Conflicts that arise in the workplace can have an adverse impact on wages, benefits, long-term career potential and quality of life. Unfortunately, many workers are not aware of their options or how to proceed if their rights are violated. Cole Law Group Nashville employment law attorneys recognize that employment issues and abuses of power can occur at every level of an organization, and we are dedicated to offering aggressive representation and supportive counsel to assist you in resolving your employment problem.
You have legal rights. There are federal and state laws that govern many aspects of the employee / employer relationship in order to minimize conflict and prevent abuse in the workplace. Today the Department of Labor enforces numerous laws that govern employee safeguards for discrimination, minimum wage, social security benefits, health insurance coverage, whistleblower protections, family leave, workplace safety, and guidelines for unemployment benefits. In addition to the rights and benefits covered by federal law, Tennessee state law mandates employee rights with regard to family leave, worker compensation, drug testing procedures, unpaid breaks, and an employee's right to privacy.
Attempting to address employment issues without an attorney can have significant and far-reaching consequences. From your initial contact with our legal team of professionals, you will know that your voice is being heard. If you find yourself subject to one of the following employment issues, you should request that an employment law attorney at Cole Law Group review your case and advise you on taking effective action.
Discrimination - Discrimination can occur during the recruiting and hiring process or as a result of ongoing employment conditions. It is illegal to discriminate when the victim is a member of a protected classification, which includes gender, religion, race, national origin, pregnancy, disability, and military service members. There are two main types of discrimination: 1) Direct or Disparate Discrimination which is intentional and occurs when an individual treats (or encourages others to treat) someone else unfavorably because of their protected class; and 2) Indirect or Disparate Impact Discrimination when a policy in place has the side effect of being discriminatory to a member of a protected class. Discrimination can exist between employees on all levels.
Retaliation - It is against the law for an employer to retaliate against an employee because he or she filed a discrimination, harassment, FLSA, or whistleblower complaint. Examples of retaliatory conduct by an employer could include threats, reprimands, verbal abuse, increased scrutiny, the spreading of false rumors, demotion, or poor performance reviews. Retaliation is the frequently alleged and generally a successful complaint in the federal sector.
Hostile Work Environment - A hostile work environment exists when an employer, supervisor, or fellow employee's behavior creates a workplace environment that makes it difficult or impossible for you to do your job. Specific legal requirements must be met for your workplace environment to be deemed hostile:
- The behavior must be discriminatory, intimidating, offensive, or abusive--not just annoying.
- The verbal communication or physical contact must be intentional and pervasive. Isolated incidents are generally not sufficient to claim a hostile environment.
- The hostile environment interferes with an employee's career progress, or results in demotion or termination.
- The employer was aware of discriminatory harassment, but did not investigate or intervene.
Wrongful Termination - Tennessee is an “at will employment state”. According to the Tennessee Employment Law Center, the term “at will” means that employment is voluntary for both employees and employers, and that an employee may be terminated at any time and without consequence. However, this doctrine will not apply under all conditions, and the law does protect an individual from being dismissed because of discrimination, retaliation, a family or medical leave, or in violation of an existing employment contract. By consulting with a legal attorney early on, you may be able to counter an employer’s stated reason for a poor performance review or wrongful termination.
Sexual Harassment - No one should be exposed to harassment in the workplace. An employee may take legal action against any sexual or other harassment that he/she has suffered due to the actions of a fellow employee or employer. What constitutes a solid sexual harassment case may become complicated, but this type of harassment usually falls within one of the following categories: 1) Hostile Work Environment or 2) Quid Pro Quo which exists when a supervisor or employer retaliates because an employee will not succumb to sexual advances.
Contracts and Agreements - Cole Law Group attorneys can negotiate, draft, review, and modify employee contracts and agreements. We also represent clients in contract disputes or breach of contract actions in various courts.
USERRA - The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act requires that military service members be returned to their jobs after serving a term of duty. It also prohibits discrimination based solely upon an employee's military service.
If you find yourself faced with a problem in the workplace, do not delay in seeking advice from a qualified Nashville employment lawyer. Cole Law Group offers assertive representation and supportive counsel to victims of unfair employment practices. During an initial consultation, we will examine all aspects of your case and help you determine the best course of action moving forward.When Employers Need an Employment Law Attorney
Small to mid-sized businesses have many factors to consider in establishing and maintaining a successful enterprise. Consequently, workplace policies, hiring, firing, complying with state and federal laws, and employee disputes are often put on the back burner. However, no matter how carefully you have set up your company policies, you are likely at some point to find yourself in the middle of an employment dispute. Failing to proactively address such issues can have serious negative consequences and cause you and/or your business to suffer personal and financial losses.
Our Nashville employment lawyers advise business owners with regard to ever-changing employment laws, provide guidance with personnel matters such as discipline or termination of employees, and assist with the negotiation and drafting of employment contracts and non-compete, non-disclosure, and severance agreements.
We also offer an outside General Counsel Service so that you can have access to experienced legal advice on an ongoing basis. For a monthly fixed retainer fee, one of our experienced business law attorneys who is familiar with your business enterprise will be available to guide you in strategic decision making regarding business and employment matters.
Many day-to-day employment issues do not require representation of an employment attorney. However, it is highly advisable that you seek counsel when you are confronted with one of the following matters:
- You need representation for collective bargaining negotiations.
- You are determining independent contractor status of an employee.
- You need to fire an employee who is a member of a protected class.
- The EEOC or Department of Labor shows up at your door.
- You plan to layoff or fire a large number of employees.
- An employee has filed a complaint of illegal harassment against you.
- You have been served with legal papers.
- You need to write an employee handbook or have a current handbook review.
- You are concerned about a worker's potential for violence or sabotage.
- You are having a dispute with an employee over an employment contract, non-compete, or severance agreement.
- You suspect that an employee is stealing trademarks or trade secrets.
- You plan to make major changes in pension plans or company benefits.
- You want to fire an employee who has benefits, a retirement plan, or stock options that will soon be vested.
Cole Law Group attorneys are litigators and have a reputation for taking on complex and important cases. We represent employers in all Tennessee state courts, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.
If you need help in resolving an employment law matter, call us at (615) 490-6020 or send a contact message via our website, and schedule a confidential consultation.