What Does an Employment Lawyer Do?

Employment lawyers provide a variety of services to employees and employers. Some of the common tasks that lawyers in this practice area help with include:

Explanation of Rights

An employment lawyer can help explain the client’s rights to him or her. This includes explaining the applicable laws that apply to the case and the options available to the client, which may include litigation, mediation, negotiation or other actions. A lawyer can also explain the pros and cons of each options and provide advice about the best way to proceed with a case.

Compliance

For employment lawyers who represent the employer, one common task that they complete is to help employers remain compliant with various laws. This includes compliance with federal and state anti-discrimination laws, including drafting policies and informing employers and management that do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, age, color, national origin, religion or disability.

Filing of Complaint

For most employment law matters, there must usually be a claim filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or other governmental agency before an employee can pursue a private cause of action. An employment lawyer can help an employee file the complaint with the appropriate agency and explain the time limit in which the claim must be filed and other factors related to the claim.

Litigation

Employment lawyers also assist in employment-related lawsuits. They represent employees who are filing a lawsuit against their employer due to discrimination, wrongful termination, denied benefits and wage and hour claims. They also defend employers against such actions. Employers sometimes file lawsuits against employees, such as those who they believe violated non-compete or confidentiality agreements. Some legal claims that employment lawyers assist with include:

Wage and Hour Lawsuits

Wage and hour claims arise when an employee does not receive the compensation to which he or she is entitled. An employer may be asking the employee to work off the clock, or the employee may not be receiving overtime pay. These types of claims can also arise when employees are misclassified in order to avoid paying overtime rates to employees.

Employment Discrimination Lawsuits

An employment discrimination lawsuit may arise when an employee is terminated, demoted, reassigned, not hired or otherwise the recipient of adverse employment action that is based on a protected status. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex and religion. The Age Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination of employees age 40 or older while the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employment discrimination based on an employee’s disability. Each of these laws has a different process that must be followed and different employers that the law applies to. For example, some laws apply to employers with 15 or more employees while others apply to employers with 20 or more employees. There may be additional state laws that provide protections to employees when there are fewer employees. State laws may also provide protections for other classes of employees beyond the protections provided by federal law.

Employment Class Actions

When many employees are similarly affected by adverse action by an employer, such as discrimination or a wage and hour claim, the employees may join together in a class action against the employer. This arrangement involves multiple plaintiffs. The advantage for the employees is that they can split the cost of litigating between the party members.

Workers’ Compensation Claims

Workers’ compensation claims arise when an employee is injured or becomes ill due to work. An employment lawyer may assist an employee in filing a claim or an appeal. He or she may also represent the employer’s interests and help substantiate a denial.

Third Party Lawsuits

In some cases, an employee may have a third party lawsuit against another party other than an employer for a work-related injury. Employment lawyers help prepare complaints, communicate with the legal representative of the other side and appear in court on behalf of the client.

Union Issues

Employment lawyers may help advise employees of their right to form a union and other rights, such as being free of discrimination based on their protected union activity. They may also advise employers on their rights and responsibilities regarding union workers.