Overview of Employment-Related Legal Issues Faced by Veterinarians


As a veterinarian with a complex practice, you can be subject to a number of different employment laws. Failure to follow these laws can result in expensive, traumatic incidents that have the power to destroy the practice you have worked so hard to build. To prevent these problems, you should take the time to familiarize yourself with the various employment-related legal issues that may affect your practice. Some of these laws include:

  • Discrimination – Federal and state laws prohibit you from discriminating on the basis of age, sex, disability, national origin, religion, race or other such characteristics. For example, it is illegal to exclude someone from consideration for a promotion because he or she is older than another candidate.
  • Sexual Harassment – Sexual harassment laws protect workers from unwanted advances, bullying and coercion of a sexual nature. These laws encompass a wide variety of incidents, from disparaging remarks about an individual’s sex in general to requests for sexual favors.
  • Whistleblower Claims – Multiple laws protect employees from retaliation when they report fraud or dangerous work conditions in good faith. For example, if an employee suspects fraud and reports his or her suspicions, you cannot take action against that employee.
  • Leave Laws – When an employee is absent, several leave laws may govern the employer’s actions, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the California Family Rights Act and/or the Family Medical Leave Act. Different laws may apply depending on the nature of the absence.
  • Disability – Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers must identify employees with disabilities and make reasonable accommodations for these individuals.
  • Meal and Rest Periods – In California, unpaid meal periods must be at least 30 minutes long, and paid rest periods must be at least ten minutes long.
  • Worker’s Compensation – When employees are injured on-the-job, they can file workers compensation claims. Employers are unable to retaliate against employees who file these claims.
  • Independent Contractors – Employers aren’t required to satisfy as many legal requirements when dealing with independent contractors. However, attempting to classify employees as independent contractors when they don’t meet the qualifications is never a good idea.
  • Covenant Not to Compete – In general, California doesn’t allow non-compete agreements except in limited circumstances. While you can expect loyalty from employees during the term of their employment with your veterinary practice, you won’t be able to enforce any non-compete covenants after employment has been terminated.
  • Electronics, Technology and Social Media – Laws pertaining to social media, technology and related issues can be complicated, and further developments are expected in this area. However, employers should have clear policies with regard to technology that detail the rights and responsibilities of employees.