Federal law now requires employers to report the name, address and social security number of all new employees within 20 days of hire on a form that is mandated by the State of California (not the United States) to the DLSE. Other requirements include certain notices to employee regarding wages, and required health insurance forms, dependent upon the number of employees your business employs and the type of health insurance offered by your business.

Some policies, such as policies against discrimination and harassment, are mandated by law, while others are simply best business practices. Straggas Law Group helps its clients to develop sound and effective employment policies and employee handbooks as part of an overall strategy to create a safe and effective work environment, and reduce the risks of litigation.

Employee discipline is another pertinent issue that comes with critical decisions like whether to discipline, whom to inform about the discipline and the reasons for it, how much information to share about the complaining party’s claims, whether suspensions are to be with pay, or without pay, whether progressive discipline is warranted, and the design of an appropriate performance improvement plan where applicable. Straggas Law Group stands with management and Human Resources to design appropriate policies, advise regarding appropriate investigations and discipline (if warranted).

In the case of employee termination, Straggas Law Group can assist to make sure that the employer has designed appropriate employee review and discipline procedures, and that proper advice is given at the time a termination decision is made.
Pre-Hiring Considerations:

The manner in which you advertise a position, the application forms you use, and the background checks you conduct, can all potentially violate the rights of an applicant or potential applicant. An applicant interview, and even the failure to post the right documents in the place where interviews are conducted, may violate the rights of an applicant. Moreover, recent changes in drug testing and criminal background check laws can be traps for the unwary employer.
New Hires:

There are a variety of things to keep in mind when hiring. All payment, employee policy and other matters need to be addressed. To the extent the employer seeks to employ the employee on an at-will basis, it is important that nothing is done or said during the hiring process which in any way contradicts the at-will status of the employee. Straggas Law Group will analyze your business’ particular circumstances and provide you with advice on compliance.
Employee Discipline:

Lawsuits against employers can arise both from the imposition of discipline against an employee, and the failure to do so. It is therefore critical for the business to have sound employee policies and rules which are uniformly enforced. Moreover, company supervisors must be trained to properly handle discipline if sensitive situations, including where allegations of sexual harassment or other harassment have been made. Straggas Law Group is equipped to design performance improvement plans, and otherwise provide advice to ensure employee safety and reduce the likelihood of litigation against the employer.

Immediate supervisor sometimes wish to skip the progressive discipline process and proceed to the immediate termination of an employee. In some instances this may be warranted, and in others, it may be extremely unwise. Factors can include the content of performance reviews provided to the employee in the past, the number of previous verbal warnings or written warnings, or whether the employee poses a security risk. Care must be taken to avoid violating the rights of the employee, including ensuring that no retaliation is involved, and that no whistleblower or other law is being violated.

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