All You Need To Know About Employment Lawyers
After the wave of industrialization, the world soon began to face matters emerging within the parameters of the workplace. Such matters included problems of the employees, and the employers alike. When the issues arising from lower waves to issues about the working hours, started getting bigger and bigger, it gave birth to a whole new branch of the legal system, we call the employment law. Although the US had always considered the rights of the workers important, the official employment laws emerged at a legal level in the US around the 1900s. From that period onwards the demand for employment lawyers has been increasing day by day. In the 21st century, everyone is aware of their workplace rights, regardless of whether they belong to a small growing organization or a giant tech industry. With knowledge of the workplace norms and rights so public, the popularity of employment lawyers has increased multifold.
What is Meant by Employment Law?
Employment law is a broad field of law that focuses on all kinds of matters related to the workplace. It has diverse applications and the scope of employment law is far-reaching to encompass the maximum amount of workplace concerns. It is a highly dynamic branch of law because the workplace norms keep changing with the advancement of technology and the internet revolution. The beauty of employment law is that the lawmakers working in this sector are always ready to mend the employment regulations to adhere to the new workplace trends. When we talk about employment law, it is not only based on the rights and legal benefits of the workers. The employment law must cater to the demands and the issues faced by the employers as well as the employees because the goal of this branch of law is to provide legal assistance for everyone related to work. There are certain laws in the field of employment law that are specially designed for the rights and ethical norms of the laborers.
Legal sections regarding the minimum wages, workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, and working hours are handled by the employment lawyers dealing with the employees’ rights. Similarly, other kinds of employment lawyers deal with the obligations and the rights of the employers, such as matters about the contracts, tax files, salary issues, and so on. The employment law infers no difference in the law-making related to the duties, ethics, legal rights, and obligations of all members of a workplace. This is why most law firms provide employment lawyers for both categories – problems concerning the employers and the problems concerning the employees. Some law firms, however, are just dedicated to either one of these two categories and offer the services of the employment lawyers specialized in that arena.
The Need for The Employment Law
The need for employment law in this era can not be ignored due to the following reasons:
- Employment Law Ensures the Fair Hiring Procedures
There has to be a governing body for everything that happens in our society, that makes people stay within their ethical boundaries. Employment laws are needed so that no one faces discrimination when they are applying for a job. Being a citizen of the US, everyone has a right to appear for a job they are eligible for. And the employment lawyers make sure nobody is deprived of that right. There are also certain guidelines set by the employment law that prevent injustice and corruption in the hiring processes so that fairness can be attained.
- Employment Law Ensures a Safe and Ethical Workplace
The job of the employment lawyers doesn’t just end on the fair hiring procedures, they use the employment laws to guide people about their legal rights in the working parameters. The need for employment laws increases more in the workplace. The laws are created to make your workspace safe, ethical, and prejudice-free for everyone. In the US employment law, there are strict regulations about worker discrimination and sexual harassment. Such laws make are implemented to create a professional and fair environment for everyone.
- Employment Law Ensures Equal Pay and Worker Rights
The employment law of the US has been divided into different sections, with each section dealing in the laws about equal pay, civil rights, health leaves, discrimination, labor rights, and many more workplace issues. The employment lawyers are hired by the people to claim their employee rights, which could not have been possible without the employment law. Any violation by the employer regarding equal pay and the working hours can be dealt with by the employment lawyers. The working pregnant women can claim a maximum of 12 weeks of paid leave which has been allowed by the family leave section of the US employment law.
The Birth of the US Employment Law
The laws and regulations we see today regarding employment and workspace were not always there in the legal system of our country. Events in the past eras lead to the development of a body that we now know as the employment law. A general view of how the laws about the workplace came into existence always takes us back to the industrial revolution in the mid-1800s. Not just in the USA but all across the world, there was a change in the work norms. People started giving importance to the rights of the workers which was not something of value in the past decades. The current employment laws in the US have faced a lot of shifts in the past, which we will briefly discuss here. From the early 1600s to the 21st century, there were five major segments of the laws about workers.
1600 – 1769 Era
During this time, there were no laws about the working class, there were only landlords and slaves. That is the reason this era is also known as the Pre-American Revolution. At that time there were no such laws about the working hours and the equal waves, the employers or the owners controlled the people who worked for them. The US labor law was not born at this time, no field of education trained the employment lawyers and nothing could be done for the safety and legal rights of the workers. The pre-American revolution was indeed a crucial period for the working class because the upper class made them slaves and punished them as they wished. Even those who were hired were not guaranteed any protection and rights from their masters.
1770 – 1864 Era
Although this era did not promise any worker laws at a legal level, there was a huge shift in the nature of the worker and master relationships. The trends of landowners buying slaves or hiring workers to do the job in their homes moved towards the market economy. Powerful people started investing in the markets producing different goods which lead to employer-employee relationships. The punishment laws that were followed in the previous era were still in existence but in the early 1800s people started resisting them by forming worker unions. This was the era when the workers were learning about their rights but there the government had shaped no laws for them yet.
1865 – 1929 Era
This was the time when the economy had a major hit after the end of the Civil War. More and more people were trying their luck in the manufacturing businesses and with more workers, their stance became stronger. After several protests and votes by the working class about their rights, the US constitution finally ended slavery in its 13th amendment. After some years of this law, the government started focusing more and more on the working hours and the minimum wages of the employees. We can say that a lot of employment laws originated from this era but in reality, the courts did not support the workers in their cases. The courts despite the laws implemented by the government sided with the employers, therefore the condition of the workers did not change much.
1930 – 1947 Era
Soon after the beginning of the Great Depression which made both employers and the employees miserable, a great number of worker unions began to form. In the 1900s, there are several laws about the workers’ rights made and destroyed by the lawmakers. But despite everything this period was marked by both workers and employers finally being on the same page. However, this did not last long because the second world war started, after which the legal system started favoring the employers again as they were powerful. The unions made by the workers started to emerge again but they did not have as much power as previously did. After country-wide protests and riots, the Taft-Hartley act was presented in 1947 which put an end to the union culture.
1948 – 2000s Era
From 1947 to onwards the conditions of the workers started to somewhat improve and the changes never started coming till today. The employment law focused on civil rights and there was a great emphasis on equal working opportunities for people of different races, colors, and genders. This era worked towards eliminating racial and sexual discrimination in the workplace. Many laws were designed to give equal working rights to people of color and women. With the rise in civil rights popularity in the US, a wave of students started becoming employment lawyers. In the 2000s, we can say that the employment laws officially started operating and the workplace has become a better place for everyone in the US.
What do Employment Lawyers do?
Employment lawyers work at the federal, and state levels to help people with problems related to their workplace. Employment lawyers assist employees to get their legal rights within the boundaries of their workplace. The expertise of employment lawyers is diverse as they are hired by people working in all sorts of organizations, businesses, and institutions. Employment lawyers work in one of the most popular fields of law because legal assistance in the workplace is needed by everyone regardless of their industry or the nature of the work. The US employment law considers the rights of the employees and the employers equal without any discrimination based on their work field.
Duties of Employment Lawyers
When you hire an employment lawyer to get legal assistance for your case, they are ought to perform certain legal duties that are necessary for your case. Such duties involve:
- Doing the Paperwork
Filing for an employment case is not a simple task, it requires you to fill several documents and gather all the necessary supporting paperwork. If you proceed with the case on your own then you have to handle everything from the paperwork to the court proceedings. But if you get an employment attorney, it is their responsibility to access and organize official documentation and get the signatures from the concerning persons. Their vast legal knowledge makes all the paperwork a simpler task and it becomes easier for you to comprehend.
- Explain the Client’s Legal Rights
The employment lawyers have a responsibility to guide employers as well as the workers about their legal rights, granted by the constitution of the country. When a client presents his/her case to the employment attorneys, they explain everything regarding the laws and the decrees applicable to their specific scenario. They offer their advice about the merits and demerits of each decision their clients make and guide them towards the safest choice. Employment lawyers transfer their knowledge about the legislation, negotiation, and mediation procedures to their clients in a way that is understandable for them.
- Compliance With the State and Federal Laws
There are major differences between the state and federal laws which many people are unaware of when filling for a case. One of the important duties of employment lawyers is to clarify their clients about compliance with diverse laws. Complying with the regulations about workplace discrimination, harassment, wages, working hours, and work environment is necessary for everyone. Therefore, despite their job to defend their clients they also enlighten them about complying with the legal guidelines.
- Preparation Of Court Hearings
When you hire an employment lawyer after facing a lawsuit for workplace discrimination, that lawyer must represent you in all the court proceedings. The employment lawyers gather the evidence and make your case stronger by their diverse knowledge of the field. After that, they defend you in court by appearing in every hearing on your behalf. Even if a client has been sentenced and has lost his/her job, the attorney can help that person with the appeal to the court for a review.
Life of Successful Employment Lawyers
Employment law is one of the growing and innovative branches of the law and a career in such a field guarantees nothing but success.
To become an employment attorney, one has to earn a J.D degree from a well-known law college in the US. For law students belonging to other countries, an LLB degree is considered equivalent to the J.D degree in the US. Some states require future employment lawyers to get a law diploma from the American Bar Association as well. After finishing the law degree, one has to pass the bar exam of their state to be able to practice in their respective field. Getting a job in the employment law firms or government sectors requires a minimum of two years of experience and a valid license.
Salary and Costs
Many employment lawyers in the USA charge as low as $300 to as high as $700 per hour. The hourly and fixed consultation costs of the employment attorneys vary based on the law firms they belong to. The contingency fees are usually not fixed by the law firms but they are assigned after the lawyer reviews the case progress.
The average salary of a successful employment lawyer in the US is nearly about $140,000, with an initial salary of $50,000 to $60,000. The more time a lawyer spends in the field, the more money he/she makes because of the greater practice and familiarity. Another factor that changes the salary figures of the employment lawyers is where they work. Law firms typically pay more than working in a governmental institute such as a bar association.
Skills and Capabilities
The foremost skill that an employment lawyer possesses is adaptability because employment law is such a dynamic field and its laws keep on changing from time to time. The lawyers working in this branch of law tend to cope with and understand the new regulations and legislation. Knowledge of marketing and commercial trends along with the economical ups and downs help employment lawyers deal with their clients effectively. Employment lawyers have to document all the progress of the case as well as represent in front of the jury, so writing and communication skills are a plus point. Strong research and organizational abilities help attorneys draft agreements, letters, and legal documents for their clients. Employment lawyers that have greater interpersonal skills and are empathetic towards their people appear more trustworthy and reliable to their clients.
Qualities To Look for in an Employment Lawyer
Finding the right employment lawyer can be a difficult task because there is a whole industry of lawyers out there. To help you find the best employment lawyer we have listed some baseline qualities that you should always look for in an attorney:
- Availability: Always look for a lawyer that can give enough time to your case. That is possible only when you go for specialized lawyers instead of general practice lawyers. A lawyer who is willing to give more time to your case is better than one who can give only a few hours.
- Expertise: Finding a lawyer in your respective field is a tough job, but you can choose a lawyer by looking at his/her ratio of successful cases. Finding a lawyer with many years of experience and legal knowledge makes your case proceed smoothly and efficiently.
- License: Never forget to check your employment lawyer’s certifications and license. This ensures that you do not end up with scams. You can confirm their affiliation with the bar association by calling them directly.
- Reputation: Before finalizing an employment lawyer, you should always check their ratings from different platforms. Online reviews about the attorneys can easily be found on social platforms like Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Yelp, and Yahoo. Those reviews help you a lot in choosing the best attorney in your area.
Types Of Fee Structures Charged by Employment Lawyers
Employment lawyers have different of dealing with their clients, by different style means the way they charge their fee, how they interact with the client, and their method of cases procession. How you pay your employment lawyers depends greatly on the type of fee structure they accept. Here are the most common fee arrangements that are accepted by employment lawyers when you hire them:
Many lawyers prefer to charge you by the number of hours they allot for your case. The advantage of hourly fees is that you can pay only for the time your lawyer is serving you instead of paying them during the whole procedure of your case. Paying for workplace cases by hours is a typical way that is accepted by most employment lawyers. However, how much they cost per hour depends on several factors such as their experience, seniority, their association with the law firms, and the type of services they offer.
All the employment lawyers charge a consultation fee, which can be either by the number of hours they attend you or it can be a fixed fee. Most people who are looking for employment lawyers attend several first meetings with different employment lawyers before finalizing one. In those meetings, they discuss many things including the fee structure the employment lawyer will charge as well as the details of the case. Few of the lawyers do not charge you for the initial meeting with them while many of them have a fixed price for even the first meeting.
The contingency fee is like a contract between you and your lawyer, where you have to give a specific percentage of your winning case amount to your lawyer. The employment lawyers get the contingency fee only if they win your case, otherwise, you owe them no money as a contingency fee. The percentage of the winning case amount that your lawyer gets is not the same for every case. Normally the percentage of the recovered amount in the legal cases that goes to lawyers is one-third. The decision about the contingency fee of the lawyer is often made by the court, but lawyers can also intervene on the settled percentage according to the progress of the case.
If you have a case related to workplace harassment and you end up having a meeting with a general practice lawyer, he/she will most probably refer you to an employment lawyer who can take your case efficiently. But that lawyer will charge a fee for referring you to a more specialized lawyer. Referral fees are minimum and you should not be afraid to pay those to get the best lawyer for your case.
Some employment lawyers have flat rates that they charge for every case they take, but that usually happens for much simpler and routine cases. A flat fee is a fixed total amount you have to pay to your attorney regardless of your case hours or the status of your case.
Top Workplace Scenarios Where You Need to Hire Employment Lawyers
Working in an organization can be scary at times when you are faced with circumstances that are not in your favor. Getting out of those unjust and terrifying situations requires the services of an employment lawyer. Here are the top scenarios where you need to hire an employment lawyer:
You Feel Unsafe at Your Workplace
Worker safety is one of the most important concerns of the employment law. In the fields where physical labor is needed a lot, worker safety issues can arise from time to time. If a worker feels that his/her safety is compromised in a work environment, they have a right to withdraw from that job with the help of an attorney. Some jobs carry serious health threats for the employees, which can also be avoided by hiring employment lawyers.
Mistreatment From the Employer
If you feel that your supervisor or the boss behaves with you differently than the other employees, it can lead to bigger concerns in the future, which can be eradicated by hiring a lawyer at the right time. There are many instances where the employee is unable to prove their manager’s mistreatment in front of everyone. Such scenarios call for an employment lawyer to analyze the situation and collect enough information to form a strong case against that person. Wrongful discipline and an unfavorable attitude towards any employee are a violation of basic employee rights and therefore should not be left unattended.
Working In a Toxic Work Environment
Toxic work environments are one of the leading causes of mental issues in employees and they violate the protocol of a stable working network. Examples of toxic work environments include smoking in the workspace, use of alcohol during work, unhealthy office structures, bad work timings, and unhealthy food and leisure spots in the offices. If you wish to get out of such a working setting, hiring an employment attorney to represent you is a wise choice. Hiring a lawyer to report the unhealthy working network not only helps you but also shapes a better working framework for future employees.
Received Workplace Injuries
Getting small injuries during work is not uncommon, especially if you do a physical job, but the important aspect is receiving compensation for those injuries. The organization you work for has to compensate you for all the injuries you have endured during your working hours. If you have been injured during work duties but your organization refuses to give you fair compensation in terms of monetary funds or bonus, then you should consider getting an attorney. The lawyer plays his/her role in helping you get the bonus you deserve for your work injuries.
You Face Workplace Bullying
The concept of workplace bullying has been in the US for decades. Many researchers prove that several psychological illnesses in the employees originated from the workplace bullying they faced. Bullying can either be physical, verbal, or psychological and it is mostly from your fellow employees as well as your employer. Workers using abusive language for you, calling you nasty names, throwing humiliating comments at you, and being hostile towards you can be examples of bullying. You should be aware of such behaviors from people around in your workspace and immediately get a lawyer to deal with them.
Being fired from your job out of blue can have financial as well as psychological impacts on the employees. There are strict rules about the unfair termination of an employee in the US employment law. The employer can not fire a person working for him/her without issuing a warning and an authentic reason behind the termination. If you face such an unfortunate event during your job, the best decision is to hire a lawyer to help you assist in such a situation. Your lawyer will look into the matter and build a case for you based on your unlawful dismissal.
A Contract Breach
A legal contract between the worker and the employee plays a crucial role in the norms and conditions of the job. The contract describes the figures about the working hours, wage, bonuses, duties, tenure, and many other aspects, which are important for you. If at any time in your job, the employer goes against that work contract, you have a right to file a case against the organization. And if the employee refuses to follow the contract guidelines, the employer has the same power as well, because the employment law works for both sides. The lawyer will review the contract, prepare the case paperwork on your behalf, and resolve the dispute on legal terms.