Employment law has been an area of rapid change and increasing complexity as the result of legislation and emerging case law. We represent both employers and employees on employment law issues. We routinely advise our clients on the following subjects:
Wage and Hour Claims/Liability for Overtime Pay. Federal law requires a minimum hourly wage and overtime premium pay in many employment situations. Kansas has imposed its own set of requirements as well, which apply in some cases but not others. For employers, we assist with compliance and defend suits by current and former employees. We also represent employees in lawsuits to recover compensation that is owed under federal and state law. Potential issues that might indicate that a claim may exist include the following:
- Do you have to engage in any work activities before or after you are “on the clock”?
- Are you required to work for free to help the company?
- Does your employer deduct meal breaks even when you don’t take them?
- Does your employer treat you as a 1099 contractor when you don’t have your own business and you are really just an employee?
- Do you receive commissions or compensation that is not factored into your overtime rate?
- Do you work in a physical job but receive a salary?
- Does your employer deduct money from your salary?
Americans With Disabilities Act. The ADA prohibits certain employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. 2008 amendments to the ADA make it easier for an individual seeking protection under the ADA to establish that he or she has a covered disability. We assist our employer-clients with ADA compliance. We have also assisted employees in seeking the protections they are entitled to under the ADA.
Family and Medical Leave Act. The FMLA provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. We assist employers with FMLA compliance.
Race, Sex, and Age Discrimination. Both federal and Kansas law prohibit discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and age. These laws are enforced by a state agency called the Kansas Human Rights Commission (“KHRC”) and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). Before a lawsuit may be filed in court, a complaint must be filed with these agencies. We have experience handling discrimination claims before these agencies and in federal court.
Wrongful Termination. Kansas is an “employment at will” state, meaning that, just as an employee legally may quit a job without having a good reason or providing notice, so too an employer may terminate without good cause or notice. This is just a general rule, however, and there are many exceptions. An employment contract, whether express or implied, is the most common exception. There are other less common ones too, including termination because the employee is serving on jury duty, called up to serve in the military for active duty, or needs to miss work to deal with domestic assault or sexual violence. We help employers comply with the many rules in this area and handle litigation were needed.
Retaliatory Discharge. This is another exception to the employment at will doctrine. Most federal and state acts that provide for employee rights contain an explicit rule prohibiting an employer from retaliating against any employee who asserts such rights or who assists another employee, by way of testimony, in asserting their rights. Even where the statutory enactment does not contain such an explicit prohibition against retaliation, courts have sometimes implied one. For example, in Kansas the Workers Compensation Act does not contain a provision against retaliation, but the Kansas Supreme Court has still prohibited employers from retaliating as a matter of public policy. The federal ERISA law prohibits employers from interfering with an employee’s right to participate in an employer-sponsored group health care plan.
“Whistle Blower” Litigation. This is another exception to the employment at will doctrine for situations where an employee, in good faith, reports the employer’s conduct about a matter of public safety to the proper authorities.
Employee Manuals. We assist our clients in drafting employee handbooks. A poorly drafted handbook can unintentionally create an employment contract that takes the employment relationship outside of the employment at will doctrine. Poorly drafted handbooks have also been “Exhibit A” in discrimination lawsuits and other litigation.
Employment Agreements. Non-Compete and protection of trade secrets. We draft employment agreements, including covenants not to compete. We have also litigated the enforceability of such provisions.
Long-Term Disability and ERISA Claims. Employees who are unable to perform their jobs due to sickness or injury may have coverage under employer-provided, long-term disability insurance plans. We assist employees with issues related to health insurance, COBRA, and retirement plans.