We are Springfield Missouri employment law attorneys. We offer help with defending employment discrimination claims, and drafting preventive policies.
Employment Discrimination Defense
Employers today face many legal hurdles. Under the Missouri Human Rights Act, employers with six (6) or more employees are covered by the State’s antidiscrimination laws. RSMo. § 213.010. Many federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII, The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and other federal laws cover employers with as few as fifteen (15) employees. The Family Medical Leave Act, another federal law impacting employers, affect employers with fifty (50) employees or more. At O’Reilly & Preston, LLC, we help employers handle discrimination claims in both the administrative setting and in court rooms. Employment discrimination defense is rarely covered by insurance. It’s important that an employer understand and hire attorneys who understand not only the technical details of State and Federal laws, but how juries perceive and understand the employer/employee relationship. The defense of an employment discrimination claim should begin very early on when the administrative charge is filed. Under Federal and Missouri law, a person alleging discrimination must first file an administrative Charge of Discrimination with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR). There are strict time limits for when an employee must bring these claims. Generally, under state law, the claim must be brought within one hundred eighty (180) days of the act of discrimination. Under Federal law in Missouri, the Federal claim must be filed administratively within three hundred (300) days of the act of discrimination. Some employers try to handle these administrative claims on their own, which is a usually a huge mistake.
If you have had a Charge of Discrimination filed against your business, we believe that your best approach is to treat every Charge of Discrimination as if it will become a full-blown lawsuit. If that happens, it is best to hire your defense attorneys as early as possible so we can investigate the claim. At O’Reilly & Preston, LLC we have experience representing employers on virtually every kind of discrimination claim. We have successfully obtained summary judgments and had cases dismissed prior to trial. We also have experience trying employment cases. If you believe you have an employment discrimination lawsuit against your business, or are already in the process of defending one, we are available to speak with you about defending your company from these discrimination claims.
Employment Law Planning for Businesses
As a business owner, you plan for how to market your business, how to best sell your product or make your product, and you have a vision for your company. Employment law planning for a business should just be another part of that planning. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there are thousands of sexual harassment, age discrimination, and other discrimination cases filed in the United States every year. Even in situations where your company has done nothing wrong, you can be brought into court and have to spend thousands of dollars defending yourself. The United States Supreme Court has made available an affirmative defense for businesses that act ahead of time to protect themselves. Most of these policies include the preparation of an employment handbook, a strong antidiscrimination policy, and an effective and meaningful training program for employees on how to prevent and handle discrimination claims. At O’Reilly & Preston, LLC, we can assist your business in preparation of proper policies and procedures, and employee training as part of a comprehensive business plan to handle employment law claims.
Handbooks and Policies
Every business, regardless of size, should have an employment handbook and appropriate anti-discrimination and other business policies. Many of these policies can be helpful in reducing exposure to employment discrimination or other claims. Other policies and procedures can be helpful in facilitating communication between the employer and employee, which is a good thing. Failure to have an employment handbook is bad for business. Having a handbook that inaccurately states the law, or creates promises or conditions that an employer may not intend is even worse. At O’Reilly & Preston, LLC we assist employers with drafting their employment handbooks and policies to help ensure that your company is in its best position to comply with the law, defend any discrimination claims, and enhance the employer/employee relationship.
Having written policies in your business is only the first step. Many courts have held that an employer’s written policies do not provide an adequate defense to employment discrimination claims unless there is proof that the employer’s policies and procedures are effectively known and understood by the employees. As a result, employee training is a critical part of being proactive in protecting your company. At O’Reilly & Preston, LLC, we offer management specific and general employee training to small, medium, and large businesses throughout Southwest Missouri. If your business isn’t doing frequent training on these topics, your business is at risk.
Non-Competition, Non-Solicitation and Confidentiality Agreements
We are Missouri Non-Compete lawyers. Under Missouri law, an employer can ask a newly hired employee or existing employee to agree to limit their ability to compete against the employer if they leave. An agreement can be drawn up that limits customer solicitation and competition, and protects trade secrets. Missouri law as to non-compete agreements changes often and many older agreements may be difficult to enforce. These agreements are complex and very detailed. If your business would like to explore its options to keep key employees from leaving and stealing your customers, please call us for a consultation.