At the heart of every company with fifteen employees or more is a human resources department. While most think of the department as the hiring, firing, and benefits mechanism of a business, this division also oversees more complex HR issues such as confidentiality agreements, harassment suits, non-compete clauses, overtime disputes, and sales commission agreements. Each of these areas falls under the umbrella of employment law, and being non-compliant with these laws may result in significant penalties.
When it comes to HR issues, we have extensive experience and expertise in the following areas of business employment law:
- Sales commission agreements
- Overtime disputes
- Harassment suits
- Confidentiality agreements
Sales Commission Agreements
Businesses who have employees that work on commission need to have a valid sales commission agreement in place for their own protection from liability. A proper sales commission agreement should include provisions regarding:
- The definition of a commission plan or formula including performance and incentives
- How a commission is earned
- When a commission is earned
- When a commission is to be paid
- Consequences of a commission in the event of a cancellation, refund, or default of payment
- What happens to an employee’s commission amidst their termination
To avoid gray areas with sales commission agreements, businesses will benefit from having an experienced attorney draw them up.
Companies who utilize hourly employees who work more than forty hours a week must pay these individuals for those additional hours at a special overtime rate. For this reason, it is essential for a business to clearly specify:
- Which employees are salary
- Which employees are hourly
- Salary employees are typically exempt from overtime pay
A company that mistakenly labels an employee as salary when they are hourly, could be sued for the mischaracterization of their position and subsequent absence of overtime pay. To better protect themselves from liability, a company should enlist the help of an attorney in making clear delineations of hourly employees and salary employees.
In terms of HR issues, harassment generally refers to a state of ongoing torment. The most often reported kind of torment within the workplace is typically sexual harassment, which is harassment relating specifically to a person’s gender.
Examples of sexual harassment in the workplace can take many forms, such as:
- An employee experiencing unwanted sexual advances from another employee
- Habitual comments or remarks made to an employee by another employee that are demeaning, and gender based
- Repeated offensive rhetoric from an employee that is explicit or vulgar and of a sexual nature
- The trading of sexual favors for workplace advancement
It is worth clarifying that in sexual harassment cases, any employee can be of a basic, supervisor, or management position.
Human resources personnel are bound by law to take all sexual harassment claims seriously and proceed with due diligence. This can include:
- Making all parties involved in a sexual harassment complaint aware of the gravity of the situation
- Relaying the company’s sexual harassment policy and investigation process to all involved parties
- Contacting the police if accusations are made of criminal activity
- Facilitating a proper investigation of the case and preparing a report for company officials
- Relaying and administering any corrective actions resulting from the investigation
The amount of details involved in processing a sexual harassment claim are abundant and complex. To ensure that a business is following the process by the book, reputable legal representation should be on hand to guide them carefully through each step.
Most businesses process a large amount of sensitive information every day. Whether it be a hospital, a school district, or a retail store, employees are frequently asked to sign a confidentiality agreement. The purpose of having an employee sign off on this document is to legally prevent them from revealing or sharing confidential information about the business.
What some employers do not realize is that their confidentiality agreement is only as good as the provisions in it. These documents must feature very specific information about what is and is not allowed in terms of information sharing.
To ensure that your business has a comprehensive and effective confidentiality agreement in place, our attorneys can assist with drawing up a valid legal document designed to protect a business and its patrons.
Including a non-compete agreement is becoming more commonplace in today’s modern business world. They may be included in employment applications or even as part of the sale of a business. Companies who have their employees sign a non-compete agreement are protecting themselves as this keeps an employee from legally going into business against them for a designated period of time and in a specific geographic area.
At the bare minimum, a typical non-compete agreement should include:
- The date on which the non-compete agreement will go into effect
- Dates and locations that are off limits for employees to work competitively against the employer
- The employee’s signature
A non-compete agreement should be drafted by a reputable attorney who understands how attention to detail is needed for this type of agreement. This should limit gray areas related to the agreement as well as help prevent legal issues arising from it.
If you are a medium to large sized business with a human resources department, align yourself with a legal firm of attorneys to assist you in avoiding legal implications relating to complex HR issues like those listed above. Harold “Hap” May Attorneys at Law have expertise in these matters and are ready to help you protect your business.