Silicon Valley’s job market heats up even as national employment stalls, thanks to an increase in venture capital and personal investing. Large corporations are competing with small businesses and start-ups for talent. Although some of my business clients are start-up companies where the founders are the only employees, more and more of my clients are operating businesses with day to day concerns, the most common of which is employee issues. A growing business that is hiring may need employment contracts and possibly a stock option plan in place. All businesses need employment policies and possibly an employee handbook. And almost all businesses at some time or other will need to deal with employee complaints, discipline and even terminating employees. This is the start of a series of blogs on some of the basics you should know as an employer, whether here in Santa Clara County or elsewhere. Keep in mind that every situation and every employee is different and the laws of other states may be different than California. This is not a substitute for calling your company’s lawyer, but more of a guide to help you spot issues and know when you need to ask for help.
Looking for New Hires:
The first rule of hiring is to be wary of discrimination. You can hire anyone you want, as long as you don’t discriminate based on age, race, nationality, gender, disability or any other protected class. Discrimination can show up or be inferred from many situations where it may not have been intended. For example, I represent a janitorial company in Santa Clara that employed many people from one religion and those employees often referred their friends and family when positions opened up. When looking for new hires, the company has to be very careful to ask all their employees for referrals and not just that group of employees, or the company could be found to be discriminating against people who are not part of that religion.
Anyone that represents your company in recruiting new employees should be well trained in employment laws. Be careful about how you write your employment ads so they don’t exclude any class of potential employees, and make sure to include a statement that your company is an Equal Opportunity Employer in each ad. Be careful about where you advertise. For example, I represent a bilingual English/Chinese preschool in Sunnyvale. Although it may be okay for the school to advertise in an all-Chinese newspaper when they are looking to hire Chinese teachers, it may be considered discriminatory against non-Chinese speakers when they are looking to fill any position that does not require Chinese language capabilities.
Structure Law Group attorneys can help you evaluate your company’s hiring practices and employment policies, and review or draft offer letters, employment contracts and an employee handbook.