What Does Labor and Employment Law Cover?
Our practice represents individuals who have been the victim of:
What Constitutes Wrongful Termination?
Sometimes employees are let go for reasons that are unfair or illegal. This is termed wrongful termination, wrongful discharge, or wrongful dismissal.
There are many scenarios that may be grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit, including:
- Firing an employee out of retaliation
- Firing a whistleblower
- Firing an employee who won’t do something illegal for their employer
If you believe you may have been fired without proper cause, our labor and employment attorneys may be able to help you recover back pay, unpaid wages, and other forms of compensation.
What Are the Most Common Forms of Workplace Discrimination?
It is illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age. However, some employers do just that, leading to a hostile and inequitable workplace where some workers are treated more favorably than others.
Workplace discrimination can take many forms. Some examples include:
- Refusing to hire someone on the basis of their skin color
- Passing over a qualified female employee for a promotion in favor of a male employee with less experience
- Not providing equal training opportunities for employees of different religious backgrounds
- Imposing job eligibility criteria that deliberately screens out people with disabilities
What Are Some Examples of Workplace Harassment?
When workers are subjected to slurs, assaults, threats, ridicule, offensive jokes, unwelcome sexual advances, or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, it can be considered workplace harassment. Similar to workplace discrimination, workplace harassment creates a hostile and abusive work environment.
Examples of workplace harassment include:
- Making unwelcome comments about a worker’s appearance or body
- Telling a vulgar or sexual joke to a coworker
- Using slurs or racial epithets
- Making prejudicial statements about a worker’s sexual orientation
- Making negative comments about an employee’s religious beliefs
- Making prejudicial statements about an employee’s birthplace or family heritage
- Making negative comments or jokes about the age of an employee over the age of 40
Workplace harassment can also take the form of quid pro quo harassment. This means that the harassment results in an intangible change in an employee’s employment status. For example, an employee may be forced to tolerate sexual harassment from a manager as a condition of their continued employment.
Which Industries Have the Most Overtime & Minimum Wage Violations?
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) established certain workers’ rights, including the right to a minimum wage (set federally at $7.25 as of 2020) and overtime pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek for non-exempt employees.
However, some employers try to cut costs by denying workers their rightful pay through deceitful methods. This is called wage theft, and includes examples such as:
- Paying a worker less than the federal minimum wage
- Giving a worker “comp time” or hours that can be used toward vacation or sick time, rather than overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a work week
- Forcing tipped workers to pool their tips with non-tipped workers, such as managers or cooks
- Misclassifying a worker that should be paid overtime as “exempt” by promoting them to a “managerial” position without actually changing the worker’s job duties
Some of the most vulnerable occupations to overtime and minimum wage violations include:
What Is Employee Misclassification?
There are a number of differences between employees and self-employed workers, also known as independent contractors or consultants. Unlike employees, who are told when and where to work, guaranteed a regular wage amount, and entitled to employee benefits, among other criteria, independent contractors generally work on a short-term, contract basis with a business, and are invoiced for their work. Independent contractors are not entitled to employee benefits, and must file and withhold their own taxes, as well.
However, in recent years, some employers have abused classification by misclassifying bonafide employees as contractors in an attempt to save money and circumvent laws. This is most commonly seen among “gig economy” workers, such as rideshare drivers and delivery drivers.
Some examples of misclassifications include:
- Misclassifying a worker as an independent contractor to not have to comply with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission laws, which prevent employment discrimination
- Misclassifying a worker to avoid enrolling them in a health benefits plan
- Misclassifying employees to avoid paying out minimum wage
How Is Defamation of Character Defined?
Defamation is generally defined as the act of damaging the reputation of a person through slanderous (spoken) or libelous (written) comments. When defamation occurs in the workplace, it has the potential to harm team morale, create alienation, or even cause long-term damage to a worker’s career prospects.
Employers are responsible for putting a stop to harmful gossiping among employees if it is a regular and known occurrence in the workplace. Defamation of character in the workplace may include instances such as:
- An employer making harmful and unfounded allegations, such as claims of theft or incompetence, toward an employee during a performance review
- An employee spreading a harmful rumor about another employee that causes them to be turned down for a job elsewhere
- An employee spreading gossip about a worker that causes other coworkers to avoid them
What Is Considered Employer Retaliation?
It is illegal for a company to punish an employee for filing a complaint or lawsuit against their employer. This is considered employer retaliation. Although workers are legally protected against retaliation, it doesn’t stop some employers from punishing an employee who filed a complaint in a variety of ways, such as:
- Reducing the worker’s salary
- Demoting the worker
- Re-assigning the worker to a less-desirable job
- Re-assigning the worker to a shift that creates a work-family conflict
- Excluding the worker from essential workplace activities such as training sessions
What If a Company Denies Leave of Absence?
While leave of absence laws vary from state to state, there are a number of federally mandated laws that protect employees who must take an extended period of time off from work.
Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employers must offer unpaid leave time to employees with a qualifying family or individual medical situation, such as leave for the birth or adoption of a baby or leave to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition. Employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave time under the FMLA without fear of jeopardizing their job status.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), on the other hand, guarantees certain protections to current and former uniformed service members who may need to be absent from civilian employment for a certain period of time in order to serve in the armed forces.
Leave of absence can be unfairly denied in a number of ways, including:
- Firing a employee who took a leave of absence for the birth or adoption of their baby without just cause
- Demoting an employee who took a leave of absence to care for a dying parent without just cause
- Firing a re-employed service member who took a leave of absence to serve in the armed forces without just cause
- Retaliating against a current or former service member who took a leave of absence to serve in the armed forces
What Is Executive Compensation?
Executive compensation is the combination of base cash compensation, deferred compensation, performance bonuses, stock options, executive perks, severance packages, and more, awarded to high-level management employees. Executive compensation packages have come under increased scrutiny by regulatory agencies and shareholders alike. If you face a dispute during the negotiation of your executive pay package, our attorneys may be able to assist you.
Why Should I Contact Morgan & Morgan?
The employment and labor lawyers at Morgan & Morgan have successfully pursued thousands of labor and employment claims for the people who need it most.
In addition to our successful track record of representing victims of labor and employment claims, our labor attorneys also represent employees before administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Department of Labor (DOL), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).