It Depends: The Top 3 Inherently Gray Areas of Employment Law
Case by case.
These are just two of the terms that stand for one of the frustrating (for employers) truths of many areas of employment law: there are few black and white answers. There are endless shades of gray, and in honor of this week’s letter of the law (G), we recognize three common gray areas and some specific questions that must be asked when addressing situations under each. The fact that there are so many questions that need to be answered under each explains why they are gray areas!
1. Is a noncompete agreement enforceable?
2. Does an employer have to provide a particular reasonable accommodation under the disability discrimination laws?
3. Is a worker an independent contractor or an employee?
These issues are like snowflakes. With so many questions (and these are not intended to be exhaustive lists), no two sets of answers will be exactly alike. That can be frustrating, because it is easier to administer rules with clearer thresholds: Two weeks of vacation. No flip flops at work. The work day is 8:30 to 5:00 with a half hour lunch break at noon. Those rules are usually pretty easy. Like it or not, though, what employment lawyers and employers spend most of their time on are the snowflakes, and carefully working through the situations to manage them as cost-effectively as possible.
What gray areas are you spending your time on this week?