Employment Advice and Counsel

We work with employers from many industries and backgrounds daily, helping them navigate all the challenges that come with having employees. We are known for our ability to quickly analyze very complex scenarios and offer practical solutions that are operationally sound and legally compliant.

We especially enjoy working with workplace leaders to help them identify their biggest challenges and help them work through those as efficiently and effectively as possible so that they can focus on the core aspects of the businesses they are in. Click on a practice area to the left to find out more.

Employment Advice and Counsel

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We work with employers from many industries and backgrounds daily, helping them navigate all the challenges that come with having employees. We are known for our ability to quickly analyze very complex scenarios and offer practical solutions that are operationally sound and legally compliant.

 

We especially enjoy working with workplace leaders to help them identify their biggest challenges and help them work through those as efficiently and effectively as possible so that they can focus on the core aspects of the businesses they are in. Click on a practice area to the left to find out more.
WAGE AND HOUR TRIAGE: INITIAL CLASS ACTION EVALUATION
Contact us before you hire a big law firm and before you start receiving exorbitant bills for a scorched-earth defense. BigLaw often blindly charges into litigation without realistically assessing exposure, determining your needs and budget, or exploring early and inexpensive resolution.

We will assess your case to help you (1) understand potential exposure, (2) determine what your legal spend should be, and (3) evaluate whether early settlement is viable.

Although we are accomplished defense lawyers, we have a successful track record of effectively negotiating pre-litigation settlements with plaintiffs’ lawyers that save clients tens of thousands in legal fees.  More than 95% of all civil cases settle before trial, and this percentage is higher with wage and hour litigation.  Before spending tens of thousands on lawyers, you should obtain an initial evaluation that fully explores early and efficient resolution options.
WAGE AND HOUR ADVICE AND COUNSELING
Wage and hour compliance can be challenging in California given that the California Labor Code and Wage Orders are some of the most exhaustive employment laws in the world.  The risk of noncompliance is higher than ever with an alarming number of class actions and PAGA representative actions being filed against employers for even the smallest and most ticky-tack Labor Code violations.  We regularly advise large, medium, and small employers on wage and hour law compliance and work with businesses to develop business-first solutions.  Click here for a short video that explains how our firm works with businesses to develop customized compliance solutions.During his career, Brandon McKelvey has been a contributing author of wage and hour treatises, regularly blogged on California wage and hour issues, and presented at seminars and webinars on these topics.  In addition, Brandon has trained over 1,200 managers in California on wage and hour issues.  Our firm provides employers with comprehensive advice and practical solutions on wage and hour issues, including the following:
  • Wages: When you have questions about employee wages (e.g., minimum wage, overtime, regular rate, vacation pay, reporting time pay, or piece-rate pay).
  • Wage Statements: When you have questions about paystubs or want to make sure your wage statements are compliant.
  • Hours: When you are trying to figure out what constitutes compensable hours worked (donning and doffing, pre-shift and post-shift activities, commute time, travel time, etc.).
  • Off-the-Clock Work: When you are trying to determine what off-the-clock activities should be compensated.
  • Meal and Rest Periods: When you have questions about meal and rest period requirements, meal period waivers, or on-duty meal periods.
  • Rounding: When you are considering rounding employee time entries or you would like to determine whether your rounding system is compliant.
  • Schedules: When you want to adopt an alternative work schedule, split shift, or nontraditional work schedule.
  • Piece-Rate: When you are evaluating whether to use a piece-rate pay structure.
  • Bonus or Commission Plans: When you are drafting a compensation or incentive plan or have questions about incentive compensation, bonuses, or commissions.
  • Exempt Classification: When you have to decide whether to classify an employee as exempt from overtime or would like to audit exempt classifications.
  • Expense Reimbursement: When you want to know what expenses are reimbursable (e.g., mileage, uniforms, training, travel, meals, per diems, etc.).
  • Final Pay and Waiting-Time Penalties: When you are trying to figure out how to handle final pay for an employee who is terminating or trying to remedy late payment of final wages.
  • Overpayments or Deductions: When you overpaid an employee or would like to take deductions from pay.
WAGE AND HOUR TRAINING
Given the growing number of wage and hour lawsuits against California employers, wage and hour training is an essential tool for employers to safeguard their business against litigious employees and extortionist plaintiffs’ lawyers.  Our firm is one of the first and only firms to offer comprehensive wage and hour training for businesses.  In addition to basic compliance topics, this training provides managers with tools on how to effectively manage employee work time, breaks, and other aspects of employment to avoid wage and hour disputes and lawsuits.

Our firm has been on the cutting edge of wage and hour training and has developed one-of-a-kind interactive training using Prezi (a modern and sleek presentation software).  Our lawyers have trained over 1,200 managers across the state on wage and hour compliance issues and on effective employee management to minimize potential wage and hour violations.  If you are interested in our wage and hour training, please contact Brandon McKelvey.
BONUS, INCENTIVE, OR COMMISSION PLAN DRAFTING
Bonus, incentive, and commission plans are often challenged by former employees, either through a Labor Commissioner complaint with the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) or in court.  To prevent litigation it is important to consult with an attorney before drafting or revising compensation plans.

 

Brandon McKelvey has drafted compensation plans for some of the largest employers in the country and has litigated compensation plans in court.  He can quickly identify potential issues in compensation plans or help you defend a claim for unpaid incentive compensation or commissions.
 
MANDATORY HARASSMENT-PREVENTION TRAINING
Our attorneys have experience litigating harassment and discrimination cases on both sides of the bar.  This unique experience allows us to provide fun, interactive, and effective mandatory anti-harassment and prevention training.  Our firm can provide this training for a flat fee and in a format that is customized to your business.
GENERAL EMPLOYMENT LAW DEFENSE AND COUNSELING
Our lawyers have seen employment litigation from both sides of the bar and they use this experience to provide practical advice to clients that helps them steer clear of litigation. Our lawyers regularly advise employers in the following situations:
Hiring: When you have questions about hiring or drafting offer letters.
Employee Handbook Revisions: When you need to create, revise, or update your employee handbook.
Mandatory Harassment-Prevention Training: When you want fun and interactive mandatory anti-harassment and prevention training.
Employee Discipline: When you need help disciplining, demoting, counseling, or writing up an employee.
Employee Termination: When you are getting ready to terminate an employee.
EEOC Complaint or Investigation: When you get notice of an employee filing a complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or are facing an EEOC investigation.
DFEH Complaint or Investigation: When you receive notice of an employee filing a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or are facing a DFEH investigation.
Independent Contractors: When you are getting ready to engage or are evaluating your relationship with an independent contractor, or if you are facing a lawsuit alleging that you misclassified one or more independent contractors.
Co-Employment: When you are considering using temporary staffing or have questions about joint employer issues or when you have been sued as a joint employer.
 
EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK AND POLICY DRAFTING
Employee handbooks, policies, and procedures often take center stage in individual employment and class action lawsuits. A good policy can mean the difference between being held liable or getting the case dismissed. Our attorneys can bring their knowledge of California employment law and their experience in employment litigation to bear in helping you create, revise, or modify your employee handbook or employment policies.
FAITH-BASED ORGANIZATIONS
Medina McKelvey also specializes in providing advice, counsel, training, and risk management for faith-based organizations. Many such organizations do a great job providing enriching services and programs to their communities but, often because of lack of knowledge or focus, fall short in ensuring that their organizations are in compliance with federal and state employment laws. We can advise and counsel your church or faith-based organization to help minimize the risk that a legal issue can derail your mission. And, as we did recently for one of the largest churches on the West Coast, if an issue arises, we can quickly mobilize a risk management team to discreetly assess the potential harm to your church or organization and recommend next steps to bring about restoration and healing to all parties involved, as well as to minimize the damage to your church or organization’s reputation.
EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY ISSUES
We are committed to helping employers meet and exceed the standards established through the vast body of laws and regulations commonly referred to as equal employment opportunity, or EEO, law. With a combined total of more than 45 years of experience, we have helped business owners and managers navigate many different EEO-related challenges involving hiring, performance management, and termination of employees with many different “protected characteristics,” including their age, color, disability, gender, military or veteran status, national origin, race, religion, and sex. These issues, whether they involve an employee’s disability, religion, race, or any other protected characteristic can be especially challenging, as they involve a careful balancing of interests and factors, such as meeting business needs, maintaining employee morale, and respecting employee privacy, all while complying with applicable local, state, and federal laws. EEO retaliation claims and lawsuits alleging that an employer took an adverse action against an employee because he or she complained of an EEO issue or participated in an EEO-related investigation are the second most threatening form of litigation today (after wage and hour claims). Through our counsel, and specifically active performance management of struggling employees, our clients can fend off many retaliation claims before they are even filed. We have also assisted many clients in the context of government agency audits focused on EEO issues, including audits by the federal Department of Labor and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).
LEAVES OF ABSENCE
Today, it is more challenging than ever before to understand and comply with leave of absence laws while running your business. Often referred to as a “Bermuda Triangle,” this area is comprised of a complex set of laws, some of which are overlapping, and all of which can be confusing. We walk side by side with our clients, starting before the actual request for leave ever surfaces, by identifying which laws apply and then drafting and implementing clear and concise policies to ease administrative and other burdens associated with leaves. So, whether you are working through a family or medical leave, a pregnancy disability leave, a service-member leave, an educational leave, or any of the many other potential leaves of absence, we cut through the confusion so that or clients can focus on their business while their employees can attend to their personal matters and, ultimately, return to the workplace.
EXECUTIVE RECRUITING AND CONTRACT NEGOTIATION
We recognize that good leadership is a vital component to the success of our clients’ businesses. Good leaders, especially at the executive level, are keen business people who will often demand that the terms of their engagement with a business be established in an employment contract. Setting aside the necessary terms and legalese that go into an executive contract, it can be extremely challenging to negotiate such a contract, with conflicting emotional, business, and professional dynamics. As an advocate for our clients, we are very familiar with their business and we aggressively protect their interests. At the same time, we are an outsider. That unique dynamic allows us to assist our clients in attracting the best leaders possible, negotiating the best terms possible, and memorializing those terms in a contract that protects the business to the maximum extent possible.
VENDOR SCREENING AND CONTRACT NEGOTIATION
Though our work often focuses on employment-related matters, it is very common for our clients to ask us to assist in other areas, including the screening of prospective vendors and the negotiation of vendor contracts. In short, because we know our clients’ businesses and business philosophies, we can place them in the proverbial “driver’s seat” from the outset of vendor relationships, securing favorable terms that ensure the protection and growth of their business, regardless of the industry, workforce size, or virtually any other factor.
EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT
We have been around long enough to know that employees can be one of the biggest assets for a business, or one of its biggest liabilities. Ultimately, performance management is the most important factor in determining whether any individual employee is your biggest asset or your biggest liability. Performance management can, and does, involve a myriad of factors depending on a lot of variables. Being business owners ourselves, and having worked with businesses of all sizes from virtually all industries, our experience is diverse and deep. Drawing on those wells of experience, we are better equipped than most to help businesses ensure that their employees are their biggest asset, not their biggest liability, through thoughtful, practical, and ultimately effective performance management.
TERMINATION AND WORKFORCE REDUCTION
No matter how hard you try, there will come a time when you must terminate an employee, or even a group of employees. Sometimes, that need arises from a performance issue, while other times it involves a change in economic factors. Regardless of the context, we help our clients work through terminations and workforce reductions in a manner that is fair, equitable, empathetic, humane, efficient and, of course, lawful.
SUCCESSION PLANNING & MENTORSHIP PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT
At some point, most businesses will need to look beyond the current leadership to the next generation. A smooth and successful transition involves intentional steps aimed at identifying many different factors. We often partner closely with our clients to work through those intentional steps, from the beginning through the transition and beyond. Often, one component of an effective succession plan involves leaders mentoring potential leaders, so that succession may occur relatively organically and from within an organization. We have helped several clients from different industries develop formal mentorship programs, all of which have proven to be a vital component to smooth succession and, ultimately, long-term business success.

Learn more about our other Employment Law focuses