Employment law or as it’s otherwise known, labor law, is a set of rights that workers and employers must adhere to. Although they do include protection for employers, their main aim is helping to keep workers safe and treated fairly.
Together with employment law, other rules may also be written into an individual’s contract if they have one. The basic employment law is made under Federal Law with each state can add additional protection if they wish.
There is a presumption in many states that employment relationships are at will. This means that both the employer and worker are free to terminate their relationship at any time. This is mainly the case with jobs that don’t have the added clauses of a contract.
However, there are exceptions that protect employees from certain bad practices. For example, there is protection from discrimination, whistleblowing, or by having a compensation claim. There are also other exceptions that a court can use if it’s needed.
It can be very easy to simply sign a contract of employment without reading it fully. However, it is always important to do so for your own protection. If there were a problem, it would be difficult to resolve if there was a stipulation in your contract that you hadn’t read. This is apart from certain exceptions such as those for the ‘at will’ presumption.
Your rights as a worker will also be set out in your contract, so this also needs to be checked to make sure you are getting a fair deal.
One area that has become the subject of much discussion is social media. Some employers are now adding clauses in workers’ contracts regarding the use of social media. Many are prohibiting its use while in work hours, but some companies are becoming concerned with workers’ posts outside work.
For example, someone who posts inappropriate material that the company feels is bad for their image may be subject to termination of their contract.
If you are dismissed and you feel it is unfair, you can engage an employment lawyer on your behalf. They will take a look at your contract if you have one, and decide on the best course of action. It must be noted, however, that you may not have a case for unfair dismissal if you have broken the terms of a contract.
If you decide to hire employment lawyers, you need to make sure that they have the training to deal with your specific problem. Some lawyers specialize in a particular aspect of employment law such as sexual harassment or occupational health and safety. Finding the right lawyer may improve your chances of success.
Employment law covers many areas and has multiple layers. There is no harm in trying to understand your rights as an employee and using them if you are being treated unfairly. However, maintaining open and honest communication between you and your employer could solve many problems.