There are many different fields of law, from criminal law to housing law. Employment law is one of the most complicated fields of them all, and when employment law cases arise, it’s vital to get in touch with trusted, experienced employment lawyers as soon as possible to help out with your case. But what exactly is employment law and what constitutes an employment law case? Here are some commonly asked questions to help you find out more.
What Is Employment Law?
Let’s begin with a simple definition of what exactly employment law is. As stated earlier, this is a complex and deep field of law, so it’s impossible to accurately summarize all that it entails in just a few lines. However, as a brief introduction, employment law basically concerns all the rights and obligations within the employer-employee relationship. It covers everything from safety in the workplace to harassment, wage disputes, wrongful termination, and more.
How Do Employment Lawyers Work?
Employment lawyers tend to focus on one side of the employer-employee side of employment law. Some firms specialize in representing employers, while others focus on helping employees with their grievances and claims. It’s rare to find employment lawyers who work with both employees and employers.
This factor aside, employment lawyers work much like other lawyers. They hear cases from clients, gather evidence, understand the details and specifics of the situation, handle negotiations, make use of technology, and put together arguments in favor of their clients to try and help them attain some sort of desirable outcome, which may be a compensation payment.
What Are Some Common Causes of Employment Law Cases?
A lot of employment law cases are focused on the rights of employees being harmed or not respected in some way. So some of the most common examples of employment law in action are related to situations in which employees have been treated unfairly or wrongfully by their employers. Such examples include:
- Discrimination – Some employees may feel that they have a case to make if they have been discriminated against at work due to their ethnicity, background, orientation, or other personal factors.
- Harassment – A lot of employment law cases revolve around harassment in the workplace, with many people being victims of unwanted advances, bullying, and inappropriate behavior on the part of their colleagues or employers.
- Wages – Employees have the right to a certain minimum wage and overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours per week. If these rights are infringed, the employee in question may be able to make a claim against their employer.
- Wrongful Termination – This sort of case occurs when an employee believes to have been fired or terminated from their job for an unjust reason. Employers are not legally allowed to fire employees for personal reasons or because of discrimination.
Do I Have a Case Against My Employer?
It’s certainly possible for employees to sue their employers if they have engaged in some sort of wrongful or illegal behavior, or if the employee in question has had their rights and freedoms infringed upon in some way that the employer may have prevented.
For example, if you have not been paid correctly, got fired unfairly, or were discriminated against because of your race, gender, or religion, you could have a case.
However, it’s always best to consult with an experienced employment law firm beforehand in order to share the full story of your case and get professional advice on the right steps to follow and what you might be entitled to.
How Do I Identify Harassment or Discrimination?
This isn’t always easy. Some examples of harassment and discrimination are very easy to identify, like if an employee suffers unwanted physical sexual advances or comments from a co-worker or manager, or if someone gets bullied at work because of personal factors like the color of their skin.
However, there are many other situations in which harassment and discrimination are more subtle and less easy to identify. It’s important to carry out research online to find out more about harassment and discrimination so you can spot it when it happens.
In general, if you have any doubts or are made to feel uncomfortable, pressured, or unfairly treated at work, it’s highly likely that you have been a victim of some sort of harassment or discrimination.
Again, good advice here is to speak with an experienced employment lawyer and tell them about the situation. They’ll be able to use their own experience and expertise to tell you if you’re dealing with a harassment/discrimination case or not.
Is It Legal to Be Paid Less Than Minimum Wage?
Mostly, no, but there are some situations and states in which employees may be paid a “subminimum wage”. The Fair Labor Standards Act allows for this, but it only applies in certain situations, such as for full-time students with retail or service jobs. There are also some situations in which workers who receive tips as part of their job may be paid less than minimum wage, as well as workers under the age of 20 when starting work with a new employer.
Can I Be Fired for Reporting Harassment/Discrimination?
No, it is entirely illegal for any employer to fire an employee for reporting harassment or discrimination in the workplace. This would fall under wrongful termination and “retaliation” and is prohibited at both state and federal levels across the US. So no employee should feel scared or nervous about taking action and making a claim about harassment or discrimination at their place of work. Once again, a trusted lawyer with experience in this field will be able to help you take the right steps and avoid any negative actions from your employer.
Employment law is quite complex, but it’s important for employers and employees to understand their rights and responsibilities and be able to take action confidently if they feel that those rights are under threat.