What is Employment Law? 6 Key Terms You Should Know
In 2020 alone, employment law claim rewards totaled around $439.2 Million (EEOC, 2021).
Over 70,800 employment law charges were resolved in 2020 (EEOC, 2021).
For more data, check out the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission website:
What Is Employment Law?
Employment law includes laws and legal practices involving labor, employment, employees, and the relationship between these parties.
The primary concern in employment law lies in employee rights and employer requirements/responsibilities. Employment laws include both state and federal jurisdictions.
Examples of employment law include:
- Labor relations laws
- Equal employment opportunity laws
- Workers’ compensation laws
- Fair pay legislation
- Workplace safety laws
Why Is Employment Law Important?
Employment law protects employees from illegal and unethical employer actions.
In addition, employment laws set a standard for corporations in their treatment of their employees.
Employment laws mitigate the threat of wrongful employer action. In addition, these laws set the legal and ethical standards for companies to adhere to.
An absence of employment law could lead to a compromise in employee safety, pay, and benefits.
6 Key Employment Law Terms
1. At-Will Employee vs. Contract Employee
According to Betterteam, approximately 74% of U.S. employees are considered “At-will” employees (Betterteam).
Employers can terminate At-will employees at any given time and for any given reason. Employers do not need just cause when firing an At-will employee.
Contract employees, on the other hand, have signed a written, binding contract with their employer. Contracts often outline key job elements such as job descriptions, salaries, benefits, and length of work time.
Both types of employees reserve the right to file claims against employers for illegal actions.
2. Employment Discrimination and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)
Employment discrimination is the event or repeated events or discrimination in the workplace. This can include harassment, unfair treatment, retaliation, and improper disclosure of information.
Discrimination usually occurs based on a person’s age, gender, sexual orientation, race, or disability status.
Another vital employment law term that relates to employment discrimination is Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO).
EEO is the notion that employees (or potential employees) should not be discriminated against during the hiring, firing, promotion, or compensation process.
3. Wrongful Termination
Wrongful termination is defined as the event where an employee is fired for an illegal reason that violates employment law.
There is a much better chance for a contractual employee to reach a court settlement for wrongful termination cases. However, at-will employees can file wrongful termination claims.
Workplace discrimination can take the form of wrongful termination as well.
Want to learn more about wrongful termination? Check out our Wrongful Termination Survival Guide!
4. Back Pay
Back pay is missed pay (salary or benefits) that an employer fails to deliver to an employee in a reasonable amount of time.
The amount of employee back pay can be calculated by the amount of compensation the employee should have received minus the collected payment amount.
One common situation which leads to back pay is the termination of an employee. When an employee is terminated, the employer can sometimes neglect to pay for work the employee has already completed.
5. Hostile Work Environment
The definition of a hostile work environment is a workplace that makes one or more employees feel uncomfortable, threatened, or in danger.
Employees must collect reasonable evidence before a work environment is deemed hostile, and claims need to be linked to discriminatory employer action.
It is important to note that a hostile work environment is not the same as an annoying or inappropriate work environment. Rather the workplace must have some degree of illegal activity.
A whistleblower is an individual (typically a current or previous employee) who exposes illegal activities within a company or workplace through public channels.
Whistleblowers are central to employment law because they have an inside view of illegal activity within a company.
As such, they are given protection from employer retaliation in the United States through their whistleblower status.
Learn More About Employment Law
Need a defense for your Los Angeles employment law claim? Levin & Nalbandyan has your back.