Belcher Fitzgerald’s employment law attorneys provide legal services to companies and individuals in a wide range of employment matters. Our experienced employment attorneys are adept at counseling and addressing all facets of hiring new employees and executives (including from competitors), wage and hour issues, implementation of employment policies and procedures, and dealing with employment terminations and reductions in force. They have also assisted many individuals in their transition from one employer to another.
We work with employees and human resource coordinators to handle employment issues as they arise in order to minimize disruption and exposure to our clients. Our advice is consistently decisive and practical in terms of the particular client’s current situation and longer-term goals.
Belcher Fitzgerald represents a diverse client base in the financial, clean energy, digital technology, banking, construction, and commercial real estate industries in matters relating to restrictive covenants in employment and other business agreements. We have experience drafting enforceable restrictive covenants and employment policies to help employers protect their valuable trade secrets and customer goodwill. We also litigate post-resignation disputes between businesses and their former employees and/or new employers, including obtaining and defending against emergency injunctive relief and permanent injunctions to protect our clients from competitors’ unfair recruiting and competition.
We advise our clients on employment issues ranging from employment agreements to compensation matters to claims of wrongful termination. In the securities industry, we have counseled both “Protocol” and “non-Protocol” financial services firms with respect to the Protocol for Broker Recruiting and actions involving solicitation and raiding claims. We have experience advising employers with respect to considerations arising from the hiring of new employees who have existing non-competition, non-solicitation, non-disclosure or other contractual agreements with prior employers. We have also negotiated numerous employment agreements, including for high-level executives, as well as assisted employees in planning their moves from one employer to another to minimize the risk of litigation and maximize the potential for a seamless transition.
Wage and hour lawsuits against companies have been steadily on the rise in recent years. Particularly in Massachusetts, where by statute successful plaintiffs are entitled to mandatory treble damages and recovery of their attorneys’ fees, the consequences of an adverse finding against an employer can be quite significant. On the other hand, the law provides strong protections to employees against wrongful conduct by employers. Belcher Fitzgerald’s employment attorneys have represented employers and individuals including those in the hospitality, financial services, software, and food services industries in claims relating to:
- Allocation and sharing of tips and “service charges”
- Misclassification of workers as independent contractors
- Misclassification of employees as exempt
- Improper withholding of wages and deductions from wages
- Regular rate and overtime rate issues
- Miscalculation and failure to pay commissions and bonuses
Federal and state anti-discrimination laws prohibit employers from engaging in workplace discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender, or sex. Adverse action can take many forms, such as demotions or discipline, pay reduction, termination, or disparate treatment. Sexual harassment or the maintenance of a hostile work environment also are prohibited by law. It is also a violation of law for an employer to retaliate against an employee who complains of or reports discrimination, for example by terminating or reducing the employee’s pay or job duties. Employers who violate these laws may be liable for back pay, front pay, emotional distress, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.
If you would like further information or wish to discuss a specific instance of employment harassment or discrimination, please contact us.
Employers often utilize separation or severance agreements for departing employees. Such an agreement is a contract between the employer and employee that sets forth the terms of an employment termination.
Most commonly, employees who are separating receive certain benefits such as continuation of salary and medical benefits for a period of time and/or a lump sum payment representing severance pay and accrued bonus compensation.
In exchange, the agreement typically includes a general release by the employee of all claims against the employer arising from the employment relationship. The agreement may also include promises by the employee to keep its terms confidential, to not to disparage the employer, to cooperate with the employer post-employment, to refrain from soliciting clients and employees, and/or to refrain from competing against the employer for a period of time.
Belcher Fitzgerald’s employment law attorneys advise clients about severance agreements to ensure they understand the consequences of complex provisions and to identify potential leverage for modifying or negotiating more favorable or additional terms from the employer. For assistance or further information please contact us.