What is Employment Law?


law and court

What is Employment Law?

Employment law regulates the relationship between employers and employees. This relationship applies to not only current employees but to job applicants and former employees as well. Employment law determines the legal rights that both parties have, addressing the often complex situations that arise during the course of hiring and employment. As such, employment law addresses a wide range of topics to include: discrimination, age, wrongful termination, harassment, compensation, and workplace safety. These laws effectively grant employees equal employment opportunities that foster work environments of inclusiveness and that shun unfair practices. These laws were put into place to protect employees from mistreatment by their employers and they also provide boundaries that protect employers from false allegations. Many of these employment-related areas are not only covered by state law, but are covered by federal mandates as well for additional protection.

Employment Law Protects Employees and Employers

employment policy

Employee and Employer Rights

All employees and job applicants are guaranteed basic protections while in the workplace. These include protection from discrimination and harassment as well as the right to be fairly compensated. Specific protections guard against discrimination based on age, national origin, gender, race and religion. Employers are obligated to uphold these rights and employees have the right to pursue legal recourse in the event of a violation. This ensures employers provide fair and just treatment to vulnerable categories of workers, without the threat of retaliation or other adverse reactions that might promote hostile working conditions and practices. While it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure violations of employment laws do not occur, it is always advisable for employees to seek the help of a top employment lawyer if they feel their rights have been violated in any way. A qualified attorney will have the expertise to navigate the terrain of legal details and administrative nuances that are associated with todays many employment laws and regulations. If you feel that your employer has violated your rights and you live in or near NJ you should contact a top employment attorney in New Jersey.

Employment Laws

Title VII

Big picture
What is the FMLA

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)


Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Department of Labor

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Equal Employment Opportunity

Age Discrimination Act (ADEA)

Age Discrimination Act

Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)


Key Employment Laws

The following are a few of the most common employment laws and the types of protections they provide:

Title VII

Title VII is the grandfather of employment laws. Title VII was established as part of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and defines certain classes of citizens, protecting them from discriminating workplace treatment. This law applies to local, state and federal employment and it broadly prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin and religion. This law also protects against retaliation. This means that employers can no longer make employment decisions such as hiring, firing, pay grade or promotions based on any of these protected categories.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that it is unlawful to discriminate against an employee due to existing or perceived disabilities. A person with a disability is defined as someone who has a physical or mental incapacity that limits day-to-day activities. This law states that employers must make a good faith effort to reasonably accommodate an employee who has a disability. These employees may not be denied access to employment related activities unless doing so would cause a reasonable, undue hardship on the organization. If the employee is qualified for the position, they have the legal right to apply for that position without the threat of discrimination based on their disabilities.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage requirements, overtime compensation, record-keeping activities related to wages and payroll, and child labor standards. The FLSA is important because it ensures all employees are compensated fairly for their time on the job. This law is applicable to both part-time and full-time employees. The FLSA prevents compensation abuse by employers, thereby improving the quality of life of employees who have a right to be paid fairly. The FLSA also classifies exempt employees as those who are not entitled to overtime, but if an employee is not exempt and they work over 40 hours per week they should be compensated for any additional hours worked. The FLSA is regulated by the Department of Labor (DOL), the governing agency that ensures compliance with this law. Any employer who willfully violates this law and fails to fairly compensate an employee will be liable to punitive damages and even criminal penalties in some instances.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) ensures that eligible employees are allowed to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave of absence for family related matters including the birth of a child, a serious medical condition preventing the employee from performing on the job or to grant the time off needed to take care of an ill family member. The general qualifications for FMLA are as follows:

1. The employer is a qualified employer (meaning they employ at least 50+ employees);

2. The employee has been employed for at least one year and;

3. The employee has worked at least 1250 hours within the past year.

FMLA is popular because it promotes work-life balance and gives a level of protection to employees that were traditionally let go for missing too many days of work related to health or family health matters.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)

Women have faced many biases and negative stereotypes related to their pregnancies. The Pregnancy Discrimination act (PDA) is an amendment to Title VII that covers pregnancy and categorizes pregnancy discrimination as sex discrimination. The PDA prevents discrimination based on pregnancy and childbirth in addition to any pregnancy related conditions. This law states that pregnant women must be treated in the same manner as other applicants and employees. They must not be refused employment because of their pregnancy or be terminated because they are expecting a child. This includes protection against termination based on requested work modifications or modified job duties. Any requests for changes to work duties must be treated in the same manner as an employee who is temporarily disabled.

Age Discrimination Act (ADEA)

The Age Discrimination Act (ADEA) protects employees who are over the age of 40 from discrimination based on how old they are. It is unlawful for any employer to deny employment based on the employee’s age. The ADEA enforces that employees should be chosen based on their abilities and not on assumptions that older employees cannot perform as well as their younger counterparts. This law also prevents segregation of older employees into job functions that are not promotable or that otherwise would result in a loss of benefits. The ADEA has had significant impact on an aging population that has had to defend itself against unfair employment practices that limited them in the amount and types of work opportunities that were offered to them, excluding them based on age.

Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) mandates that employees are entitled to safe working conditions. This is especially true for hazardous conditions that involve chemicals, heavy machinery or that require the employee to work in extreme outside conditions. There have been many workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses due to unsafe working conditions. OSHA provides a high level of protection to guard against these issues. OSHA requires that employers correct hazardous working conditions and also states that employees have a right to safe, healthy places of employment. OSHA goes a step further by providing inspectors that come and investigate work sites, identify violations and then requiring the employer to take corrective action.

employment handboog

Employer Best Practices

An employer may be liable for any instances and violations of employment laws. Lawsuits are very expensive and come with increasingly hefty fees and sanctions. Therefore, it is crucial for employers to fully understand and apply employment laws. The importance of employment related laws should not be underestimated. As such employers can take a few precautions to ensure they are in full compliance. First, employers can follow a set of best practices regarding how managers and other employees should interact with one another. For example, it is important to train managers on employment laws so they understand what they can or cannot do within the workplace. It will also be important to reiterate and review these laws on an on-going basis through mandatory trainings. Updated employee manuals are a second means of abiding by employment laws. Employee manuals with standard policies and procedures that support employment laws are excellent tools to use in the workplace. This will provide readily available access of information to employees and management. Third, monitoring workplace behaviors is an imperative aspect of promoting a fair and equal work environment. Monitoring could include having an open door policy to the human resources department or to upper management so that employees know they have somewhere to turn in the face of discrimination. All complaints should be investigated immediately and properly and retaliation for reporting instances of wrong doing should never occur.

lawyer and client

Common Questions About Employment Law

It is important for employers and employees to be well informed on the various employment laws that exist. While all employees are protected, legal representation may still be necessary in instances of employment law violations. As such, there may be a wide variety of questions regarding the legal protections, obligations and ramifications that surround employment law. Frequently asked questions often surround some of the following areas; If you have any of these questions you should contact an employment lawyer in NJ.

1. What should be done if overtime pay has not been received?

2. What should be done in the event of a wrongful termination?

3. What should be done if an employee is being discriminated against?

4. What should be done if an inappropriate question is asked during an interview?

5. What should be done if an FMLA claim is discouraged or outright denied ?

6. What should be done if an employee is not being paid at least the minimum wage?

7. What should be done if a job is denied upon completion of maternity leave?

8. What should be done if an employee who has a disability is restricted from certain job duties even though their disability does not hinder them from completing their job?

9. What should be done if an employee is not hired because the employer thinks the employee will retire soon?

10. What should be done if an employee is subjected to dangerous work conditions without proper gear?

11. What should be done if an employee is never given a break?

12. What should be done after an employee has been demoted after reporting discrimination by a supervisor?

employment law

An Employment Lawyer Can Help

Employment law defines the legal boundaries between employers and employees. Employers may not discriminate against employees based on federally protected categories and they are also bound by other employment laws that regulate compensation. Employment law can be very complex. If ever in doubt, consult with an employment law attorney who can explain the available rights, next steps and options available to pursue legal representation. An employment lawyer will dedicate him or herself to protecting the rights of the employee and educating them on the intricacies of any applicable employment laws. Having a good understanding of employment law will decrease the likelihood of inappropriate interactions with employees. This same understanding will allow employees to exercise their rights in illegal situations. These laws are set to protect both the employee and the employer in the event of litigation. It is important for employers and their managers to take employees’ rights very seriously and it is equally important for employees to be aware of the employment laws that have been established to protect them so they will know when to contact a lawyer. Employment can be wrought with challenges for both employees and employers, but the process of employment can be made much simpler through adherence to employment laws. The bottom line is unfair employment practices are unlawful. Unfortunately, workplace discrimination and violation of employment laws are still serious problems today. Speak with an experienced employment lawyer in NJ who can successfully navigate through the many complexities of employment law, ensuring the employee’s rights are upheld.