Because our business is small, employment laws do not apply to us.
Although many federal employment statutes apply to business with 40 or more employees, many provisions of the New York State Human Rights Laws (NYHRL) apply to business with as few as 4 employees. The NYHRL is often times more employee-friendly than federal law, and can be just as economically damaging to a small business. In addition, many NY Department of Labor regulations apply to all businesses, regardless of the number of employees.
We do not need a lawyer unless there is a problem, like a lawsuit or government investigation.
Probably the biggest mistake made by small business is waiting for a problem to arise instead of preventing the problem from arising. A significant function of an employment lawyer is to counsel his or her small business clients before problems such as lawsuits or government investigations arise. Proper legal counsel will undoubtedly save the business a lot of money and stress. Establishing and enforcing proven policies and procedures, in conjunction with proper counsel, can prevent most problems, such as lawsuits or government audits and investigations from occurring in the first place.
Maybe if we ignore the problem, it will just go away.
Whether dealing with a complaint from an employee or a notice from a governmental agency, it is never a good idea to simply ignore the problem and think that it will just go away. Employee complaints, such as sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace, should be properly investigated and documented. Any disciplinary actions taken should be handled in a professional and legal manner so as to quash the problem and prevent similar problems from arising again. Notices and audits from governmental agencies, such as the Department of Labor or Immigration and Customs Enforcement, should never be ignored. Instead, they should be responded to in an expeditious and careful manner so as to avoid or minimize your business' liability or financial exposure.
Additional resources provided by the author
For more information, contact an employment attorney at our firm by calling (631) 881-0025. From our office in Melville, NY, we represent small- and medium-sized businesses in employment law matters throughout Long Island.