Employment Matters: Avoiding Costly Missteps

by | July 1, 2013

Blog written by Lauren Burgon, Equinox Business Law Group

As a business owner, sometimes it takes all your resources and attention to keep up with your business’  daily demands.  Having the time or energy to step back and review your policies and procedures sometimes feels impossible.  However, business owners, especially those with employees, can face severe consequences as a result of not having clear, workable, and up-to-date policies and procedures.

Employment law is tricky.  It’s often counter-intuitive, and sometimes downright illogical.  Employers who may truly have their employees’ best interests at heart can nevertheless find that they have inadvertently violated employment law and opened their businesses up to liability.

Consider the case of Dr. Donna.  She has a small medical practice with several employees.  Because Dr. Donna pays her medical technicians on a salary rather than hourly basis, she considers them exempt from overtime.  She pays little attention to the accuracy of her employees’ time records because they are paid the same each pay period.

After a recent disagreement, one of Dr. Donna’s medical assistants resigned and consulted an attorney.  Much to Dr. Donna’s dismay, she discovered that her assumptions regarding her employees’ overtime status were incorrect, and she owes this employee (and others) substantial unpaid overtime.  The problem is compounded by the employees’ inaccurate time records.

This month we will be looking at how business owners can protect their businesses from costly missteps regarding their employees.   These can range from misclassifying workers regarding overtime exemptions to not properly handling employee complaints, and sometimes involve workers that aren’t actually employees at all.  We will look at how taking a step back and looking at your policies and procedures to make sure they are up-to-date, legal, and reflect your actual business practices can help your business avoid costly mistakes down the line.