Your job is more than just a way to pay your bills. If you are like many of us, your job is a means for you to provide for your family and is where you spend most of your time when you are not at home. So, it is important that your job not become a place that you fear to go, either because of concerns about your safety, harassment, or unfair treatment. One of the best ways to protect your rights is by learning as much as you can about the laws and procedures governing the workplace.
GetLegal.com’s Employment Law Center addresses the legal issues that could potentially arise at work, from hiring to termination or discharge. We have included overviews of key labor laws protecting workers, as well as information on pensions, minimum wages, unemployment, workers’ compensation, and workplace safety.
Job applicants have legal rights before they become employees. The laws governing the hiring process seek to balance employer needs with the protection of employee rights. What an employer says or does before, during, and after an interview may be regulated by laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
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Wrongful termination claims usually arise in at-will employment situations, in which both employer and employee can terminate the relationship at-will. To be wrongfully terminated is to be fired or laid off for an illegal reason in the eyes of the law. Employees who have been wrongfully terminated have certain rights under state and federal law. It’s important to know these rights and limitations, and to understand the various methods of insuring yourself in the event that you wrongfully lose your job.
Unemployment compensation laws provide workers, whose jobs have been terminated through no fault of their own, benefits for a specific period of time, so that they can meet their financial needs while they find a new job. Unemployment payments are intended to provide an unemployed worker sufficient time to find a new job equivalent to the one lost without causing financial distress.
Federal and state statutes protect employees from discrimination in the workplace. Employment discrimination laws seek to prevent discrimination by employers based on criteria such as race, sex, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, physical disability and age. Discriminatory practices include bias in hiring, promotion, job assignment, termination and compensation, along with various types of harassment.
Sexual harassment is a form of workplace discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Generally, sexual harassment describes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of sexual nature when the conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. It may involve the exchange of sexual favors for work-related benefits, or it can be present when there is a hostile work environment based on sex.
Workplace safety and health laws consist of federal and state regulations imposed on businesses in an effort to keep employees safe from harm. The standards are in place to reduce or eliminate the risk of personal injuries and illnesses from occurring in the workplace.
Workers’ compensation laws protect people who are injured while on the job. The laws are designed to ensure that employees who are injured or disabled on the job are provided with fixed monetary payments.
The Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers to grant eligible employees a total of 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period for certain family or medical conditions.
Other legal issues that frequently arise in the employment context include:
- Minimum Wage Law disputes, such as disagreements over whether or not employers complied with state or federal minimum wage laws when paying workers.
- Problems with Pensions from illegal or improper investment of pension funds to disputes over vesting and eligibility for retirement funds.
- Labor Law challenges, such as the rights of workers to form collective bargaining units, to engage in strikes and similar actions to try to obtain certain benefits, and to require union membership for workers.
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