Frequently Asked Questions

How do I set up a consultation with Mr. Clark?

Contact us by telephone or via email. When you contact us, we will need information from you to determine how we can best assist you. If our firm is right for you and we do not have a conflict of interest, we will schedule a consultation with Mr. Clark. At that time, Mr. Clark will discuss the specifics of your legal situation and review any documents that you believe are important. If additional time is required, we will discuss additional fees that may be required. When we schedule the appointment, we will explain our consultation rates and expectations about payment.

I own a business and I would like you to review our current policies and procedures or develop an Employee Handbook.

A well-drafted and legally sound employment manual serves three major purposes: (1) it promotes good management; (2) it prevents disputes and allegations of discrimination/unfair treatment and helps refute those allegations if/when they arise; and (3) it informs employees of what they can expect from the employer and what the employer expects of them.

We would be happy to review your current policies and procedures and/or develop an Employee Handbook tailored to your company’s unique needs. We often review and develop policies on a flat fee basis. Contact us to learn more.

My business just received an EEOC Charge of Discrimination. What should we do?

First, it is important that you take the charge seriously. When a current or former employee files a discrimination charge, it is the first step of a process that can lead to expensive and protracted litigation. Employers have a number of defenses (legal, factual and procedural) that may apply and should be evaluated and addressed with an experienced employment law attorney or H.R. professional. We have found that employers who take discrimination charges seriously, evaluate options early, and submit complete, accurate, and well-presented responses (called “position statements”) do much to prevent expensive litigation down the road. Please contact us if we can help you evaluate and respond to a charge of discrimination.

Are non-competition agreements really enforceable?

It depends. Generally speaking post-termination restrictive covenants are enforceable if they are “reasonable”. What is “reasonable” depends on the language of the agreement, the circumstances surrounding the signing of the agreement, and the employee’s departure and subsequent conduct. Let us know if you need advice evaluating, negotiating, drafting, or reviewing such an agreement.

What can I do to prevent unfair competition by my current or former employees?

First, make sure you develop good policies, procedures and practices to protect your valuable information, know-how, and customer/client relationships. Second, evaluate whether you should require your employees to sign agreements that define their conduct while employed by your business and afterwards. The key is to define the legitimate business interest that you are trying to protect and then draft an agreement that is “reasonable” and likely to be enforced. Boilerplate legalese and “off-the-shelf” agreements frequently don’t achieve your objectives. We have extensive experience drafting, reviewing and enforcing non-competition, non-solicitation, non-disclosure, confidentiality, and anti-piracy agreements. Contact us if we can help.

What should I do if I need to terminate an employee?

The decision when and how to terminate an employee is important. Terminated employees frequently file complaints in court or with government agencies (e.g., EEOC, Department of Labor, Wage & Hour Division, IRS, and state unemployment insurance agencies). Thus, an employer should evaluate the situation carefully, document the legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for the decision, and handle the termination based on sound legal principles. We regularly consult with clients about handling sensitive employee terminations and reductions in force. We also draft severance agreements for employers who wish to provide severance to departing employees in exchange for a valid legal release. Contact us if we can help.

Are my workers employees or independent contractors?

Good question. Getting the answer right has extremely important implications. Business owners who get it wrong can be liable for unpaid tax withholdings and employer contributions, payment of overtime, worker’s compensation premiums, unemployment insurance premiums, and workplace injuries. Conversely, getting it right can save a lot of money and increase your productively and bottom line. We regularly consult with business owners about classifying their workers as employees or independent contractors. We also draft and review independent contractor agreements that define the parties’ business relationship. Contact us if we can help.

My business just received a “demand letter” from an attorney representing a former employee. What should we do?

A demand letter is usually the first step in a process that is likely to result in litigation or the filing of a charge of discrimination. It is important to review the allegations, analyze the legal claims and defenses, evaluate whether the demand is unreasonable, and discuss if/how/when to respond. Contact us if we can help.

If I pay my employees a salary, I don’t have to pay them overtime. Right?

Not necessarily. Under federal law, an employee is “exempt” from overtime if s/he is paid on a salary basis of at least $455 per week and the employee’s job duties fit within one of the so-called “white collar” exemptions (or another recognized exemption from overtime pay or the minimum wage). An employer that misclassifies its employees may be liable for unpaid taxes, back wages, liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs. Small business owners can be held personally liable for back wages under federal minimum wage and hour laws. Thus, it is critical to classify your employees correctly. We help employers correctly classify their employees, and we represent them in “audits” or investigations conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor. Contact us if we can help.

I was recently separated from my job and was given a “Severance Agreement” to review and sign. I want an attorney to review it and tell me what my options are.

Call us to set up a consultation with Mr. Clark. We know Severance Packages are time sensitive. Contact us to see if and when a consultation can be arranged.

Our business often has employment related questions and situations that arise, but we don’t have the resources to hire a full-time human resource professional or an in-house attorney. How can your Firm assist us?

We would be happy to discuss your business’ employment and personnel issues with you. We have found that this is best accomplished by scheduling a meeting at your business or at our offices. Please call us to set up an appointment or consult with us telephonically. For many of our long-standing clients we provide services on a monthly fixed-fee basis. We are happy to discuss billing arrangements of all types (fixed fee, hourly rate, etc.).

An ex-employee filed a claim for unemployment insurance benefits. A hearing in front of a judge has been scheduled. Can you represent us?

Yes. We have experience representing employers appearing before Administrative Law Judges at the Arizona Department of Economic Security. However, the financial stakes and legal issues in dispute do not always justify the attorney’s fees and billing rates. We recognize that and can discuss lower-cost options, such as having a paralegal (with experience handling these matters and working under Mr. Clark’s direction) appear on your behalf at the hearing. We can discuss your options, assist you in preparing for the hearing, and/or represent your business. Contact us to learn more.

* The above FAQ’s and answers are intended to present common situations and issues that arise in our areas of practice. They do not constitute, and should not be relied upon as, legal advice in your particular situation.

63 East Main Street, 5th Floor
Mesa, AZ 85201
tel. (480) 844-0039
fax (480) 844-0035