Remote work is here to stay. The shift from in-person office work to working from home has been dramatic, and the data and commentators suggest it may be permanent. Employers, therefore, need to develop thoughtful telecommuting options and employment policies to go with them.
For companies with workers in other states, the work-from-home (WFH) scenario creates a risk of defending lawsuits in unfamiliar and distant courts. To prevent this, employers must understand the legal concept of “personal jurisdiction” and the specific steps they can take to avoid litigating in an employee’s home court.
Why Should an Employer Care?
Litigating in your home court is better and probably cheaper. The advantage is not so much with judges, who should always be impartial, but with the law and local practices. Employment laws vary drastically around the country. California, for example, requires an employer to give nonexempt employees regular meal and rest breaks, whereas many other states do not. These differences can lead to unexpected disputes.
Other advantages of litigating at home include familiarity with the sensibilities of the deciders (judge and jury), which is key to developing case themes, assessing risk and valuing a case. The home-towner also avoids travel expenses and other complications of having to defend a lawsuit away from home.
For the out-of-towner, everything is new. There are new local court rules and procedures to learn. For all these reasons, employers should think twice before giving up the home court advantage by becoming subject to “personal jurisdiction” in their employee’s home state.
What Is Personal Jurisdiction?
A court’s power is not absolute. Generally, courts have jurisdiction over people and businesses in the state where the court is located. But courts also have power over those outside the state if the foreigners do. . .
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Source: HR Daily Advisor