Friday, January 23, 2009

Top Employment Law Issues for Paralegals

According to this article from The Legal Intelligencer, the most common areas of employment litigation involving paralegals include failure to pay overtime, sexual harassment, violation of family and medical leave laws, and retaliation against whistleblowers.

  1. Overtime Pay. The bottom line is that non-supervisory paralegals should get paid overtime for all hours worked over 40 hours per week.
  2. Sexual Harassment. Sexual harassment typically takes two forms: quid pro quo sexual harassment, where the paralegal's terms of employment are contingent upon complying with a supervisor's sexual requests and come-ons, and "hostile work environment" harassment, where unwelcome severe or pervasive mistreatment is based on the employee's gender and adversely changes the tersm and conditions of employment. Paralegals are protected against retaliation for filing a reasonable, good faith complaint of harassment.
  3. Medical and Maternity Leave. Paralegals who work for a law firm with 50 or more employees within 75 miles of the employee's worksite may be eligible for family and medical leave protection under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which also provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for a birth or adoption, or to care for a family member's serious illness or the employee's own serious health condition. Employees are eligible after 12 months of continuous employment, so long as they have worked 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months.
  4. Whistleblowing. Various state and federal laws provide limited protection to employees who expose unlawful conduct.


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