Business legal services in Silicon Valley

Resolving Employee Disputes Before You are Sued

business employment policies

Preventing employee lawsuits and other legal claims is more challenging than you might think for a business. When your company is experiencing a staff problem such as an employee who continually comes in late, frequently takes days off, or is not performing his or her job, your first inclination may be to terminate that person.

Confusion Surrounding “At Will” Employment

Many employers believe that because employment is “at will,” meaning an employee may be terminated with or without cause, that their actions against an employee are justified. However, even when the employment relationship is “at will,” some employers hold on to problem employees out of fear that the employee will make a claim against them or sue them for workplace discrimination.

A situation such as this is difficult to resolve without support from legal counsel. If you are facing this challenge, it is important to seek legal advice from an attorney as to the proper way to terminate employment and to understand fully the legal risks associated with such a termination.

Legal Counsel for Employers Resolving Employee Disputes

An experienced California employer lawyer can assist your business by:

  • Reviewing your documentation
  • Helping you with your discipline process
  • Determining whether an employee has a protective status (i.e.: federal and state sick leave laws, disability laws, Title VII laws, etc.)
  • Evaluating what types of claim an employee could make, and the status of your company’s documentation to fight such a claim.

Often, we find that employers take action first and then belatedly seek legal advice when the employee makes a claim. 

At this point, employers often realize that it is costly to resolve a claim after mistakes have been made. A knowledgeable employment law attorney cannot change the facts but will defend the employer and try to get the best outcome, minimizing monetary and reputational damage.

Relevant and timely legal advice regarding employment issues helps minimize problems before they arise. An attorney can help you understand the various federal, state, and local employment laws and make critical changes to your business practices to avoid further claims in the future.

The Importance of Documentation

Any employment conflict could potentially result in litigation. It is important that you, as an employer, comply with California law in all aspects of your business’s employment policies and procedures, including such items as policy training, complaint investigations, hiring and promotion practices, management development, and employee training. You must also keep documentation of these as proof that you are following California law. Your good faith efforts to prevent employment discrimination, harassment and retaliation, and maintain a safe working environment may serve you well – creating a shield or defense to employee litigation.

If you are an employer in the East Bay Area including the communities of Fremont, Hayward, Union City, Milpitas, or Newark, California seek legal advice and counsel of a local business lawyer today.

disputes, employees


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Business legal services in Silicon Valley

Three Labor Laws Every Employer Needs to Know

With unemployment rates hitting record-breaking lows and startups growing all around the Bay Area, companies in the Silicon Valley can’t fill roles fast enough. Whether you are planning to grow your team or hiring for the first time, our labor and employment attorney is an expert on the ever-changing laws. Here are three new employment laws to consider and tips for ensuring you are compliant:

  1. Salary History Ban – Per section 432.3 added to the Labor Code in October of last year, employers may not request salary history, nor may they base a salary offer on an applicant’s salary history. Before your candidate search, our employment lawyer can caution you on the crucial topics you can and cannot discuss during the interview process and throughout the tenure of your employee.
  2. Minimum Wage – According to MW-2017 which went into effect this year, minimum wage for companies with 25 or fewer employees is $10.50 an hour and for companies with 26 or more employees, it’s $11.00. Our labor law firm can help you not only ensure you are compliant with the most up to date minimum wage, but also how you can prepare for the slated increase to $15.00 an hour by the year 2023.
  3. Sexual Harassment Prevention – SB 1343 (an amendment to Sections 12950 and 12950.1 of the Government Code relating to employment) states that companies with 5 or more employees are required to train all employees on sexual harassment prevention by January 1, 2020. What exactly does a training need to include? What sexual harassment documentation does a company need to have accessible to employees? Our trusted employment lawyer is an expert on these requirements and here to help you ensure your company abides by the law.

Labor and employment laws change frequently, so we recommend all employers large and small, new and old, have regular legal consultations to remain lawful. To ensure your recruitment team and office space are set up for success, especially in Fremont, Hayward, Union City, Castro Valley, Milpitas, or Newark, CA, call Lynnette Ariathurai to schedule a consultation.

employment law, sexual harrassment, wage law


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Business legal services in Silicon Valley

2019 New Sexual Harrassment Laws

Beginning January 1, 2019, the California legislature adopted several laws in the workplace with regards to sexual harassment claims against employers. These laws will impact any employee claims that have not reached resolution, even though the cause of action, claim or lawsuit may have arisen prior to the implementation of the new laws. Staying up to date with the newest laws and implementing this knowledge correctly can save employers hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours in court. The most significant changes in the laws regarding sexual harassment are as follows:

1. SB 820 prohibits employer in a settlement agreement where sexual harassment, assault or discrimination has been alleged including a confidentiality clause prohibiting disclosure of the facts regarding the claim, except the victim’s identity.

2.  SB 1300 makes non-disparagement agreements preventing employees from disclosing the unlawful acts in the workplace, including sexual harassment, against public policy.

3.  SB 1300 also makes not enforceable, agreements not to sue or bring a claim against the employer under FEHA, in exchange for a raise or bonus, or as a condition of (continued) employment.

4.  SB 1343 states that all employers with 5 or more employees are required to provide 2 hours of sexual harassment training to its supervisor, and 1 hour to other employees within 6 months of hiring and every 2 years thereafter.  The initial training needs to conclude before January 1, 2020.

5. AB 2770 protects victim from claims of defamation by alleged harasser when employee reports sexual harassment based on credible evidence and without malice.  Even if the claim is found to be false and the accused’s reputation is ruined.

6. AB 2770 also permits an employer to reveal to prospective employers on a job reference, the reason for employee’s inability to be rehired – if the employer determined that employee had engaged in sexual harassment.

Staying up to date on current employment laws is the easiest way to protect an employer.  Often times employer thinks that just knowing the law is protection enough. My law office provides legal services in the best implementation of these laws, and dissolving confusion around the laws from the employers perspective. A consultation with an employment attorney can often save the employer time and peace of mind in regards to avoiding unnecessary litigation or tumultuous relationships with their employees.

I have represented a multitude of businesses in resolving claims against employers through pre-litigation, California and federal agencies, including the Labor Commissioner, EEOC and several others.

Litigation is sometimes the first notice of an allegation an employer receives, in which case a lawyer is even more pertinent and can be indispensable to that process. Every claim I have worked on has resulted in a satisfactory resolution for the employer, even in cases where initially there were stark differences in opinion. Settlements, although not always unavoidable, can be an option in which we can still reach a solution that satisfies the employer as well as discouraging future litigation from employees.

If your business is seeking information, guidance or protection for existing or possible sexual harassment claims in Fremont, Hayward, Union City, Castro Valley, Milpitas, or Newark, CA, please contact the Law Office of Lynnette Ariathurai.

california laws, employer responsibilities, sexual harrassment


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Business legal services in Silicon Valley

New Supreme Court Ruling Impacts Companies with Independent Contractors

Companies desire to hire independent contractors rather than employees to save money on overtime pay, payroll taxes, and unemployment and worker’s compensation insurance, just to name a few benefits.  But are companies taking advantage by misclassifying workers? Ride sharing and food delivery are a few of the big industries that retain independent contractors, but also within the tech industry, companies can independently contract software programmers, graphic designers, digital marketers and pretty much any kind of service-based freelancer. With technology making our world more interconnected, independent work is only getting easier and therefore the need for an employer to consult with a labor lawyer is more important than ever.

A new court ruling is dramatically changing the rules for how to determine whether a person is an employee or an independent contractor.  So if you employ or are thinking about hiring independent contractors, our employment attorney can ensure you’re compliant with the most current labor laws. The Supreme Court ruling on April 30 (Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, No. S222732) is more clearly defining how workers are classified as employees or independent contractors.  In order to be considered an independent contractor, a worker must be ‘free from the control and direction of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work.’ Based on this ruling, workers whose employers are directly connected to their work (such as drivers connected to passengers through ride sharing companies) cannot be classified as independent contractors and rather should be considered employees.  This ruling seems to be directed at companies such as Uber and Lyft.

While companies save on financial obligations by retaining independent contractors, the legal responsibilities are crucial and penalties for misclassification can be severe. There are both civil and criminal penalties against companies and their owners/operators who wrongly classify an employee as an independent contractor.

Our full-service labor law office can not only help you understand whether any of your workers should be considered employees or independent contractors but can also ensure you have the proper contracts and documentation in place to retain your workers. With over 20 years of employment law experience, our labor lawyer is an expert in California labor laws.

Businesses in Fremont, Hayward, Union City, Castro Valley, Milpitas, or Newark, CA, can call to schedule a consultation with our employment attorney before hiring to understand how to legally employ independent contractors.

contractor vs employee, independent contractors


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Business legal services in Silicon Valley

The Dangers of Trying to Resolve Business Disputes on Your Own

On behalf of The Law Office of Lynnette Ariathurai, A Professional Corporation posted in Contract Disputes on Tuesday, May 24, 2016.

One of the most common mistakes that small businesses make is trying to resolve disputes on their own. In an effort to save money – and thinking that the issue or conflict will simply go away – many small business owners do not take a proactive approach to dispute resolution.

Disputes don’t just go away. Particularly if the opposing party hires a lawyer of their own. It is critical that you take potential legal issues seriously and work with a trusted business law attorney to resolve the dispute as quickly as possible, protecting your long-term interests.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when faced with the threat of business conflict:

If you are contacted by an attorney of an opposing party, respond only through your own lawyer. Anything that you say in response will be evidentiary. You run the risk of accidentally making a statement that could cost you significantly or misspeaking in a way that can be used against you. Immediately contact your lawyer and only communicate through legal representation.

Be aware of disgruntled employees. If you suspect that an employee is upset for any type of employment law or human resources related matter, immediately seek the counsel of your attorney. You may have made a mistake or error that could result in a lawsuit. A lawyer can help you resolve the matter before it escalates.

Make sure that you understand your contracts and agreements in place.Hopefully you have worked with a skilled business law attorney in advance to create a contractual infrastructure that will protect the business in case of conflict. If you sense that a dispute is coming, review these contracts with your attorney and address any weaknesses immediately.

Do not try to make any under the table agreements. Far too many business owners try to make problems go away by throwing money at them or negotiating foolish agreements on their own. Always seek the guidance of a lawyer before making an agreement. Allow your attorney to conduct prudent negotiations on your behalf.

Remember that mistakes you make during disputes could come back to haunt you. Each decision you make during this period of time is critical and an error could have long-term implications – some could sink the business.

The Law Office of Lynette Ariathurai partners closely with businesses throughout the Bay Area to ensure they make sound decisions and provides strategies that resolve disputes efficiently and in a cost-effective manner. Take conflict seriously and seek trusted legal guidance. Click here for more information.

business disputes, Contract Disputes, employee disputes, partner disputes


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Protect Your Small Business from Disruptive Litigation

On behalf of The Law Office of Lynnette Ariathurai, A Professional Corporationposted in Business Formation & Planning on Tuesday, April 26, 2016.

One of the greatest fears that many small business owners have is the potential to be sued. If they have set up the proper legal entities and worked with an attorney to structure their business in a prudent manner, lawsuits and litigation do not mean that the business is at risk of being wiped out.

Lawsuits are dangerous to a business, nonetheless. Studies find that even if the business wins the lawsuit, lawsuits still weigh heavily on the balance sheet. Additionally, litigation diverts the business owner’s time and attention away from operations, developing the business, growing and ultimately making money. In some cases, businesses often adapt their operations and change the way they do business to make up for time and resources lost on the lawsuit.

If there is a threat of a lawsuit, be proactive. Do not wait for the opposing party to take legal action. Contact a skilled business law attorney immediately. If handled proactively, your lawyer can start negotiations and help you avoid going to court.

These are things you need to look for in a business law attorney to protect your business and the toll that a drawn out lawsuit could take:

Choose an attorney who takes the time to understand your business model – Your attorney should be familiar with your day to day operations, your plans for growth, the relationships you rely upon, the relationships you hope to make and your financial situation. The more time your attorney spends becoming familiar with the bones of your business, the more customized the legal solutions can be and the better the outcome of the matter.

Choose an attorney who is not afraid to go to litigation – While the goal is to avoid court, sometimes it becomes unavoidable. Make sure that your lawyer has the experience to handle complex litigation – and is prepared to take the case to court, if necessary.

Choose an attorney who is willing to partner with you – The insight your attorney gains about your company through the course of the lawsuit will be invaluable for years to come. This firm can then partner with you through the future to create the legal structures and policies that will mitigate the risk of future legal battles – and create a foundation for long-term growth.

Attorney Lynnette Ariathurai is trusted by businesses throughout the Fremont area, including Hayward, Union City, Milpitas, Castro Valley, and Newark, CA. She invests the time and resources needed to understand her clients’ businesses from the inside out and provides solutions and strategies for a sound legal foundation that will facilitate growth.

business disputes, Business Formation & Planning, lawsuit, legal partner, litigation


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