Employment law can be extremely complicated, as it encompasses a variety of legal services for both employees and employers. So, what does an employment lawyer do? They do just about anything you can imagine to protect your rights as an employee, especially if you’re the victim of discrimination, harassment, or abuse.
What Does an Employment Lawyer Do?
Explain Your Rights and Options
This is one of the most important tasks an employment lawyer has, because, again, this area of law can be complex, and you might not even know if you have a claim until you speak to an attorney. Our job is to explain your rights as an employee and the options you have with regard to filing a lawsuit, participating in mitigation, or negotiating a settlement. We’ll also discuss what we believe is the best way for you to proceed.
File a Complaint
If your rights have been violated in the workplace, you’ll need to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before you can pursue a lawsuit in court. We will help you file this claim in a timely manner so that your claim doesn’t get rejected on a technicality of one kind or another. There are many factors that go into filing a claim with the EEOC, and we have the experience necessary to ensure your rights are protected.
Of course, one of our main duties is to litigate lawsuits that end up in front of a judge and jury. These are situations where a settlement can’t be reached outside of court and require us to present a legal case on the behalf of our clients. Not every employment attorney is skilled in the courtroom, but we’ll begin preparing for that scenario immediately upon taking your case, so we’ll be prepared if it does wind up going to trial.
It’s important to point out that not every case needs to be litigated. Many of our complaints settle well before a court date is ever set. However, no one can say for sure if a case will go to trial, so we prepare as if yours will right from the start, just in case. The types of employment cases we handle include wrongful termination, discrimination, benefits denials, and wage and hour disputes.
This is the name for a category of laws that cover situations when an employee is fired from their job for reasons like discrimination based on sex, gender, religion, race, national origin, age, disability, pregnancy, or sexual orientation; sexual harassment; whistleblowing retaliation; or for the refusal to break a law or participate in unethical practices. These cases are often difficult to prove, which is why having an experienced employment lawyer by your side during negotiations and in court is necessary.
In addition to being wrongfully terminated due to discrimination, employees can file a complaint for being demoted, denied a promotion, not hired, or reassigned based on sex, gender, religion, race, national origin, age, disability, pregnancy, or sexual orientation. There are specific federal laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace, and each law has specific rules that apply to different types of employers. For example, some small businesses are exempt from some aspects of these laws.
Due to the nuances that apply to these laws, it’s critical you have an employment attorney who can sift through the legal language and ensure your case against your employer is airtight. There are also various procedures that must be followed to the letter to make sure your claim is not dismissed. If you try to file your claim on your own, it’s possible that a detail could be missed that will put your case in jeopardy.
Denial of Benefits
This is another section of employment law that can be difficult to handle. For example, if you’re denied health benefits through your employer-provided health plan, you may not even be able to file a claim directly against your employer. Instead, you may need to file a claim for benefits in federal court in accordance with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). This includes claims against insurers, employers, and plan administrators.
Knowing where to file and how that process works is a major part of employment law. Another common instance is the denial of workman’s compensation benefits, which may require a simple appeal or could end up going all the way to court, depending on your employer’s actions and stance. If they made a paperwork error, an appeal might be sufficient. If they claim the injury isn’t work-related, however, your case becomes significantly more complicated and will likely require more expertise.
Wage and Hour Disputes
Wage and hour disputes arise for a number of reasons, including not getting paid for the hours you’ve worked, being asked to work off the clock, and not receiving overtime pay, among others. Additionally, employers may purposely misclassify employees to avoid paying overtime rates, which can be difficult to prove. If you believe you’re not being compensated properly, a consultation with an employment attorney can help clarify your situation and determine if filing a complaint is appropriate.
Class Action Lawsuits
If you are among many employees who are victims of an employer’s adverse actions, such as in a wage and hour dispute or a discrimination claim, you may have a stronger case if you all join together in filing a lawsuit. A major benefit of a class-action lawsuit for claimants is that the cost of litigation can be split among everyone instead of just one employee bearing the full financial responsibility.
Moreover, an employer may feel more pressure to settle out of court if numerous employees are lodging the same or similar complaint. Hiring an employment attorney to handle a class action lawsuit is vital to negotiating this settlement, as not only will there be a defendant in the case, but there will be multiple plaintiffs as well, which adds another layer to the already-complicated legal process. We’ll help you get the compensation you deserve based on your individual claim.
Whether you’re already in a union and need counsel, or you want to form a union, you may need an attorney to advise you along the way. Union claims make standard employment complaints even more complicated, as there will be union attorneys involved as well as employer-retained attorneys. Whenever there are more people involved in a lawsuit, you will face additional obstacles that an experienced employment lawyer can assist with.
If you’re trying to form a union, having an attorney by your side is almost a necessity. Employers typically do not favor the formation of unions and can make pro-union employees very uncomfortable at work. We can help make sure your rights are protected as you work to organize your fellow coworkers. While an employer can’t fire you for organizing, they can attempt to let you go for other reasons. This is where an attorney can assert your rights.
Employment law is not simple, and while you can always represent yourself in these matters, your odds of winning your employment lawsuit increase exponentially if you have an employment attorney advising you along the way. Not only will they help meet all the deadlines in your case, but they’ll also know how to negotiate and litigate your case for the best possible outcome, whether that outcome is financial or not. Contact Holman Schiavone, LLC today for your free initial consultation.