Category: Employment Law


What are the Differences Between Non-Compete and Non-Solicitation Agreements?

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Differences Between Non-Compete and Non-Solicitation Agreements

Every business owner, executive, manager, and employee has heard of or even signed a non-solicitation or non-compete agreement. These documents are common pieces of employment agreements and offer letters. Understanding the differences between these agreements and their enforceability makes achieving business goals easier.

Both of these agreements are restrictive covenants. That means each party agrees to be restricted by the terms contained in the agreement or clauses of the contract. However, just because the parties agree, does not mean a court will automatically uphold the restrictions in the document.

Non-Compete Agreements

As a business, a non-compete is often the more difficult of the two restrictive covenants to enforce. This is the case because the business has a high burden to prove unfair competition. To enforce a non-compete, the company must show that a former employee has confidential information about the business interests, and the company has restricted the employee from working for a competitor for a reasonable period of time and in a reasonable geographic area. Absent this proof by the company, enforcing a non-compete presents difficulty. Ultimately, it is up to a court to decide the reasonableness of the restrictions placed on the former employee.

That does not mean all hope is lost. In many cases, a court will modify the non-compete to be less restrictive to the former employee while still protecting legitimate business interests. An important point to note about non-compete agreements and clauses is that they should only apply to employees. Any business that attempts to use a non-compete with an independent contractor may face an audit and be subject to fines and penalties from the government for employee misclassification.

Non-Solicitation Agreements

A non-solicitation agreement restricts a former employee in a different way. They cannot solicit any existing, prospective, and sometimes former clients to come work with them at their new company. While easier to enforce than a non-compete, there are still challenges.

The biggest of these enforcement challenges is that the business must prove that a former employee solicited an existing, prospective, or former client to leave. Businesses are not often aware of the specific reason why a client leaves, making enforcement difficult but not impossible.

Possible Clauses

To help businesses understand the distinction between these restrictive covenants, there are key pieces that may help a company enforce these clauses. The exact needs of every business will vary. For that reason, and to have a complete understanding and review of a company’s restrictive covenants, it is advisable to speak with a skilled business lawyer.

For non-compete terms::

  • Restrict the former employee to working in a similar position with a client or competitor.
  • Only restrict the former employee within a geographic area around the company’s office.
  • Lift restrictions after a reasonable period of time, such as two years.

For non-solicitation terms:

  • Restrict the former employee from soliciting existing and potential clients and current employees.
  • Limit the restriction to no more than two years.

Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Clients with Non-Compete and Non-Solicit Agreements

If your business is facing non-compliance from current or former employees, or if you want to understand whether your restrictive covenants are enforceable, we can help. Your business is important to you, and you need guidance you can trust. The Philadelphia business lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. can help you with your business needs. Contact us online or call us at 215-574-0600 for an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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Can Employers Ask Job Applicants About Salary History?

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Salary-History

Applying for a job can be a long and difficult process. Many job seekers will respond to dozens of job posts weekly, hoping one will call back and offer an interview. After weeks and possibly months of waiting, one sticking point can ruin chances: salary expectations.

While most employers are legally allowed to ask candidates about their past salaries, there is a growing movement to stop this uncomfortable practice. Many states have passed laws to bar the question. A study published last year by researchers at Boston University and Boston University School of Law has shown that this shift has helped black and female workers, often suffering from pay gaps, to garner more compensation.

This debate has become increasingly important, as millions wait to re-enter the workforce following massive layoffs from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Many are leaving low-paying jobs in customer service and trying to find more lucrative positions. As companies compete to fill these roles, asking about salary history will face increased scrutiny.

Where Have Legislators Banned Salary History Questions?

Since 2017, there has been a trend of legislatures prohibiting or dissuading employers from asking job applicants to disclose their previous salaries. Some of these states include:

 

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia

 

 

In addition to some form of statewide bans, cities like Philadelphia, New Orleans, Salt Lake City, and Louisville have enacted local laws to keep employers from asking about salary history. It is recommended that job applicants inform themselves about what the laws are when applying in certain places, especially when considering moving to a different state or metro market.

Why Do Salary Histories Matter?

Employers have used salary histories in the past to discriminate and exclude certain candidates and potentially save money by offering less salary than what is budgeted. This practice has also been cited as a major factor in maintaining and furthering the pay gap between races and genders. Disclosing a below-market wage would likely encourage future employers to continue undervaluing a worker, offering a less significant pay increase with a new position.

What can Applicants Do to Avoid Salary History Questions?

There are a few ways to work around the question if applicants are uncomfortable. When responding to an online post, leave the entry blank if not required, or enter $0 or $1 if an entry is needed. During an interview, there are tactful ways to avoid answering or politely refusing. If the position is in an area where the question is banned, it should not be asked at all.

More job postings now include salary ranges. A great way to avoid the question is to know what is expected in the industry or position. Noting what someone at a rival company makes can help when salary is not disclosed. Applicants are encouraged to ask employers during the interview process about salary if not provided upfront.

If disclosing salary voluntarily, do so if comfortable. If moving to a larger market with a higher cost of living, it might help to determine if the position offers fair value. Also, do not lie about previous salaries. Employers can usually spot that easily and will likely dismiss dishonest applicants. For further help, it is important to speak to a lawyer.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Clients with Employment-Based Predicaments

Job seekers have enough to worry about without dealing with illegal and underhanded practices by potential employers. Sometimes, it takes a skilled advocate to help resolve issues. The Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. have the experience to fight for your rights. Call us at 215-574-0600 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Based in Philadelphia, we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Am I Prohibited from Discussing Salary?

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Salary might be one of the most popular topics of workplace speculation. While an employer may suggest employees not talk about salary or have a policy to prohibit them from doing so, the law actually protects an employee’s right to discuss their wages. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) states that employers cannot ban employees from discussing salary and working conditions. The NLRA was initially drafted regarding labor unions and organizing. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) argued that not allowing employees to organize and discuss workplace issues would give employers an unfair edge in bargaining.

Employees can discuss salary among themselves, and an employer cannot discharge or discriminate against employees who do. It is important to note that the law does not guarantee an employee access to salary information. Only that the employee can reveal their salary. For example, if an employee approaches Human Resources (HR) and demands to know the salary of a colleague, HR does not have to release this information. The employee can only find out the salary from their colleague directly.

An employer can ask an employee to sign a confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement (NDA). An NDA generally prohibits discussion or sharing of the company’s trade secrets, marketing strategies, sales, and other information. However, an NDA cannot prohibit the discussion of salary under the NLRA.

Why Discuss Salary at Work?

While most HR people would not advocate for employees discussing salary, there may be occasions where it is helpful. For example, suppose an employee feels they are significantly underpaid compared to a co-worker doing identical work. In that case, it may be beneficial to discuss salary among a few co-workers in the same job. This scenario could include a female worker who wants to ensure they are paid the same as a male in the same position.

A salary discussion might also be beneficial if many people in the company or a certain department believe they are being underpaid versus market rates. There are many resources employees can use to check average salaries in their geographic location or industry. If a group of employees finds they are being underpaid, they could have the leverage to demand a pay raise across the board.

Why Not Discuss Salary at Work?

There also are many good reasons not to discuss salary at work. Most of these have to do with employee morale. It is easy for someone to feel resentful or jealous of a colleague’s salary. Workplace gossip about a salary could also lead to reduced productivity and diminished teamwork.

Discussing salary could also make HR or a person’s manager feel differently toward the employee. Although management cannot fire someone for discussing salary, they can keep it in the back of their minds at performance reviews or promotion time. Additionally, a worker who makes more than anyone in the department may find themselves the target of resentment or other harmful behavior.

Sharing work tirelessly to Information

If there are valid reasons to discuss salary, do so carefully. Talk with only colleagues and co-workers that are trustworthy. Also, make everyone involved agree to confidentiality. Never discuss salary during working hours. Wait until a break or after working hours because the discussion could be risky, and it is important not to waste company time.

What Should I Do if I am Underpaid?

If, after research and discussion, an employee finds they are underpaid, they have certain rights. Their first right is to approach their manager or the HR department, armed with facts and data that show the underpayment. If the company will not budge on salary, the employee can always speak to a lawyer for legal counsel.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Protect Workers’ Rights

Employees have rights under the law, including fair payment. If you feel your rights have been violated, contact the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. We help employees get fair and just treatment in the workplace. For an initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 215-574-0600. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

How Do Employers Defend Discrimination Claims?

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There are federal and state laws in place that protect employees from discrimination and harassment. Companies who face discrimination suits can defend against the claims if they have taken all the reasonable steps needed to prevent employees from committing acts of discrimination or harassment. However, a plaintiff in a recent court case, Allay (UK) Ltd v Gehlen, challenged an employer using that defense and succeeded. Of course, this ruling is not precedential here in the US, but it has value to highlight how courts may be starting to alter their views on workplace discrimination.

In the United Kingdom, an employee who was fired for poor performance informed their employer that they experienced workplace harassment. The employer initiated an investigation and determined that a colleague had made racist remarks. The discrimination claim was investigated further, and the tribunal learned that two managers knew about the comments but did not take action.

It was found that the managers and employees had been provided with discrimination training, but the training program was outdated. Since the employer had failed to update their training, the Employment Appeal Tribunal decided that the company did not take all of the reasonable steps that could have prevented the harassment. The employer’s appeal was therefore dismissed.

When are Employers Liable for Workplace Harassment?

Under the Equality Act 2010, an employer has accountability for other people’s actions in workplaces, which is called vicarious liability. Section 109 of the Equality Act specifies that anything that an employee does in their course of their employment must be looked at as also done by the employer. Even when the employer is unaware of the discrimination, they can still be held liable. This also extends to other people that the employer brings in, such as consultants, company-sponsored events, and unwelcome posts on work-related social media platforms.

Can My Employer Defend Against My Discrimination Claim?

Even though employers can be held vicariously liable in workplace discrimination suits, they have the option of trying to show that they took reasonable steps to prevent the discrimination. Employers that have strong anti-discrimination procedures and policies that are kept in practice may be able to defend their interests. They may also need to show that staff members have been trained on preventing and addressing discrimination and that they take all discrimination allegations seriously.

How Do State Anti-Discrimination Laws Apply?

In Pennsylvania, employees are also protected by state and federal laws. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act protects employees by making it illegal for employers to discriminate based on:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Age

There are other protected categories as well. Workplace discrimination claims can be filed through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is a federal agency, or the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC), the state administrative agency. These two cooperate with claim processing, so it is not necessary to file with both; you can also dual-file with both. Deciding which agency is best to file the initial claim is something an attorney can help with.

To conform with the laws, the claims must be filed within 180 days after the alleged discrimination took place. There may be exceptions to that deadline, so it is important to understand the facts before filing. A qualified employment lawyer can help with the claim filing process, as well as any challenges that the employer might make.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Work Tirelessly to Protect Employees Against Workplace Discrimination

If you believe you were harassed or discriminated against at work, you may have a legal claim. A Philadelphia employment lawyer at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. can help you with your discrimination or harassment case. Complete our online form or call us at 215-574-0600 for an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Which Employment Laws Change Frequently?

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It can be difficult for businesses to keep up with all the changes passed by Congress and state legislatures. However, there are ways to focus attention on certain areas of law and how to possibly avoid any compromising situations with company policies. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has created a new set of challenges to businesses, some of which have come from needs for new regulations or emphasizing outdated ones. Outside of the COVID-19 pandemic, state and local governments continue to alter the following laws.

Minimum Wage

Minimum wage may be the most important law to follow. It varies greatly by state and even county in some states. The rules affect hourly and salaried workers. Exempt workers often see their salary floor adjust based on the local minimum wage. If employees travel for work or operate in multiple jurisdictions, that can also affect wages.

Paid Sick and Family Leave

Paid sick leave and family leave laws are starting to appear in different states and cities, often with different language and guarantees for employees. Many of these laws create challenges for managers and Human Resource (HR) professionals. These professionals may not correctly apply hours or unnecessarily penalize workers for opaque policies.

Legalization and Decriminalization of Recreational Marijuana

More states are now enacting or forming legislation that decriminalizes recreational cannabis. That may alter business practices of drug testing employees. While some states may legalize it, marijuana remains a controlled substance on the federal level and is illegal. Any company looking to do business with the federal government or any of its departments or entities may want to maintain restrictions until otherwise clarified. Additionally, many states have put new restrictions on what employers can ask or demand of job applicants. This can make questions about criminal background or salary history obsolete.

How can Companies Adapt to Remote Work Regulations?

Many businesses have allowed employees to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the decision has kept millions healthy and productive, the long-term ramifications are evident. Companies must still manage workers operating from home; this includes providing for all breaks, establishing consistent expectations for work output and duties, and making sure employees are in Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA) compliance with their work. It is important for employers to communicate clearly and consistently to reinforce expectations and policies.

While it may not be as easy to comply with labor laws, if most workers stay out of the office, there is still a mandate to meet the requirements. Employers can use websites or emails to fulfill their obligations; this can allow for active verification of receipt or engagement by employees, as well as the ability to update with ease. Companies and employees should expect working from home to continue even after the pandemic ends. Adapting to policy changes can create new expectations that can help keep employees satisfied and retain talent.

How Should Companies Adapt?

It can be very difficult to stay compliant with all changes. If businesses can afford to keep wage floors elevated across multiple jurisdictions, it may help worker retention and attract better applicants. Many multi-state companies utilize uniform policies for hiring, leave, and other areas that give the most generous options to workers. Uniform policies also reduce the amount of potential changes that come from new laws and the amount of resources spent monitoring reform efforts. For help with complex litigation matters and abiding by company policies, it is wise to consult with an employment lawyer.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Business Owners Monitor Employment Law Changes

Following various legislation while trying to run a business is challenging, but legal counsel can help. Our Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. have the experience and insight necessary to keep you focused on your success. Call us at 215-574-0600 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and South Jersey.

Is My Company in Compliance with Changing Employment Laws for 2021?

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Now is a good time to check if companies are compliant with new employment laws passed last year. Congress, state legislatures, and the courts altered employment law throughout 2020. Certain states mandated new topics to cover and shifts in employment philosophy make other subjects more relevant. States may require or recommend training on:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Anti-discrimination
  • Work-site safety
  • Industry-specific subjects
  • Ethics and compliance
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Unconscious bias

For managers and other supervisory personnel, they may need additional training on the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), performance management, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and other topics. All trainings should be documented, and employees should achieve the necessary assessment scores. When not using computer-based modules with integrated sign-ins to verify completion, keep sign-in sheets and other paperwork in one place or file.

Is the Employee Handbook Current?

It is important to keep up with the laws that may affect certain policies already in place in employee handbooks. Laws will vary by state, which can make it confusing for employers operating in multiple locations. For drug testing policies, look to see if they should be altered. Many companies operate in multiple states and some states who legalized recreational cannabis abandoned testing unless specifically required in some industries.

Many companies allowed employees to work from home in 2020 due to the pandemic. That forced some adjustments to those policies. If the company wants to protect employees by allowing them to work from home when possible, make sure the handbook follows any new laws passed. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), if work from home does not create an undue hardship on business operations, more employees may be allowed to stay home instead of working on site.

With the federal government passing multiple relief packages to combat the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there have been new programs to allow paid leave for parents who lost childcare or have children learning from home. Other cities and states created new or expanded paid leave laws. COVID-19 has also created awareness around personal safety. Multiple states adopted new worker protections while the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) introduced new safety procedures specific to the pandemic. If this was not updated during 2020, affected policies should be changed for this year. Additionally, the Supreme Court altered Title VII language to include sexual orientation and gender identity under sex discrimination.

Has the Application Process Been Updated?

Over half the states in America now have some form of banning requested salary histories for hiring applicants, including most states in the northeast. Even within those states, there are different rules for specific cities and counties. Other states and municipalities have altered rules on what can be asked of candidates, such as prior arrests or other considering factors that may not directly apply to the position. Thirty-four states also have legislation that prevents or limits employers from asking about criminal history as an effort to reduce recidivism.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Employers Stay Compliant with Changing Employment Laws

It can be difficult to keep track of all the legislative changes that may affect your business. Oftentimes, slight alterations can have a bigger impact than high-profile bills. Let the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. guide your company through the changing landscape of COVID-19 policies and how it affects your business. Call 215-574-0600 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation. Based in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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Should Employers Require a Checklist for Remote Workers?

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Before a person takes a job that will require them to work remotely, they should be sure that the employer has established a checklist that will go over the employee’s responsibilities and the employer’s obligations. With no traditional structure surrounding an employee, it can be easy to drift beyond the scope of their responsibilities. It is important for employers to establish a checklist at the outset so both the employee and employer have a firm understanding of each other’s responsibilities. The onset of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forced numerous businesses to work remotely. If firms continue using remote workers, they should establish a checklist when hiring new employees.

What Items Should be Included on a Checklist?

A checklist establishes the parameters of a remote employee’s responsibilities. For the employee, it is good to know what is expected of them and what they can expect from their employer. Specifically, the checklist should include information about:

  • The state the employee resides
  • Telecommuting plans
  • Employer responsibilities
  • Workspace parameters

By laying out the specifics in all four categories, employers and employees can establish a positive working relationship that should function just as well as if they were both working in the same office.

Why Does It Matter Where I am Working?

Employment law differs by state and impacts certain ways that employers interact with employees and what benefits they can and should provide. Employers should determine the state their employee is working out of and become familiar with the specific employment laws and regulations that apply. These are essential even during the hiring process as different states allow certain questions to be asked on applications while others do not. Having a checklist that lays out a state’s specific regulations will enable the hiring process to run smoothly.

What Should a Checklist Include About the Telecommute?

From the beginning of a relationship between an employer and a remote employee, the structure of that relationship should be established. For instance, an employee should know right away if the remote aspect of the job is temporary or permanent. They should also know if the position is 100 percent remote or if there will be some time in the office. The employee should also be made aware of any potential timeline of the job moving back to the office.

An employer should establish work hours for an employee and how that employee will check in during the day. It is important for an employee to understand when the workday begins and ends to prevent them from working too much or not enough. They should also know if they are eligible for overtime and how that can be accurately tracked to ensure that they are not taking advantage of the situation or are being taken advantage of.

What Will My Employer be Responsible For?

When establishing a remote working relationship, a checklist should include what an employer will be responsible for when it comes to paying for expenses. An employee should understand what expenses an employer will pay for and which ones will be the responsibility of the employee.

The equipment an employee uses should also be a part of a checklist for an employer as to what they will provide. Whether an employer elects to provide that equipment is up to them, so long as they explain that at the start of the relationship. Along with equipment comes minor expenses, such as mailing, faxing, and purchasing small office supplies, such as paper and folders.

How Should Remote Employees Establish Workspaces?

Security measures need to be established if a remote employee is working on sensitive material. Most are working from home where there are other people around. Both sides need to establish what an employee must do to secure whatever electronic device they are working on to prevent others from gaining access to it. If a company does not provide a phone for the employee, they may need to use their personal device for professional reasons. An employer should establish how much business they are comfortable with their employee conducting on their personal appliances.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Protect Employees’ Rights

If you are experiencing employment issues while working remotely, the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. can help you. Our hard-working lawyers know the law and can help you achieve the resolution that is best for you. Fill out an online form or call us at 215-574-0600 today for an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and South Jersey.

Department of Labor Makes Final Rule on Independent Contractors

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Recently, the Department of Labor adopted a final rule pertaining to clarification over who could be classified as an independent contractor. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes what benefits and flexibility employers have with their employees. For instance, non-exempt employees must receive at least minimum wage and be paid overtime wages if they work more than 40 hours a week. However, this law does not apply to independent contractors.

Since employers do not have to offer any perks to independent contractors, some have argued that they have deliberately misclassified their employees to avoid paying for these benefits. Multiple courts have weighed in on the controversy, but there has not been any clarity on the federal level until now.

What Does the New Rule State?

The Labor Department stated that the new rule will reaffirm the economic reality test that has been standard in the industry to determine whether an individual is in business for themselves, such as an independent contractor, or is economically dependent on a potential employer for work, such as an FLSA employee. The rule highlights two core factors that can be used to make that determination:

  • The nature and degree of control over the work.
  • The worker’s opportunity for profit or loss based on initiative and/or investment.

If those two factors fail to provide the necessary clarification, the department offered three additional guideposts that should help employers determine a worker’s proper status. They are:

  • The amount of skill required for the work.
  • The degree of permanence of the working relationship between the worker and the potential employer.
  • Whether the work is part of an integrated unit of production.

The new rule, which is scheduled to take effect on March 8, applies only to workers that fall under the jurisdiction of the FLSA. It would also not impact local and state law requirements.

Will the New Rule Take Effect?

The new President could easily block the new rule from taking effect. Congress could also get involved and stop the rule using its authority under the Congressional Review Act, which gives Congress a limited time to repeal any rule finalized by a government agency. A reconstituted Labor Department could modify the current version to return to an old policy that allowed for an employer-employee relationship to be established even when indirect control existed over the worker.

How Should Employers React to the New Rule?

Regardless of the outcome, businesses should use the adoption of the new rule as an opportunity to evaluate the relationship they have with their employees. They should re-examine the status of those workers and determine if their status makes sense for the work that they are doing and the control they have over their own situation. Employers should guarantee that they have correctly classified their employees and determine that classification based on who has the right to control or direct the results of their work, as opposed to how the employee and employer define their relationship.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Represent Misclassified Workers

If you believe that you have been misclassified by your employer or if you are a business and would like an attorney review your compliance with the FLSA, contact the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. We can help you with your case. For an initial consultation, call 215-574-0600 or contact us online today. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout South Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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Do Employment Laws Apply to Remote Workers?

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At the height of the pandemic, numerous businesses were forced to close their offices. However, certain businesses did not have to shut down and by using improved technology and communications, they were able to conduct business with little interruption. The push toward an increase in remote working was on the rise prior to the pandemic, although it certainly hastened the move and demonstrated its practicality to several businesses.

Whenever the pandemic ends, it is unclear what businesses will look like. Many see the benefits and savings of having their employees work remotely and continue to utilize that model. However, as more businesses utilize remote workers, they must continue to follow state employment laws where they are physically working.

Can State Laws Impact an Employee’s Pay?

A person’s salary can be impacted by the state they are living in, as well as the amount of hours they can work in a week. An employer should become familiar with the rules in the states of their employees. Some aspects of pay that could be impacted include:

  • Minimum wage: Some states have adopted a higher minimum wage than others. It is important to know that an employee is making enough to satisfy their state’s requirement.
  • Overtime: State laws determine when an employee becomes eligible for overtime. Employers must verify that employees are tracking their hours to confirm if they are eligible for overtime.
  • Telecommuting expenses: Not every state requires an employer to reimburse an employee for telecommuting expenses. However, there can be some unintended consequences for those companies that fail to offer reimbursements, such as expenses that drop an employee’s hourly wage below the state’s requirement.

What are Certain Leave Issues Employers Should Consider?

Even though an employee is working from home, it does not mean that they are no longer eligible to accrue sick time or take time off work for extended medical absences. On a federal level, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) still applies. In addition, most states have their own medical and family leave polices as well that the company must adhere to. Sick time is mandated by the state where an employee is physically working, which could raise some disparity among employees working in various states.

Are Employers Required to Distribute Notices?

Certain state laws require employers to provide notices to their employees. In many cases, some of these notices take place at the time of hire, while some occur annually. The documents can address different topics such as wage, leave/benefits notifications, or descriptions about anti-harassment or discrimination laws. Employees should consider the home state of the new employee and its applicable laws.

Certain employment laws require employers to physically display posters around the office to inform employees about certain laws and policies, such as wage and hour laws and anti-discrimination provisions. An electronic version of the poster may be more relevant to employees for certain companies working remotely. Additionally, state-mandated training applies to certain state employees.

What About Different State Laws?

To protect themselves moving forward, employers should conduct a thorough audit of all their employees and the states that they reside and work in. They should determine how long they intend to allow their employees to telecommute and if that delay is worth it. If a company is dedicated to telecommuting for the foreseeable future, it might want to consider putting together individualized employee handbooks based on their state of residence. Even if telecommuting is not in the company’s long-term plan, it makes sense to provide employees with at least a temporary teleworking arrangement.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Employers and Employees Understand Changing Employment Laws During the Pandemic

Given the number of employees who are working from home right now, employment laws have become much more complicated. If you need legal help sifting through the different laws, reach out to the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. today. Call us at 215-574-0600 or contact us online to get started. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and South Jersey.

What are Common Legal Issues that Businesses Face?

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Managing a successful small business can be a lot of work, especially in the early stages, when many difficult financial decisions must be made. The biggest ones pertain to what owners plan to spend their limited budget on. Given that resources can be tight, it is understandable why some elect to avoid some big-ticket items, like hiring a lawyer. While that may seem to make sense in the short-term, it could wind up costing the company much more in the long run. There are several common problems that impact all companies that a knowledgeable lawyer would be able to help the firm avoid.

Do I Have the Right Structure for My Business?

One of the first things that an entrepreneur and their partners must decide on is the structure of their business. This is extremely important because it could have serious tax liability issues. Establishing the correct structure will save a company several severe headaches going forward. Some of the different types of structures include:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • C-Corporation
  • S-Corporation

Each one of these structures handles the liability and tax responsibilities of the owner in a different way. An LLC, for instance, separates the two and treats them as two different entities. Owners should research the different corporate structures thoroughly before deciding on which to choose.

What are Some Employee Issues I Need to Consider?

Even if the structure of the company is secure, another common problem that all companies deal with is managing employees. One of the biggest aspects of that is deciding how to classify them and verifying that their classification matches their level of responsibility. There are three main types of classifications, which are:

  • Full time employee: This type of employee is someone who works more than 30 hours a week. The company is obligated to offer health insurance, Workers’ Compensation, and other benefits.
  • Part time employee: These employees work a maximum of 30 hours a week and are usually not eligible for benefits, although a company can offer them if it elects to.
  • Independent contractor: This is a person who operates outside of the structure of a particular office and works independently. They are responsible for paying their own Medicare and other taxes, and are not eligible for some universal benefits, like Workers’ Compensation.

Deciding how to classify employees can be a tricky action, as misclassifying someone can lead to litigation later on. The best way to avoid any problems is to evaluate a job description ahead of time and decide what the hours and responsibilities will be, then classify the position based on the added costs of potentially paying for benefits.

If that position cannot be fully funded, the company may have to do without it until it can find the funding somewhere else to pay for that position. The legal costs further down the road are not worth cutting any corners with a person’s pay or benefits.

What Type of Paperwork Should I File on a Regular Basis?

Maintaining a business is more than just keeping employees and customers happy. There is a significant amount of paperwork that must be filed with both the state and the federal government on an ongoing basis. If a firm is publicly held, it could fall under the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on the federal level and state regulators. Regardless, the company will be under an obligation to file certain documents, including:

  • Financial statements: These documents contain a snapshot of the firm’s financial status, including its income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flow.
  • Financial information: Any data that the company chooses to post about itself on its website.
  • Annual reports: These are issued to shareholders once a year.
  • Prospectus: A document that describes the investment offering for the public.

What Should I Do if I Have a Contract Dispute?

While contracts are supposed to be binding agreements between two or more parties, there can be disagreements between those parties over one’s actions. It may also be necessary to break a contract because the two sides no longer wish to work together anymore. To avoid a messy legal dispute, it is best to thoroughly review any contract before signing it. All parties should include language that grants them an easy escape should certain violations take place, or some other action occur, such as one of the two sides is arrested or has some other public embarrassment.

Philadelphia Business Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Small Businesses with Legal Matters

If you are facing legal hurdles within your small business and need help finding a legal remedy, reach out to the Philadelphia business lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. For an initial consultation, call us at 215-574-0600 or contact us online. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.