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Alkalay & Smillie, PLLC

in Mt. Washington Valley, New Hampshire

Office: (603) 447-8994
Fax: (603) 297-2866

Articles of Interest

Attorney Edward Alkalay writes a regular column for the Conway Daily Sun newspaper entitled "The Legal Corner." His articles address a wide variety of timely legal issues. Click on the titles below to review his past articles.

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The Legal Corner: The Legal Corner: Legal Tips for Employers to Implement in the New Year

February 6, 2011

When you own or run a business, there are always certain administrative or other work-related practices that can be refined so as to create a more positive and productive atmosphere. Over the past year, I have had many employer-clients with employment problems that could have been avoided without any cost and well before any dispute arose. This article will be the first of a two-part series and will raise some practices for employers to consider implementing in the New Year. I believe that if some of these practices are implemented, they will help employers to avoid conflict with employees, save potential legal fees, and produce a more profitable business.
Employee disputes can be a major problem for small business owners. You should do everything that you can to avoid them. Perhaps the most important thing that an employer can do to have a successful and profitable relationship with employees is to carefully evaluate all potential employees before hiring them. This will avoid most employee issues. Taking a little bit of extra time to evaluate an employee’s credentials, to check references, and to discuss the applicant with other people will help you avoid employee issues and allow you to hire the right person for the right job.
If there is any dispute with an employee, it is very important to document the dispute. I have written about this in the past and it bears repeating. At best, documenting a dispute will defuse an uncomfortable situation and allow both sides to communicate about the problem. Even if it does not resolve the problem, documenting a dispute will provide a contemporaneous written record of a dispute which may be needed at a later date.
It is very important to have an anti-harassment policy, with complaint procedure, posted in your workplace. This will clearly communicate to employees what to do if they feel they are being harassed, and will likely provide an affirmative defense for an employer if a legal dispute arises in the future regarding harassment.
If an employee makes a complaint (harassment or safety violations for example), investigate the complaint and make written findings of your investigation. Do not take any adverse action against the employee as that may open an employer up to additional liability such as a retaliation action.
If an event arises which warrants an employee’s termination, do not fire the employee immediately while tempers are still flaring. It is far better for an employer and more fair for the employee (and more likely to avoid costly litigation) to investigate the event. You may even have to suspend an employee, with or without pay, while the investigation takes place. However, making a decision after a thorough investigation will be well worth the time and effort. It may resolve the issue entirely. At worst, it will provide a strong record and foundation for defending against a wrongful termination action.
The best way to handle employment disputes is to avoid them altogether. Putting practices in place to avoid such disputes will lessen employers stress, avoid disputes, and, most importantly, allow an employer to operate profitably.

Edward D. Alkalay is a partner at Alkalay & Smillie PLLC and can be reached at (603)447-8994 or ed@northconwaylawyers.com. (This article conveys general information and should not be relied on for legal advice without further research and/or consultation with an attorney.)

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By: Edward D. Alkalay