Employment law is one of the biggest branches of law in existence — and employment lawyers certainly have their work cut out for them. They cover claims about sexual harassment, wages, unfair hours, severance packages, discrimination, wrongful termination, whistleblowing, and retaliation. Discrimination and wrongful termination take up most of an employment lawyer’s time. It’s all about compliance.
A “wage and hour” lawsuit occurs after a compensation dispute. Was an employee not paid after working? Did the employee not receive all benefits due? Was an employee improperly paid? Perhaps the employer violated a different statute. Sometimes, employees are asked to work off the clock for under the table pay. This is illegal. Sometimes, employees are denied overtime.
Sexual harassment occurs when an employee feels uncomfortable due to off-hand comments, inappropriate touching, requests for dates, etc. It’s important to recognize that one comment does not amount to harassment. A victim can only build a case when a pattern of behavior is recognized. More importantly, the victim must find a way to prove the sexual harassment in a court of law (or convince the company to settle out of court).
Discrimination claims are common but difficult to prove. Discrimination occurs when an employer hires certain individuals or terminates others based on certain attributes like sex, gender, skin color, religion, ethnicity, age, etc. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits this type of behavior by employers.
Retaliation occurs when an employee is terminated for specific reasons. For example, let’s say you chose to discuss sexual harassment with Human Resources (HR). Your employer cannot “retaliate” because you made that choice. Maybe you saw your employer or a coworker engage in unsafe or unlawful activity. You have the right to blow the whistle. If your employer terminates you afterward, you have the right to sue.
There are other reasons you might hire an employment lawyer. For example, let’s say you were discussing pay with other employees and your employer threatened to fire you (or actually did). Your right to discuss pay is guaranteed by federal law. The only thing to keep in mind is that you can only have these discussions when it is normally appropriate to speak to coworkers (either while working or on break). If you are normally barred from talking, then you can be fired regardless of what the discussion was about.
Another reason to hire an employment lawyer? Let’s say you were injured at work. You believe you have the right to workers’ compensation, but your employer says no. You should definitely discuss your claim with a lawyer! You have the right to financial security. Your boss does not have the right to put yours at risk.
What does an employment lawyer do on a daily basis? Check https://www.cmlaw.com/ for additional information or to speak with a qualified employment lawyer. Remember: you have rights according to state and federal law, but it’s up to you to find help in order to protect those rights. Legal action is the first step when holding your superiors accountable for their actions.