Experienced Rockville Employment Lawyer
Joyce E. Smithey is a skilled and proven Rockville employment lawyer, with over 20 years of experience, who has been recognized as a Maryland Super in the area of Employment and Labor Law and as one of Maryland’s Top 50 Women Attorneys by Baltimore Magazine. Serving both employers and employees, Ms. Smithey offers extensive knowledge and deep insights for employment-related legal matters in Rockville, MD.
While employment is a central aspect of most people’s lives, few ever think much about it. They go to work, go home, get paid, and go about their personal lives.
But, for employers and many employees, employment-related legal issues end up playing a significant role in their daily lives. From allegations of discrimination and sexual harassment to wage disputes and other matters, there are numerous employment-related issues that can lead to costly and contentious disputes between employers and employees. With more than 18 years of employment law experience, Rockville employment attorney Joyce E. Smithey provides sound, strategic, and effective legal representation for employment-related disputes in Rockville, MD.
Experienced Representation for Employment Matters in Rockville, MD
A partner in the law firm of Smithey Law Group LLC and leader of the firm’s labor and employment practice, Rockville employment lawyer Joyce E. Smithey represents clients in Maryland in the following areas:
- Claims Prevention and Employee Handbooks – Employment law is one area in particular where an ounce of prevention can be worth a pound of cure. A dedicated Rockville labor lawyer, Ms. Smithey works with employers in Rockville and throughout Maryland to develop comprehensive and customized employee handbooks, policies, and procedures designed to mitigate their exposure to employee claims.
- Class Actions – Employment law violations frequently affect large groups of similarly situated employees. In many cases, these employees can assert a class action claim in order to cost-effectively enforce their legal rights.
- Defamation – A talented Rockville labor attorney, Ms. Smithey has substantial experience in cases involving allegations of employers defaming their employees. These cases often arise in circumstances where an employer is believed to have inappropriately made false statements to an employee’s new prospective employer in order to interfere with the opportunity.
- Disability Accommodations – Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers in Rockville must provide reasonable accommodations for employees’ disabilities. However, what constitutes a “reasonable” accommodation is not always clear-cut, and there are exceptions that can help employers escape liability.
- Discrimination – The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and a variety of other state and federal statutes prohibit discrimination in the workplace. Our Rockville employment lawyer Ms. Smithey handles cases involving discrimination on the basis of age, disability, family responsibilities, genetic status, marital status, national origin, political opinion, pregnancy, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation.
- Employee Contract and Severance Negotiations – While most employment relationships in Maryland are at-will, employment contracts are common in certain industries and professions. Whether you are seeking to negotiate a new employment contract or need to negotiate a severance, our Rockville employment lawyer can help you address the relevant issues and make sure your rights are secure.
- Equal Pay Act – Under the Equal Pay Act, employers in Rockville are required to pay men and women equal compensation for equal work. Violations of the Equal Pay Act can result in liability for back pay and other financial damages.
- Medical Leave – Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave due to certain medical conditions. Not all employers in Rockville are subject to the FMLA, but those that are must be careful to ensure that they comply with the law’s rules and requirements.
- Representation of Public Sector Employees – A knowledgeable Rockville employment attorney, Joyce E. Smithey has extensive experience representing municipal, state, and federal employees in Maryland. Common issues include affirmative action violations, violations of the Civil Service Reform Act, and other violations that are unique to the public sector.
- Restrictive Covenants and Non-Competes – Non-competes and restrictive covenants are often among the most heavily negotiated provisions in employment contracts. Our aggressive Rockville employment lawyer represents employers and employees in negotiations and disputes involving these complex contract terms.
- Retaliation and Reprisal – Numerous laws prohibit both public and private employers from retaliating against their employees. Potential remedies include reinstatement, back pay, and other forms of compensatory and punitive damages.
- Sexual Harassment – Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination, and it is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Any form of unwelcome sexual advance can potentially lead to a claim for unlawful harassment.
- Wage and Hour Issues – From minimum wage to overtime, wage and hour issues often lead to significant financial exposure for employers who violate the law.
- Whistleblowing – State and federal laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who report unlawful activities to government authorities. Ms. Smithey provides experienced representation for employers and employees in whistleblower claims.
- Wrongful Discharge – Despite the at-will nature of employment in Maryland (in the absence of an employment contract), there are still numerous improper grounds for termination that can lead to claims of wrongful discharge. While many wrongful discharge cases go to court, negotiating a severance will often be in the best interests of both the employer and the employee.
Taking a Closer Look at Wrongful Discharge
Wrongful discharge is an area that deserves a little more discussion. In an “at-will” work state such as Maryland, it can be confusing for some to understand what about a discharge could be unlawful. After all, an “at-will” work relationship is one in which either party – the employee or the employer – can terminate the relationship at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all. At first glance, this may make it tough to understand how a firing could be wrongful. Any reason for termination is valid, right? Well, not so fast.
Even though Maryland is an at-will work state, there are boundaries that employers cannot cross when dealing with the hiring and firing of employees. In fact, there are three exceptions to an employer’s right to let a person go for any reason or no reason at all, and they are:
- Violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,
- Breach of an actual or implied employment contract, and
- Violation of public policy.
Let’s take a deeper look at the first one, which is the violation of civil rights.
Violations of Civil Rights
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 basically made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of an employee belonging to any of the following protected classes:
- Race or color
- Sexual Orientation
- Marital Status, pregnancy, or family responsibilities
- Political affiliation
So the part of the at-will nature of work in Maryland that states that people can be fired for “any reason” is not entirely accurate. If you believe that your termination was based on your belonging to any of the protected classes listed above, it would be in your best interest to allow our experienced employment attorney, Joyce Smithey, to take a look at your case. She has the knowledge to be able to assess whether your situation meets the definition of wrongful termination and can help you get the justice that you deserve.
Contact Rockville Employment Lawyer Joyce E. Smithey for a Confidential Consultation
If you would like to discuss your employment-related legal issues in confidence, contact Rockville employment attorney Joyce E. Smithey for an initial consultation. To schedule an appointment, call (410) 919-2990 or submit a request online today.