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Employment Issues for Employers Information Center

In the past 20 years, the attorneys of Lewis & Kappes has advised and defended countless businesses in labor and employment issues. On our Labor and Employment page, we describe our experience and detail exactly how we can assist companies in Indiana. On this page, we go further into the legal issues surrounding labor and employment from the perspective of employers. Please read the below carefully.

Of course, every case is different, and you most likely have more specific questions pertaining to your company's labor situation. Contact us to set up a consultation in which our lawyers can analyze your case. Our clients are companies with interests in the Indianapolis, Indiana area, which encompasses Bloomington, South Bend, Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Gary, and Evansville.

Only people legally authorized to work in the United States may hold jobs here. Almost all employers are required to complete federal form I-9, which requires verification of legal work status through employer review of certain documentation. For questions about this process, an employer should consult an employment lawyer with knowledge of immigration law.

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Resource Links for Employers

United States Department of Labor
The website of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) provides a wealth of information about government regulation of employment matters, such as wages, benefits, job conditions and hiring.

United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal government agency charged with enforcing laws against illegal discrimination in employment.

USERRA Advisor
DOL's information pages for employers and employees about legal requirements in the nonmilitary employment of military personnel.

ForEmployers.com
Information for employers about hiring persons with disabilities.

Immigration and Nationality Act Compliance Assistance
DOL employer advice about hiring foreign workers.

Employment Law from an Employer Perspective

An employer must be cognizant of state and federal laws that govern employee hiring, compensation, treatment and termination. If you are an employer facing legal issues in any aspect of employment, consult an employment law attorney at Lewis & Kappes in Indianapolis, IN, for guidance.

Anti-Discrimination Laws

Many legal matters arise in the hiring of new employees. Of course, one of the most important areas of concern is to ensure that all hiring decisions are made for legitimate, job-related reasons not involving illegal discrimination. Broadly, federal law forbids discrimination in employment based on race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, military service or veteran status, union affiliation or citizenship. Your state and local laws may add protection to other classifications, such as sexual orientation. To show compliance with anti-discrimination laws, the reasons for hiring or rejecting a job candidate should be well documented.

Immigration Matters

Employers must follow federal immigration laws when hiring new employees. Because an employer may only hire workers legally authorized to work in the U.S., the employer must complete an Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9) for each new hire. The I-9 requires the employer to certify that it has reviewed particular legal documents proving the new employee's legal work status. I-9s must remain on file with the employer for possible government review for a set period of time.

An additional method for employers is E-Verify, which allows electronic validation of new hires' legitimate work status through a joint program of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA). Originally optional for all employers except those with federal government contracts, E-Verify may now be either required or forbidden for certain employers, depending on applicable state law.

Government Data

To determine appropriate tax withholding from wages a new hire must complete the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, usually referred to as a W-4. W-4s are usually retained by the employer. The employer must also follow any requirements for withholding and reporting to the state tax agency.

Employers must also adhere to state laws that govern notifying a state labor or employment agency of a new hire or registering as a new employer. Federal law requires that each state maintain a State Directory of New Hires (SDNH) to which employers must send new employee identifying information. SDNH information is used for child-support enforcement and other purposes, including interstate child-support enforcement through a national directory.

Compensation

The federal minimum-wage law is the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which was amended by the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 to raise the minimum wage in three stages. Before the 2007 act, the minimum wage was $5.15 per hour, where it had been for about ten years. The Act raised the minimum wage to $5.85 per hour on July 24, 2007, with subsequent 70-cent raises scheduled on that same date both in 2008 and in 2009.

Some industries are permitted to pay a lower minimum wage and some employees are not covered by the FLSA, most notably executive, administrative and professional employees. In addition, employees who regularly receive tips, apprentices, some workers with disabilities and younger workers may receive lower wages under certain conditions.

State law can set a higher minimum wage; however, only a few states do so. If state law sets a lower minimum wage, the employer must pay the higher federal minimum wage to eligible employees. Usually the lower state minimum is appropriately paid to FLSA-exempt employees.

Leave

Two main federal statutes cover employee leave time. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows covered employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to deal with certain family issues. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Act of 1994 (USERRA) governs the impact of leave for active military service on job security and employment benefits.

Termination

At-will employment is the standard throughout most of the United States and means that an employee can be fired any time for any reason as long as the reason is legal, or for no reason. At the same time, an employee can leave the job at any time for any reason.

If a valid employment contract includes a provision requiring that termination may only be for cause, the employer must have a legitimate ground for firing the employee. When terminating employees, employers may have additional legal obligations imposed by law or by collective-bargaining agreements.

Conclusion

In all aspects of employment an employer must be aware of existing law, both state and federal. Current or potential employers should consult an employment law attorney at Lewis & Kappes in Indianapolis, IN, for additional information and guidance.

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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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