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by PoP Sponsor September 11, 2017 at 12:15 pm 0

This column is written and sponsored by Alan Lescht & Associates, PC, an employment litigation firm in Washington, DC, that handles cases involving contract disputes, wage and hour issues, discrimination and retaliation, wrongful termination, whistleblower retaliation and security clearances.

You’re filling out a job application and get to the section about job references. Who do you list? A good job reference can make all the difference in you getting a new job.

What you may not realize is that your former or current employer doesn’t have to give you a good reference. Generally speaking, your boss is free to tell your prospective employer the truth about what kind of employee you were. If it is true, your former employer can say that you were fired for misconduct, that you quit without giving notice, or that your last performance review wasn’t so great.

How can I prevent my employer from giving me a bad job reference?

In most cases, a valid contract is the only way to limit what your employer can say about you. For example, a settlement or severance agreement may guarantee you a neutral reference that includes only certain information, such as your dates of employment and job title.

However, even a signed agreement will not guarantee a neutral reference for security clearance and government suitability determinations. Despite a valid contract, the law requires employers to provide honest information in connection with security clearance and suitability investigations.

What if my boss gives me an unfair job reference?

Your current or former employer has the right to provide truthful information to prospective employers. However, they don’t have the right to falsely criticize you or lie about your performance or conduct. If a former or current employer lies about you, he or she may be liable for defamation (i.e., making a false and harmful statement about you to someone else).

Do you have questions about job references?

If you have questions about job references, employment contracts, or security clearances, contact Alan Lescht and Associates today. Call us at (202) 463-6036; send us an email; or visit our website and blog. Our 13 attorneys have vast experience in all areas of employment law. Super Lawyers, Washingtonian, Newsweek, AVVO, and others have recognized us as a leading employment firm in DC.

DISCLAIMER: This article is for general information purposes and is provided only to permit you to learn about Alan Lescht and Associates, P.C., and its services. This information is subject to change, may not apply in all cases, and does not constitute legal advice. Contact an attorney to obtain legal advice about your case.

by PoP Sponsor August 28, 2017 at 12:15 pm 0

This column is written and sponsored by Alan Lescht & Associates, PC, an employment litigation firm in Washington, DC, that handles cases involving contract disputes, wage and hour issues, discrimination and retaliation, wrongful termination, whistleblower retaliation and security clearances.

That’s right. The federal government rewards individuals who properly report companies that overcharge or otherwise defraud the government. Last year, the federal government paid out more than $519 million to people who came forward with information that led to the discovery of fraud against the government. These individuals filed lawsuits under the False Claims Act (FCA), which prohibits companies, people, and even local and state governments from submitting false claims for payment to the federal government.

What is a false claim?

Under the FCA, it is illegal to submit a claim for payment to the federal government that you know or should know is false. Some claims are expressly false, like when a doctor bills Medicare for services the doctor did not provide.

Other claims are impliedly false. In a recent case, a company had a contract with the government to provide armed guards. The contractor hired guards that did not meet the shooting accuracy requirements in the contract. Although no one explicitly told the government the guards actually met the contract requirements, the contractor knew the guards were unqualified but billed the government anyway.

FCA violations can occur in any industry that is connected to federal funding. Here are some real-life examples:

  • Medicare/Medicaid: IPC Healthcare, Inc., recently paid more than $60 million in settlement after billing Medicare and Medicaid for more expensive services than it provided (commonly known as “up-coding).”
  • Defense contractors: A court ordered a defense contractor to pay $24 million for engaging in a bid-rigging conspiracy to inflate prices the contractor charged to ship goods for military families.

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by PoP Sponsor August 14, 2017 at 12:15 pm 0

This column is written and sponsored by Alan Lescht & Associates, PC, an employment litigation firm in Washington, DC, that handles cases involving contract disputes, wage and hour issues, discrimination and retaliation, wrongful termination, whistleblower retaliation and security clearances.

A non-compete agreement is a contract between an employee and an employer that limits the employee’s ability to disclose information and to work in the future. A non-compete usually prohibits an employee from competing with the employer for a certain period of time, and in a certain location, after his employment ends. This means that an employee could not work for a competing business or start his own business to compete with his former employer.

Why does my employer want me to sign a non-compete?

Employers use non-compete agreements to protect their trade secrets and valuable information. For example, a non-compete agreement could prevent an employee from going to work for a competitor and sharing her former employer’s confidential information with her new employer.

Companies also use non-competes to protect investments they make in their employees. Many employers provide or pay for employee training. A non-compete may be intended to prevent an employee from using that training to get a new job with a competitor.

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by PoP Sponsor July 31, 2017 at 12:15 pm 0

This column is written and sponsored by Alan Lescht & Associates, PC, an employment litigation firm in Washington, DC, that handles cases involving contract disputes, wage and hour issues, discrimination and retaliation, wrongful termination, whistleblower retaliation and security clearances.

DC laws govern when, how, and how much your employer must pay you. In fact, DC laws provide employees with more protections than federal laws. This article applies to most employees who work in DC.

How much should I be paid?

If you work in DC, minimum wage is $12.50 per hour. However, if you are a tipped employee, you must be paid at least $3.33 per hour, and your combined hourly wages and tips must be equal at least $12.50 per hour.

When does my employer have to pay me?

Your employer should establish a regular pay day schedule with at least two paydays per calendar month. It is also okay for your employer to pay you once per month, if that is its regular procedure.

If you resign or quit, you must receive your final paycheck no later than the next regular pay day. For example, say your employer pays you on the first and third Mondays of every month. If you resign on Friday, August 11, 2017, you should receive your final paycheck by Monday, August 21, 2017

However, if your employer terminates your employment (e.g., you’re fired or laid off), you must receive your final paycheck within one working day after your job ends. Therefore, if you are fired on a Tuesday, you must receive your final paycheck by Wednesday.

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by PoP Sponsor July 17, 2017 at 12:15 pm 0

This column is written and sponsored by Alan Lescht & Associates, PC, an employment litigation firm in Washington, DC, that handles cases involving contract disputes, wage and hour issues, discrimination and retaliation, wrongful termination, whistleblower retaliation and security clearances.

Welcome to On the Job with DC’s Employment Attorney, bringing you employment law insight. Alan Lescht & Associates knows that understanding your rights is vital to your professional success. For more than 20 years, our firm has represented clients in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia, and federal employees around the world. Each of our columns will feature a legal topic that is pertinent to employees in DC.

Can my employer fire me for any reason?

In most circumstances, yes. You are considered employed “at-will” unless you have a contract stating otherwise, or you are a government employee. At-will employees can be fired for any reason or no reason at all. Your employer does not have to give you advanced notice or tell you why you are being fired. However, you are equally free to quit at any time without notice.

There is one important caveat — you cannot be fired for an illegal reason.

What reasons are illegal?

The law prohibits most employers from making employment decisions based on protected characteristics. This means that employers may not demote, suspend, terminate, or otherwise change the terms of employment based on an employee’s color, disability, gender, national origin, race, religion, etc. Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against workers who report violations of employee rights or other unlawful activity. For example, you can’t be fired for complaining about discrimination or not receiving your paycheck.

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