Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Coming up in October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. There are a number of programs available to help victims of domestic violence, including Family Justice Centers in both Montgomery and Prince George’s County. In Maryland, a victim of abuse can obtain a protective order 24 hours a day from the District Court Commissioner. This would be an interim order, which would require a hearing for a temporary order shortly thereafter. To obtain a final protective order, the petitioner must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that one or more specified acts of violence were committed.

It is very important to have all the witnesses and evidence, like photographs, available for the hearing. Having an attorney at the final protective order hearing can help to ensure that the evidence is admissible, in other words, that the judge can properly consider it. This can be tricky to do without an attorney. If you are the Respondent, who is accused of committing an act of violence, it is also vital to have representation. There is not much time to prepare, and the consequences can be quite severe as it can impact custody, financial support and even who will be permitted to live in the home.

For many victims of domestic violence, obtaining a final protective order is really the first step in the process, which may also involve filing for divorce, custody or financial support depending on the circumstances. Any order you get will eventually expire, so you will want to seek more permanent relief before that happens.

For more information on Family Law, please contact Heather L. Sunderman at (301) 664-7710 or hlsunderman@mirskylawgroup.com.

 Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or to provide legal advice. Laws differ by state and jurisdiction. The information on this blog may not apply to every reader. You should not take any legal action based upon the information contained on this blog without first seeking professional counsel. Your use of the blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Mirsky Law Group, LLC.

Three Items to Check when Updating an Employee Manual

Every 12 months it is a good idea for employers to review their Employee Manual to make sure that their employment policies are up to date, both with the employer’s current protocols and with any changes in the laws in the various jurisdictions where they do business. Here are three items to check when reviewing an Employee Manual.

First, an Employee Manual should make clear that all employees are at-will employees, which means that either the employee or employer may end the relationship at any time. The Employee Manual should make clear that the employer has the right to terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without case, and with or without notice.  Likewise, the employee is free to resign at any time. The fact that an employee is at-will employee should be stated at the beginning of the Employee Manual, throughout the Employee Manual, and as part of an acknowledgment form that the employee signs when they receive the Employee Manual.

Second, the Employee Manual should contain a clear and conspicuous disclaimer that the Employee Manual is not a contract. This disclaimer should be both in the beginning of the Employee Manual and, again, made part of the acknowledgment form that the employee signs.

Third, many state and local jurisdictions have recently adopted laws that deal with leave benefits. Some of these laws require a certain amount of unpaid leave, while some even require employers to provide employees with paid leave.  In addition, all employer who have at least 50 employees working in a 75 mile radius must comply with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which requires an employer to provide unpaid leave for specific family and medical circumstances.  This area of the law is rapidly changing and leave polices need to keep up with the new legal requirements.

Of course, these three items are just the start of a long list of items that must be reviewed when updating an Employee Manual. While this process can be time consuming, a well-written Employee Manual can help with workplace efficiency, can assist in making sure that there is consistency in employment policies, and can be used as tool to defend an employer in a lawsuit if an employee brings a claim against the employer.

For more information on employment policies and Employee Manuals, please contact Scott A. Mirsky at (301) 664-7710 or samirsky@mirskylawgroup.com.

Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or to provide legal advice. Laws differ by state and jurisdiction. The information on this blog may not apply to every reader. You should not take any legal action based upon the information contained on this blog without first seeking professional counsel. Your use of the blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Mirsky Law Group, LLC.

Can I get my child a passport?

Typically, both parents must appear for a child to get a passport (along with the necessary proof of citizenship, photos, application and fee.) If both parents don’t apply together in person, one parent may sign the consent before a notary and provide to the parent who will be applying. Quite simple, unless the parents do not agree on whether the child will receive a passport, who will hold onto the passport and when travel overseas will be permitted.

What if you can’t get the other parent’s consent? There is a form you can use in such exigent circumstances, and be sure to attach any relevant court orders. The order should state the parent can obtain a passport, as opposed to just having sole legal custody. It is also possible to have the passport held in the court’s Registry for good cause. You should also review your custody order or parenting plan to be sure you are in compliance if you are required to provide advance notice or itineraries to the other parent. Questions about traveling with your child overseas and other travel restrictions? Call today, well before your planned and much-needed vacation!

For more information on family law, please contact Heather L. Sunderman at (301) 664-7710 or hlsunderman@mirskylawgroup.com.

 Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or to provide legal advice. Laws differ by state and jurisdiction. The information on this blog may not apply to every reader. You should not take any legal action based upon the information contained on this blog without first seeking professional counsel. Your use of the blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Mirsky Law Group, LLC.

Freelancers are taking over the workplace!

According to one recent 2016 study, 55 million Americans are working as freelancers (which is 35% of the US Workforce). The use of freelancers by businesses raises all sorts of legal questions, but most significantly is the issue of worker misclassification.  Businesses routinely classify freelancers as independent contractors, not employees.  Is this correct?  It depends on a variety of factors.  In general, if the freelancer is truly independent (meaning that the business does not control how the freelance does his/her work) and the freelancer operates as an independent business, then classifying the freelancer as independent contractor would most likely be correct.  However, the line between who is an employee and who in an independent contractor can sometimes be difficult to determine. Unfortunately, different laws use different tests to determine if the worker is an employee or independent contractor.  Most of the tests focus on (a) whether the business controls how the freelancer performs the work, (b) whether the business controls the “economic realities” of the relationship; and (3) whether the worker has an independent business.  Great care must be taken to ensure workers are properly classified.  A business cannot summarily decide that a particular worker is an independent contractor, rather the relationship and interaction between the business and the freelancer needs to be examined.  The consequences for misclassifying a worker can be significant, as various statues requires violators to pay fines, taxes, unpaid wages, and other damages.

For more information on worker misclassification issues, please contact Scott A. Mirsky at (301) 664-7710 or samirsky@mirskylawgroup.com.

Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or to provide legal advice. Laws differ by state and jurisdiction. The information on this blog may not apply to every reader. You should not take any legal action based upon the information contained on this blog without first seeking professional counsel. Your use of the blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Mirsky Law Group, LLC.