Labor laws deal with any type of dispute that could arise between a worker and an employer. Such disputes might relate to wages, working conditions or how an employee is treated by others on the job. In some cases, disputes are resolved through mediation or other informal means. However, it may be necessary to hire a labor law attorney to settle cases in court if informal talks don't yield results.
Many lawsuits related to employment law have to do with violations of wage and overtime statutes. The federal minimum wage is set at $7.15 per hour, and employers must comply with that rule. If a state or local government mandates a higher minimum wage, an employer must adhere to that law. However, these minimum wage laws do not apply to certain classes of workers, such as independent contractors.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act forbids discrimination against workers based on their sex, race, color, national origin or religion If discrimination does occur, a victim has several choices for legal remedies. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) can offer legal opinions and provide resources to help those who believe that their rights were violated.
There are also several rules and regulations that pertain to unsafe working conditions. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets basic standards for workplace safety. Failure to adhere to those rules may result in citations and other financial penalties.
When it comes to disputes between employers and employees, a labor law attorney looks out for the best interests of the worker or employer they represent. Since these lawyers have a legal understanding of local, state and federal regulations, they can take steps to enforce them if necessary. For instance, an attorney may be able to challenge the termination of a pension plan or find out if a worker has been unfairly misclassified as an independent contractor.
An attorney could also represent a client during informal talks or in a courtroom. In some cases, legal counsel may represent an entire labor union or a class of employees who were all impacted by the actions of an employer.
It's important to note that most employers will have attorneys of their own. Therefore, hiring legal counsel may help a worker level the playing field in the courtroom. An attorney with a background in labor law will be more familiar with the process of negotiating with employers.
Furthermore, the lawyer could make sure a case doesn't get thrown out on a technicality such as a late filing or some other loophole. Ultimately, retaining legal counsel may increase the odds of an individual or group obtaining a favorable outcome in a labor dispute.