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Employee Relations

At Key Harrington Barnes PC, labor and employment law is our sole focus. In a nutshell, our law practice is all about facilitating positive working relationships between employers and employees. We work hard to protect our clients, who are employers, from potential litigation — but that is not the only goal. We support our clients' desire to provide the very best working conditions that they can for their workers.

Over the years, we have come to understand that the most cost-effective approach to employer-side employment law is to act as business partners to our clients. We collaborate with them on an ongoing basis. We are partners in their quest to develop positive environments where employees will benefit from rewards and recognition, clear expectations and supervision they can trust and rely on. Our business clients who adopt this model wholeheartedly are substantially less likely to need intervention down the line from lawyers, labor unions or governmental agencies.

The smartest employers take a proactive stance in identifying and dealing with the root causes of human resources challenges. This generally removes the need to confront numerous individual problems one by one. The five pillars of our partnership with employers are as follows:

(1) Comprehensive, functional self-audits of human resources

Many employers contact us because they suspect they are out of compliance with employment law, but they are not sure where to begin to correct their practices. A comprehensive self-audit guided by our attorneys helps employers review their policy manuals first of all. Through a questionnaire guided by our lawyers, our clients identify the strengths and weaknesses of existing HR functions and receive a framework for rebuilding a compliant workplace.

(2) Training of managers

People generally become supervisors on the basis of their length of service with a company and/or their technical or leadership skills. Legal knowledge is rarely at the top of the list of criteria used to hire supervisors or managers. Even very intelligent leaders themselves acknowledge their need for an attorney's guidance answering key questions as they arise:

  • How can we fire a problematic employee without triggering a lawsuit?
  • We do not believe that unions are in the best interests of our workers. How can we help them understand this?
  • When can requested disability accommodations be considered unreasonable?
  • When is a request for a day off work outside the bounds of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?
  • When can we dock a worker's pay for performance that is under par?
  • Do employees have the right to engage in interoffice dating or can management prohibit it?
  • Do we have to let an OSHA inspector in the door without fair advance warning?
  • What should the company do if we suspect that an employee is an illegal immigrant and got the job by using fraudulent identification?
  • When does HR need to be involved in a manager's executive decisions?

Key Harrington Barnes PC provides employer clients with specific training on topics such as human resources law, mistakes to avoid as small employers or supervisors, methods for preventing and dealing with claims of harassment, steering clear of unions, disciplining wayward employees legally and how to hire most effectively.

(3) Routine counsel

People are not perfect, so no matter how hard you try to avoid trouble between an employer and employee, it will happen from time to time. Our attorneys fully understand a legal emergency when we see one. For this reason, we are available at all hours day and night, just like firemen, ready to put out HR fires. We often resolve urgent matters for our clients in brief, to-the-point phone consultations. However, when in-person advocacy and counsel are essential, we will be there for our clients. This is the nature of the trusting relationships that we cultivate with our clients.

(4) Maintenance and updates

A changing workforce combined with ever-changing laws convince many of our clients of the need to stay up-to-date with the pointed advice of an experienced employment attorney. Key Harrington Barnes PC is proactive and forward-looking on behalf of our valuable clients.

(5) Conflict resolution

Nearly every employer will face a lawsuit at least once. Sooner or later, human resources becomes the focal point of litigation. Our lawyers skillfully navigate our business owner clients through alternative solutions to the courtroom, such as implementation of internal grievance procedures, activation of peer review boards, mediation and binding arbitration. Texas employers can in fact require their employees to waive their right to a jury trial for most employment-related claims as a condition of employment. Our clients are equipped to put this type of knowledge to their advantage.

Contact a Dallas employee relations attorney at Key Harrington Barnes PC, at (214) 615-7925.

Client Reviews
This multinational employer with over 20 manufacturing and printing plants has looked to Stephen C. Key as its labor attorney for nearly 15 years. Richard Maresh
This leader in the fast-paced trade show industry has relied on Stephen for labor counsel for over 10 years. Randy considers Stephen an "extension of our management team." Randy Pekowski
DAC Vision is a small, North Texas company engaged in manufacturing optical products. It has looked to Stephen C. Key for labor counsel for over 10 years Jane Seaholm
As a business owner, Andy has used many different law firms over the years, but he has "never found one that even came close to Key Harrington Barnes PC." Andy Andreas