WORKPLACE RIGHTS UNDER THE LAW
The law protects you from workplace discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Numerous statutes also ensure full and timely payment of your wages.
We counsel employees on disputes concerning workplace rights. If your dispute cannot be resolved informally, we aggressively advocate on your behalf in state and federal court, as well as mediation and arbitration. We are licensed in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.
Protections at many levels
Federal laws protect you from unlawful discrimination and harassment in hiring and employment. These laws also protect employees from retaliation for engaging in “protected activity,” such as opposing unlawful employment practices or participating in efforts to investigate and enforce the laws prohibiting such practices.
Some of these important federal statutes include:
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination against employees and applicants based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin;
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which protects persons 40 or older from workplace age discrimination, including in hiring, firing, salary, and other terms and privileges;
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which makes it unlawful to discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities in workplace application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, training, and other areas of employment; and
The Equal Pay Act, which helps ensure that men and women performing equal work in the same workplace are afforded equal pay.
In addition to federal statutes, state and local laws provide further (and sometimes greater) workplace protections. For example, the District of Columbia Human Rights Act and the Virginia Human Rights Act prohibit discrimination based on an employee’s membership in a variety of protected classes. The Maryland Commission on Civil Rights enforces Maryland’s laws against discrimination in employment.
Many cities and counties also have human rights laws, and commissions to enforce those laws, including:
City of Alexandria Office of Human Rights;
Arlington County Human Rights Commission;
Fairfax County Office of Human Rights and Equity Programs;
Prince William County Human Rights Office; and
Montgomery County Office of Human Rights.
CONTRACT RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS
Sometimes it is clear which documents constitute your workplace agreements. They may include a written contract when you join a company, and a written separation and release agreement when you depart. Other times, your written contract is merely an offer letter, or a handbook, or even just an email exchange. In many cases, your agreement is not written at all; rather, it is a verbal exchange concerning your material rights and obligations.
We counsel employees, including executives, regarding their contract rights and obligations. Whether you are beginning a new job or transitioning between career opportunities, we help you understand your existing obligations (if any), and work by your side to negotiate the critical provisions of your agreements, including non-compete and other restrictive covenants.
The agreements that govern your career
We provide our clients with a trained eye to review employment contracts so you can start your new job confidently, with a strong understanding of your rights and obligations. We also help you protect your options when you leave. We have the experience and ability to negotiate a smooth transition, or pursue litigation if your departure gives rise to a dispute.
Employees must pay special attention to the “restrictive covenants” that limit their behavior, both during and after their employment period. For example, many agreements contain “non-compete” covenants that govern how, where, and when an employee may compete with a former employer. Similarly, “non-solicit” covenants often prevent employees from hiring or attempting to hire a former employer’s other workers. Agreements also routinely contain “confidentiality clauses,” prohibiting employees from disclosing or using for non-employment reasons any of the employer’s proprietary or sensitive information.
These covenants are critical to your career. A confidentiality provision that is too restrictive may hinder your search for a position with a subsequent employer. Non-solicit or non-compete provisions that last too long, or that cover too broad a geographic or subject matter area, may interfere with your ability to make a lucrative career advancement, obtain a desired new job, or even sustain a livelihood. The validity of these covenants depends on the state law that governs the agreement as well as a legal assessment of the facts and circumstances specific to your employment situation.
We help our clients understand the consequence of these important restrictions, and negotiate language that will minimize the limit on their ability to pursue their chosen careers.
We also work with clients who have already agreed to such covenants. We counsel employees as to the best course to avoid violating their restrictions. We also advise our clients as to their options in challenging the enforceability of such restrictions, either through informal negotiations or through litigation or arbitration proceedings.