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Employment Law FAQ

Lampert Law Office, LLC May 6, 2024

Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to employment law. That's why getting your most important questions answered surrounding your rights and obligations as employees and employers is so important. Lampert Law Office, LLC is here to answer these questions and inform against common misconceptions, with the goal to help you seek justice and ensure compliance. From dealing with employment contracts to understanding your rights and obligations, this FAQ is designed to empower employers and employees alike with essential insights. 

What Is Wrongful Termination?

Under federal law, wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires an employee in violation of anti-discrimination laws, a written or implied employment contract, or in retaliation for specific protected employee activities. But these legal intricacies often leave employees and even some employers in the dark about their rights and responsibilities.  

For instance, terminations that target an employee's race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, or disability status, are considered wrongful. It’s essential for employers to understand that there are legal safeguards in place to protect employees against unfair dismissals, and there are recourses employees can take if they believe their termination was wrongful. 

How Is Discrimination Addressed in the Workplace?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) prohibits workplace discrimination based on a number of protected categories such as race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), age, and disability. This means that any employees who are unfairly treated or targeted based on these categories have federal protections and routes for legal recourse.  

What Are the Legal Requirements for Workplace Safety and Health?

Employers are obligated under OSHA regulations to provide a safe and healthy working environment. This covers a wide range of standards including, but not limited to, hazardous materials handling, equipment safety, and emergency preparedness. Some examples include providing protective gear, emergency exits, and fire extinguishers; ensuring safe working conditions; and training employees on safety protocols. Companies must also have a clear protocol for reporting workplace injuries or hazards. 

How Is Overtime Pay Calculated?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) governs issues related to overtime pay and hours worked. In general, employees are entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in a workweek unless they are exempt. The overtime rate is at least one and one-half times the regular rate of pay. Employers should understand how to calculate overtime accurately to avoid potential litigation for wage and hour violations. 

What Are the FMLA Rights for Employees?

The Family and Medical Leave Act grants eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons. It's important for both employers and employees to understand FMLA eligibility and application procedures to ensure compliance. 

Independent Contractors vs. Employees: What's the Difference?

Understanding the distinction between independent contractors and employees is critical for both employers and workers as it affects taxes, legal rights, and responsibilities.  

An employee is someone hired by a company or person (the employer) to perform specific work under their direction and control, often with a fixed salary and benefits such as healthcare and retirement plans. Employees are also covered by federal and state employment laws, which include minimum wage, overtime pay, and workplace safety protections. 

In contrast, an independent contractor operates more freely, providing services under a contract for a specified task or project. They have the autonomy to determine how to complete the work within the agreed timeframe. Independent contractors are not entitled to employee benefits and are responsible for their own taxes. They enjoy greater flexibility in terms of hours and methods of working but with less job security and legal protections than employees.  

The distinction between independent contractors and employees affects tax responsibilities, benefits, and labor rights. Misclassification can result in legal and financial consequences, making accurate classification essential for both parties. 

How Can Employers Protect Employee Privacy and Personal Data? 

Employers must balance the need for information management with respect for employee privacy rights. This entails secure handling of personal data, respecting boundaries in surveillance, and ensuring confidentiality in the workplace. 

What Measures Should Be Taken to Address Harassment and Discrimination? 

Harassment and discrimination have no place in the modern workplace, and robust anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies form the first line of defense. Employers have a legal duty to prevent harassment and discrimination and provide avenues for employees to report incidents. Employees should be aware of these policies and feel confident in utilizing these resources if necessary. For employers, swift and fair resolution of complaints is crucial to maintaining a safe and respectful work environment. 

What Guidelines Exist for Wage and Compensation Compliance? 

Adhering to federal and state minimum wage laws is fundamental for fair labor practices. Employers must remain informed about current wage standards and exemptions to ensure lawful compensation. 

What Constitutes a Breach of Employment Contract? 

Employment contracts are legally-binding agreements that spell out the terms and conditions of employment. A breach of contract can occur if any party fails to perform any term of the agreement without a legal excuse. Resolving disputes related to employment contracts requires a clear understanding of the contract terms and the legal rights and remedies available to the parties involved. 

How Are Employee Benefits Managed Legally? 

Employee benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and other perks are often part of the employment package. Understanding the legal requirements for offering these benefits, along with the options available to employees, is critical for employers. Employees must also be aware of their benefits and the procedures for accessing them to ensure they receive the full scope of compensation owed to them. 

What Are the Procedures for Grievance and Dispute Resolution?

When issues arise in the workplace, having an established process for handling grievances is essential. This can include mediation, arbitration, or legal action, depending on the nature and severity of the dispute. Both employers and employees should be familiar with the internal processes for managing conflicts and the legal frameworks that apply to dispute resolution in the workplace. 

How Can Lampert Law Office, LLC Help?

Whether facing wrongful termination, dealing with workplace discrimination, or any other employment-related concern, Lampert Law Office, LLC is dedicated to standing up for your rights and striving for a favorable resolution to relieve your stress. If you are in Springfield, Missouri, or in the neighboring areas of Joplin, Jasper, Taney County, or Christian County, reach out today. Protect your rights and take action against unfair employment practices with the help of Raymond B. Lampert.