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Practice Areas and Employment Law Information

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Employment Law

I represent both employers and executives in all types of employment law proceedings.  I have litigated many different discrimination and grievance claims for federal, state and local employees, including law enforcement personnel.  I represent companies in defending claims before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and state and federal courts.  I represent federal employees in claims of discrimination, harassment, and reprisal against agency employers.    


I help prevent wrongful employment practices by drafting appropriate policies and handbooks and guiding employers through every step of the employment relationship.  I also represent employees in addressing employment abuses and resolving employment disputes.  Over the years, I have prepared and negotiated a great many employment agreements, benefits packages, restricted covenants, and severance agreements.  


In every case, I focus upon the legitimate business considerations of the employer and any protected status or conduct of the employee.  I use my expansive knowledge of the employment laws to guide my clients to their business goals in each and every employment issue.  Contact me to assist you today.

Business Law

When it comes to helping business owners and assisting in corporate formation and management, I carefully explore every option and describe every aspect to each client in layman's terms. These issues include choice of corporate form, where to incorporate, how to structure and staff the business, and key considerations to ensure legal compliance. I focuses on taking care of the legalities to leave you free to succeed at your business.


Whether you are looking to start a new business, have an employment lawyer review your current employment policies and practices, or expand your business, you can count on me.

Wage and Hour Law

The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) describes how most employers must compensate their employees for hours worked.  The FLSA generally requires employers to pay overtime compensation to employees who work over 40 hours in a workweek, unless an exemption applies to the employee's duties and the employee is paid the required minimum salary for all hours worked in a week.  The Department of Labor has proposed regulations to the FLSA to require overtime compensation for more employees.  


Currently to satisfy the salary basis test, employers must pay an employee at least $455 per week (which is $23,660 annually) as a salary for all work performed in a week.  This means that the employee’s salary cannot be docked for partial-day absences except in limited circumstances.  (Otherwise the employee is essentially paid on an hourly basis.)   Under the duties test, the majority of an employee’s duties must be exempt Executive, Administrative, or Professional work, or certain types of outside sales or high-level computer work.  .


Whether a worker qualifies as an employee or independent contractor is a hot topic in wage and hour law.  An independent contractor must exercise control over the method and manner of performing his or her duties, use his or her own tools for performing the job, and otherwise work on a finished product or service to be provided.   


Because of the complexity of the federal and state laws covering payment of wages to employees, employers are often confused and do not act in compliance with the law.  As a result, consultation with a qualified attorney knowledgeable in federal and state employment law and litigation is an essential first step to ensuring compliance.

Non-Competition Agreements

Employers and executives have many concerns when it comes to non-competes.  Employers need to prevent loss in hiring staff to service their valuable clientele and use their trade secrets.  Employees need to know what terms an employer can legitimately enforce and when an agreement goes too far in curtailing their future ability to make a living. 


Non-competes are disfavored by the law in most states, including Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. They generally run counter to the prevailing  public policy in favor of free and open competition. Nevertheless, non-competes are valid and enforceable if they are supported by a legitimate business interest of the employer and are narrowly tailored to protect that interest.  As a result, a non-compete should never be offered or signed without first obtaining legal advice from experienced counsel.


I have drafted a great many restrictive covenants, including non-competes, non-solicitation clauses, and non-disclosure agreements.  I represent employers in enforcing them and executives seeking to defend themselves from overbroad previsions in state and federal courts. 



Family and Medical Leave Issues

Protected leave for employees: FMLA, ADA, and Safe and Sick Leave Laws

Federal, state, and local laws all apply to protect employees who need to take leave for medical issues.  State and local governments across the country continue to expand the types of leave and opportunities for employees to use job-protected leave.


The Family and Medical Leave Act


The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) applies to employers with 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year, including a joint employer or successor in interest to a covered employer.   


An employee is eligible for FMLA leave if the employee works for a covered employer, has worked for the employer for at least 12 months, has at least 1,250 hours of service for the employer during the 12 month period immediately preceding the leave, and works at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.  

 

Eligible employees may take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:

  • The birth of a son or daughter or placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care;
  • To care for a spouse, son, daughter, or parent who has a serious health condition;
  • For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job; or
  • For any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a military member on covered active duty or call to covered active duty status.


An eligible employee may also take up to 26 workweeks of leave during a "single 12-month period" to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness, when the employee is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of the servicemember. The "single 12-month period" for military caregiver leave is different from the 12-month period used for other FMLA leave reasons. See Fact Sheets 28F: Qualifying Reasons under the FMLA and 28M: The Military Family Leave Provisions under the FMLA.


Under some circumstances, employees may take FMLA leave on an intermittent or reduced schedule basis. That means an employee may take leave in separate blocks of time or by reducing the time he or she works each day or week for a single qualifying reason.


The FMLA presents difficult issues for employers in assessing employee eligibility, leave allotments, and other issues.  Many of these questions are answered in guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Labor in this link.


State FMLA Laws


Many states have their own FMLA laws that cover more employers and provide more protection than the federal FMLA.   For example, the District of Columbia requires companies with 20 or more employees in D.C. to provide 16 weeks of unpaid family leave and 16 weeks of unpaid medical leave in a 24-month period and extends the reasons for use of qualifying leave and the employees who qualify for leave.   In addition, some jurisdictions, like California and the District of Columbia (starting July 1, 2020), have a system in place for employees to obtain paid family leave under certain circumstances.


The Americans with Disabilities Act


In addition to the FMLA, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) covers employees who work for  employers with 15 or more employees to provide equal employment opportunities to qualified individuals with disabilities.  Among other things, the ADA requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities to enable them to perform the essential functions of their jobs.  Oftentimes, an employee can request leave as a reasonable accommodation, above and beyond the employee's right to take leave under the FMLA and similar state and local leave laws.


State and Local Safe and Sick Leave Laws


In recent years, many states and localities have enacted laws to protect employees of small employers and require that they accrue a minimum amount of paid sick leave and safe leave over time.   More and more these days, even small employers cannot simply tell employees that they cannot take paid leave for short medical absences under company policy.


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Representation of Medical Professionals

Physicians and Surgeons

  

Over the years, I have represented many physicians, surgeons, nurses, and other medical professionals. They often have specific employment issues that require an experienced eye to review and advise.


As a condition of employment, physicians and surgeons often must agree to work for a long duration – even several years – at the same practice. This runs counter to cultural norms against involuntary employment but may still be enforceable depending upon the contract’s provisions. 

Physician Contracts

Some physician contracts allow resignation with an extended notice period (6 months or more), or resignation for good reason if the nature of the employment changes dramatically. Otherwise, the physician or surgeon must continue working for the entire term or risk a claim for damages based on the practice’s inability to treat patients while seeking a replacement. 


Similarly, physicians and surgeons often must agree to burdensome non-competes when they start with a hospital or practice. While some jurisdictions prohibit non-competes for medical professionals because they limit patient choice, Virginia, Maryland, and DC do not bar physician non-competes. Experienced counsel may still challenge the enforceability of such agreements based on their terms and the practice limitations that they contain.

Nurses and Medical Staff

For nurses and other medical staff, many hospitals have grievance and appeal procedures that allow them to challenge disciplinary actions or termination. These procedures vary but may give medical staff the opportunity to select a person or panel to appeal to and even present evidence and witnesses in their defense. In addition to these special protections, medical professionals also may make use of the civil rights laws and protections available to non-medical employees. Having skilled employment law counsel is critical to success in the process.