Our firm represents the needs of the employer and the employee, assisting with deferred compensation and employee benefit planning, employment litigation, compensation planning, stock options, and in the preparation of employment agreements and covenants not to compete.
Covenants Not to Compete and Confidentiality Agreements
The firm advises clients on the use of non-disclosure agreements, non-solicitation agreements, confidentiality agreements, and non-compete agreements in order to help protect the client’s confidential information, trade secrets, customer relationships and goodwill. The use of these different types of agreements by businesses present certain legal issues. Our firm assists clients in understanding the different types of agreements that are available to help protect their business interests and the legal and other issues involved so that the business can implement measures that promote its long-term success. The firm also engages in the enforcement and defense of claims concerning these agreements.
Compensation and Benefit Planning
The law firm provides legal representation and planning to businesses seeking various alternatives for compensating its employees. This includes guidance as to each plan’s availability from a federal tax perspective as well as the plan’s feasibility from an economic perspective. Compensation planning may involve the implementation of qualified plans for hundreds of employees or one of many non-qualified plans for the highly-compensated key employee. Regardless of the particular need, the firm works with the client to develop the most tax efficient and economically feasible alternative to meet the client’s compensation planning needs.
Additionally, our firm provides legal representation to clients in the development and preparation of various types of equity based compensation plans in order to encourage employees to contribute to the long-term growth and success of the business. Equity-based compensation may involve the provision of actual stock ownership to employees, such as qualified or non-qualified stock options, or the provision of a cash bonus to employees with the amount of such cash bonus tied to the value of the business (i.e. “phantom stock” or “stock appreciation rights”). The various types of equity-based compensation plans present different tax issues for both the business and the employee as well as ownership and control issues. Our firm assists clients in understanding the various types of equity-based compensation plans that are available and the issues involved with each plan so that the client can implement the type of plan that best suits the client’s objectives.
The firm also provides advice in employee benefit design and planning, both qualified plans and nonqualified deferred compensation plans, and welfare benefit plans. We provide expertise in planning for distributions from employee benefit plans, IRAs and other deferred income vehicles during life and after death with sophisticated beneficiary designation planning through individuals and trusts as an integral part of estate planning.
Discrimination Claims and Prevention
The firm understands that not only do clients need swift, responsive legal counsel when employment disputes arise, but they also need guidance in establishing effective policies and procedures to help prevent disputes. The firm has expertise in helping clients effectively respond to employee complaints filed with the both federal and state agencies, including the Department of Labor, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and Texas Workforce Commission, to litigating those claims in court.
Our attorneys also have a broad range of experience in assisting employer-clients in drafting and implementing effective policies and procedures to keep their businesses in compliance with federal and state laws and regulations. We regularly assist clients with both drafting and updating company policies, manuals, and handbooks to facilitate safe, positive, and productive workplaces.
Employment and Independent Contractor Agreements
We assist our clients in negotiating and drafting employment contracts. Such agreements are structured to protect our client and to provide our client continuity and security. Key provisions of an employment agreement include detailed salary and bonus structures; defined employee benefits (i.e., health insurance, life insurance, vacation time, etc.); termination rights of either party; confidentiality, non-solicitation and non-competition provisions; intellectual property ownership; and severance benefits. We also our assist clients in negotiating and drafting independent contractor agreements which clearly detail the relationship between the business and the contractor.
Bourland, Wall & Wenzel, P.C. represents clients in litigation, arbitration and all other forms of alternative dispute resolution proceedings arising out of and related to the relationship between employers and employees. The firm assembles appropriate teams of attorneys, paralegals, and support staff in order to assist our clients in dispute resolution. The firm has experience assisting clients with employment law matters including but not limited to non-competition and trade secret litigation, work place harassment, employee benefits, tort and contract claims, OSHA matters, race discrimination, age discrimination, gender discrimination, disability discrimination, responses to administrative charges of discrimination, hiring, and termination.
Hiring and Terminating Personnel , and Employee Retention
We regularly advise employers in regard to the hiring, firing and retention of employees.
- Hiring – We assist our clients in negotiating and drafting all types of on-boarding documents, including applications for employment, offer letters and employment agreements. Additionally, we advise clients on state and federal laws relevant to the hiring practices of employers.
- Terminating – We regularly advise clients on legal considerations with respect to the discipline and termination of employees for misconduct, employee layoffs and reductions in force. We also assist our clients in drafting different types of documents related to the termination of employment, including notification of termination, separation and release agreements and severance packages.
- Employee Retention – We counsel employers on day-to-day employment issues regarding their employees, including employee complaints, reasonable accommodations, family and medical leaves, and employee privacy issues.
Personnel Policies and Employee Handbooks
Employee handbooks and personnel policies and procedures are essential tools for employers. Although employers are not typically required to have an employee handbook, a well-drafted employee handbook can assist in quickly and clearly orienting an employee to the company’s policies and practices in addition to helping reduce an employer’s liability in a lawsuit. If having a good personnel policy in place helps avoid a single discrimination, harassment or wrongful termination claim, it is worth the time, effort and expense devoted to these policies.
We carefully draft each guideline to comply with state and federal laws, while customizing the policies to our client’s particular needs. Specifically, provisions for family and medical leave, drug testing, electronic mail and internet, and anti-harassment policies must be carefully drafted and consistently implemented. Our employee handbooks:
- Help avoid, rather than create, misunderstandings;
- Permit growth and change within an organization without constant revision; and
- Build positive employee/employer relations.
State and Federal Employment Law Compliance
Key to any successful business is its personnel, but with employees comes the challenge of complying with state and federal laws and regulations. Our attorneys understand the needs of employers and have a broad range of experience in assisting clients in managing their risks while establishing and maintaining positive, productive workplaces. Our attorneys offer a wide range of services in helping clients with their hiring and termination practices, performance management, handbooks and policies, handling of employee disputes and claims, employee contracts, non-competition and non-disclosure agreements, benefits issues, and any litigation needs as they arise. Specifically, we assist our employer-clients in complying the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claims, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as well as the various regulations set forth by the Texas Workforce Commission.