Employment Law Basics

Last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its economic news release that the civilian work force in the United States was over 154 million people. This means that over 61% of the American population has, at one time or another, been affected by employment law. The scope of this realm is broad. Teenagers, applying for work permits or well-established employees applying for additional benefits; injured construction workers filing for workman's comp, or business executives suing co-workers for sexual harassment all utilize employment law.

Employment law concerns pay and benefits, and severe cases may deal with layoffs, unemployment or physical or mental injury sustained on the job. Employers must treat their workers with fairness and equality. The U.S. government sets these standards. For instance, signs stating some of the most important laws, such as minimum wage and the legal hourly limit for minors must be posted in places where young people may work. Also, workers who deal with dangerous substances or in perilous situations must be aware of the inherent dangers and be trained and familiar with a safety code. If a worker is injured on the clock, he or she should be compensated for the medical expenses and the work time lost. Likewise, all employers must maintain equality among workers. Discrimination against a person based on their sex, race, sexual orientation or ethnicity is not tolerated. All rights guaranteed by the first amendment, such as the freedom of speech and religion must be upheld by the employer.

The following is a list of topics for which major labor violations typically arise, according to the United States Department of Labor:

  • Wages and Hours
  • Workplace Safety and Health
  • Workers' Compensation
  • Employee Benefits
  • Unions and Their Members
  • Employee Protection
  • Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
  • Employee Polygraph Protection Act
  • Garnishment of Wages
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Veterans' Preference
  • Government Contracts, Grants, or Financial Aid
  • Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Workers
  • Mine Safety and Health
  • Construction
  • Transportation
  • Plant Closings and Layoffs
  • Advisories

Employment law can often be confusing and complex, though it may concern issues, which seem solvable with common sense. Issues such as providing equal opportunity employment and ensuring that the minimum wage remains consistent with the cost of living are necessary for a healthy work environment, and also a robust economy. Some employers will, however, attempt to take advantage of and exploit their workers.

Luckily, for those who are not familiar with the legal vernacular of employment law, labor attorneys are available for hire. Many private firms exist to help individuals, and trade unions usually have one or more lawyers on hand for issues that arise in larger companies. In the last year, the 9th circuit court of appeals alone saw 95 employment law cases, of which six cases made it all the way to the Supreme Court. Regulations are being violated every single day.

Do you feel like you are being treated unfairly at work? Has your boss violated a federal employment law? Learn more about the regulations that were created to protect you and your co-workers on the job by speaking to a Labor Lawyer.

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