Employment Attorney in South Carolina
What is an Employment Attorney?
In small family-run companies as well as big corporations, the balance between employer and employee is vital. That is the fundamental principle that underpins this area of the law. An employment attorney will be exposed to difficult and highly sensitive matters, and therefore needs to be empathetic and be able to show good judgment.
The law governs the relationship between employer and employee, and is there to protect and uphold the obligations and rights of both.
The work involved can be broadly split into two areas:
- non-contentious work, involving research, drafting, negotiation, arbitration and advice
- and contentious work, dealing with discrimination, harassment, breaches of contract and dismissals
Each jurisdiction may have state specific laws, and although we practise in Charleston, South Carolina, it is important to be familiar with the idiosyncrasies of other states. Generally, what is required is a sensible, methodical approach, with a good sense of judgment, and an ability to make difficult decisions.
Employment Lawyer FAQs
Payments and Salaries
Do I have to pay all employees overtime? And how do you determine OT?
Yes, all nonexempt workers must be paid time and a half for all time over 40 hours within one week. It must be calculated each week (not just for the pay period, so if someone works 50 hrs one week and 30 hrs the next week for a total of 80, the employer would still owe 10 of OT for the first week).
Can an employment attorney help me if my employer doesn’t pay me?
Yes, we will be able to advise you if you have a case under federal Fair Labor Standards Act as well as whether there are state causes of action.
What to do if my employer didn’t pay me?
The laws are very helpful for the employee when you have not been paid. You may be eligible to get attorneys fees plus additional damages for nonpayment. The statute provides for treble damages but that typically requires a boss to behave in bad faith (more than just a mistake) to have access to treble damages.
Do I have to pay an employee when terminated? And do I owe them PTO?
You must reimburse all workers for hours worked and money earned. The PTO policy governs whether you owe that to someone or not. Written policies can provide that no PTO is paid out and also that an employer may deduct certain things like missing items from the final amount. But, without a clear policy, you should not take these deductions from the last check without careful consideration.
Handbook and Policies
Do I need an employment handbook?
As firms grow, this is a great way to pull together all of the policies of the company into one place. It also can serve as an audit by having you detail your current practices on everything from PTO to absences to disciplining to wages and much more.
Can I suspend an exempt employee without pay?
Yes, you can if you do it correctly. You need to have a written policy (in your handbook) and you must still pay pro rata.
Are my employees exempt or nonexempt?
This is a question you must get correct because most are eligible for overtime. All people who work for you are nonexempt (so OT and other FLSA rules apply) unless they fit an exemption. Those are Executives, Administrative staff, professionals, and independent sales positions. Each of these has specific rules to meet the exemption. Here’s a great summary right from the people that make the rules in the Department of Labor.
What do I do if an employee complains about sexual harassment from another worker?
Investigate immediately. You should have a sexual harassment policy, set a culture that doesn’t tolerate this behavior, and then take action. Always take these complaints seriously. There are services that can do investigations for you as well.
Meet Wesley Henderson, Your Employment Attorney in Charleston SC
Prior to co-founding Henderson & Henderson law firm in December 2014, Wesley graduated from Wofford College and the University of South Carolina School of Law. He remembers:
I once helped a client with a noncompete agreement. I was asked to evaluate it to determine the best way this person could leave. With training in only one field, this individual needed to know how to be compliant. We then evaluated several ways to handle the current problem – one of the solutions I outlined was going to the boss with a purchase plan. After some back and forth, this employee ended up buying the company that he had helped build. So, instead of running miles away from the location and starting over, he was able to immediately become an owner of a business he helped build in Charleston SC, and work with clients he enjoyed. This case made me realize at an early stage that as an employment attorney, it was important for me to make employees aware of the many possibilities there are to resolve a situation.