Employment Law Resources
Learning about employment law in your state, getting acquainted with your local courts, and knowing the basics of employment law are great steps toward protecting your rights as a worker. FindLaw's Employment Law Resources section includes a wide variety of sample forms, lists of documents to show your attorney for different legal actions, a directory of state labor laws and agencies, a dictionary of employment law terms, and more. After reviewing these valuable resources, you can test your knowledge by taking the included true/false quiz on workplace rights.
Employment Law Terms: Overview
Legal terms usually have very specific meanings. For example, someone who was fired under unpleasant but nonetheless perfectly legal circumstances may believe he was "wrongfully terminated." But in order to make such a claim, the plaintiff must be prepared to show the required elements for that cause of action. In the case of wrongful termination, the plaintiff will need to show that the employer violated labor law or breached an employment contract.
Therefore, getting to know the basic language of employment law will help you get a handle on your particular legal issue. In addition to the dictionary of employment law terms in this section, you can search FindLaw's more expansive Legal Dictionary.
Your Rights as a Worker
Your employment rights are protected by a combination of federal, state, and local laws. As a general rule, states may not pass employment-related laws that strip away any of the protections afforded by federal law; but many states provide additional rights and protections to workers. California and many other states, for example, classify LGBT employees as a protected class, which means it is illegal in those states to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Generally speaking, you have the following rights as an employee:
- Safe work environment
- A reasonable degree of privacy in personal matters
- Non-discriminatory environment on the basis of race, age, national origin, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, or pregnancy
- Fair pay (at least minimum wage, overtime pay)
- Harassment-free environment
- Freedom to care for one's own or a family member's illness
- Ability to take leave after childbirth
Resolving an Employment Law Dispute
The best first step you can take when confronted with a legal dispute in the workplace is to talk to your employer. If your immediate supervisor is involved in the dispute, go to his or her superior. But as a rule of thumb, if you believe your employment rights have been violated you can often iron things out by talking it out first. A lawsuit should rarely be your first course of action, and it's often best to seek an attorney's advice before lodging a formal complaint.
When you speak with your employer, make sure you know the law involved in the matter and just stick with the facts. Employment law matters can be particularly emotional, but it usually helps your cause to remain as detached as possible during this meeting. After following up, you will be better able to determine whether it is getting resolved or if you need to take further action.
Keeping thorough records is important, whether they include printouts of email messages or paycheck stubs, documentary evidence will be an important element of your case. Make sure these records are not on your employer's computer or otherwise out of your control. It's important to limit your documentation only to that which you are legally authorized to access.
Click on a link below to learn more about employment law, including your state's laws and how to decipher legal terms.