Employment Law Attorney
Most claims involving employment law involve a worker who feels that he or she has been the victim of illegal discrimination or harassment.
Successful claims are normally based upon some action on the part of the employer that violates a civil rights statute, the Family Medical Leave Act, a failure to make a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, an adverse employment action (like a discharge) for violating a Whistleblower statute or illegal age discrimination.
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These are damages awarded in a wrongful discharge case where the employee is supposed to return to work but the employer does not return the employee to his or her old job or does so after the judgment is entered. This is the amount of damages between the time of the judgment and the return of the employee to the proper position.
These are damages, such as lost wages, that the plaintiff incurred after discharge or demotion.
This is when an employee is denied a promotion, experiences an adverse job consequence or is discharged due to the age of the employee.
This is when an employee is denied a promotion, experiences an adverse job consequence or is discharged for racially motivated reasons. Usually, such cases are brought by a person who is a member of a minority group. However, some interesting situations have arisen in what is informally known as reverse discrimination cases, where a person who is considered to be a member of the majority brings a claim contending that he or she was discriminated against by minority persons who were in control of the workplace. Such issues are presently before the appellate courts.
These cases take some interesting turns. Some of these cases involve women who claim that discrimination occurred when they were denied promotions or discharged due to the fact that they were female. Cases have also involved both men and women who claim an adverse job consequence due to their failure to comply with sexual pressure of an employer. Some of these cases have also involved situations where a person in a position of power (i.e. supervisor) unduly pressured another employee to become involved sexually.
Damages allowed to be recovered in such cases involve mental anguish. Many times, such damages are proven by utilizing expert witnesses such as psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers.
This is a form of sexual discrimination when an employee experiences an adverse job consequence due to the fact that the employee became pregnant. Many of these cases are intertwined with claims brought under the Family Medical Leave Act that allows unpaid time off for a pregnancy or taking care of a close, sick family member.
The vast majority of workers are considered “at-will” employees. At-Will employees can generally be discharged at any time for any reason, so long as it does not violate some explicit law or public policy. Many people are very surprised to learn how little job protection they have. Some employees are protected by clauses in their contracts that prevent them from being discharged without “just-cause”. Most “just cause” clauses in contracts are due to either collective bargaining agreements or because the employees had substantial bargaining power at the time of hire. These agreements are becoming rarer
There are certain at-will employees who have some job protection when they are discharged for a reason that the law recognizes violates public policy. For example, a bus mechanic fired when he refuses to put a bus with bad brakes on the road would have a claim for wrongful discharge.
These cases arise under the Americans with Disabilities Act. A failure to accommodate an employee’s disability may result in a constructive discharge and expose the employer to the same kind of liability it would face had it terminated the employee because of a disability. See the U.S. Department of Justice website at www.usdoj.gov.
This act does not apply to all employers. However, the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees to take off up to 12 unpaid work weeks in any 12 month period for the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a family member, or if the employee has a serious health condition. An eligible employee is an employee who has been employed by the employer for at least 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours. The 12 months do not need to be consecutive. You are only an “eligible” employee if your employer employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles of the worksite.
Employment Issues FAQ
Q: I worked for my employer for many years. I believe I did an excellent job. I was discharged for something that was not my fault. I feel I was treated extremely unfairly by my employer. Does the law give me any protection?
A: In the vast majority of cases, the law provides no protection to employees who have been treated unfairly by their employer. This comes as a shock to most people, especially when they have read about someone bringing a successful lawsuit against an employer.
Generally, the law provides protection to people who are discharged from or forced to leave their job under the following circumstances:
a) If the employee was forced to leave the employment due to race, religion, political belief, national origin or due to sex harassment;
b) When the employee had an employment contract which prevents discharge without “just cause”;
c) If the employee is discharged or forced to leave the job due to some issue that is not permissible. For example, a bus mechanic who is discharged for refusing to put a bus upon the road with defective brakes;
d) If the employee has a contract for a definite period of time and the employee is discharged before that time has expired;
e) If the employee was discharged or harassed because he or she threatened to or actually did report improper employer conduct to authorities.
Most wrongful discharge cases are taken on a contingency basis. This means that the lawyer does not get paid if there is no recovery. If there is a recovery,
the attorney receives a percentage of the recovery for the fee.
Q: My employer failed to offer me an accommodation due to a handicap and I was therefore discharged. I may not have been rehired because my employer wants a young workforce. What are my remedies?
A: These are very complicated areas of the law. You should consult with an attorney experienced in this area if you feel that you were wrongly treated by an employer or prospective employer due to a handicap or age issue. Many times, you can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and have the government look into the situation. The government can sometimes work out a remedy. If the government does not solve the situation, you have a very limited amount of time to file a lawsuit after being notified that the government is not going to pursue the matter further. In all employment cases, the sooner that you see the lawyer, the better.
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