Under federal employment and labor laws, employees have the right to take legal action against unsafe, unjust, or discriminatory practices in their workplace.
If you have been unsuccessful in advocating for your rights as an employee with your employer, the most proactive step you can take to begin the process of receiving fair compensation is to contact an employment attorney.
At Florin|Roebig, our accomplished team of attorneys possesses the knowledge and expertise to carefully analyze your case and help you file a claim against your employer for damages. To discuss your case with one of our employment lawyers, contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation.
What Is Covered By Employee Rights And Labor Law?
Employment and labor laws in the United States encompass a broad set of laws that protect the rights of U.S. workers and regulate how businesses and government entities attend to the rights of their employees.
Examples of areas covered by federal employee rights and labor law:
- denial of leave
- discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, sex, religion, age, or disability
- wrongful termination
- unfair labor practices
- workplace harassment
- workplace safety
Learning your rights as an employee can be crucial to understanding situations in which your employee protections have been violated.
By gaining basic knowledge of employee rights, workers can become more confident in their ability to advocate for fair employment practices and feel better prepared to discuss pursuing legal action with an employment law attorney.
Defamation Of Character
Defamation of character is a term that refers to comments that are libelous (written) or slanderous (oral) against a person’s reputation.
In the workplace, this can mean anything from an employer making harmful allegations about an employee, to an employer failing to stop the spreading of slanderous gossip about an employee in the work environment.
Preventing wrongful defamation in the workplace is the responsibility of the employer. This includes managing attempts by other workers to promote the defamation of another employee and maintaining a professional demeanor as it concerns their own influence over their employees’ professional reputation.
Other examples of defamation of character in the workplace may include:
- an employer spreading a harmful rumor about an employee to others outside of the workplace, consequently harming the employee’s reputation and external job prospects
- an employer participating in the slandering of an employee to other coworkers, resulting in a hostile or alienating work environment
- an employer promoting any other form of employee slander or libel that damages a worker’s long-term job prospects
Denial Of Leave
Denying employees a form of leave under qualifying circumstances is a type of unfair labor practice that can be practiced against employees who require taking an extended amount of time away from work for health, family, or service-related reasons.
The following leave rights are afforded to U.S. workers under federal law:
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects the rights of individuals with serious health conditions (including physical and mental disability) to take family or medical leave without losing their job.
This guarantees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for an employee to either recover from a serious health condition, or take care of a newborn child, newly adopted child, seriously ill child, or spouse. To be eligible, an employee must have worked with their employer for at least one year in a workplace with at least 50 employees.
Americans with Disabilities Act: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 protects employees from discriminatory practices on account of disability and guarantees disability leave for qualifying employees as a reasonable accommodation. This protects the right of disabled employees to take leave in cases not explicitly covered under their employer’s disability policy.
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act: The USERRA protects the job rights of current or former uniformed service members who are required to take a temporary leave from their civilian job in order to a) participate in uniformed military service or b) perform service operations in the National Disaster Medical System.
This entitles uniformed service members to be reemployed at their civilian job upon return from the armed forces/NDMS. It also protects their rights to keep their existing employer-sponsored health insurance plan for themselves and dependents for up to 24 months while performing military service.
Additional leave of absence rights may be subject to local or state laws. If you’re unsure if your leave of absence request is protected as a qualifying circumstance in your area, contact our office for assistance.
Discrimination In The Workplace
Workplace discrimination encompasses a broad number of illegal screening practices, unjust favorability, and other harmful workplace practices that are eligible for legal action against an employer.
Discrimination can occur in many forms and can result in a work environment that is inequitable and hostile for employees.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers with a workplace comprised of at least 15 employees are prohibited from discriminating against applicants and workers on the basis of:
- national origin
Additional federal employment laws also provide discrimination protection based on factors such as physical or mental disability, pregnancy, and age.
There are also forms of discrimination—such as discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and weight—that are explicitly prohibited in certain states and localities, but not under federal law.
For instance, there is currently no federal law that protects employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation (LGBTQ+) or gender identity. However, sexual orientation discrimination is prohibited in over 20 states nationwide, with some additional states that interpret gender and sexual orientation discrimination as forms of sex discrimination.
Unfair Labor Practices
Unfair labor practices is another broad term that can apply to a variety of workplace violations against employees.
Examples of unfair labor practices that can be challenged through legal recourse include:
- unpaid wages or overtime
- tip pooling
- child labor violations
- denial of adequate meal and break times according to federal/state/local law
- employee benefits violations
- unequal pay
- retaliation against an employee for filing a complaint
Employers are required to conduct a safe and hospitable workplace environment that is in accordance with federal, state, and local laws. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes crucial employee rights concerning federal minimum wage requirements, overtime pay, child labor standards, recordkeeping, and other forms of wage theft.
If an employer is found to be in violation of fair labor practices as outlined within the FLSA and related state/local legislation, they may be subject to legal consequences. Employees who are targeted by unfair labor practices may file a claim against their employer to receive fair compensation.
Workers that are employed by a business or government agency are protected by different rights under federal labor laws than independent contractors who are classified as or self-employed.
Therefore, the difference between these classifications can play an important role in the regulation of employment practices and the pressure employers are under to exert appropriate workplace conduct.
In recent years, it has become more common for employers to purposely misclassify employees as contractors in their records to save money, avoid providing employee benefits, or bypass federal employment laws.
How can this affect an employee? Unlike employed workers, independent contractors and freelancers are not entitled to employee benefits and regular wages. They are also responsible for managing their own tax withholdings, unlike employees who have their taxes deducted from each paycheck.
Misclassification of an employee by an employer can lead to consequences such as:
- not being given access to employee health benefits
- receiving wages that are below federal requirements
- employee discrimination (as self-employed workers are not guaranteed the same discrimination protections)
Unlawful harassment in the workplace is one of the most widespread problems that can prompt a worker to pursue legal action.
Any form of employee harassment can foster a hostile and abusive work environment for both the employee(s) being harassed, as well as others who are either complacent or complicit in the hostile work conditions.
Examples of workplace harassment include, but are not limited to:
- unwelcome or inappropriate sexual advances
- inappropriate comments about a worker’s body or appearance
- emotional harassment
- the use of slurs, threats, or racial epithets against an employee
- harassment on the basis of religion, age, race or ethnicity, family heritage, sexual orientation, or gender
Often it is the workers who are most vulnerable to workplace violations who are targeted for harassment in the workplace. In these cases, vulnerability may be determined less by a person’s actual character than identifying factors such as their race, gender, age, or employment level (e.g. administrative, entry-level, mid-level, senior, executive).
In some cases, workplace harassment can also have consequences on someone’s status as an employee. This is known as quid pro quo harassment. An example of this may be the unlawful firing of an employee following a harassment complaint, or continued employment for employees who tolerate unlawful harassment from an employer or fellow employee.
If you have been subjected to unwelcome harassment in the workplace, you are not at fault and you may be eligible for financial compensation.
What Are My Rights As An Employee?
There are many employment and labor laws on the state and federal levels to guarantee certain rights and protections to workers.
If you’re employed by a company with 15 or more employees, you are entitled to the ability to perform your duties in a workplace that honors your rights to equal pay and employee benefits and vehemently opposes forms of workplace harassment and employee discrimination.
Additional employee rights subject to labor laws in the U.S. include:
- right to file a complaint or claim against an employer without retaliation (i.e. whistleblower rights)
- receiving fair wages for duties performed
- safe working conditions that are free of toxic substances that could cause long-term or permanent health consequences
Any violation of employee rights or labor laws are handled by relevant agencies based on the nature of the violation. Protection against workplace discrimination, for instance, is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
This commission is charged with investigating discrimination claims filed by employees in order to verify that the discrimination took place and can assist in fair settlement processes.
How Do I Know If I Have An Employee Rights Or Labor Claim?
Many workers targeted by workplace harassment, discrimination, or other unfair labor practices are often unsure of whether their problem is legitimate enough to file a claim.
Trying to navigate the complexities of your rights as an employee can be overwhelming, especially for those who don’t have a background in labor or legal study. If you are unsure whether you have a case that is eligible for legal action, the best way to determine the strength of your claim is to speak to an employment attorney.
List Of Common Types Of Employee Rights And Labor Claims
Law offices that deal with claims concerning employment rights and labor laws can encounter many different types of cases in a given period of time.
Common types of employment and labor claims that are brought to our attention involve:
- workplace sexual harassment
- wage theft
- withholding employee benefits
- denying reasonable accommodations for disabled employees
- discriminatory hiring and workplace practices
- denial of leave
- unsafe working conditions
- defamation of character
Damages Awarded In Employee Rights And Labor Claims
Individuals who pursue legal recourse for unlawful employment and labor practices have the opportunity to receive awarded damages based on the nature and severity of their claim.
Damages refer to emotional, physical, or financial losses accumulated as a result of employee rights violations. The types of damages that can be awarded to individuals who have filed labor claims can vary depending on the type of claim.
The primary types of damages awarded in employee rights and labor claim cases can include compensatory, punitive, and/or liquidated damages.
Compensatory damages, also known as actual damages, aim to restore losses suffered as a result of the workplace violation in the form of financial compensation. In many cases, the losses a person suffers can be difficult to measure, particularly in circumstances where primary losses involve mental anguish, emotional distress, disability, and medical issues.
Punitive damages are damages awarded as a form of punishment to employers who have engaged in malicious or harmful wrongdoing. These damages are intended to deter wrongdoers (in this case, employers) from participating in similar or other forms of wrongdoing in the future. These damages are only applicable to private employers and are rarely awarded by courts.
Liquidated damages refer to damages that are predetermined within a contract to be paid out following any breach of contract by the employer. These damages can only be awarded under qualifying circumstances, such as if an employee can submit proof that an employer knowingly failed to perform under contract.
There are limits on the amount of damages a person can recover. You can learn more about these limits by visiting the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website or by contacting our law office.
Factors That Affect An Employee Rights Or Labor Claim
The outcome of filing an employee rights or labor claim can depend on several factors related to the nature of the claim and employer details, including:
- the size of the business or government entity
- type of employer (i.e. business; state, local, or federal government)
- type of employment or labor law violation (e.g. harassment, discrimination, denial of leave)
- available proof of employment law violation
- local or state employment laws
Do I Need To Hire An Employee Rights Attorney To File A Claim?
Workers who wish to file a claim against an employer are not required to hire a lawyer or seek legal consultation. However, situations that involve filing an employment law claim against an employer can often be tricky.
Many people in these situations have questions about what their rights entail, the average settlement amount for this type of claim, and other case details. Speaking to a seasoned attorney can provide you with the confidence and knowledge necessary to file a strong claim against your employer for imposed labor violations.
While not a requirement, having strong legal representation on your side can be useful for understanding the legal details of your case and give you access to valuable resources and suggestions for strengthening your claim. Whether you simply want to discuss your situation or are ready to file a claim, our attorneys at Florin|Roebig are here to get you started.
List Of Employment Lawyers
At Florin|Roebig, our attorneys have expertise in several critical areas of law that affect the lives of working people every day. We have several law office locations available for clients across the country in Florida, Texas, Minnesota, and a consultation office in Colorado.
Our skilled team of Florin|Roebig employee rights and labor lawyers include:
- Wil H. Florin, B.C.S.
- Tommy D. Roebig, B.C.S.
- Michael L. Walker, B.C.S.
- Chase P. Florin, B.C.S.
- Neil P. O’Brien, M.B.A.
- Shaun M. Cummings
- Luca G. Esposito
- Chad K. Florin, M.B.A., LL.M.
- Nicholas S. Costantino
- Jordan A. Kolinski
- Parker Y. Florin, LL.M.
- Taylor D. Roebig
- Kavon P. Smith
- Matthew L. McMullen
- Michael A. Ossi, O.C.
- Lawrence J. Najem, O.C.
- Andrew M. Leone, O.C.
- Nollys R. Solarte, O.C.
- Brian R. Dettman, O.C
Additional information on our employment law attorneys can be found here.
Find Help With Your Employee Rights Or Labor Claim Today
Taking legal action against an employer can be daunting. Our employment law attorneys understand how intimidating it can be to bring a claim to light and are ready to work with you to help you file a strong labor claim that you can feel confident about.
By contacting our office, we can offer you a free case evaluation with one of our seasoned attorneys to help you better understand your rights and identify the best course of action based on the details of your case.
Our law offices have secured over $1 billion for legal cases nationwide. Don’t wait to begin the process of advocating for your employee rights and securing fair compensation. Call us today to schedule your free case evaluation with Florin|Roebig Trial Attorneys.