Employment law is a field of law concerned with the relationship between employers and employees. It sometimes might be referred to as labor law. Many of the laws relevant to employment are ones that exist to help protect the rights of workers, and ensure fair and safe places of work. Some of the major legal issues within this area of law include the regulation of hours and wages, the prevention of workplace discrimination, whistle blower protections, and employment contracts.
Regulation of wages and hours
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was created to protect workers from harsh working environments and from the exploitation of employers. This law instituted the federal minimum wage, making it illegal for employers to pay their employees less per hour than the amount set in the law. Many state laws create minimum wages that are higher than the federal minimum wage.
The FLSA also created the requirement for time and a half wages for overtime work, and defined the 40 hour workweek. Employees who are not exempt from the FLSA must be paid time and a half for each hour over 40 that they work in a single week.
Employers that bring in more than $500,000 annually, and or who are involved in interstate commerce must comply with the regulations set forth in the FLSA. These requirements cover most employers, and even if an employer is exempt, they might be covered by a state law. Employees might also be exempt from this law, for instance if they are in administrative or executive roles, or professional positions such as doctors, dentists, or attorneys. Some other employees are exempt as a result of the nature of their work, such as live in care givers, or flight attendants.
While state laws might create higher standards, the FLSA applies to most employers, and many of their employees. Violations of wage and hour regulations constitute one of the major categories of employment law.
Discrimination in places of employment
Discrimination in places of employment is another area of employment law. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made workplace discrimination illegal when it is based on race, gender, ethnicity, disability, religion, or age.
If an employee suffers from a negative employment related action as a result of their membership in a protected class, then the employer has violated the law. This means, not hiring someone, firing someone, demoting someone, or not promoting them based on the fact that they belong to a certain race, or gender or other protected class is illegal.
Laws designed to protect whistleblowers serve to prevent employers from firing, demoting, or otherwise punishing and harassing employers who expose their employers’ unlawful actions. If an employee reports something such as a violation of an environmental regulation, or illegal financial practices, employers are not legally permitted to retaliate against the employee for alerting authorities to the wrongful acts.
Employment contracts are legally binding documents that serve to establish the terms of a relationship between an employee and his or her employer. These contracts can set the terms for a salary, bonuses, severance pay, confidentiality agreements, non-competes, stock options and many other terms that an employee might be asked to agree to when accepting a position with an employer. The contract might create protections for an employee so that they may only be fired for cause.
Because these contracts are legally binding, legal disputes can arise when one party breaches its terms of the contract, or when the contract requests more of the employee than they are legally permitted ask- such as a non-compete that oversteps the law by preventing an employee from taking a job with a competitor indefinitely, rather than for a certain set amount of time that falls within the legal limits.
Some employment contracts, especially for high level executive employees, can be highly sophisticated and complicated. Sometimes employees may wish to consult with an attorney in order to review the terms of the contract and possibly negotiate its terms prior to signing the document.
Employment law covers other area of law as well, such as workers’ compensation or unemployment insurance claims.
If find yourself caught in an employment related dispute, it can be a stressful and emotionally difficult situation. An experienced employment attorney can help ease the process and fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
Contact Stern Law, PLLC for A Free Consultation
At Stern Law, PLLC, we have compassionate and caring attorneys ready to work with you to find the best solution to your employment law related legal issues. Contact Stern Law, PLLC today at (844) 808-7529 for a free consolation with an experienced employment attorney.