What Is Employment Law?

Submitted by Elizabeth on

Employment law refers to the legal relationship which has been established between employers and employees. It covers several features of the employer/ employee relationship. This includes different types of discrimination in the workplace, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, wage theft and retaliation from the employer when an employee has complained about illegal practice in the workplace.

Legalities In Employment Law 

Some common legal issues in employment law include the following.

  • Discrimination occurs when an employer either doesn’t accommodate or discriminates against an employee due to his/her race, ethnic identity, gender identity, color, religious affiliation, age, pregnancy status or disability.   
  • Sexual harassment occurs when an employee is sexually harassed by either another employee or a supervisor to the point that it makes the workplace uncomfortable. 
  • Wrongful termination occurs when an employee has been terminated due to a protected feature such as race, ethnic identity, color, religious affiliation, age, pregnancy status or disability.   
  • Wage theft occurs when an employee has not been paid the correct amount for a job
  • Retaliation takes place when an employer takes action against an employee because he or she has lodged a complaint against the employer for taking part in an illegal activity in the workplace. The retaliation could be a wrongful termination, a demotion or refusal to promote.

What Laws Relate to Employment Law?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

Title VII prohibits discrimination in almost every employment circumstance on the basis of color, race, national origin, religion, pregnancy, or gender. In general, Title VII is applicable to employers with 15 or more employees.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)

The ADEA protects certain job applicants and employees who are 40 years of age and older from discrimination on the basis of age under the following circumstances:

  • hiring;
  • promoting;
  • discharging;
  • compensating; 
  • other conditions or privileges when employed.

Equal Pay Act

The Equal Pay Act requires that an employer pays equal pay to female and male employees who do similar work and work at the same establishment. It protects individuals of all sexes.

This covers salary, bonuses, overtime pay, life insurance, holiday and vacation pay, gasoline or cleaning allowances, hotel accommodations, reimbursement for travel expenses, and benefits. If inequality in wages has occurred between employees who perform substantially equal jobs but are of different sexes, employers must increase wages in order to equalize pay but may not lower the wages of any other employee.

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in a few areas, such as employment, public accommodations, transportation, access to state and local government' programs and services, and communications.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act

This makes it illegal for employers who have 15 or more employees to discriminate against women due to pregnancy, abortion, childbirth, or medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)

This prohibits discrimination on the basis of genetic information with respect to health insurance and employment.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The FLSA is a federal law which establishes the following:

  • minimum wage;
  • eligibility for overtime pay;
  • recordkeeping;
  • child labor standards affecting part-time and full-time workers in both the private sector and in federal, state, and local governments.

Terms to Know In Employment Law

There are three key terms that an employee and employer should know in employment law.

  • At-will employment is an employer's right to dismiss an employee for any reason (that is, without having to state "just cause" for termination), and without giving any sort of warning, so long as the reason to take this is not illegal e.g. firing due to the employee's sexual orientation, gender, religion, race, or any other protected feature.
  • A right-to-work state is in employment law in the United States referring to state laws that make it unlawful for union security agreements between labor unions—that require employees that are not members of the union(s) to pitch in to the costs of union representation—and employers. 
  • The term ‘whistleblower’ is important in employment law because the Department of Labor’s whistleblower laws prohibit an employer from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights. Retaliation can include laying off or firing, reducing hours or pay, denying overtime or promotion, or demoting.

Speak With an Employment Law Attorney  

If your employer has breached any employment law, and you have suffered from this action, you should contact an employment lawyer who may be able to help with your claim for compensation. An employment law attorney can help employers and employees work together to reach a resolution in the event of an illegal action by the employer, from wages and workplace safety to discrimination and wrongful termination. Take the Free Case Evaluation form on this page to get connected and speak with an attorney today—at zero cost to you. 

Additional Resources 

Add new comment