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LawTalk
LawTalk, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 27874
Experience:  I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
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I am a 52 year old solopreneur (Ive always worked alone) taking

Customer Question

I am a 52 year old solopreneur (I've always worked alone) taking over my father-in-laws interior design business with my wife (his daughter, been married 3 years). We are having some suspicious problems with some employees. Had a workers comp claim (broken ribs and punctured lung) recently and need some confidential advice because one of the employees is gossiping about a lawsuit. We hired him the day of the accident and he was very cooperative and sincere about not nursing his workers comp (actually tried to return to work before he was healed enough). The workers comp case is closed and he was supposed to be working 40hrs/week on a regular basis. He is a good worker when he shows up, but is very unreliable and has admitted to drug and addiction problems. I've tried to help him, but may have gone too far and jeopardized our strong standings if he does sue. I'm a settler looking for sound advice - want to try to work things out with him so if you are a "scorched-earth" attorney or "legal therapist", please pass. If you are committed to reaching resolutions with your clients would love to learn from your wisdom.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Good afternoon,

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today.

The fact that the employee has admitted to drug and addiction problems, places you in a position to both assist the employee and to protect yourself.

Under the law, the employee has the right to seek treatment for drug or alcohol addiction is protected under the federal medical protection act, and the employer may not hold the employee accountable for the time needed to get all medically necessary treatment for their problem. However, as the employer, you are not employers are not obligated to contribute to the costs of treatment, nor are you required to pay wages during the time the treatment makes the employee unavailable for work.

You have the right, and should explain to the employee, that any access to employee benefits packages---such as health insurance which might pay for the necessary treatment, and the employees right to seek substance abuse treatment, is mandated as confidential by law; and that your employee will face no negative on the job repercussions for seeking out the help that they need not be disciplined in any manner for m,making use of his right to seek treatment.

On the other hand, you may also explain that his problems seem to be interfering with his ability to work sometimes, and that while you understand his problem, and will support his efforts to get help, that you will eventually have to let him go if he is unable or unwilling to become more reliable an employee.

If your employee will not sit down and discuss this with you, then consider putting it in writing and sending it to him. You can also make sitting down with you to discuss his reliability problems mandatory before he will be allowed to return to work.

You may reply back to me again, using the Reply to Expert link, if you have additional questions.

I wish you the best in your future,

Doug
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Appreciate your input but my question was more along the lines of avoiding a lawsuit than how to terminate employment. we don't have medical coverage to help him get sober (but I wish I could help him). My apologies for not asking a direct question - here it is: what online or free phone services are available to help me (as a new business owner) know my rights and responibilities as an employer and learn how to deal with and manage litigious employees?
Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Good afternoon,

Free services? There are none. You are in need of legal help, and the vast majority of information you may get online---this site excepted---is unreliable.

Asking what your rights and obligations are an employer---with nothing more definitive, is just to broad for me to even begin to answer.

Why are you worried about being sued? What did you do/say/suggest that you feel threatened with a suit over?

Litigious employees are not to be managed by the employer---but by someone trained in employment law---if not legal counsel, at least trained and seasoned human resource personnel.

If you can be more specific about your exact problem, I'm sure I can assist you. I have nearly 3 decades of employment law experience, and I've owned and managed a company myself---a thriving law firm.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
To answer your question: a neighboring business owner told us yesterday that this employee of ours asked him for a job and said he needed money and was going to get a lawyer because when he got injured, our forklift was not safe, or I wasn't operating it right or something. He fell off a ladder onto a wheelbarrow. I didn't see it, was on the forklift looking backward when it happened. I'm his boss and feel betrayed after all I've done to try and help him. He said he was coming in today and never showed (second day in a row). Its nerve-wracking. We have an umbrella insurance policy in addition to our workers comp. Just want to be informed and prepared so I don't lose sleep.
Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Good evening,

Alright. You can sleep tight. Under CA law, if you have workers' compensation insurance, as the employer, you and your business are immune from suit relating to any work injuries suffered by an employee. Only if you, as the employer, deliberately injured the employee could you be successfully sued. It really is that simple. You have no personal liability for the injuries suffered as long as you have comp insurance.


You may reply back to me again, using the Reply to Expert link, if you have additional questions.

I wish you the best in your future,

Doug
LawTalk, Attorney
Satisfied Customers: 27874
Experience: I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
LawTalk and 3 other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
That is very reassuring. I'm very grateful for your mastery of your craft!
Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your positive rating of my service. It has been my pleasure to assist you and I hope you will ask for me on JustAnswer should a future need ever arise.

Please feel free to bookmark the following link so you can request me to answer any future legal questions you may have:
http://www.justanswer.com/law/expert-lawtalk/

Thanks again.

Doug

When you receive your Customer Satisfaction Survey from JustAnswer, please do rate me highly (8-10). It benefits my ability to assist you and other customers, and would be tremendously appreciated.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Looks like I only paid you $33, so I included a bonus... well worth $45!

Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Again, many thanks!

Have a great week!

Doug
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Doug, I have put together the following statements for employee to sign. Are you allowed to help us with these through justanswer, Or if not, can you point me to some online sample letters so that I can pull from some of the copy?
Sincerely, Greg

Employee Acknowledgements:

I, ______ know that I am free to seek any professional Advice including the services of an attorney. Non of my employers at BBI have ever tried to persuade or manipulate me or discourage me from Seeking legal advice. It has been made clear to me that I can approach my Employers with any concern, That I've been encouraged to approach them with any concern that requires resolution But engaging in negative gossip about Suing my employers with other employees or vendors Is Unexceptionable.

I'm aware that I work for an elderly senior, who is 74 years old and has health issues. When I do not show up for work Bert's reputation is compromised as he cannot make timely deliveries and or is put under pressure to lift heavy loads.

I, ________ am literate. I have read each document that I have signed and understand them clearly.

Well I was hoping to barter 440 hours of my time in exchange for one of the company pick up truck, My employers Have recently discovered that this is unethical and this truck is been found not to be safe because of taillights being out and. a variety of mechanical problems. I will indtead be reimbursed for the 36.5 hours that I have worked with a check.



_______________ acknowledges acknowledges that on Dec 28th I took the keys without permission from the key box for the 1990 pickup truck and then took the truck without permission from My employer. I did know at the time that I had to have permission from My employer and that I am not to take any keys from the key box for any reason, They must be handed to me.
Signed ________________________________________ date_________________________


_______________ acknowledges acknowledges that on Jan 17, 2013 he did not show up for work, or call. On Jan 18 we called 2 times with no response. On Jan 19, 2013 Greg called his home and his mother put him on the phone, He said "I will be in tomorrow" never showed up - he called Jan 21 and said "have a side job, be in tomorrow".
Signed ________________________________________ date_________________________



_______________ acknowledges acknowledges that on Feb 1 I confirmed that I would be into work on Monday Feb 4. I did not show up and did not answer calls made to my home or cell phone or make a call to explain. I also said at 8:37am on Feb 5 that I would be in that morning by 10:30am,. I did not show up, did not call and would not answer calls. I understand that further "no shows" are grounds for termination.
Signed ________________________________________ date_________________________



_______________ acknowledges acknowledges that on several occasions I have punched in and not punched out.

Signed ________________________________________ date_________________________

_______________ acknowledges that Greg lent him $80 during the week of Jan 21. It has been decided that the pickup truck is no longer available for his use and is to be sold, therefore Employee will be reimbursed for the 36.5 hours he has worked toward the truck at a rate of $10/hr - $365 less $80 he owes Greg. On Feb 8 he will receive a final payment check for $285.

Signed ________________________________________ date_________________________


Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Good morning Greg,

I would love to be able to represent you---but under the Terms of Service of JustAnswer, I am prohibited from representing you, or acting as your attorney. Clearly my review of your agreement---regardless of the fact that I am a licensed employment law attorney in CA for nearly 30 years---would violate my obligation to JustAnswer, and therefore I cannot review it.

Honestly, I'm not even sure what you are trying to accomplish with these statements of "admission". If you are looking to discipline or terminate an employed, it is not necessary to have then sign anything under CA law.

You are clearly bringing new, and completely independent situations and issues into the question, and that poses a separate issue, because JustAnswer Terms of Service specify that each customer ask one question in each question thread. For each new question, you will need to ask a separate question in a separate thread.

I'm sorry, but under all of the circumstances, I won't be able to help you with a review of these statements. If you have a new question to ask of me, you may ask for me personally by referring to me by name (Doug) in the new question and I will be able to answer your continuing questions.

Thanks for your understanding,

Doug
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you, Doug. Glad we are respecting the boundaries. You did answer my original question. I wonder... under what circumstances would justanswer be in favor of hiring an answerer? Are you allowed to answer a question that includes a referral to an online resource?
Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Hi Greg,

JustAnswer brings on new Experts/Professionals all the time. If you are interested in becoming an expert, all you need to is apply. There is a link at the bottom of this page that reads Become a Professional. That will link you to the application process.

I refer to online resources all the time---primarily to code sections and case law I might know about. We don't make referrals to specific attorneys though.

We also occasionally get a question where the customer references a document or other online source. While we are allowed to consider these things in some instances, it is up to the individual Professional whether they are willing to do so. Fore example if you point me to a 40 page Appellate decision out of the 9th Circuit and want to argue a special point of law---chances are I'm not going to spend the time to do that. And I don;t review legal documents for customers. I may look at a single clause in a document if there is a question about the legal meaning of the words---but that is about it.

Doug

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