What is employment law?

Many workers are not aware of their full rights. However, employment law is a collection of rules and laws that is in place to regulate the relationship between employers and employees.

Employment law covers everything from what an employer pays to create a minimum for working conditions. It is essential to know your rights as an employee.

Understanding Employment Law Terms

Legal terms can get hard to understand, or you might not even know some laws or mandates even exist.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act - Federal legislation exists that prohibits unfair treatment and discrimination based on age. ADEA typically covers people at least 40 years old.

At-Will Employment - One of the types of employment relationships is called at-will employment. It means that there is no contractual agreement, and either party can terminate the relationship at any time, for almost any reason, or none at all.

Back Pay - It refers to a type of damages awarded in a lawsuit. Back pay represents the amount of money an employee would have earned if not wrongfully terminated or denied a fair and legal promotion.

Hostile Working Environment - Some work environments are toxic and riddled with harassment and unwanted behavior. If it interferes with your ability to do your job, it may violate anti-discrimination laws.

When Employment Law Applies

You might wonder who enforces the federal laws that make discrimination illegal. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission works to make sure that discrimination does not take place based on:

  • Race

  • Color

  • Religion

  • Gender

  • National Origin

  • Age (40 or older)

  • Disability

  • Genetics

Federal laws are in place to protect you as an employee. States have also passed employment laws, and they vary from state to state. The most common grievances reported to the EEOC and or a lawsuit include:

Discrimination - Employers can't discriminate against current or prospective employees based on the characteristics listed above.

Sexual Harassment - Harassment of any kind has no place in any environment. When it happens at the workplace, it is a form of discrimination that prohibits an employee from carrying out their duties regardless of gender.

Wages and Hours - All employers are legally obligated to at least pay minimum wage. Also, it is their responsibility by law to pay for overtime when hours worked exceeds 40 per week. Employers have other mandates to abide by when it comes to wage and hour laws.

Wrongful Termination - When you have a legal and/or ethical complaint, your employer can't fire you out of retaliation. Nor can they terminate you due to characteristics like pregnancy, race, or gender, either.

Major Employment Laws that You Should Know

The basics of employment law help you understand how the major laws affect you and your job. When you're aware of your rights, you can better stand up for yourself as an employee.

Collective Bargaining

If more than 50 percent of employees at a company want to organize, it is up to the company to negotiate in good faith. It is your right to organize collective bargaining because of - the Clayton Act (1914), the National Labor Relations Act (1935), and the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (1959).

Family and Medical Leave

The United States still struggles to come up with requirements for paid medical and family leave. However, the Family and Medical Act of 1963 mandates that large employers must offer at least 12 weeks of unpaid family or medical leave.

For example, after the birth of a child, an employee can use their family and medical leave. Also, it is helpful in the event that you are a family member suffers from a serious health issue.

Minimum Wage Laws

In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act became the law of the land. It set the federal minimum wage. However, some states have their own minimum wage laws, which must be higher than designated federally.

One of the most common exceptions to minimum wage is those employees who work off tips to make up the gap in minimum pay.

Overtime Pay

Employers must pay you if you work more than 40 hours a week. The Fair Labor Standards Act clearly states that employers must pay time and half when an hourly employee works more than 40 hours a week.

An employer must pay for every hour you work over, regardless of the amount. However, you do not have a right to ask for overtime pay for Saturdays and Sundays if they are part of your 40 total hour workweek. Your employer also does not limit how many days an employee can work a week, only hours.

Safe Working Conditions

Since 1970, OSHA has protected workers from hazards at work such as chemicals, sanitation problems, and even noise. The Occupational Safety and Health Act ensures your right to a safe working environment. If you make a report to OSHA, your employer can't retaliate.

Civil Rights and Privacy

The first amendment is part of our rights as an American. However, an employer does have the right to do business without the interference of an employee. It is one of those fine lines that make consultations with Tampa lawyer Mitch Feldman so vital when you believe you are the victim of wrongful termination.

Civil rights are also what protect employees' right to privacy. You have the right to your belongings such as private handbags or cellphones. However, if you use an employer-owned phone or computer, you do not have the same privacy protections. Always be aware of how you are using your company's devices, and what you say or do with them.

Too many employers try to skirt around the edges of employment and labor laws. However, the more people know, the better they can fight for their rights for fair and equal employment.

Finding an expert employment law attorney makes a successful employment lawsuit much more possible. You are not only seeking damages such as loss of wages; you are ensuring that the same situation does not happen to someone else.

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