experience & dedication...

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.

Back to Articles of Interest

The Legal Corner: Resolving employment disputes

December 3, 2008

In difficult economic times, employment disputes arise more often than usual. This is probably because employers are feeling the pressure of making less profits or even having losses, and employees are concerned about job security. In this article, I will list five important tips that employers and employees can use to avoid disputes during these difficult times:

(1)Document All Disputes With Employees: If an employment dispute is documented it will likely defuse an uncomfortable situation and allow both sides to communicate about the problem. Moreover, documenting a dispute will provide a contemporaneous written record of a dispute which may be needed at a later date. This applies to employees as well as employers. If an employee has a complaint about treatment at work, he/she should give a supervisor a formal written complaint.

(2)Investigate All Complaints: 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 because of the complaint simply because you believe that the employee is a “troublemaker”. This could provide the basis for a retaliation action.

(3)Have a Written Anti-Harassment Policy: 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. Along the same lines, place all legally required posters in an area where employees can easily see them. For a complete list of mandatory posters see http://www.labor.state.nh.us/mandatory_posters.asp.

(4)Have Regular Performance Appraisals: Though not required by law, regular performance appraisals will reinforce good performance, provide notice of unsatisfactory performance, and provide a regular avenue of communication between an employee and employer. Communication between employer and employee (whether positive or negative) is critical to creating a mutually beneficial work-environment.

(5)Do Not Fire Employees in Anger: 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 the employer and more fair for the employee (and more likely to avoid costly litigation) to suspend an employee, with or without pay, investigate the terminable act thoroughly, and then make the final decision whether to fire the employee based on business logic rather than emotion.

(6)Treat Employees Equally if They Do Equal Work: This one is self explanatory.

(7)When Employees Are Doing a Good Job, Tell Them: An appreciative word or two to a hard working employee will help to foster a positive atmosphere, and reduce turnover. If you can afford it, give a hard working employee a bonus to show your appreciation. Even a small bonus will be much appreciated. While representing employers (and employees), I have seen many employees leave jobs to go to another employer who is not offering any more money or benefits to the employee. The employee leaves simply because he or she does not feel appreciated. A high turnover rate diminishes profitability. Find hard workers, communicate your appreciation, and develop a long term relationship that is mutually beneficial.

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.)

Back to Articles of Interest

By: Edward D. Alkalay