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Focus on Small Business: Building Solid Foundations

Every year around the holidays, there is a big push to celebrate “small” businesses – Small Business Saturday. Of course, small businesses should be celebrated year-round. Recognizing the importance and impact of small businesses in the community, attorney Kelly Charles-Collins of Smoak, Chistolini & Barnett, (a local law firm which is also a small business) has tailored the firm’s Labor and Employment practice to compliment the needs of these businesses. Says Charles-Collins, “We believe that all businesses should be protected. That’s why our labor and employment practice focuses on small to medium sized businesses with an emphasis on preventive counseling.” Charles-Collins has been representing businesses for over 17 years and over time she has realized that, unlike large corporations, small to medium sized business are less likely to engage employment lawyers on a proactive basis, often because smaller businesses are afraid of costs or lack knowledge of employment law.

To change that mindset, Smoak, Chistolini & Barnett has the “HR Wellness CheckUpTM.” The purpose of the HR Wellness CheckupTM is to assess a business’ health from a human resources perspective, and it involves a three-step process: (1) a collaborative, in-person, on-site evaluation of the business; (2) a specifically tailored written assessment and action plan identifying areas of opportunities, recommending resolutions, analyzing risk and priority, allocating business investment, and delegating accountability; and (3) holding follow-up strategy meetings to discuss, assess and revise the action plan as necessary.

“Our mission is to empower businesses by providing them the tools necessary to build and maintain a solid foundation that fosters the proper environment for growth and protection of not only their tangible assets but their most important resource – their employees,” says Charles-Collins. “Employee claims are very expensive to defend. A single plaintiff employment lawsuit can cost more than $100,000.00 dollars to defend, whether your business wins or loses. Benjamin Franklin famously stated, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ Our HR Wellness CheckupTM is a great way to prevent or minimize these risks.”

Smoak, Chistolini & Barnett also provides “A la Carte” services to businesses at a fixed price. “We want to remove the ‘cost barrier’ for essential services,” says Charles-Collins. “Our services include drafting or revising employee handbooks and employment agreements, and providing on-site training in areas such as discrimination and harassment, retaliation, workplace investigations, employee leave and wage an hour issues.”
Not sure how your business is doing with HR? Visit Smoak, Chistolini & Barnett’s website at to take their HR Wellness CheckupTM quiz and one of their Employment Lawyers will contact you for your free initial assessment.

Are you ready to protect your business investment? Here are a few tips from Smoak, Chistolini & Barnett’s employment lawyers:

  1. Visit to take the HR Wellness CheckupTM quiz.
  2. Retain an employment lawyer before you are faced with responding to an employee claim.
  3. Acquire Employment Practices Liability Insurance.
  4. Obtain or revise your employee handbook.
  5. Provide comprehensive and continual training for your staff.


Laura Byrne
Laura Byrne is an award-winning former television news journalist who spent 15+ years in newsrooms across the state of Florida including Sarasota, Tallahassee, Fort Myers and right here in Tampa Bay where she still freelances on occasion. She covered the political beat, crime beat and every day breaking news during her time in Florida newsrooms, but is now focused on sharing positive news stories and events with families in Tampa Bay. She is a proud mommy of two little boys who keep her on her toes and laughing every day. Her goal is to inspire families just like yours to get out and play and experience all that Tampa Bay and our great state of Florida have to offer! She encourages you to share your stories and upcoming events so we can spread the good news.

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