When Do Employment Law Claims Occur?

Employment law claims occur when an employee experiences discriminatory or unfair labor practices from their employer and can include harassment, wrongful termination, wage or hour violations, employer retaliation and more. Many times employees may experience these violations and either fear speaking out or be unaware of their rights.

Types of Employment Law Claims

Wrongful Termination: Occurs when an employee is fired and claims that their employment contract, or some public law, was breached. Many states default to the “at-will employment” rule where both the employee and employer can terminate the relationship at will.

Wage or Hour Violations: Occurs when an employer fails to follow state laws regarding limitations on the amount of time an employee can work or their compensation for exceeding that limit. These laws vary from state to state and can cover minimum wage, overtime compensation, lunch and/or rest breaks, and damages due to an employee when these regulations are ignored.

Employer retaliation: Occurs when an employer (or employment agency) or a labor organization punishes an employee for participating in an activity that they are within their right to participate in. For example, an employee may punished after filing a discrimination claim against their employer, or even talking about filing a claim. The employee has the right to file this claim if they feel they are being discriminated against. The employer does not have the right to take retaliatory action against the employee for filing their claim.

Workplace Harassment: Occurs when an employer interacts with an employee in such a way that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, or the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The employer’s, manger’s, or co-worker’s negative conduct can be based on race, religion, color, sex, age, disability, or national origin and becomes unlawful when the negative conduct becomes a condition of continued employment or is severe enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider hostile or abusive. The negative conduct can include offensive jokes, slurs, intimidation, ridicule, insults or physical threats or assaults.

Workplace Sexual Harassment: Occurs when an employee experiences unwelcome sexual advances, verbal or physical harassment of sexual nature, or requests for sexual favors. Victims of workplace sexual harassment can be male or female and the victim’s harasser can be a boss, supervisor, co-worker, or even someone who is not an employee like a client or customer.

Family and Medical Leave Act violation: The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federally enforced set of guides that dictate the rights of employees to unpaid, job-protected leave with regard to specified family and medical reasons. Some employers may not know the rules and some employers may try to ignore them. Employers can break FMLA laws by requiring too much notice before you take leave, discouraging you from taking leave entirely, requiring a specific type of notice, or misrepresenting the amount of time you have worked. FMLA ensures that employees have the right to leave for family and/or medical reasons if that employee has worked for more than twelve months and for 1, 250 hours in the preceding year. If an employer allows leave, they can still violate FMLA by cutting off an employee’s insurance, bugging them to return to work, delaying their return to work, allowing them to return, but in a different job role, counting their FMLA leave against their normal time off, or refusing to restore all the employee’s benefits.

Source Materials:

  • https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/wrongful_termination
  • https://www.ncsl.org/research/labor-and-employment/overtime-breaks-wage-and-hour-violations.aspx
  • https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/californiapreventingunlawfulworkplaceretaliation.aspx
  • https://www.eeoc.gov/harassment
  • https://www.eeoc.gov/sexual-harassment
  • https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla
  • https://www.disabilitysecrets.com/resources/when-you-should-talk-fmla-lawyer.htm