Do I Need a Lawyer?
Although not every employment situation you encounter requires the hiring of an attorney, many do. For employers there is more often a need to have a lawyer involved because these sorts of claims can pose substantial risks to your business. Minimizing those risks by proactively complying with legal requirements in terms of well-constructed and adhered to policies, conducting internal audits to determine wage and hour compliance and investigation of employee complaints can all be important objectives your lawyer can help achieve.
For the employee, the equation is usually a bit more complex, however, knowing your rights and obligations can help the employee prevent missteps. Also, figuring out exactly how to communicate an issue to an employer can prove to be the difference between a resolved problem and the termination of an employment relationship. All of these are reasons to hire a lawyer.
There are federal, state and in some instances, local laws that impact employment rights. In addition to knowing these laws, the attorneys who handle employment disputes have the experience to evaluate individual claims and provide advice and guidance as to the best way to resolve a difficult situation.
As an individual, the following are some warning signs that you need to discuss your case with an attorney:
- You have been involuntarily released from your job and you are concerned about whether your termination or lay-off was legal;
- You feel that you are being harassed on your job;
- Your employer is asking you to engage in some that may be illegal;
- You have filed a claim for worker's compensation, served on a jury or responded to a subpoena and now your employer is taking some adverse action against you;
- You have been laid off and your employer has given you a severance offer with a "Release of Claims";
- You do not clearly understand your rights or are unsure of the proper action to take after your termination;
- Your employer is demanding that you and/or your coworkers work "off-the-clock" either at the beginning or end of your shift;
- Your employer is not paying you time and one-half for your overtime hours worked;
- You want to file a lawsuit in state or federal court;
- You know of other employees like you who have suffered from the same type of conduct; and
- You are dissatisfied with a governmental agency's (such as the EEOC) investigation of your complaint.
If you are an employer, the following are signs that you probably need to consult with an attorney:
- You have more than 8 employees (in Tennessee) and you have no Employee Handbook;
- You have more than 8 employees (in Tennessee) and you have no anti-harassment policy;
- An employee has complained about the conduct of a supervisor, co-worker or customer;
Remember, until you consult with a lawyer and in many cases sign a retainer agreement, you have not hired a lawyer to represent you.