Spokane Lawyers | Spokane Employment Lawyers

Spokane Employment Lawyers

Serving Residents in Washington and Idaho

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    Employment Law - Paukert & Troppmann

    Spokane Employment Lawyers

    Serving Residents in Washington and Idaho

    Do you need legal help?

    Contact us for a legal consultation.


      Helping You Through Your Legal Problems

      Our Spokane, WA attorney's are here to guide you. Reach out today if you need legal help.

      Attorney Kathy Paukert is one of the most knowledgeable trial attorneys in Eastern Washington in the a area of personal injury law. She is thoughtful and helpful even when she tells you exactly how the law views your situation and it isn’t what you wanted to hear. Oftentimes, that is what you need. Also, Kathy fights hard for all her clients regardless of the size of the case.
       

      - Christine Weaver

      I have worked with Paukert and Troppmann now for nearly 15 years. This is a professional and successful legal team. I highly recommend this proficient legal group and encourage you to explore how they can support you.
       

      - Herzog Family Center

      Client Testimonials

      Learn what the community has to say about our law firm and the people who are a part of it.

      Read more reviews ➜

      Attorney Kathy Paukert is one of the most knowledgeable trial attorneys in Eastern Washington in the a area of personal injury law. She is thoughtful and helpful even when she tells you exactly how the law views your situation and it isn’t what you wanted to hear. Oftentimes, that is what you need. Also, Kathy fights hard for all her clients regardless of the size of the case.
       

      - Christine Weaver

      I have worked with Paukert and Troppmann now for nearly 15 years. This is a professional and successful legal team. I highly recommend this proficient legal group and encourage you to explore how they can support you.
       

      - Herzog Family Center

      Read more reviews ➜

      Client Testimonials

      Learn what the community has to say about our law firm and the people who are a part of it.

      Attorney Kathy Paukert is one of the most knowledgeable trial attorneys in Eastern Washington in the a area of personal injury law. She is thoughtful and helpful even when she tells you exactly how the law views your situation and it isn’t what you wanted to hear. Oftentimes, that is what you need. Also, Kathy fights hard for all her clients regardless of the size of the case.
       

      - Christine Weaver

      I have worked with Paukert and Troppmann now for nearly 15 years. This is a professional and successful legal team. I highly recommend this proficient legal group and encourage you to explore how they can support you.
       

      - Herzog Family Center

      Client Testimonials

      Learn what the community has to say about our law firm and the people who are a part of it.

      Read more reviews ➜

      Download our free injury guide!

      Learn what you should and shouldn't be doing for your personal injury case. 

      Download our free injury guide!

      Learn what you should and shouldn't be doing for your personal injury case. 

      Spokane Employment Lawyers

      As companies increase in size, so do the complexities of managing employees. There are dozens of regulations which must be followed on as many issues, such as wages, breaks, and employee education about harassment laws. Regulations often vary by state and must be adhered to in addition to federal regulations.

      If you’re reading this, you are probably exhausted trying to fulfill your responsibilities as an employer while maintaining profitability as a company. You’re probably looking for someone to help you meet your regulatory obligations and navigate employee challenges.

      We are here to help. We offer free legal advice. Call our Spokane employment lawyers today.

      Don’t worry about needing funds to get answers about your situation. Call us for a free legal consultation.

      What Types of Issues Can an Employment Lawyer Help With?

      Among the many issues we can assist you with as an employer are claims based on accusations of:

      • Discrimination
      • Wrongful termination
      • Hostile work environment
      • Sexual harassment
      • Workplace violence
      • Minimum wage violations
      • Violation of OSHA safety standards
      • Unpaid overtime
      • Failure to promote
      • Refusing to hire

      We can also assist with labor disagreements, breach of non-compete contracts, issues involving independent contractors, and more. And if you’re sued as an employer, you need a knowledgeable employment lawyer to defend your rights and protect your company.

      If you have a question about how our Spokane employment lawyers can benefit your company, call us for a free legal consultation.

      False Accusations Can Be Disastrous

      False accusations of discrimination or harassment of any kind are not just stressful and embarrassing; they can ruin your life.

      There are many categories an accusation of discrimination may emanate from, such as:

      • Age
      • Race
      • National Origin
      • Pregnancy
      • Gender
      • Gender Identity/Sexual Orientation
      • Disability

      The complex and confusing nature of employment law makes discrimination claims difficult to navigate without the guidance of an experienced employment lawyer. For example, though U.S. hiring regulations require employees be eligible to work in the United States, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (ICRA) of 1986 makes it illegal to discriminate based on immigration status.

      If you’re dealing with fabricated accusations against you or an officer of your company, call our Spokane employment lawyers for guidance today.

      Navigating Murky Guidelines

      Figuring out how to handle employee challenges on your own is often difficult. A good example of this is defining what is, and is not a hostile work environment. For instance, the fact that an employee is experiencing stress in the workplace does not necessarily qualify that environment as hostile. If you’re facing an employee’s claim that your company fosters a hostile work environment, it’s important to seek guidance from our Spokane employment lawyers.

      Leave of Absence Rules

      The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was created to give employees the opportunity to take time off with family for things like the birth of a child, an adoption, and being a caretaker for an ailing family member. It can also be used if qualifying employees need to take leave due to a family member’s being called away to serve in the military.

      The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protects employees from discrimination when taking leave for military service. Acts like these can be confusing for employers who may be unclear on where the boundaries are for their use and qualification.

      The simplest way to know you’re properly applying the rules for employee leave of absence is to consult with our Spokane employment lawyers. Call today for a free legal consultation.

      Accused of Workplace Safety Violation

      The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) exists to ensure that employee safety is made a priority in the workplace above profits and all other considerations. As such, OSHA requires employers to adhere to its specific safety standards.

      Managers and employees must be trained on what these standards are and how to follow them. Neither employers nor managers are permitted to prevent or discourage employees from taking the proper safety precautions recommended by OSHA.

      Employers are not permitted to punish or retaliate against employees who utilize workers’ compensation for injuries that occur on-the-job. In addition, if workplace conditions are not safe according to OSHA requirements, the employer is not permitted to punish employees who refuse to work.

      If you have any questions about how OSHA safety guidelines apply to your company, it’s best to speak with our Spokane employer lawyers. We can clarify your company’s safety requirements and help you align your environment and procedures to meet them.

      The Wrongful Termination Question

      Wrongful termination is the most frequent reason employees sue their employers. As a result, the process of terminating an employee is one that must be handled with extreme care. If you’ve terminated an employee and they’re coming back with accusations that your reasons were legally insufficient, give our knowledgeable employment lawyers a call to get information about where you stand.

      Employment Law Client Story

      We are providing the client story below to give you an overview of your employment law claim. Though we’ve changed the names and specifics in the story to protect the privacy of our client, you can benefit from the information it provides. Please read to the end, then give us a call to talk about your claim.

      On a warm Monday morning in the last week of June not very long ago, Darlene Jacobs evacuated the office space her company occupied on the top floor of a small building in Spokane Valley.

      She’d just finished with a call with one of her accounting firm’s clients when she realized she was getting a headache. She left her office and headed for the break room to grab some water and acetaminophen.

      As she neared the reception area, she heard coughing from the reception desk where her receptionist Shelly was sitting. She also noticed a chemical smell that grew stronger as she approached the south side of the building.

      Up at Shelly’s desk, the smell was so strong it filled Darlene’s mouth with a metallic taste. “What’s going on?” Darlene asked, alarmed as her receptionist continued to cough. “What’s that smell?”

      “Painters on the roof,” Shelly coughed out. “Started about ten minutes ago.”

      “They must have started at this end of the building,” Darlene said. “The smell hasn’t caught up with my office yet, but I was getting a headache. Up you go, Shell, we all need some air. Grab Dina and Ellen and I’ll go get Joe, Neil, and Bev, okay?”

      The suite was built like a doughnut, with a hallway separating a ring of offices against the outer wall from his and hers bathrooms and a break room in the center. Darlene went back up the hallway to retrieve the employees on the west side of the suite, while Shelly went down the hall behind the reception desk to retrieve Dina and Ellen from offices on the South East end. Everyone was told to grab their personal belongings and together they quickly exited the building.

      Once everyone was clustered on the lawn out front, Darlene took inventory. She had a headache, Dina had some eye irritation, and everyone else but Shelly thought they were fine.

      Shelly had the worst of it, with a sore throat and cough. Darlene called the building manager on her cell and learned that the painting crew was covering the roof with a reflective paint to reduce heat absorption. Apparently, the fumes had made their way in through the air ducts and blown into the building. The manager assured Darlene the fumes were not a safety hazard and promised to immediately shut down air conditioning to the suite in hopes of keeping any additional fumes outside the building. He said the painters would be done and gone by 6:00 p.m.

      Darlene sent her staff home with pay and instructions not to return until 1:00 p.m. Wednesday. Inconvenient as it was, she wasn’t about to put anyone at risk. “Don’t worry about your work; it will be there on Wednesday,” she said, adamantly. “I’ll confirm the air quality by then and call you if there are any problems, but I don’t anticipate any. Unless you hear from me, I’ll see you back here Wednesday afternoon.

      “And anyone who isn’t feeling well, please get to the doctor and get checked. In fact, I suggest you go, whether you feel ill or not, just to make sure. You can file it under workers’ comp, but please go.”

      The timing couldn’t have been worse; they were just about to onboard a new client who had hired them to represent them in an audit. They needed to clear up other pressing projects to focus on providing reassurance and accurate, efficient service to the new client. All of this was true, but Darlene was at peace with her priorities. Safety first.

      Her biggest concern was Shelly. Not only had she apparently gotten the worst of the fumes, but she’d been missing a lot of work lately. She’d used up her sick days by May first and now in the early days of July and was into her vacation days. At least she wouldn’t have to worry about using vacation days for this.

      Shelly had been talking about retirement for almost a year now but had yet to set a firm date. If she was honest, Darlene would guess her faithful receptionist had “short timer’s syndrome.” She appeared to have lost her interest in working. Still, she’d been a great asset to the team for almost eighteen years. Darlene would do her best to wait Shelly out; the way it was going so far this year, she’d be surprised if Shelly didn’t announce retirement by Thanksgiving.

      Darlene used the rest of the morning to find a company who would send out a tech to conduct an air quality test Wednesday morning. With luck, the suite would be cleared and she could be confident in the return of her team.

      Wednesday morning arrived with the air tech, who gave the suite his stamp of approval for safely returning to work. Everyone showed up at 1:00 p.m. but Shelley, who said she still wasn’t feeling well.

      Darlene allowed Shelley the rest of that day off with pay, asking her to please bring in a doctor’s note upon her return. She also reminded Shelly she was halfway through her vacation days, which would be used for any time taken beyond Wednesday.

      Darlene failed to return Thursday or Friday, much to the chagrin of the staff. Monday was a paid holiday for the long weekend of Independence Day, and the company manual prohibited taking a personal day the Friday before a long weekend without prior written approval.

      Resentment among the employees over Shelly’s now infamous absences piggybacked onto a long weekend was the last thing Darlene needed. It wasn’t long before she heard murmurings from the break room about how “wouldn’t everyone like to take off the two days before a long weekend, and that after already having the first half of the week off!”

      On Tuesday, Shelly was again absent. Darlene arrived to a voicemail from Shelly that simply said she’d be out. Darlene called but received no response. She left a message for Shelly to please call her.

      Darlene then sent a carefully crafted email notifying Shelly that her continued absence from work was a problem they needed to discuss. She also stated her willingness to find a solution and make what accommodations she could for Shelly’s return before being forced to reconsider Shelly’s eligibility to continue as an employee.

      On Wednesday, Shelly was again absent, and Darlene received a demand letter from a lawyer who requested two months’ severance pay on Shelly’s behalf. The letter stated that Shelly was leaving the company due to OSHA violations and workplace hostility. It also accused the company of pressuring Shelly to retire because of her age.

      Darlene was beyond shocked. That’s when she called Paukert and Troppmann and made an appointment with Employment Lawyer Andrea Asan.

      How do I fight accusations of discrimination?

      Darlene was anxious to learn what her options were.  She explained how Shelly’s attendance record had basically been “Swiss cheese” over the past six months, and that the receptionist seemed disengaged in her work.

      While she hadn’t pried and Shelly hadn’t volunteered a reason for her absences, Darlene had asked Shelley if there was anything she could do to support her. She offered to make any accommodations she could if Shelly needed them.

      What can I do to protect my company from fraudulent employee claims?

      “She’s been with us for over seventeen years, and now this!” Darlene said, squeezing her eyes shut against tears of frustration and hurt.

      “Do you have a record of your discussions in Shelly’s file?” Attorney Asan asked.

      “I do,” Darlene said, handing over Shelly’s employee file. “I was careful not to pry, but I did email her after one informal discussion about whether she needed any support from us. I put a copy of the email in her file. And then I mentioned her attendance in her annual review back in May, as by then she’d used all her sick time for the year.

      I wrote a summary of our discussion and included it in her review. We’d discussed whether she needed any accommodations or had any requests from us to make more successful in the year ahead. I asked if she wanted to take any classes to further her education, if she needed a standing desk, like that. I also gave her another copy of our employee handbook and information about our employee assistance program. She had no requests at the time, but agreed to let me know if she thought of something.”

      “Okay, that is very helpful. Having company policies in place and a handbook that clearly outlines them are crucial, as are making your employees aware of those policies verbally and where required, in the break room,” said Asan. “And the more documentation you have of conversations around employee issues, discipline, or meeting company regulations, the better.

      “So far, you’ve done an excellent job,” he continued. “Our process begins with an investigation into the circumstances leading up to Shelly’s exit. As I’m sure you are aware, any time an employee over 40 years of age is terminated from employment, there is the potential for an agism claim against the employer. In your case, you didn’t fire Shelly, and so far, it sounds as though you’ve done your due diligence to offer her accommodations and help her whenever possible.”

      “We start handling these claims with an investigation, gathering as much evidence and testimony as we can. We’ll speak to witnesses when possible, which in this case, will include any coworkers who would like to speak with us.”

      “The demand letter states ‘OSHA’ violations as a reason for leaving,” Asan continued. “Were there any incidents before this one with paint fumes?”

      “Nothing I’m aware of and nothing she or any other employee made me aware of. She told me the paint smell had begun only ten minutes before I noticed it and asked her about it. And neither she nor any other employee came to my office to make me aware of it before I asked.”

      Darlene went on to tell Attorney Asan that she’d sent the employees home with pay and encouraged them to file workers’ comp to see a doctor.

      “Did she file a claim or produce a doctor’s note about an ailment before you received this letter?” Asan asked.

      “She did not,” said Darlene.

      “Okay, well, after discussing the circumstances you’re facing here and seeing the letter, I recommend you move forward with an employment lawyer. And it will be to your benefit to make sure that person is a trial lawyer, should the claim fail to be resolved through mediation or arbitration,” said Attorney Asan.

      “Our firm has an excellent success rate in resolving cases through both of the pre-trial methods of mediation and arbitration, but you should be ready for any contingency, whether you go with our firm or not,” said Asan. “That’s why it’s best to hire a trial attorney who will work up your case as if it’s going to trial from the start, just in case.”

      Darlene was satisfied with the answers she received in her free legal consultation and retained Paukert and Troppmann. Attorney Asan handled her case, and at her own attorney’s urging, Shelly reluctantly agreed to arbitration. The claim was resolved in Brenda’s favor and Shelly left the company with only the pay she had accrued for the remainder of her unused vacation days.

      Call Our Spokane Employment Layers Today

      We hope this page has provided helpful information on employment claims. If you’ve been accused of harassment, discrimination, or other illegal practices as an employer, it’s important to protect yourself through skilled legal representation. Call our Spokane employment lawyers as soon as possible so we can discuss your specific claim.

      Client Reviews

      Attorney Kathy Paukert is one of the most knowledgeable trial attorneys in Eastern Washington in the a area of personal injury law. She is thoughtful and helpful even when she tells you exactly how the law views your situation and it isn’t what you wanted to hear. Oftentimes, that is what you need. Also, Kathy fights hard for all her clients regardless of the size of the case.

      Christine Weaver

      Read More Reviews