What Is Employment Law?

Employment law covers a wide range of areas and affects every person in the workplace. From laws that guarantee a minimum wage to those that prohibit discrimination, they help to make our working lives more decent and humane.

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Employers have a responsibility to hire qualified candidates, provide a safe work environment and compensate them fairly. These laws also protect employees from being wrongfully dismissed.

Employment Contracts

A contract lays out the employment terms that both parties agree to, and it can help clarify things such as job duties and pay structure. It can also provide protection against being terminated without cause and make sure that both sides understand what is expected of them. For example, an employee who works with sensitive information may be required to sign a confidentiality agreement to ensure that confidential information is not shared outside the company.

While the details of an employment contract will vary depending on the business type and industry, a few common elements are generally present:

Duration – The length of time that the employer is expected to keep an employee on staff, including any opportunities for extension.

Salary – The agreed upon wage structure, such as a fixed annual salary or hourly rate. It can also include any bonuses or benefits.

Duties – The specific tasks that the employee is expected to carry out, including any additional responsibilities or training provided by the employer.

Ideally, an employment contract will be created with the input of both the employee and the employer. While this is not always possible, it is important to make sure that the terms are fair for both parties. If a dispute does arise, it is best to consult an attorney to help resolve the issue.

Discrimination

Employment discrimination laws prevent employers from treating job applicants and employees unfairly based on their race, religion, national origin or sex (including pregnancy, childbirth and related conditions, sexual orientation and gender identity) as well as age. These laws also prohibit employer decisions that affect pay, benefits and other terms of employment based on these factors.

Connecticut and federal laws prohibit employment discrimination based on sex as well as age. These laws protect people with disabilities from being deprived of jobs or work assignments due to unreasonable or unwarranted limitations, including restrictions on physical activities; imposing unnecessary or excessively burdensome requirements that do not relate to the duties of the job; providing a less favorable employment environment than another person with similar qualifications; and giving an unauthorized preference or advantage to any individual. These laws also prohibit retaliation against an employee or applicant for exercising their rights under the law, testifying about or assisting with an investigation of alleged discrimination or retaliation, or because they made a legal disclosure of information about wrongdoing at an employer (“whistleblowing”).

Workers who experience these or other types of workplace violations may be entitled to monetary compensation from their employers. This can include back pay, the value of any lost benefits and compensatory damages for pain and suffering. In some cases, an employer will be required to alter their policies and procedures to prevent future violations.

Working Conditions

Working conditions in a workplace include issues such as worker health and safety, a comfortable temperature, ventilation, space, lighting and welfare facilities. Providing good working conditions is a common way for businesses to attract and retain employees. Poor working conditions, however, can lead to lower productivity and a greater risk of workplace incidents. They can also violate federal and state labor laws, which could create serious legal problems for employers.

Workplace health and safety regulations dictate many aspects of working conditions, including how long workers can work per day or week and when they must take a rest break. Moreover, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ensures that workers are protected from unfair treatment because of their gender, race, religion, age or disability.

Additionally, Occupational Safety and Health Administration laws mandate that employees receive training and that any equipment in the workplace is free from harmful chemicals or other contaminants. Employment law also stipulates that a minimum wage must be paid, which may vary from state to state.

Some workers, such as nurses or construction workers, have special protections in their employment contracts that dictate working conditions. These contracts can specify the terms and conditions of their employment, such as how and when they can be fired or laid off and what procedures must be followed in adverse employment decisions, such as firing or pay reductions.

Leave

There are a number of reasons an employee might need to take leave from their job. For example, they might need to care for a loved one, undergo medical treatment or grieve the death of a family member. Employment laws provide protection for employees who need to take time away from their jobs, and they also help prevent discrimination against those employees.

For example, if an employee needs to give birth or recover from pregnancy related illnesses, they are protected under California’s CFRA (Family and Medical Leave Act). They can also take up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave to care for sick children, parents and spouses. And if an employee is required to attend jury duty or military service, they are protected against dismissal.

Employers must also comply with national standards when it comes to managing employee leaves of absence. If an employer fails to do this, they could be liable for lawsuits from employees who feel their rights have been violated.

If you are looking for legal assistance with a leave of absence matter, an experienced employment attorney can guide you through the legal nuances and ensure your rights are upheld. Use LegalMatch to find an attorney who can help.