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Employment Lawyer

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:

Wages & Hours

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:

  • If the employer is paying wages that do not meet the minimum wage standard defined in the law
  • Employers denying break for rest or not paying for break time specified under the law can be taken to court
  •   If employers deny overtime payment or do not pay for off-the-clock work as per the standards defined in law
  •  If employers deny payment for accrued vacation time
  • If the employer has not paid the wages for work-related travels during workdays

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.

Workplace Discrimination

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:

  • Invalid or unjustified interview questions. For instance, asking a female employee about their plans to having children
  • Use of discriminatory factors to determine termination, promotion or demotion of employees
  • A lack of infrastructure and denial of making reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities
  • Discriminating based on age
  •  Sexual harassment

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.

Health & Safety

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:

  • If the machine provided to the employee is not safe
  • The employer fails to provide the required protective gear
  • If the employer exposes employees to toxic chemicals
  • If there have been multiple employee illnesses and injuries that have been covered or not reported

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.

Pension and Benefits

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.

Workers’ Compensation

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.

Why Hire an Employment Lawyer?

Hiring an employment lawyer can help an affected employee in the following ways:

  •  Employment lawyers are well-versed with different federal and state-specific laws in place. Using their in-depth knowledge, an employment attorney can help a victim identify different law breaches that could have been done by the employer.
  •  By consulting an employment attorney, victims can file their complaints to the concerned authorities effectively and articulate their stories to include details that are vital to their case.
  • An employment lawyer can ensure that no deadline is missed and the required evidence is obtained using the required legal procedures
  • Employment lawyers also negotiate with employers outside court keeping the best interests of the victim in mind and ensure that they receive the rightful compensation.
  • Employment attorneys have access to various industry experts leveraging which they can evaluate your case and add extensive value to court proceedings and filings
  • Employment lawyers ensure the victim is not bullied by corporate lawyers who are defending the employer and receive their rightful compensation

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