Employment and labor laws protect employees from unjust and treatment. While labor laws give employees the legal right to unionize and provides the legal guidelines for the maintenance of relationships between employers and unions, employment law deals with the negotiated relationship between employees and employers. Employment laws involve similar parties i.e. workers and companies but deal with matters that fall out of the union-management and collective bargaining categories. Employment laws are of two types – federal and state. Additionally, an employee-worker relationship may also be defined by a binding contract signed by both parties. Therefore, hiring an employment lawyer is essential to proving claims with complex and multiple statutes in place and against companies who typically have strong legal representation.
Broadly, employment law deals with the following issues:
Wage and hour laws are a critical aspect of employment laws that lay down the standards an employer should follow. The laws lay down standards for overtime pay, minimum wage, and underpayment that need to be followed by companies across the public and private sectors. These laws also include and elaborate on the medical and family benefits that should be extended to employees. Wage and hour laws also protect immigrants against wage theft and children and adults from exposure to detrimental working conditions.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) enforces the wage and hourly standards on the federal level. For states, the wage and hour standards vary according to the region the employer resides in. In case of a conflict in federal and state laws, the employers are obliged to accept the standard that provides maximum benefits to the employees.
An employee can file a case in any of the following instances:
Irrespective of the nature of the problem, employees can take up wage claims with the US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour division under the FLSA. In case the claim is not resolved, employees have the right to file a lawsuit and take the employer to court.
Discrimination or unfair treatment of employees based on their religion, gender, race, origin, color or sexual orientation is forbidden by law. Any employee that experiences unfair treatment due to the aforementioned instances has the right to file a lawsuit against the employer. There are both federal and state laws in place to protect an employee from workplace discrimination. Some states have additional categories that are protected. For instance, California forbids discrimination against employees based on their AIDS/HIV status, domestic violence, and medical conditions.
Some instances of workplace discrimination that qualify for a lawsuit are:
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is in charge of receiving and taking actions against workplace discrimination claims on the federal level. Employees can also file their complaints to the EEOC equivalent body of their state before reaching out to the federal commission.
Companies across private and public sectors should maintain standards to prevent risking employees to illness or injuries at the workplace. The standards need to be enforced through frequent periodic inspections according to the regulations laid down in the law. Employers are required to eliminate any source that poses to be a hazard to the employees. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is in charge of enforcing health and safety standards across companies in the US.
An employee can file a complaint if any of the following situations arises:
While the OSHA is dedicated to protecting employees from hazardous situations at work there are other laws employees could use to demand compensation for the damages that might have resulted due to negligence on the part of the employer.
Employers mandatorily need to provide employees with certain benefits when they take up a job. Social security, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation insurance are some of the benefits employers mandatorily need to provide their employees. Extending other benefits to the employees is optional. For the private sector, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (EISRA) sets a minimum standard for health and pension benefits provided by companies. If an employee breaches the act by denying benefits or provides a below standard care, the employee has the right to sue the employer.
Another employment law that deals with the health and safety of the employee is the workers’ compensation. Under this, an employee can demand compensation from the employer for a serious physical injury, loss of income or illness that was the result of being exposed to a hazardous situation at the workplace. Workers’ compensation claims require employers to compensate for rehabilitation, medical treatment, lost income, and other benefits to the affected employee.
Breach of other workplace standards that arise not so frequently such as whistleblower protection, protection from polygraph test, mass layoff, and plant closures also fall in the employment law category.
Hiring an employment lawyer can help an affected employee in the following ways:
Sign up to The Legal Helpers to find an expert employment lawyer and ensure your rights are protected.