Business Law

Employment Law

Providing services in employment discrimination, retaliation, termination, and business compliance.

Business Compliance with Employment Laws

Businesses need up-to-date employment policies and handbooks to remain compliant with anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, leave, wage and hour, and occupational safety and health laws (to name a few). Clear, widely-distributed policies and effective employment complaint procedures are valuable tools in reducing an employer’s exposure to liability and lawsuits.

Employment Discrimination

Employees are protected from discrimination based on Race, Color, Religion, Sex, National Origin, Disability, Age, or Military Status.

Employees who have suffered discrimination may be entitled to reinstatement, back pay for lost wages and benefits, front pay for future lost wages, litigation costs and attorney fees, and other compensatory damages and punitive damages.

Pregnancy Discrimination

Employees are protected from discrimination based on actual pregnancy, childbirth, or medical conditions related to pregnancy. In addition, employees may be entitled to job protection if they take a leave of absence related to pregnancy.

Age Discrimination

Federal law forbids discrimination against workers 40 years old and older on the basis of age, in instances like hiring, training, benefits, compensation, promotion, firing, layoffs, and other terms and privileges of employment.

Disability Discrimination/Failure-to-Accommodate a Disability

The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the Family Medical Leave Act (“FLMA”), and the Arkansas Civil Rights Act secure rights for disabled employees. Employers may not harass an employee because they are disabled or fails to make reasonable accommodations for someone who is disabled.

Family Medical Leave Act Violations

The Family Medical Leave Act entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Under FMLA, eligible employees may take leave to care for sick family members, due to the employee’s own serious health condition, or for maternity/paternity leave.

Generally, employers violate FMLA when they fail to provide the leave, harass, or otherwise mistreat an employee for taking leave, or fail to reinstate employees into their previous or similar position.

Severance Agreements/Negotiation

A severance package usually contains pay and benefits that an employee is offered when he or she leaves employment with a company. Unless agreed upon in the employment contract, Arkansas employers are not obligated to offer severance pay or benefits. However, employers may offer some severance compensation if to exiting employees owed outstanding bonuses, commissions, unused paid vacation or sick days, or to seek confidentiality or a non-competition agreement.

Sexual Harassment

It is illegal for supervisors or co-workers to subject an employee to unwelcome sexual advances at work or create a hostile work environment. Prohibited harassment may include Quid Pro Quo sexual harassment such as the requirement to perform an act in exchange for a promotion or else face an adverse employment action or loss of a tangible job benefit; or it could be the subjection to a hostile work environment such as crude jokes or explicit imagery.

Unpaid Overtime or Minimum Wage

Generally, employers must pay their employees at a rate of one and a half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked over forty in a workweek (unless a federally recognized exemption applies). Employers often incorrectly classify employees as exempt and fail to properly pay them overtime. Employees are not disqualified from earning overtime simply because they are salaried.

The minimum wage in Arkansas is higher than the national minimum wage. Employers may not pay covered employees below minimum the state wage, even if an employee agrees to accept a lower rate.

Retaliation

Employers may not retaliate against employees for exercising their rights, like filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) or reporting harassment or discrimination.  Retaliation includes wrongful termination, adverse hiring decisions, demotions, lost job benefits, or a number of other negative employment actions following a complaint against the employer.  Many statutes allow for increased damages awards based on successful Retaliation claims.

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