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William Sturges

Q. Our company has an employee handbook. One of our employees has stated that this creates an employment contract and that he is no longer an at-will employee. Is this correct?

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Q. If our employee has an accident while talking on a cell phone in a company car, is the company liable to the injured party?

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Q. We do not believe that one of our employees is keeping accurate time records of her work. Can we pay her what we believe she worked instead of what her time records show?

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Most employment contracts are written documents prepared with the assistance of an attorney. However, an employment contract can be oral, written, or partially oral and partially written. If an employer isn’t careful, it’s easy to unknowingly enter into an employment contract with an employee.

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Q. Our employees often use their cell phones when driving vehicles. Does North Carolina prohibit or limit cell phone use while driving?

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Q. If we lay off an employee, are we required to recall the employee at a later time if we have work? …

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Q. We do background checks on our employees. Is there a restriction on how many years we can go back on the employee? …

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Q. We want current employees to sign noncompete agreements. If we do not offer an employee something of value in exchange for signing the agreement, is it against the law to terminate the employee? If we offer something of value, and the employee refuses to sign, can we terminate the employee? …

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Q. Our company is about to have a layoff. Are we required to pay severance to the employees we lay off? …

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The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction in North Carolina, recently ruled that an employer could withdraw recognition of a union if it can present “substantial objective evidence” that most employees no longer support the union. The decision gives employers a road map for handling situations where a union has lost the backing of the employees …

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