Labor & Employment

COUNSELING, DISPUTE RESOLUTION, AND LITIGATION REPRESENTATION

We provide exceptional and experienced employment representation.

At Sudduth & Associates, LLC we are proud to offer representation to employees and workers who have been subjected to unlawful workplace practices and discrimination within the workplace. There are many lawyers that work as corporate counsel to defend companies in their conduct. However, there are very few lawyers that practice in this field on the side of the employee. We are proud to stand with workers.

Mr. Sudduth has extensive experience and practice in litigating, settling, and negotiating various employment cases as detailed below. However, this is not a field that he originally intended to practice in. This field is intimately personal to him. As he describes it:

“I never studied this topic in law school, had no desire to learn it, and certainly never thought I would practice it. Then it happened to a family member of mine. This person was a Type I Juvenile Diabetic, meaning she was diabetic through no fault of her own. It happened to her as a child. At the time she was working, her eyesight began to fail as the diabetic condition attacked her eyes. She begged for accommodations to see the work easier and her employer refused and eventually fired her. The humiliation she suffered, the pain she experienced, the hopeless look on her face was too much for me to ignore. I poured myself into learning this area of law to fight for her and fell in love with fighting for inured employees and workers. I guess you could say I have a soft spot for the underdog.”

As you tour this site we encourage you to find the particular area of employment law below that applies to your situation and read more about it. However, before doing that we want to briefly explain about employment law. First and foremost, employment law is one of the more complicated areas of law and is riddled with “land mines” at every turn. It is essential that you get a skilled attorney in the area of employment litigation who can help you navigate all the complicated turns.

Second, in employment law – timing is everything! Most statutes require that you file your suit within one year of the act causing damages. However, under Federal law you are required to first and foremost file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and you must do so within 180 days of the alleged act of discrimination. Notice that the time period has been shortened by six (6) months. Most people lose claims simply because they assume they have a year and they do not.

If you feel you have been a victim of discrimination or unlawful employment practices, do not hesitate. Contact us today! The sooner you get a lawyer involved on your behalf the better your chances of a positive outcome.

Age Discrimination

A dangerous and alarming trend began to arise in the workplace and continues to this day and that is discrimination against some workers due to their age – age discrimination. The temptations for an employer to “find a reason” to fire an otherwise qualified and good worker because of their increasing age are numerous:

  1. Seniority – with seniority comes higher pay
  2. Retirement – long service periods with companies can lead to long retirement liabilities for a company’s balance sheet
  3. Sick Time – with age can come increasing health demands and time off

That temptation led Congress to act. In 1967 the United States Congress passed The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (“ADEA”). This law protects people who are 40 or older from discrimination because of age. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. This means that the employer is prohibited from failing or refusing to hire or to discharge or discriminate in respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.

In 1997 the Louisiana Legislature re-organized most of the employment discrimination statutes into one consolidated location at La R.S. 32:301 et. seq. This Louisiana statute mirrors the federal law fairly closely.

Therefore, under both State and Federal law a victim has a remedy that can include: back pay, benefits, reinstatement, attorney’s fees, court costs, and damages.

If you feel you have been a victim of discrimination or unlawful employment practices, do not hesitate. Many companies have teams of lawyers looking out for their interests, you need the experienced and dedicated team of paralegals, attorneys, and investigators, to assist you here at Sudduth & Associates. Remember that the sooner you get a lawyer involved on your behalf the better your chances of a positive outcome. Contact us today! 337-480-0101.

Disability Discrimination

Those among us who are disabled carry these burdens silently every day. Some disabilities are obvious, while others remain hidden. Regardless the struggle is the same. Those who suffer with disabilities face difficulties that most of us can never imagine. For example, if someone in a wheelchair faces the curb of a street or a staircase it could render a simple trip to the grocery store impossible whereas others would simply continue moving forward. Basic human dignity reaffirms the principle that those with disabilities are valuable and can make valuable contributions in the workplace. That immutable truth however long played an ignored role in the American workplace.

Until the United States Congress recognized the problem and in 1990 passed Title I of The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) often regarding as one of the most sweeping and comprehensive reforms in the area of social justice since the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law makes it illegal to discriminate against a qualified person with a disability in the private sector, and in state and local governments. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant or employee, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business.

In 1997 the Louisiana Legislature re-organized most of the employment discrimination statutes into one consolidated location at La R.S. 32:301 et. seq. This Louisiana statute mirrors the federal law fairly closely.

NOTE: Sections 501 & 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 extend these protections of the ADA to the Federal government as well.

Therefore, under both State and Federal law a victim has a remedy that can include: back pay, benefits, reinstatement, attorney’s fees, court costs, and damages.

If you feel you have been a victim of discrimination or unlawful employment practices, do not hesitate. Many companies have teams of lawyers looking out for their interests, you need the experienced and dedicated team of paralegals, attorneys, and investigators, to assist you here at Sudduth & Associates. Remember that the sooner you get a lawyer involved on your behalf the better your chances of a positive outcome. Contact us today! 337-480-0101.

Fair Labor Standards

If you are worker who is not getting paid the minimum wage or are not getting paid the overtime you deserve – this section is for you!

First and foremost, it is important to discuss just how fundamentally different The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) is from other labor and employment laws. The FLSA begins with the words: “The Congress hereby finds…the existence…of labor conditions detrimental to the maintenance of the minimum standard living necessary for health, efficiency, and general well-being of workers…” 29 U.S.C. § 202(a). Think about that! The law actually begins by declaring a built in advantage for the worker. The law is premised and based around a fundamental and basic American belief: “a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.”

The FLSA establishes the requirements for minimum wage, overtime pay, and recordkeeping.  Under the FLSA, if you are a nonexempt employee and you work more than 40 hours in a week, then you are entitled to receive 1.5 times your regular pay rate for every hour you work over 40 in a week.  If you are not paid minimum wage or overtime pay, and you are a non-exempt employee, you may have a claim against your employer.

Furthermore, it is the burden of the employer under the FLSA to keep accurate time records of the time that employees work. The employer will actually face an entirely separate violation of the FLSA for not keeping records and additionally the employer will have to try and counter an employee’s assertion of time worked without any records. If an employer fails to keep time records – it can be devastating to their defense.

Finally, almost every employer wants to classify their employees as “exempt” from FLSA. While there are exemptions, they are not as widespread as employers would like to portray. Do not simply take your employer’s word that you are exempt from the FLSA – call us to discuss your status under the FLSA to see if you have a claim.

NOTE: As far as recovering back pay is concerned there is a 2-year limit (which can be extended in the case of willful violations to 3 years) however there is a cap on recovery, so do not wait and let your employer under pay you for years at a time.

If you feel you have been a victim of unpaid wages and/or overtime, do not hesitate. Many companies have teams of lawyers looking out for their interests, you need the experienced and dedicated team of paralegals, attorneys, and investigators, to assist you here at Sudduth & Associates. Remember that the sooner you get a lawyer involved on your behalf the better your chances of a positive outcome. Contact us today! 337-480-0101.

Family Medical Leave

When a family member becomes ill, the consequences are not just devastating to that person but can often affect the entire family. That will require spouses, children, brothers and sisters, all parties to assist an ailing family member. Often time the amount of leave time needed is extensive and employers balk at employees taking such extensive time.

However, recognizing this problem the United States Congress passed The Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) in 1993. This law entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. This site provides general information about which employers are covered by the FMLA, when employees are eligible and entitled to take FMLA leave.

COVERED EMPLOYERS

The FMLA only applies to employers that meet certain criteria. A covered employer is a:

  • Private-sector employer, with 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year, including a joint employer or successor in interest to a covered employer;
  • Public agency, including a local, state, or Federal government agency, regardless of the number of employees it employs; or
  • Public or private elementary or secondary school, regardless of the number of employees it employs.

ELIGIBLE EMPLOYEES

Only eligible employees are entitled to take FMLA leave. An eligible employee is one who:

  • Works for a covered employer;
    • Has worked for the employer for at least 12 months;
    • Has at least 1,250 hours of service for the employer during the 12-month period immediately preceding the leave; and
    • Works at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

LEAVE ENTITLEMENT

Eligible employees may take up to 12 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:

    • The birth of a son or daughter or placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care;
    • To care for a spouse, son, daughter, or parent who has a serious health condition;
    • For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job; or
    • For any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a military member on covered active duty or call to covered active duty status. *

It is unlawful for any employer to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of or the attempt to exercise any right provided by the FMLA. It is also unlawful for an employer to discharge or discriminate against any individual for opposing any practice, or because of involvement in any proceeding, related to the FMLA

If you feel you have been wrongfully denied FMLA leave, do not hesitate. Many companies have teams of lawyers looking out for their interests, you need the experienced and dedicated team of paralegals, attorneys, and investigators, to assist you here at Sudduth & Associates. Remember that the sooner you get a lawyer involved on your behalf the better your chances of a positive outcome. Contact us today! 337-480-0101.

*Portions above cited from the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division Fact Sheet #28 Family Medical Leave Act.

Gender Discrimination

Sex or gender discrimination is all too commonplace in our work environments and the sword can cut against any gender, although the most common form of this type of discrimination is against women in the workplace. Anytime an individual is treated differently than similarly situated peers because of their gender (this can happen overtly or subtly) both Federal and Louisiana state law makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of gender in regard to hiring, termination, job training, promotion, compensation, or any other form of workplace benefit or privilege.

To remedy the problem of gender discrimination, the United States Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“CRA”), specifically Title VII of the CRA. This massive anti-discrimination law is commonly known simply as “Title 7”. This law makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate applicants’ and employees’ sincerely held religious practices, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business.

In 1997 the Louisiana Legislature re-organized most of the employment discrimination statutes into one consolidated location at La R.S. 32:301 et. seq. This Louisiana statute mirrors the federal law fairly closely.

Tide closely with Title VII is the Equal Pay Act of 1963 “EPA” which makes it illegal to pay different wages to men and women if they perform equal work in the same workplace. This law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Therefore, under both State and Federal law a victim has a remedy that can include: back pay, benefits, reinstatement, attorney’s fees, court costs, and damages.

If you feel you have been a victim of discrimination or unlawful employment practices, do not hesitate. Many companies have teams of lawyers looking out for their interests, you need the experienced and dedicated team of paralegals, attorneys, and investigators, to assist you here at Sudduth & Associates. Remember that the sooner you get a lawyer involved on your behalf the better your chances of a positive outcome. Contact us today! 337-480-0101.

Pregnancy Discrimination

Unfortunately for women in today’s society there are many obstacles in the workplace. Those with the dream of having a rewarding and challenging career while at the same time having a family, face special challenges. In the course of pregnancy there can of course be many medical visits, complications, and then post pregnancy leave. These challenges can tempt employers to simply terminate a pregnant employee rather than attempting to work with the employee or potential employee.

The United States Congress acted to remedy the issue and passed The Pregnancy Discrimination Act, this amended Title VII to make it illegal to discriminate against a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

In 1997 the Louisiana Legislature re-organized most of the employment discrimination statutes into one consolidated location at La R.S. 32:301 et. seq. This Louisiana statute mirrors the federal law fairly closely.

Therefore, under both State and Federal law a victim has a remedy that can include: back pay, benefits, reinstatement, attorney’s fees, court costs, and damages.

If you feel you have been a victim of discrimination or unlawful employment practices, do not hesitate. Many companies have teams of lawyers looking out for their interests, you need the experienced and dedicated team of paralegals, attorneys, and investigators, to assist you here at Sudduth & Associates. Remember that the sooner you get a lawyer involved on your behalf the better your chances of a positive outcome. Contact us today! 337-480-0101.

Race Discrimination

Many people believe that simply because it is 2016, discrimination no longer exists. This unfortunately is a complete myth. While it is true that discrimination is no longer “open and obvious” many of the same feelings that lead to racist behavior are alive and well in our culture.

To remedy this problem, the United States Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“CRA”), specifically Title VII of the CRA. This massive anti-discrimination law is commonly known simply as “Title 7”. This law makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate applicants’ and employees’ sincerely held religious practices, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business.

In 1997 the Louisiana Legislature re-organized most of the employment discrimination statutes into one consolidated location at La R.S. 32:301 et. seq. This Louisiana statute mirrors the federal law fairly closely.

Therefore, under both State and Federal law a victim has a remedy that can include: back pay, benefits, reinstatement, attorney’s fees, court costs, and damages.

If you feel you have been a victim of discrimination or unlawful employment practices, do not hesitate! Many companies have teams of lawyers looking out for their interests, you need the experienced and dedicated team of paralegals, attorneys, and investigators, to assist you here at Sudduth & Associates. Remember that the sooner you get a lawyer involved on your behalf the better your chances of a positive outcome. Contact us today at 337-480-0101.

Retaliation

All of the laws mentioned within this Labor and Employment section of the Sudduth and Associates website also make it illegal to retaliate against applicants or employees because they speak or participate in an employment discrimination investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit. Regardless of the employment discrimination statute or law that applies to you or your situation, there will be language to the effect of:

The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit

In addition, other specific federal and state laws prohibit retaliation against individuals who engage in certain protected activities, including the Fair Labor Standards Act, the False Claims Act, and the Louisiana Whistleblower Statute.  For additional information regarding retaliation under the FLSA, click here. For additional information regarding retaliation under the False Claims Act and the Louisiana Whistleblower Statute, click here.

In general, and this is grossly simplistic, however in general for someone to succeed in a retaliation claim, that person must prove:

  1. That they were engaged in “protected activity” under the law. “Protected activity” could include informal complaints to supervisors, participating in an internal investigation or grievance procedure, filing a charge of charge of discrimination, or bringing a lawsuit.
  1. An adverse employment action occurred (that could be firing, failing to promote, workplace discipline, change in benefits, demotion, suspension, or reassignment of duties.
  1. The adverse employment action that was taken was taken because of the person engaging in the protected activity.

Worker’s Compensation Issues

The Louisiana Worker’s Compensation Act can be found at La. R.S. 23:1021 et. seq. and specifically protects workers from retaliation for filing a worker’s compensation claim. The workers’ compensation law prohibits you from refusing to hire or discharging anyone because they have asserted a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Any person who has been denied employment or discharged from employment in violation of this law may be awarded one year’s salary, reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs.

NOTE: The number one issue we see with workers and employees is that they simply are not aware of their rights. Do not be intimidated or bullied from seeking the help you need. These statutes are in place to protect you, and we are here to help you assert those rights.

If you feel you have been a victim of retaliation, do not hesitate. Many companies have teams of lawyers looking out for their interests, you need the experienced and dedicated team of paralegals, attorneys, and investigators, to assist you here at Sudduth & Associates. Remember that the sooner you get a lawyer involved on your behalf the better your chances of a positive outcome. Contact us today! 337-480-0101.

Sexual Harassment

First, while this section is titled “sexual harassment” that is not the only form of harassment contemplated under the employment discrimination statutes. An individual can be harassed in violation of both Federal and State law based on their race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information.

However, we want to take this opportunity to specifically address the unacceptable issue of sexual harassment in our work places. Many victims feel that they cannot come forward for fear of reprisal or even worse they feel that they must “deal with it” to advance their careers. We encourage you not to fall prey to this temptation, these statutes are in place to protect you, and we are here to help you assert those rights.

Second, we wanted to briefly explain what it takes to prove or win a harassment case. Harassment becomes unlawful when:

  1. The offensive conduct becomes part of continued employment or
  2. The conduct is so severe or pervasive that it creates a hostile work environment.

Generally, the employer will be liable for the acts of a supervisor and may only escape liability by showing that they reasonably tried to correct/prevent harassing behavior and the employee unreasonably refused to take advantage of those opportunities.

If you feel you have been a victim of harassment of any kind, do not hesitate. Many companies have teams of lawyers looking out for their interests, you need the experienced and dedicated team of paralegals, attorneys, and investigators, to assist you here at Sudduth & Associates. Remember that the sooner you get a lawyer involved on your behalf the better your chances of a positive outcome. Contact us today! 337-480-0101.

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