The Lipp Law Firm, PC

Call Lipp Law: (571) 660-4077

The Lipp Law Firm, PC

Labor lawOur firm represents technology companies, including cybersecurity and IT companies. Our firm has two client meeting locations in Northern Virginia, one in Fairfax, and one in Reston, along the tech corridor. We focus on tech because it has a labor shortage, and as a result, there’s a mobile labor force where non-compete agreements are common. Our employment litigation practice specializes in non-compete cases.

Our firm is also active in the pet sitting, healthcare, construction, entertainment, government contracting, education, and legal, and professional services industries. We enjoy representing entrepreneurs who launch their own companies because it is fun to watch companies evolve and grow. Our firm is woman-owned and operated, so our client base also includes many woman-owned businesses.

What Aspects of Labor and Employment Law Does Your Firm Assist Clients With?

We love to take non-compete cases. These are our favorite cases to handle. We believe we get the best results on these cases because we’re enjoying ourselves and have so much experience with them. Non-compete and non-solicitation cases involve employees who leave a company and poach customers, employees, or takes trade secret and confidential information.

We also handle difficult HR situations, such as high-risk terminations. We advise companies on best practices for terminating an employee and help them terminate the employee knowing the risks involved.

We also assist management employees who are being terminated or navigating a transition. That process can involve the manager leaving a company and starting their own business, or navigating a merger or acquisition. Many of our cases result from the sale or purchase of a company.

We also practice traditional labor law. We enjoy representing both labor and management, because it gives us an edge and allows us to understand all sides of the cases we take. We’ve handled matters where management has separated a union employee and has to defend against an unlawful termination charge. These cases typically end in labor arbitration. We also assist clients with the union/employer relationship and day-to-day issues that arise from that dynamic. We’ve helped many construction companies and government contractors handle union-related issues because they tend to have a highly unionized workforce.

What are Specific Ways to Draft Employment Contracts to Protect a Business from Employment Litigation in The Future?

There are contract clauses you can add to your template contracts to better protect yourself from litigation. We recommend inserting an at-will employment disclaimer in an employment contract. At-will means that you can be terminated for any reason, no reason, with or without notice, and with or without cause; provided the termination is lawful. The at-will disclaimer notifies the employee that they’re not employed for a specific period of time and they can’t say, “you weren’t allowed to terminate me because you said you would hire me for a year.” It is a common clause in an employment contract used to protect the employer.

We also recommend inserting an attorneys’ fees clause. With this clause, if a company litigates a case against an employee and wins, then the employer has the right to ask the court for an attorneys’ fees award. I’ve litigated several cases where we’ve asked for recovery of those attorney fees. It’s a common clause that we will insert if we’re auditing a company’s employment contract.

Another employment contract clause to review is the venue provision. Venue clauses control where a contract party can bring a lawsuit. We like to see a venue provision that requires contract parties to bring lawsuits in the county where our client operates their business, so our client doesn’t have to go to an inconvenient place to litigate. For example, we’re located in Fairfax County, Virginia, and we want to ensure the venue provision states that any and all claims filed by the parties must be filed in the Circuit Court for Fairfax County, or the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division, if federal jurisdiction exists. You must be careful because each state will have different laws governing venue provisions. For example, California requires that you only litigate your employee claims in California if the employee is working in California.

A recent trend involves employees that work remotely out of their home. If you have remote employees, we will review an employer’s employment agreement to ensure that the company is adequately protected to account for unique risks that arise with a remote workforce.

When we audit an employment contract, there are usually provisions that don’t need to be in the contract. We try to whittle it down to a manageable template. We strive for a concise employment agreement, usually five pages or less. You want to make sure you’re taking your audience into account. If it’s an executive, then you want it to be an executive employment agreement. If it’s your entire labor force, then you want to make sure that it’s a short contract because you don’t want to let the contract get in the way of having a fantastic employee. You want the contract to reflect what type of company they’re coming to work for; you don’t want it filled with typos or unnecessary clauses. Your contract templates should put your company in the best possible light and reflect your company culture.

Your contract templates should be audited annually by an employment lawyer, because what’s enforceable and what’s not is constantly changing. For example, Maryland recently enacted a new law banning non-competes for certain lower level employees. If you have unenforceable provisions in your contracts, your employment lawyer should remove them in your annual contract audit.

For more information on Employment & Labor Law Issues in Virginia, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (571) 660-4077 or emailing our firm at katie@lipplawfirm.com.

Kathryn Megan Lipp, Esq.

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