Business Lawyers in Columbus, Ohio
Perhaps nothing in this country is more regulated than employment and labor. Through a number of congressional acts, the federal government tasks its various administrative agencies to implement and enforce a complex framework of overzealous rules and regulations in the name of fairness and equality.
These rules and regulations can create a burden on the driving force behind this nation’s economy: entrepreneurs. Fortune 500 companies who comfortably budget millions of dollars for legal expenses hardly flinch in the face of employment lawsuits. However, small and medium sized businesses can be crushed over malicious and false allegations of discrimination from just a single disgruntled employee. One complaint from an employee can lead to an ongoing legal battle with the Department of Labor (DOL) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the two primary federal agencies tasked with enforcing most federal employment laws.
Further, virtually every state has adopted a similar number of employment laws, rules, and regulations that can be as equally, or in some states, more restrictive than those of the federal government. In Ohio, most of these laws are enforced via the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC).
Additionally, many employment statutes allow employees who prevail in a lawsuit to collect attorney fees from their employer. In a highly competitive and shrinking legal market, this has inspired many attorneys to take on riskier cases in the hopes of shaking down employers for a quick settlement. Often, attorneys representing employees will take the case on a contingency fee basis, agreeing to work for any attorney fees awarded in the lawsuit or a specified percentage of any settlement, typically around thirty percent. This places small and medium sized businesses in a peculiar situation, even if the employee’s claim is meritless; spend thousands of dollars on legal expenses defending the lawsuit or settle the claim for nuisance value. Either way, small and medium sized businesses are potentially out tens of thousands of dollars, regardless if the employee’s claim has any merit whatsoever.
Often, employers wait for trouble to arrive before retaining a Columbus, Ohio employment lawyer. While legal representation is highly recommended for any employer receiving a lawsuit or administrative complaint via the DOL, EEOC, or OCRC, all employers would be greatly served in retaining legal counsel beforehand to ensure that their employment practices and policies comport with federal and state law.
Because the burden of proof is essentially shifted from the employee to the employer in employment related lawsuits, most employers do not stand a chance without written and established employment policies in place, usually in the form of an employee handbook. When facing an employment related complaint or lawsuit, an employer has a much greater chance of prevailing if it can demonstrate that the complaining employee violated a written policy of the employer. This allows the employer to demonstrate that it took adverse action against the employee for a legitimate and non-discriminatory reason.
Due to the lurking danger of the triple threat from the federal government, state government, and eager plaintiff attorneys looking for a payday, employers should use great caution in administering and managing their employment policies and procedures. Being proactive now in retaining a knowledgeable Columbus, Ohio employment law lawyer, who can advise on protective employment policies and procedures, can save a business a lot of money down the road.
Our Columbus employment attorney advises on, creates, and installs comprehensive labor and employment policies, from hiring and workplace conduct through termination. Under wage and hour laws, our Columbus, Ohio employment law attorney also advises clients on properly classifying workers as employees or independent contractors and helps assess whether all employees being paid salary fall under an appropriate exempt category under the law.
However, even with the best policies in place, many employers will still face an employment related lawsuit at some point. Our Columbus, Ohio labor lawyer has defended employers against a number of employment related lawsuits, including sexual harassment, retaliation, worker misclassification, and wage and hour claims. Our Columbus employment litigation attorney has also defended employers against state and federal administrative agencies including the EEOC, DOL, and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
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