If you are old enough to get a job and have enough common sense to keep one, then you know that there is plenty of bad advice available on the Internet. Google does not know what you should do if your boss refuses to take an unpaid leave of absence from work to care for a family member who is recovering from surgery or how to tell if your employer has ulterior motives for eliminating your position in the midst of a corporate restructuring. Given the nature of clickbait, Google will show you the most histrionic responses possible; you will find out all about how to make the maximum amount of noise while quiet quitting, but you will find no practical solutions. You might even find some advice articles written by ChatGPT, which, while it may be eloquent, has never had to live with the consequences of taking advice from a chatbot. Sometimes the best person to answer complex questions about preventing or resolving disputes with your current or former employer or with an organization that has offered you a job is an employment lawyer. The Philadelphia employee counseling lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP can assist you with many legal matters and help you exercise your legal rights in the workplace.
If You Have a Job Offer, Do You Really Need an Employment Lawyer?
In some cases, the best time to hire an employment lawyer is before you even accept a job offer. Since Pennsylvania is an at-will employment state, not all employees have contracts, but the most highly compensated positions usually come with an employment contract. Similarly, consider that it is possible to get legally married without a prenuptial agreement, but the wealthiest couples usually sign prenups. If your job is a big enough deal that the employer is asking you to sign a contract, then it is worthwhile to review the contract with a lawyer before you sign.
Remember that a draft of an employment contract is the beginning of a negotiation process. Even if the salary that the employer is offering is beyond your wildest dreams, you should also read the rest of the contract carefully to make sure that you have not overlooked any other provisions that could lead to trouble. For example, what does the contract say about breach of contract and force majeure events? What does it say about early termination of the contract? What are its dispute resolution provisions? Does it require arbitration, or do you have the right to bring disputes about the contract to the court of Pennsylvania? A Philadelphia employment lawyer may be able to recognize trouble spots in your employment contract that you did not notice. Your lawyer can also help you negotiate for better contract terms before you sign.
Helping Employees Advocate for Themselves in the Workplace
The rights of workers in Pennsylvania apply to everyone employed in the state, not only those who have signed employment contracts. Whether your employer hired you with a contract or on an at-will basis, you have the right to a safe workplace and fair pay. The law prevents employment discrimination, regardless of the terms of your employment, and your employer must allow you to take an unpaid leave of absence for up to 12 weeks for medical reasons or because of your family caregiving obligations. All employees have the right to file workers’ compensation claims if they get injured at work and to report misconduct to the relevant authorities if they witness it. If you provide documentation from your doctor, indicating that you require accommodations for your disability, your employer must provide reasonable accommodations.
Exercising these rights can be more difficult than it appears. Employers sometimes impose obstacles in front of employees to make it require more effort for them to exercise their basic rights. Sometimes employers even try to intimidate workers out of taking medical leave, reporting misconduct and safety violations, and the like. If your employer is refusing to allow you to do something that you think you are legally entitled to do, contact a Philadelphia employment lawyer.
Can an Employment Lawyer Help You in the Event of Mass Layoffs in Your Organization or Industry?
Many of the calls that employment law firms get are from employees who have recently found out that their employers are terminating the employment relationship. In an at-will employment relationship, where the employee does not have a contract, both parties are free to terminate the employment relationship at any time. This means that your employer can fire you at their discretion. Meanwhile, even if you were employed at-will, you still have the right to sue your employer for wrongful termination of employment if you have evidence that terminating your employment was an act of discrimination or retaliation.
Employers sometimes offer separation agreements, complete with severance pay, when laying off employees. If your employer asks you to sign a separation agreement, you should always review the agreement with a lawyer before you decide whether to sign it. Once you sign a separation agreement, you no longer have the right to sue your employer for terminating your employment. An employment lawyer could help you negotiate better terms in the separation agreement, such as better severance pay. In some cases, it is best not to sign a separation agreement at all, even if your employer offers one. Are you the only person losing your job in a corporate restructuring? Did your employer let you go shortly after you requested disability accommodations? If the separation agreement and the associated layoff are a cover for employment discrimination or retaliation, your lawyer can help you take appropriate action.
Contact HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP About Employment Counseling
The Philadelphia employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP can provide legal advice about common issues such as employment contracts and contract disputes, discrimination, wage and hour disputes, and wrongful termination of employment. Contact the employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to set up a consultation.