There have been many significant changes in the employment law area in recent years, including steady erosion of the termination-at-will doctrine, hiring and firing constraints imposed by federal statutes such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, confusion caused by ambiguity in wage and hour laws governing overtime and compensatory time off, and a proliferation of discrimination charges under federal civil rights statutes and the New Mexico Human Rights Act. As a result, employers are finding themselves increasingly vulnerable to employment-related claims, and in need of legal counseling on their rights and responsibilities under various federal and state laws governing employment practices. In addition, economic changes have occasioned corporate restructuring and down-sizing, with resultant reductions in force. The firm’s employment law practice has expanded in response to those developments, and we provide a variety of large and small employers with assistance on employment-related matters.
For example, the firm has defended employers in administrative proceedings and litigation involving claims of sexual harassment, and discrimination based on race, religion, age, gender, ethnicity and disability. We have represented employers as well as employees in disputes involving claims of breach of employment contracts, wrongful termination, and retaliatory discharge, and in administrative proceedings involving unemployment compensation claims. Barbara G. Stephenson and Quentin Smith of the firm are certified by the New Mexico Board of Legal Specialization as specialists in employment and labor law. They provide ongoing counsel to a number of companies on personnel issues, including employee performance and disciplinary problems; investigation and handling of discrimination complaints; and evaluation of wage and hour issues.
The firm’s goal in employment law counseling is to help employers understand their legal obligations under federal and state law, and to facilitate proper investigation and handling of personnel issues in order to prevent claims. In addition, the firm assists clients with drafting and review of employment contracts, including hiring contracts, severance agreements, and independent contractor agreements. The firm also assists clients with drafting, review and revision of personnel policies and procedures.