Labor and employment lawyers work to protect the rights of employees and maintain relationships between employers, employees, trade and labor unions, and the government. This area of law covers all topics of employment, ranging from an employee’s wages and benefits to protecting against harassment and discrimination. Labor and employment lawyers work to earn compensation for employees who have been illegally and unfairly treated by their employers in regards to the employment agreement. Individuals who feel that they were wronged by their employers should contact a labor and employment lawyer as soon as possible to determine possible legal options.
Federal Labor Laws
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) enforces more than 180 different labor and employment laws on a federal level. These regulations are estimated to cover a variety of workplace activities for roughly 125 million workers and 10 million employers. Federal labor laws provide a basic guideline for establishing employer and employee relationships across the United States. However, it is important to consider that labor and employment laws may vary from state to state, in addition to federal regulations.
Federal labor and employment laws cover areas including, but not limited to, the following:
- Wages and hours
- Workplace safety and health
- Workers’ compensation
- Unions and their members
- Employee benefit security
- Employee protection
Common Labor and Employment Lawsuits
Labor and employment lawsuits run the full gamut of issues related to employment. However, there are certain types of cases that are more commonly taken by labor and employment lawyers. These cases often include discrimination, harassment, workplace injuries, and wrongful termination.
Under federal and state law, it is illegal for employers and workplaces to practice discrimination. Discrimination is characterized as unfair treatment of an individual based on personal characteristics such as an employee’s race, gender, disability, or religious background. Certain laws which pertain to these rights include the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act. On a federal level, an organization called the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is in place to investigate alleged workplace discrimination. The Commission can provide employees with proper resources to file a discrimination lawsuit if necessary.
Workplace harassment lawsuits may involve managers, supervisors, co-workers, contract employees, or clients and customers. These lawsuits protect individuals against inappropriate behavior in the workplace. Workplace harassment may involve a sexual nature, such as inappropriate comments or touching. Workplace harassment may also involve issues such as bullying or violence. In addition to liability for committing workplace harassment, employers may be legally responsible if they were aware of harassment, but failed to intervene and remedy the situation.
Injuries within the workplace can be a common occurrence. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009 brought more than 3.2 million claims of work-related illnesses and injuries. Common workplace injury lawsuits occur when the employer’s actions led to the injury, or if the employer could have prevented the injury but failed to do so. This may be referred to as negligence. Additionally, employers may be sued when they challenge the worker’s compensation claim made by an injured employee.
Wrongful termination occurs when an employee is fired or laid off without a reasonable legal basis. For example, wrongful termination occurs when an employee is fired as an act of retaliation after an employee filed a legitimate complaint against the employer or business. Employees who win wrongful termination cases typically earn compensation such as lost wages and emotional distress caused by the situation. In severe cases, the employee may receive punitive damages, which essentially act as the court’s means of “punishing” the employer for wrongdoing and deterring other employers from behaving similarly.
Hiring a Labor and Employment Lawyer
Those who feel that they are victims of a violation of labor and employment and laws should hire a labor and employment lawyer as soon as possible. Labor and employment lawyers can help to navigate the complex legal system to determine if the case is valid. If the case has a solid legal basis, labor and employment lawyers can help employees with virtually all aspects of the legal process. This greatly improves the chances that the wronged employee will receive financial compensation for the incident.
Anderson, Teresa. “Wrongful termination.” Security Management Jan. 2000: 134. Academic OneFile. Web. 1 Apr. 2014.
DelPo, Amy, and Lisa Guerin. Federal Employment Laws : A Desk Reference. Berkeley, CA: Nolo, 2002. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 1 Apr. 2014.