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Podcast: Why Do I Need To Understand Workplace Legal Issues?

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In this episode of the Employee Survival Guide, Mark explores the disparity of power between employees and corporations, in particular the information and financial disparity.   Although corporations outspend employees on legal fees by millions of dollars regarding employment matters, Mark discusses how employees can arm themselves with knowledge of employment law concepts/issues to legally outpace and counteract employers without spending money on an employment attorney.   Mark also advocates hiring an employment attorney when you really need the invaluable assistance and experience from a practicing employment attorney  to get the job done.

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The content of this website is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice nor create an attorney-client relationship.   Carey & Associates, P.C. makes no warranty, express or implied, regarding the accuracy of the information contained on this website or to any website to which it is linked to.



Hey, it’s Mark Carey, and welcome to the next edition of the Employee Survival Guide where we tell you what your employer does not want you to know about and more. Today we’re talking about why do I need to understand workplace legal issues? Good question. The phrase knowledge is power is often attributed to Sir Francis Bacon is frequently quoted but inadequately heated in my view. This phrase has special meaning for me as a practicing employment lawyer. The disparity and knowledge of Labor and Employment Law is the key to understanding the imbalance of power between employers and employees in the American workplace. Each day I counsel individuals and small business owners who are facing loss of their livelihood and in some cases their careers due to workplace legal disputes. It is striking to consider how little most of us understand the laws governing the workplace. Those who can afford the best information are in a far superior position in most workplace situations. What can be done into even this imbalance of knowledge and therefore of power? In 2020, corporations in the United States spent over $37 billion on in house legal counsel. They spend another $68 billion per year on outside legal counsel. The average fortune 500 company in 2020 spent some $10.7 million on legal counsel, much of that budget was spent on employment related matters. During the same period, the average individual spent approximately $155.87 per year on all legal services combined. That includes real estate, criminal defense, probate, divorce and employment, of which only a minuscule portion was used for employment related services. When a dispute arises between an employer and one of its employees, who do you imagine will be better informed and better prepared? The employer usually has a vast advantage over the employees in terms of both resources and information about workplace laws and regulations. However, both employers and employees have an equal interest in the outcome of these disputes. This makes any employees challenge to the status quo established by an employer seem futile. Because it is obtaining the right information and legal counsel the right time is essential to surviving today’s workplace. Question. When do I need an employment lawyer? The answer early and often. For those who are able to locate and afford legal counsel legal advice for their workplace issues, it is a good idea to consult with an experienced employment attorney. But when do you really need an employment attorney? Only when you are experiencing loss of employment through termination or when you are being harassed or abused? The answer I give after 25 years of employment practice. Every time you anticipate or experience a change in your workplace. That’s when you do it. While it may seem you know feel dramatic or reactionary, to quote unquote lawyer up whenever there is a change in one’s work situation, you must remember that your employer has already quote unquote, lawyer dup for decades and employers collectively to the tune of billions of dollars per year, in my view is not at all reactionary to seek some basic legal counsel. In every employment situation when one considers both the level of investment that employers may make in gaining an advantage in these interactions and the high stakes involved, you can bet that your employer is not hesitating to consult expert lawyers. In deciding how to deal with employee matters. Why are the stakes so high? When workplace conflicts arise? Work is fundamental to our identity. Work is essential and integral to a meaningful and productive human life. Human beings derive fundamental concepts of the personality and self worth from their work. Humans not only work to live, they work to gain an identity and to contribute to the collective good. Our work is tied up in our aspirations, our hopes for the future, and our family’s well being. No part of our economic existence is more significant. Anyone who’s lost a job or career can attest to the deep impact such a loss can make on in one’s own life. Our work is to a large degree who we are as Americans. Given the seminal importance of our work to our social identity. It makes sense that workplace conflicts can reflect the larger social issues and problems. The recent changes in the American workplace brought on by COVID-19. related issues such as the vaccine mandates, the work from home revolution, and the recent shortage of essential workers, and demands for higher minimum wages are just some of the current social trends being sorted out in the context of our collective workplace. The legal considerations which inform our workplace environment are far too complex and multifarious to navigate without the expert guidance. What I’m in minimum, a lot of good information. But what if I cannot afford unemployment attorney. While high priced legal counsel is simply not affordable for many working individuals. It is important to remember that there are also inexpensive sources of information available to help those who are facing difficult workplace issues. This podcast and our blog, for instance, provide that information. many law firms publish similar blogs, although most in my humble opinion, are not as useful as ours. Well, in ours, we basically don’t take legal speaking we just talk in plain simple language because that’s how you can understand it. blogs and articles from consumer minded employment law firms can be an invaluable information resource. Law Firm publications such as this one can provide essential an up to date information on a variety of issues, like workplace bullying, age discrimination, the COVID-19 vaccine mandates, unfair pay disparities, and non compete agreements. Karen associates PC offers a free downloadable guide to employment law. It’s called the employee Survival Guide. Just like this podcast, it is an excellent resource for workers and employees alike. Because I drafted it further help a specific employment issues can be found through a number of governmental agencies. For one, the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has a wealth of information on their website regarding employment discrimination and retaliation issues, including race and gender discrimination, sexual harassment and disability or age discrimination. In Connecticut, and in many other states. There are also state level human rights agencies such as the Connecticut commission on human rights and opportunities that can provide information and assistance with employment issues, such as illegal discrimination. both state and federal departments of labor can also assist the public with a variety of information related to such matters as workplace safety, unemployment benefits, and wage and hour laws. And whether you’re paid overtime. Both states judicial branch has published resources regarding legal issues in the workplace and the internet is a wealth of information. If one is careful to select reliable sources. Before taking on your employer, be sure to arm yourself with as much information as possible. When you’re experiencing a difficult workplace issue and have not yet had time to inform yourself of your rights. Be sure to document all the events that you feel are noteworthy or questionable. In the meantime, what situations arose what specifically was said and done? By whom? And what? What were the results? Who else witness these events? Take contemporaneous notes of all workplace events, and document them in extreme detail. If your situation requires expert advice from a lawyer or government agency at a later time, that information and documentation will be priceless. The specific knowledge of what exactly occurred at work is also powerful. But what types of workplace situations require advice and legal information? The number of potential workplace issues that can arise are numerous. What type of situations to trigger a search for counsel in information in affirmative response to one of the following questions should lead you to consider talking to an attorney as soon as possible. I won’t read the entire list here. It’s it’s part of the blog article, but you can do the notable high points. Number one, is your company experiencing a real realization? Definitely talk to employment attorney then have you noticed that you are being treated differently at work than you were previously treated? Well, that’s definitely a sign that the writing’s on the wall that you should go talk to an attorney because you may be being discriminated against. Do you have a new supervisor or manager who is changing your work environment? That too, is also a sign that things are changing for you? Have you been treated differently than other co workers in similar positions? And why? That’s a analysis that you need to really hone into is who’s getting more favorable treatment than you and write it all down? Factually not your conclusions to factual examples of how you’ve been treated differently? And then call a lawyer? Have you been disciplined unfairly at work? Or have you received a pip definitely want to talk to an attorney before you respond? Because the attorney will say things to you advise you about how to respond in a way to set up your employer to do what bring a claim. Or another one, have you witnessed or experienced workplace bullying or intimidation. I definitely want to talk to a lawyer after that one because if somebody is using racial epithets, or committing sexual assault, advances to you, you might want to run, talk to an attorney. Now, the list is exhaustive, exhaustive, and it’s found on the blog articles that we originally posted on our website and you can go to that. While this list is not exhaustive of the circumstances where you might need to consult an employment attorney. If you observe one or more of these issues at work, you should seek advice right away when employees obtain counsel early in their employment. Before any serious adverse action is taken by the employer. A skilled employment attorney can not only help to resolve the workplace conflicts before they become too severe. They can also help to avoid certain conflicts. In issues, the lawyer the employment lawyer, his role really is like kind of first directive is to maintain your job. He maintain your job you maintain your income, and avoid legal issues and avoid paying legal fees to any attorney including our office. Increasingly, I am noting that employees are retaining my services to help advise them on how to preserve their job and avoid difficult employment conflicts, not just to litigate against their employer after the working relationship has broken down, act on what you know, gather the information you need to help protect yourself and become an advocate. The more you discover, the more you learn about these workplace conflicts and the rules that happen that control them, the better you’ll be informed and the better you’ll be able to control these situations in deal with your employer and then eventually speak with an employment lawyer to help coordinate the actions that you yourself will take in addition to what the lawyer may do, to help better your position either preserve your job, or build a case for severance to help you in the job search afterwards and cover finances that you need. Once you leave that job, or after you get fired. If you need more assistance and more knowledge, read articles, read the Internet, go to the EEOC website, go to the department, Labor’s website, do anything that’s free information, and then eventually come to a point you need to hire an attorney. contact our office. We’re more than happy to talk to you. Usually we do a console for about a half hour and see if there’s anything we can do to help you. If not, then we we can’t. But knowledge is power, get it? And then from there, you’ll be able to decide what to do next. Hope you enjoyed this article. Talk to you next week. Take care