Claim Prevention and Employee Handbooks

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As an employer, when it comes to employment litigation, an ounce of prevention can be worth a pound of cure. With more than 17 years of experience in employment and labor law, attorney Joyce E. Smithey provides experienced representation for Maryland employers seeking to mitigate their exposure to employee claims.

For Maryland-based businesses and companies with a presence in Maryland, compliance in the areas of employment and labor law needs to be a top priority. Companies that do not take adequate measures to document their policies, train their employees, and otherwise foster a compliant work environment can face significant exposure for claims that oftentimes could have – and, indeed, should have – been avoided.

Attorney Joyce E. Smithey, partner at Rifkin Weiner Livingston LLC and leader of the firm’s labor and employment practice group, has extensive experience counseling employers of all sizes on claim prevention and compliance. Ms. Smithey has devoted her practice to employment and labor law matters for more than 17 years. She brings a wealth of knowledge from her complex employment litigation experience to advise her clients on how to keep themselves out of court.

Claim Prevention | Areas of Exposure

Employers in Maryland face a number of issues that require implementation of (and adherence to) a comprehensive compliance program. Executives and managers need to know the limits of their authority, employees need to know their rights, and all personnel should have a clear understanding of the types of conduct that cross the line.

In fact, in today’s data-driven environment, in many ways, employers face more risks than ever. With constantly evolving technologies and local, state, and federal regulations consistently in a state of change, employers that do not make a concerted effort to stay current will quickly fall behind. To protect themselves, employers must maintain a living, breathing compliance program focused on issues such as:

  • DiscriminationDiscrimination in employment continues to be a persistent issue at companies of all sizes and in all industries throughout Maryland. It only takes one ill-advised decision to create a significant liability, and employers must be cognizant of both (i) which employees are protected, and (ii) what practices are prohibited.
  • Sexual Harassment – Federal law prohibits “unwelcome” sexual advances or other forms of sexual conduct in the workplace. Sexual harassment training needs to be a key component of any claim prevention program.
  • Wage and Hour Laws – Both the Maryland Wage and Hour Law and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) place restrictions on employers’ compensation practices. Understanding the law is the first step toward compliance and claim prevention.
  • Workplace Privacy – Does your company have a bring-your-own-device (“BYOD”) policy? If so, does it comply with the law? If not, does it make sense to make the switch? And, if so, what types of technological controls do you need to put into place? These are a few of the issues that Maryland employers face when it comes to workplace privacy.
  • Wrongful Discharge – From retaliation to employment contract terms and even Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act considerations, there are numerous issues that employers need to address before terminating their employees. With appropriate planning and controls, employers can mitigate their exposure to valid wrongful discharge claims.

Claim Prevention | Legal Services

Joyce Smithey provides claim prevention services to address the wide variety of employment-related issues that Maryland employers face on a daily basis. These services include, but are not limited to, the following:

Drafting Employee Handbooks and Internal Policies

Ms. Smithey works closely with her clients’ executives, in-house counsel, and HR departments to develop comprehensive employee handbooks and other internal policy documents. The first step toward executing a compliance program is to put the program in place, and Ms. Smithey has the employment and labor law knowledge required to help Maryland employers develop appropriate documentation that reflects their corporate culture and values, while remaining focused on the ultimate goal of claim prevention.

Internal Training for Managers and Employees

In addition to developing employee handbooks and internal policies, Ms. Smithey also provides on-site training for her clients’ managers and other employees. In addition to actually helping prevent harassment and other issues, demonstrating active efforts to educate employees can, in many cases, help mitigate employers’ exposure when claims arise. Ms. Smithey has taught numerous seminars and law school courses on labor and employment law, and she is an effective communicator when it comes to getting critical messages across to employees.

Contact Maryland Employment Law Attorney Joyce E. Smithey for More Information

If you would like to speak with Ms. Smithey about your company’s needs, feel free to schedule an initial consultation. To request an appointment, call (410) 269-5066 or contact Ms. Smithey today.