What Specific Laws Should Government Contractors Be Aware Of?
The Lipp Law Firm represents government contractors in DC, Maryland and Virginia. There are specific laws that government contractors should be aware of. The main one is the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). For example, the FAR mandates that government contractors maintain a drug-free workplace. This has created potential legal conflicts for states that have legalized medical marijuana. On the one hand, you have the requirement from the federal government to maintain a drug-free workplace, and on the other hand, you have Washington, DC, which has legalized recreational and medical marijuana. But, in the DMV area, as far as whether an employer can terminate somebody for marijuana use, they typically can. There are no employment-specific statutes that have been implemented in any of these jurisdictions that would protect the employee under this situation.
However, if the employee has a disability, and can make an argument in good faith that they were terminated due to their disability, that’s where it gets a little bit stickier. A large part of our firm’s employment practice involves issues related to employee disabilities, which would include medical issues, drug use, and accommodations under the Americans With Disabilities Act, or the ADA. If somebody falls within a protected class based on their disability, you want to make sure that you are consulting with legal counsel before taking any adverse action, such as a termination or suspension.
A recent issue that our attorneys assisted our government contracts clients with was the federal government shutdown. Many of our government contracts clients sought our advice regarding pay and layoff issues. The shutdown created difficult business choices for our government contracting clients because it resulted in multiple layoffs. Our firm assisted our government contractor clients with those layoffs to ensure that they complied with legal and human resources best practices.
What Specific Laws Should Tech Companies Be Aware Of?
Tech companies should be aware of the various employment laws in the states where they have employees. Each state has different employment laws that apply and courts that apply different rules. Most tech companies have their employees sign restrictive covenant agreements (such as non-compete or non-solicitation agreements) that have varying levels of enforceability by state. We frequently get involved on behalf of tech companies when they receive a cease and desist letter from another company because they have hired a new employee or started working with a new customer. Our first step with those matters is to take a look at the applicable contract. We want to see a copy of the contract containing the non-compete because that will determine which state law controls the contract.
Tech companies tend to have multiple non-compete matters, and we really like focusing on these matters throughout DC, Maryland, and Virginia. In the DMV area, DC is very employee friendly, Maryland is very employee friendly, and Virginia is employer friendly. DC is starting to crack down more on non-competes as anti-competitive. As a result, we believe there will be more actions, perhaps, by the Department of Justice (DOJ), cracking down on anti-competitive non-compete agreements in DC.
When someone sends our firm a non-compete and asks to have it edited to make it enforceable, I tend to take out the traditional non-competes, which prevents the employee from working at a subsequent employer’s business that may be competitive to the former employer. I do this because it is not easy to enforce them. There are more efficient ways to protect your business, short of putting in a non-compete. For example, it is preferred to prevent the former employee from going after customers and deter them from poaching employees while protecting confidential business information. You can generally have these types of non-solicitation of customers and non-solicitation of employees’ clauses apply for one to two years after an employee leaves your company or business. My preference if I’m drafting them is for a one-year restriction. However, if the restrictions are pursuant to the sale of a business, you can sometimes have a longer restriction, for potentially up to five years, but only in that context.
Therefore, you want to make sure that you are mindful of the different state laws that apply to your employees, particularly in the non-compete realm that is prevalent amongst tech companies.
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