Join Aaron Levine of LG Insurance, and Eric M Sarver, employment lawyer and podcast host of “Employment Law Today” on TalkRadio.NYC, as they discuss the importance of employment law and the employer-employee relationship. Listen in to hear Eric’s experiences as an employment lawyer and why he chose to focus on this area of law. Tune in to learn more and hear some fun stories from the field of employment law.
Eric Sarver has been an attorney in New York for more than 21 years. Eric first opened The Law Offices of Eric M. Sarver in April of 2001, after previously working as an associate attorney at a Park Avenue law firm and subsequently serving as counsel at a prominent civil rights firm.
Aaron Levine (00:00):
This is Aaron Levine, LG Insurance with another episode of the And Insurance Podcast. And we’re doing this virtual style via Zoom, Eric Sarver, New York. I’m in New Jersey. We just made it easy and connected via video because that’s what we’ve been doing for the last three years of our lives. And, uh, we’ll soon get together in person, hopefully, and, uh, you know, and, and take our relationship to a whole nother level. But I had a great time when I was a guest on your show, which is employment law today on Talk radio.nyc. Mm-hmm.
Aaron Levine (00:54):
And I mean, Eric, when I was on your show, uh, a couple of months ago, I mean, we ran through time, like it was nothing, right? Oh, yes. Keep going for hours and we would’ve put everybody to sleep. But, you know, this is a subject that I’m passionate about, uh, employee employer relationships and how it relates to insurance and profit making. Right. And something obviously you’re very passionate about because you’ve been mm-hmm.
Eric Sarver (01:50):
Sure. Lemme just get this little annoying, uh, spot on my glasses there that I can see in that, in the mirror
Aaron Levine (01:56):
We don’t get beer. There’s no editing. It is, we are, uh, you know, we’re gonna record. There’re we’re
Eric Sarver (02:02):
That’s okay. We can roll with it. I’m fine with that.
Aaron Levine (02:04):
We’re human. So it’s what it’s,
Eric Sarver (02:06):
That’s right. Yeah. Just kind of roll with it here. Um, well first lemme just say that Yeah, it was great having you on my show. And, um, you’re right. We can talk for hours about this topic, but a little bit about me as you asked. Um, so I started practicing law in January, 1999 and started my firm in 2001. Um, what really drew drew me to employment law. Aaron, I’d say is just, it’s a, in, there’s a very much a people component to that part of the law. It’s about human relationships, it’s about, you know, the employer, employees and how they interact. I find there’s a human interest story in there behind most employment disputes. Also, the law is so different and changing and growing all the time. It’s a constantly evolving field. It’s got issues of constitutional law sometimes thrown in, in involving speech or rights like we saw with the vaccines last year. So I just found it very interesting. I found it very analytical, and I left room for creativity. So I started my firm practicing employment law, labor law, and business law. And I represent small businesses, medium sized businesses and companies. I’m not sure if that was 90 seconds or not, but, um,
Aaron Levine (03:09):
That’s, I mean, so, you know, y you talk about, use the word relationships, which is super important, right? Human relationships. It’s not usually human resources, it’s now human relationships. Mm-hmm.
Eric Sarver (03:52):
Absolutely. Aaron. Yeah. You know, it’s funny you say that because you’re right, the law might state something, or a contract might state the employer and employee’s rights, what’s expected what to do, but, and it does. But there still is that human emotion. I find there’s like that psychology of, um, the employee wanting to feel respected and valued, and the employer wants them to feel trusted. And so you still, still see though these, uh, dynamics where even something that should be sometimes cut and dry, like a commission agreement, let’s say, that gets mm-hmm.
Aaron Levine (04:42):
Right? So we look at this, right? So if I break your job down, and I’m going as simple as I possibly can, you have two roles
Eric Sarver (04:50):
Aaron Levine (04:51):
Eric Sarver (05:13):
Aaron Levine (05:15):
That’s right. Which side do you like better?
Eric Sarver (05:18):
I, I enjoy litigation. Um, I love the, you know, the, the fight, the advocacy, but for my client’s sake, I feel better when I’m helping them. When they come to me early and they say, listen, I’ve got a new business, or, you know, my brother-in-law runs the company and he just got sued for a hundred thousand dollars, so help me follow the laws here. There’s so many, there’s federal, state, city, what’s going on? So I think I prefer doing the compliance work, the, as you said, proactive, let’s get things set so you can follow the law and run your business and do it well. Mm-hmm.
Aaron Levine (05:54):
Right. That makes sense. Um, you know, I, I kind of feel the same way mm-hmm.
Aaron Levine (06:54):
So, do you help employee, you help employers set their contracts up for their employees?
Eric Sarver (07:00):
Yes. And that’s a good point, Aaron, and what you said just now about set things up when everything’s on good terms rather than when things fall apart or there’s a fight, and then trying to figure out what was intended and what was promised. Um, so I help employers set up for their employees employment contracts, right. Employment agreements, employee handbooks as well off letters. I also help business owners set up contracts with independent contractors and with interns. So a lot of agreements in place and, you know, to your point, you have to make sure that everyone knows what is required of them and what they’re supposed to do and what they’re entitled to. So you can point to the contract when there’s dispute and say, listen, we agreed right here at section four that, you know, you can’t take my, you can’t solicit my customers. Right? Oh yeah, I did, I did agree to that. Right. For 12 months. And so, so I do actually help my clients a lot with that. And to your point, it’s a proactive, um, Steph, yeah. Mm-hmm.
Aaron Levine (07:51):
Eric Sarver (07:57):
Happy to help. I
Aaron Levine (07:58):
Dunno if I’m gonna, I dunno if we’re doing this one, that one live, uh, I think that one’s gonna be behind closed doors and we’re gonna
Eric Sarver (08:03):
Yeah. Makes sense.
Aaron Levine (08:04):
You know? Yeah. What we need to do to clean up my business because it’s, it’s important, right? I have my insurance in place, I have my own E P L I insurance. If I make a mistake or somebody else on my STA staff makes a mistake, or there’s a third party perception that we did something dubious, right? Mm-hmm.
Aaron Levine (08:46):
I said, Hey, the GPS isn’t working. It probably just needs to be recalibrated, you know? Mm-hmm.
Eric Sarver (09:16):
Aaron Levine (09:18):
And that’s one where I’m like, yeah, you know, I’m not gonna eat that whole thing. Let’s figure it out. And, you know, if there was an accident and there was liquids spilled, I can put that through insurance. So I’m thankful to have it, pay my deductible and, and move on. That’s an easy one. I don’t wanna put a claimant on my E P L I or my Arizona o emissions or my cyber, forget about cyber. I don’t even want to mm-hmm.
Eric Sarver (10:17):
Sure. Aaron, I’m happy to talk about that. You know, if I could just give one brief quick nod though, to the importance of insurance, as you mentioned, E P L I employment insurance, I think a lot of people are under the impression that if they follow all the steps and they set up contracts and they follow the law, that they’re therefore a hundred percent air proof, you know, or airtight and, and, and, uh, litigation proof. And that’s never the case. Now, somebody can always find a reason to sue. And even if it gets dismissed down the road, as you mentioned, you don’t wanna spend, you know, tens of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees and all your time to fight it. So it’s, you have to have that insurance part. Um, I think that’s very important and, uh, I tell to my clients as well, and in terms of what CU customers rather, and clients and employers can do to keep themselves, uh, at least in good shape, right?
Eric Sarver (11:06):
To minimize the risk of being sued. Well, number one, it’s important to get with an employment law attorney to really know and understand what the laws are, a governing everything from your hiring practices to your firing practices, to your payments, how you pay your employees. So I think it’s important to have someone in your corner. Could be, again, an employment lawyer, could also be a really, um, high quality HR company as well, outsourced HR that knows what do you pay for overtime, right? What do you do? You have to pay prevailing wage. Um, you know, what do you do in situations where you have employees working, let’s say, you know, um, double times in some, in some industries. So knowing what you owe in terms of payment is important. And number two, knowing the law around hiring practices. Do you have to, to give, you know, salary transparency like you do in New York City and soon to be in New York State?
Eric Sarver (11:57):
Do you have to list the man maximum list, the me minimum, that it’s a tongue twister, the minimum maximum salaries in your jobs you’re posting. So I think that, you know, knowing the laws around, uh, around payment, around discrimination, right? What’s considered discrimination, what’s not, um, having updated employee handbooks, that’s a great tool because employee handbooks that have changes in the law and they say they’re supposed to say can help a company to know what actions to take in certain situations. So, you know, the law and payment, the laws and wages, the laws and discrimination being updated, number one. Number two, having employee handbooks in place. And number three, having, uh, an employment law attorney, you can bounce questions off of all, all very key.
Aaron Levine (12:41):
I, I mean, you know, that’s a phenomenal summary. I like number three the most. Mm-hmm.
Aaron Levine (13:37):
Eric Sarver (14:07):
Aaron Levine (14:08):
Eric Sarver (14:50):
Right. Learn from the mistake and hopefully going forward, not have the situation repeat itself. You know? Um, yeah. And you know what, I think a lot of clients will kick themselves when they make a mistake. They get frustrated. They think, oh man, you know, this is gonna cost me money. I should have known better. And my point is always, you know, look, you know, very few people in my opinion, I don’t know if you’ve seen this too, there are a few that truly come to you in the super proactive stage, uh, before hitting some kind of pain point of their own, you know, on their own right. They, you know, they make a misstep and they, they pay a fortune to Department of Labor or to an, say, an ex employee to set all lawsuit. And then they start to get serious about, you know, having employment agreements in place, having the right, uh, employee handbooks, knowing what to do, ne the next time somebody alleges discrimination, you know, do an investigation, talk to the witnesses, talk to the person, um, see what’s happening.
Eric Sarver (15:43):
Don’t just summarily fire the person. Right, wrong move when you’re being, you know, told there’s some discrimination in the workplace. So, but, but to your, you know, do people that, um, the importance of having practice steps, I just can’t, can’t say enough about it. Because once you, um, have, let’s say someone who knows what you should do, the money you spend on insurance, the money you spend on a proactive employment law attorney to help you with compliance, it’s some, a drop in the bucket compared to what you’ll spend in litigation in terms of time, you know, energy, money, stress. So I think that’s really, you know, important. I mean, I’ve certainly seen clients come to me, um, with situations where they were not proactive and then they had hit hard in the end. Mm-hmm.
Eric Sarver (16:38):
So what he did was, um, he filed a very disingenuous complaint with OSHA alleging the SCR safety, uh, violation, which would not true and completely discredited, found to be not, not an issue, but they were wanting to fire this person for a while. And so then they started, the person started coming in late, missing shifts, um, just, just very inappropriate behavior. And whenever they were called in the car said, this is retaliation, you’re trying to get back me for following the ownership complaint. So they’re hired me to come in for this sense of termination mm-hmm.
Eric Sarver (17:26):
You know, that’s it. Told all of other workers in a group email. Ugh. You need him on the email and said, don’t ever come back here again. Um, it didn’t land well, it didn’t sit well, and the timing was about a month after the OSHA complaint. Wow. And, and before the, yeah. Before the actual finding discrediting it. So, you know, it was a big mess. And we did settle it, you know, we did manage to negotiate before it got to court, was able to show that some of the claims they were alleging were other issues were not really happening and would’ve been dismissed. And so they, they fell on a fraction what they were asking for. Sure. So there was a win with my client, but, you know, had they filed certain steps for this termination process, documented his poor behavior had enough space between the OSHA complaint and the actual termination, and offered a little bit of severance, it could have been a whole different end ending. So. Right, right. You know, at that point about being proactive, it’s really important to like, you know, whether it’s insurance or whether it’s just following the law and having, knowing what to do and what not to do,
Aaron Levine (18:21):
Proactive is always less expensive. Mm-hmm.
Eric Sarver (18:32):
Aaron Levine (18:33):
No, it’s fine. We’re fine. We don’t do that around here. But you pointed like
Eric Sarver (18:37):
Aaron Levine (18:37):
Family, you made a good statement, right? You said the assistant manager did X. Yeah. Right?
Eric Sarver (18:43):
Aaron Levine (18:44):
Guess what? The owner of the business has to worry about. Someone else being stupid.
Eric Sarver (19:25):
Aaron Levine (19:26):
We’re not gonna go there. But I want to, I touch on, you know, proactivity is great mm-hmm.
Eric Sarver (19:55):
Am I taking a chance? Yep.
Aaron Levine (19:57):
Watching these far along, you know, it’s a simple plugin for WordPress or whoever’s hosting it mm-hmm.
Eric Sarver (20:31):
I do. And, you know, usually I refer ’em out to other people. Um, maybe it’s their website design or developer who has certain software for the, as you mentioned, the visually impaired, even for the audio impaired, there are plugins for that as well, which I have on my site. And, um, but I definitely do recommend that they have a survey, you know, look at the property. They’re an ADA complaint consultants, because don’t forget, Aaron, you might, we as a fortunate, you know, very graced able bodied person or, you know, I, as a abody person might look around and say mine, um, let’s say on a laundromat look around and say, oh, well, I’ve gotta make, uh, a wheelchair accessible ramp and maybe, uh, a disabled accessible bathroom. But guess what, if the change machine, you know, is too high to reach or, you know, if the, um, washer dryer, it’s folding table is not leveled and the person can’t reach it, or if the website, as you mentioned is not a d a compliant, you know, you’re on a, the shop and you do takeout and the person can’t order takeout on your website, then you can be looking at an ADA complaint.
Eric Sarver (21:33):
So I, I do actually, um, help my clients get compliant in that regard. And it’s a matter of, I tell them what needs to be done, and then I say, I’m not an architect, right. So I can’t fix, you know, but then you should consult this person or that person. So, um, you know, but definitely it’s an important thing. And unfortunately, as you mentioned, you know, some suits have, have value or rather have some legitimate component, but others, you know, there are attorneys out there who will scour websites for ones that are off and, and will file a suit for someone who’s disabled, even if the person never really used the service. So you’d have to be careful about those type of complaints. Absolutely.
Aaron Levine (22:12):
Well, you know, those are the, you know, the, I call them trolls. I don’t know what a, a more appropriate term is, but, uh,
Eric Sarver (22:46):
Aaron Levine (22:47):
And what do we do about it? And he said, yes, it’s legit. Yep. Call ’em as soon as possible and negotiate mm-hmm.
Eric Sarver (23:12):
Yes. Yes. And you know, it’s a shame because there are some, there are legitimate, valid claims out there that, and there are, you know, companies that do transgress, transgress or transgressions that, um, and there are good attorneys out there who do represent good people, but there are a lot of bad apples in that bunch that really, you know, ruin it for the rest of them. And, you know, to your point, like the Getty image, you know, that that’s I think, a very common thing. I think some lawyers will literally go to restaurants, door to door and, and try to gather workers who weren’t giving an, uh, proper notice. A wage notice that says when you’re hired, you know, you make this much per, you know, per pay period. Um, I heard of a story once where an attorney actually founded a restaurant that did follow the law, um, right, right.
Eric Sarver (23:55):
And did actually the, but they had a typo on the, on the wage statement, the wrong address. It was a, it was a simples typo. It was a 6, 7, 8. So the person said, you didn’t file the statute. The statutes have to have subject, have the correct address for your place of business. And I think it was settled before it went to court, um, before they filed, you know, a claim under the, the New York state law. Right. But my gosh, you know, can you imagine being a, a base of business that, um, you know, follows those steps? And that’s again, where the employment insurance comes in. You know, I come in to negotiate, I come in to argue with the other attorney that this is, this is a form of a substance, you know, that I think the courts will decide with us and they say, does your client wanna pay all that money and litigating and take a chance? And we, we try to settle it for as little as possible. But, you know, if I had insurance in my coronavirus, let’s say a restaurant or, you know, um, or anyway, a tech company, I’d feel better at least knowing that I’m not showing out money for my attorney. I can’t be compensated.
Aaron Levine (24:56):
Eric Sarver (24:57):
Aaron Levine (24:57):
Right. No, that, you know, it, it makes total sense. It’s all about being proactive and, uh, and, and having a good understanding. And if you watch this podcast episode and you watch the other episode that I did on your show mm-hmm.
Eric Sarver (25:18):
And we packed in about three hours worth of material in each of those times. So you’d be like three or four hours smarter than you were, you
Aaron Levine (25:24):
Know, you know, I got all this great free advice that I didn’t, that I didn’t get a bill for. So I, I feel, uh, I feel, I feel honored, Eric, but, you know, so on, on my, on my side, we are coming up on time because we try to keep our show under 30 minutes. Sure. Um, any other thoughts, comments, or advice that you wanna shell out for free mm-hmm. On, uh, on YouTube?
Eric Sarver (25:45):
I do. I’d like to tell first off, just tell employers and business owners, you know, don’t, uh, lose hope. It’s not a bleak message. It’s just about, you know, being compliant and, and taking the proper precautions. So I’d say, you know, again, get with your employment law attorney. You know, if you’re in New York state, happy to talk to you, uh, get my contact information after the show, but make sure you have updated employee handbooks, updated employment contracts. The law is changing around issues of non-competes. So what you can, can’t put in your employment agreements, right? You can’t have certain confidentiality clauses anymore around, let’s say a sexual harassment, uh, settlement. So make sure you have the right contracts in place, the right forms. And as you sit out earlier in the show, you have to have steps in place to follow what your contracts say.
Eric Sarver (26:30):
You have to make sure that you are actually abiding by, you know, what is required. Um, if you take those steps, you know, if you get with a good HR company, a good employment lawyer, no matter what state you’re in, um, I think you’re in a lot better shape. And then you add in the employment, the E P L I insurance in case something goes awry. And I think you’re greatly reduce your chances of sitting through courtroom, you know, depositions and a court proceedings. So that’s my last kind of helpful bit of advice for business host
Aaron Levine (26:59):
Employees and just, and tacking right on top of that one, right? Mm-hmm.
Eric Sarver (27:09):
Guessing it goes down.
Aaron Levine (27:09):
Yeah. You’re deductible it goes down, right? So those proactive steps help you in the long run because the insurance companies don’t have to price gadget because they know you have certain steps in place, and the insurance there is truly for something that goes grossly awry. Eric Sarver, thank you so much for joining me today. Uh, we’ll get this episode posted shortly and I can’t wait till the next time we get together. Thanks again,
Eric Sarver (27:32):
Aaron Levine, thanks for having me. A pleasure being here. And I wish you, uh, excellent holiday season and, um, wish everyone else out there and really happy and healthy holiday season too. So thanks having me on the show. It was great talking with you today. Thanks,