Fostering a healthy workplace and staying in compliance with labor laws are challenges for both employees and employers. Employment law guides help to make the process easier and more manageable.
Employment laws are a large field that includes employee handbooks, hiring and firing procedures, wrongful termination, retaliation and more. Use this guide to track and manage your compliance with federal, state and local employment law requirements.
Discrimination in the Workplace
Employment law prohibits actions that discriminate on the basis of race, skin color, religion, sex, disability, age, national origin or ancestry, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Discrimination can also take the form of stereotypes, generalizations and assumptions about protected categories. Some people are subject to multiple types of discrimination, such as a woman who is deaf and a lesbian, or an older man who faces age discrimination in the workplace as they try to find new jobs before they retire.
Some companies segregate employees based on their race, gender, age or religious beliefs, a practice that is illegal. The effect of this type of discrimination is to inhibit employee performance.
It is also illegal for a company to specify preference for a specific sex or age in job postings and descriptions. Unless an employer can provide direct evidence of unlawful discrimination, it is difficult to make a successful claim under these laws. However, the right employment lawyer can provide advice and support for making a claim.
Employment contracts define the rights and responsibilities between employers and employees. These agreements can cover many different aspects of the working relationship, including duration, salary, benefits, and confidentiality.
Employee contracts can also include dispute resolution provisions, which specify how any conflicts between the parties will be resolved. Disputes are typically resolved through mediation or arbitration, rather than litigation, to avoid the time and expense of court proceedings.
Contracts can also lay out specific responsibilities, such as maintaining company computers or email accounts, or confidentiality clauses that limit the dissemination of proprietary information. These contracts can also stipulate severance pay if the employee is terminated without cause. In contrast, termination for cause must be outlined in the contract and may include circumstances like serious misconduct, violations of company policies, or criminal charges. A contract can also include a non-compete clause that prevents the employee from taking work in the same industry for a certain period of time after leaving the company.
With COVID-19 continuing to impact businesses across the country, some labor laws have become even more difficult for employers to manage. For example, in New York State, it is now illegal to ask a job applicant for salary history information. The guide also talks specifically about the fact that New York employers must report specific information about new hires to the state within 20 days of their hiring date. This helps protect the rights of new workers.
Firing an employee is not a pleasant task for anyone involved. Besides the loss of an employee’s salary and benefits, the process involves legal procedures that may cost employers money. The goal is to fire the employee properly while avoiding any grudges that might affect future business.
The first step in a successful termination is proper documentation. This includes securing pertinent documents like error reports, periodic appraisal results, and the like. It’s also important to interview those who have direct knowledge of the offending behavior, like co-workers and managers.
Despite the fact that most employees are at-will, some types of conduct can’t be fired for. Unless the company has a policy that states otherwise, a firing must be for cause. This is especially true if the employer condoned the behavior through a series of disciplinary actions or an implicit act of endorsement. For this reason, most companies provide a clear paper trail of progressive discipline before terminating for cause.