Employment Law and Related

Legal Services

  • Employment Agreements & 1099 Contracts
  • NDAs, Non-Disclosure Agreements, Confidentiality, Trade Secret
  • Non-Solicitation, Non-Competes and Noncompetition
  • Contractors, Developers, and IP
  • Company Property
  • Hiring, Firing, & Termination
  • EEOC Mediation
  • Discrimination Litigation
  • Retaliation
  • EEOC Coaching; Preventing Harassment Seminars
  • Employment Agreements; 1099 Contracts

    Employees and contractors are one of the largest areas of risk in a business.

    When you have employees and contractors, you need to protect your business with properly structured and worded Employment Agreements and Contractor Agreements (sometimes called 1099 Contracts), because employees and contractors are one of the largest areas of risk in a business, and these types of contracts can significantly mitigate and reduce that risk.

    The business’s employment and contractor agreements should contain restrictive covenants: nondisclosures, non-competes, non-solicitation of customers, and non-solicitation of employees. We can prepare these employment and 1099 contractor agreements for your business with provisions that protect your company secrets, customer lists, know-how, and protect against the poaching of your customers. These agreements must be written, properly worded and signed to be enforceable.

    A properly-worded and structured Employment Contract can remove the risk of a discrimination suit and Equal Employment Opportunity EEOC claims based in race, gender, or religion.

    Properly-structured employment contracts and 1099 contracts protect your intellectual property, your customer lists, and protect against solicitation of customers and employees. These agreements can contain also contain noncompetition provisions. We also include many other protections in these contracts and agreements, such as protections for attorneys’ fees, and mandatory mediation.

    Employment Agreements and Contractor Agreements can significantly reduce risk in other areas that most businesses do not consider.

    As just one example, the employee and contractor agreements we structure for our Clients clearly state that employees and contractors cannot talk on the cellphone to other employees and contractors, or conduct any business at all on the cellphone while driving. The reason is that a jury awarded in excess of $21 Million Dollars against Coca Cola when an employee was involved in a car accident while speaking on a cell phone. An attorney for the injured party found Coca Cola documentation which permitted employees to drive while operating a cell phone.

    We are also careful to provision Employment Agreements and Contractor Agreements to say that employees and contractors cannot use company email, systems, and servers to engage in illegal activity of any kind, because this can be a strong defense when the company must defend against claims of harassment, illegality by employees, and/ or possession of illicit materials on the company’s servers.

  • NDAs, Non-Disclosure Agreements, Confidentiality, Trade Secret

    Very often, the most valuable asset in a business is something the business knows and others do not.

    It is essential to maintain that confidential matter confidentially. That starts with NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) among the partners, and then for all employees and contractors. A written, signed, enforceable agreement is your only legal defense to protect your valuable business information which can include customer lists, trade secrets, financial information, innovations, and disruptive technologies.

    The business’s employment and contractor agreements should contain restrictive covenants: nondisclosures, non-competes, non-solicitation of customers, and non-solicitation of employees. We can prepare these employment and 1099 contractor agreements for your business with provisions that protect your company secrets, customer lists, know-how, and protect against the poaching of your customers. These agreements must be written, properly worded and signed to be enforceable.

    Also, as your business works with other people and/ or businesses for any reason whatsoever, whether for development, licensing, financing, installations, joint venture, or potential purchase or business sale, your business intellectual property and trade secrets need protection so they will not be exploited or stolen.

    The Fernandez Law Firm has had much experience preparing contracts and NDAs to protect confidential matters and trade secrets. The Firm has won litigation at the Superior and Appeals Court on confidentiality and trade matters.

  • Non-Solicitation, Non-Competes and Noncompetition

    It can be very damaging when a former partner, member, shareholder, employee, contractor, or 1099 leaves and begins exploiting your customers, vendors, and employees.

    The Fernandez Law Firm drafts, litigates, and successfully defends nonsolicitation agreements and noncompetition agreements. The Firm has won these cases at the trial and appeals level.

    The business’s employment and contractor agreements should contain restrictive covenants: nondisclosures, non-competes, non-solicitation of customers, and non-solicitation of employees. We can prepare these employment and 1099 contractor agreements for your business with provisions that protect your company secrets, customer lists, know-how, and protect against the poaching of your customers. These agreements must be written, properly worded and signed to be enforceable.

    Additionally, properly worded versions of thee restrictive covenants should be in place before business sale or business purchase to ensure that the best talent does not leave and compete against the former employer. Without non-disclosures, non-competes, and non-solicitations, your business will not be able to achieve the highest purchase price.

  • Contractors, Developers, and Intellectual Property

    Many of our IP and IT Clients are surprised to learn that without a carefully-worded and valid, signed assignment, the development they have paid for may not be owned by their business.

    Also, many of our IP and IT Clients are surprised that even when they have a carefully-worded and valid, signed assignment, years later, a sophisticated purchaser may require a second notarized assignment of that intellectual property, so that the purchaser can be sure that there are no questions about the genesis and ownership of that intellectual property.

    If your business is based upon innovation and lots of intellectual property performed by someone other than the sole shareholder, you need to engage counsel early on to ensure that all intellectual property is properly assigned to the business by the employees and contractors who develop the intellectual property, including the software code, all revisions, all libraries, and know-how, and all artwork.

  • Company Property

    We can prepare a company handbook for you and a company equipment and cellphone policy that can help protect the business.

    Anyone can lose a company laptop or company cellphone. Anyone can leave a portal open and accessible to hackers. We can prepare a company handbook for you and a company equipment and cellphone policy that can help protect the business and ensure that the equipment is properly and securely maintained, and then returned at the end of the employment.

    Did you know that cases have been fought over whether someone had the right to use the company's own servers to steal the company's intellectual property? That employees have brought successful worker's compensation claims because the employee was talking to the boss on the company cellphone at the time of a car accident, and the boss knew she was driving at the time of the cellphone conversation? That businesses have been sued (and found criminally liable) because employees viewed and stored child pornography on the business's computers and servers?

    Did you know that all of these cases turned on a simple point --- whether the company had the employee sign an agreement setting forth what was and was not an authorized use of the company's electronics? We can help you with a Company Property and Company Equipment Agreement which will help prevent this type of situation from occurring.

    Surprisingly, even a business’s success on an unemployment claim turns on similar language - whether the business had specifically instructed the employee not to engage in the activity.

    Just one unemployment claim can make your rates skyrocket, and can be avoided by simply engaging our Firm to properly draft your Employment Agreements.

    We also include in our Company Property and Company Equipment Agreement a clearly stated policy of what is acceptable use by your employees of your business's email, servers, telephones, and other electronics. The Company Property and Company Equipment Agreement also clearly affirms your rights and protections in communications which flow across your electronics, including your rights to review all of those communications.

    Most companies have very basic documents that they have obtained from their payroll companies (or off the Internet) that are not enforceable and offer little or no litigation or unemployment protection whatsoever. It is important, as your company uses more and more technology, to use agreements that keep up with the technology and actually protect your business.

  • Hiring, Firing, and Termination

    Hiring, firing, and termination of employees and contractors are areas that are filled with litigation risk.

    The Fernandez Law Firm, P.C. can assist you in properly documenting all new hires, all performance issues, firing, and termination. We will also assist you in proper communications with the Georgia Department of Labor on terminations, and assist you in all unemployment matters, including unemployment appeals.

  • EEOC Mediation

    The EEOC governs employment discrimination in the workplace, including harassment, retaliation, gender, labor issues, race discrimination, color discrimination, religious discrimination, sex discrimination, national origin discrimination, and disability discrimination.

    The Firm also has tremendous experience in working with the EEOC, and mediating claims before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission EEOC.

    If your business faces an EEOC discrimination claim, you should immediately seek legal counsel, because these matters can quickly spin out of control and become extremely expensive, very expansive, and terribly problematic.

    Also, if you are offered the opportunity to mediate the claims, you should strongly consider mediation, and you should hire The Fernandez Law Firm, P.C. to counsel you and be with you during the mediation. We have had tremendous success in mediating claims before the EEOC, and are often able to completely resolve claims at mediation.

    We highly recommend mediation, which allows the parties to argue their case before a non-binding mediator at the EEOC. The process of gathering all of the facts and preparing for the mediation, as well as arguing the case, and hearing the other side’s arguments, allows the parties to learn the relative strengths and weaknesses of their cases and defenses well before trial. Often, more can be learned in a day of mediation than in six months of discovery and depositions. Perhaps even more importantly, it is a rare opportunity for the parties and counsel to have to sit together and talk diligently, which means that the parties have the opportunity to resolve their dispute. It is our experience that mediation is a powerful tool in resolving claims, and we strongly encourage even our most aggressive Clients, who are convinced that they will win at trial and get damages and attorneys’ fees from the other side, to take mediation very seriously.

    Our experience has been that we are often able to resolve claims at mediation. Overall, in our view, mediation considerably reduces risk and cost for our Clients.

  • Discrimination Litigation

    We have also been able to have most of the claims against our Clients dismissed at summary judgment, that is, without a full trial on specific issues of law.

    The Fernandez Law Firm has deep experience at the EEOC with employment discrimination in the workplace, includes harassment, gender, labor issues, race discrimination, color discrimination, religious discrimination, sex discrimination, national origin discrimination, disability discrimination and retaliation claims.

    If your business faces a discrimination claim, you should immediately seek legal counsel, because these matters can quickly spin out of control and become extremely expensive, very expansive, and terribly problematic.

    The Fernandez Law Firm provides EEOC Coaching and Preventing Harassment Seminars. These seminars inform your employees, reduce false claims, establish a reporting protocol (which is required by law), and can greatly influence a more favorable view of your business by any fact finder.

    The Fernandez Law Firm highly recommends taking immediate actions by engaging counsel. Do not risk a retaliation claim by making a poorly – reasoned misstep.

    ANTI DISCRIMINATION COACHING CAN BE MORE COST-EFFECTIVE AND VERY PROBATIVE.

  • Retaliation

    Once an employee has engaged in a protected activity, such as a complaint about race, sex, age, or gender discrimination to the EEOC, or opposing discrimination under Title VII, the ADA, the ADEA, the EPA, the Rehabilitation Act, or GINA, the employer needs to proceed very cautiously, because if the employer retaliates, the penalties are substantially higher. The participation clause provides protection from retaliation for many actions, including filing or serving as a witness for any side in an administrative proceeding or lawsuit alleging discrimination in violation of an EEO law. The participation clause applies even if the underlying allegation is not meritorious or was not timely filed.

  • EEOC Coaching; Preventing Harassment Seminars

    The Firm regularly provides on-site harassment prevention seminars. These seminars are extremely helpful in a number of ways:

    Sometimes, when our Client has been touched by a possible discrimination matter, we can stop or mitigate a full and costly EEOC investigation by reporting to the EEOC that the business has provided a full-day harassment prevention seminar. Providing a harassment seminar shows the EEOC that your business is taking the matter, and potential discrimination in the workplace, seriously. Preventing harassment seminars are a helpful and cost-effective tool in the reduction and mitigation of EEOC and discrimination claims.

    • First, in any matter before the EEOC, the EEOC usually asks if there has been a preventing harassment seminar for all employees at the workplace in the past twelve months. The EEOC takes a much kinder, and far less punitive view, when the business can say that it has provided a harassment prevention seminar.
    • Second, the seminar can serve as a warning to would-be harassers, and inform them and instruct them that language and decisions which they may have though were fine are not permissible.
    • Third, the seminar serves to delineate to all employees what the reporting chains of command will be, which is legally required.
    • An on-site harassment seminar can stop harassment immediately --- and offers additional important strategic and legal protections which we can discuss with you.

The Fernandez Law Firm

As your business grows, you need staff. Sometimes you need contractors; sometimes you need employees. Both contractors and employees have access to valuable things in your business: your customer lists; your trade secrets; your computers and systems. The Firm regularly counsels on many employment matter, including whether a staffer should be classified as an employee or contractor; how payroll and withholding should be properly done; and how employees should be paid to avoid wage and hour claims. Our Firm has been recognized for excellence and has consistently won the highest award and the highest customer approval rating from Martindale-Hubbell and Lawyers.com for quality of service, overall value, responsiveness, and communication ability for the years 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.