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Assessing Employment Risks—Do I really need an Employment Law Audit?

October 25, 2016 | Christine H. Long
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Whether you employ five or five hundred people, employers need to periodically ensure that their policies and procedures comply with the law. Many employers use generic personnel policies that were written for larger workplaces, other industries, or even different states. However, California’s strict employment laws change annually, vary depending upon the number of employees, and sometimes conflict with local and/or Federal law, making it all too easy for a California employer to run afoul of the law unintentionally. Even innocent mistakes can cost an employer tens of thousands of dollars.

At Berliner Cohen, we can conduct an employment law audit specifically for you.

We work with company representatives in charge of operations, human resources, benefits, and payroll issues.  Our goal is to advise you about whether your policies and procedures comply with State and Federal laws and regulations; are appropriate for your workplace; and effectively communicate to employees and supervisors the legal requirements of your business.

Berliner Cohen’s Audit begins with the company representatives completing a questionnaire regarding the business and gathering documents relating to the employment process, from hiring to termination. One of our experienced employment lawyers will then interview key company representatives who handle the employment decisions. It is during this interview that we will explore unwritten company practices, and discuss the specifics of your current operations and workplace. After we have completed our preliminary review of the company’s policies and procedures, we will then discuss with you what improvements and changes should be made to your employment policies and practices.

Berliner Cohen’s Audit can assist you in evaluating these key management areas:

  • Sexual Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Policies and Training
  • Confidentiality/Proprietary Information Agreements (includes determination if non-compete and non-solicitation provisions are enforceable)
  • Wage & Hour Laws, including meals and rest breaks, overtime and employee withholdings/paycheck stub requirements
  • At-Will Employment
  • Working with Disabled Employees Employee Classification (Employee vs. Independent Contractors; Exempt or Non-Exempt)
  • Employee Pay (salary, commission, piece rate, equal pay, overtime calculations)
  • Vacation, Paid Sick Leave, and Leave
  • State and Federal Leave Laws
  • Performance Management and Discipline
  • On-Boarding and Termination Procedures
  • Unemployment Compensation
  • Employee and Company Privacy Issues Workplace investigation and litigation plans (when an inquiry is made or lawsuit is threatened or filed)

Employment law audits identify and correct problems before they become litigation or become full-blown investigations. While there is no guarantee that an aggrieved employee will not sue, the company is well served by an employment law audit that roots out problems and establishes the framework for a strong defense.

Other types of audits offered: (1) an equal employment opportunity (EEO) audit, (2) a pay equity audit, and (3) a wage and hour classification audit.

For more information about employment law audits, employee handbooks, or any other topics, contact Christine H. Long, Department Chair at (408) 286-5800 or

©2016 Berliner Cohen, LLP. This article is not intended to and does not constitute legal advice or a solicitation for the formation of an attorney-client relationship and no attorney-client relationship is created through your use of the Berliner Site or your receipt of the materials.

Berliner Cohen LLP’s experienced employment law attorneys advise and represent employers and managers on a full range of legal issues affecting the workplace, including harassment and discrimination, unfair competition and trade secrets, wrongful discharge, wage and hour issues, and labor disputes. Berliner Cohen LLP also is skilled in representing employers in both State and Federal Class Action cases. For almost fifty years, Berliner Cohen LLP, founded and headquartered in San Jose, California, has been one of the most highly-respected full-service business law firms in the region. Berliner Cohen possesses the specialized expertise required to serve the business and regulatory needs of a diverse clientele, which includes publicly-traded corporations and privately-held entities across various sectors, public agencies and governmental entities, leading real estate developers, owners, operators, managers and investors, and banking and other financial institutions. Berliner Cohen also meets the growing demands of the San Joaquin Valley with its Merced and Modesto offices.