Problems at work can sometimes be unavoidable and with a variety of issues that can arise in a diverse workplace, employment lawyers, also referred to as Employment Benefits Lawyers, play a key role in assisting both employees and employers alike.
Employment lawyers who counsel employees represent them on a variety of issues, including but not limited to:
Termination of employment
Wage and overtime standards
Discrimination against employees based on age, ancestry, color, creed, disability, marital status, medical conditions, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation
Employee benefits like leaves of absence and retirement plans
Some of the tasks of the employment lawyers are explanation of rights, compliance, filing of complaint, litigation, wage and hour lawsuits, employment discminiation lawsuits, employment class actions, workers’ compensation claims, and third party lawsuits, among others.
Explanation of Rights
An employment attorney can help explain a client’s rights to him or her. This includes breaking down the applicable laws that apply to the case and the options available to the client, which may include litigation, mediation, negotiation or other actions. An employment lawyer can also explain the pros and cons of each option and provide advice about the best way to proceed with a case.
For employment lawyers who represent the employer, one common thing that they complete is to help employers remain compliant with various laws. This includes compliance with federal and state anti-discrimination laws, including drafting policies and informing employers and management that they do not discriminate based on race, color, sex, age, color, national origin, religion or disability.
Filing of Complaint
For most employment law matters, there must usually be a claim filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or other governmental agency before an employee can pursue a private cause of action. An employment lawyer can help an employee file the complaint with the appropriate agency and explain the time limit in which the claim must be filed and other factors related to the claim.
Employment lawyers also assist in employment-related lawsuits. They represent employees who are filing a lawsuit against their employer due to discrimination, wrongful termination, denied benefits and wage and hour claims. They also defend employers against such actions. Employers sometimes file lawsuits against employees, such as those who they believe violated non-compete or confidentiality agreements.
Some legal claims that employment lawyers assist with include:
Wage and Hour Lawsuits
Wage and hour claims arise when an employee does not receive the compensation to which he or she is entitled to. An employer may be asking the employee to work off the clock, or the employee may not be receiving overtime pay for their work. These types of claims can also come up when employees are misclassified to avoid paying overtime rates to them.
Employment Discrimination Lawsuits
An employment discrimination lawsuit can happen when an employee is terminated, demoted, reassigned, not hired or otherwise the recipient of adverse employment action that is based on a protected status. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex and religion. The Age Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination of employees age 40 or older, while the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employment discrimination based on an employee’s disability. Each of these laws have a different process that must be followed and different employers that the law applies to. For example, some laws apply to employers with 15 or more employees while others apply to employers with 20 or more employees. There may be additional state laws that provide protections to employees when there are fewer employees as well. State laws may also provide protections for other classes of employees beyond the protections provided by federal law.
Employment Class Actions
When many employees are similarly affected by adverse action by an employer, such as discrimination or a wage and hour claim, the employees may join together in a class action lawsuit against the employer. This arrangement involves multiple plaintiffs. The advantage for the employees is that they can split the cost of litigating between the party members.
Workers’ Compensation Claims
Workers’ compensation claims can occur when an employee is injured in the workspace or becomes ill due to work. An employment lawyer may assist an employee in filing a claim or an appeal to workers’ compensation claims. He or she may also represent the employer’s interests and help substantiate a denial.
In some cases, an employee may have a third party lawsuit against another party, other than an employer, for a work-related injury. Employment lawyers help prepare complaints, communicate with the legal representative of the other side and appear in court on behalf of the client.