Burlington employment law attorneys can help with violations of labor law, employer discrimination actions and fair compensation.
Employment law is a demanding field necessary to protect both employers and employees from a multitude of unfair employment practices. Legal action has become a common remedy to address deviations of labor law resulting in employment disputes. Legal actions frequently stem from direct violations of the labor laws that are set up to protect both the employer and the employee from the wrongdoing of either party. State labor laws must either comply with federal, or national labor laws, or exceed them in order to be legal.
VIOLATIONS OF LABOR LAW.
Most states defer to federal law, but it is best to hire a Vermont employment attorney in the state where the questionable employment activities arise, so they can utilize both state and federal employment law to build a solid case. Common and costly labor law mistakes include violations of:
- Not adhering to the minimum wage and overtime requirements per established employment law,
- Not providing a safe working environment for employees,
- Workers’ compensation issues for on the job injuries,
- Misclassification of employees,
- Discrimination, or harassment of employees.
Minimum wage and overtime.
The Federal Labor Standards Act requires overtime pay of at least one and one-half times the regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per workweek and the states follow suit. Regular rate requirements define what forms of payment employers include and exclude in the “time and one-half” calculation when determining workers’ overtime rates. A Burlington employment law attorney can make certain state law addresses the federal guidelines on minimum wage, meaning nearly all employees must be paid $7.25 an hour for their labor. State-specific nuances of the wage laws can be reviewed with an Burlington employment law attorney.
Safe working environment.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was created to ensure workplace safety for employees. If an employer does not take the appropriate measures to make the workplace safe, they can face OSHA sanctions and fines, along with formal complaints and lawsuits from employees. Workplace safety issues may include poor lighting, variances in temperature unacceptable for work, poor ventilation, toxic exposure to chemicals and other foreign substances, cluttered office spaces, poor ergonomic design of individual workspaces and workplace violence. Employers are responsible for educating employees about all relevant potential hazards on the job and for providing appropriate training to avoid OSHA labor law violations.
Burlington Workers’ compensation.
Most states require employers to carry some sort of workers’ compensation insurance to pay for work-related injuries. In almost all cases, if a worker sustains an injury while working for a specific employer, that employer must cover the costs related to that injury. These costs include medical fees, rehabilitation fees, and the wages not being earned due to disability. Failing to cover these costs will be a labor law violation and a complaint can be filed with the state’s workforce commission. Each state has their own specific guidelines as to how many employees a business must have to carry insurance, and what employee classifications may be exempt from receiving workers’ compensation. The complaint process may be more effective with timely resolve when an experienced labor law attorney is acting on behalf of an injured employee.
Burlington Vermont Employee misclassification.
Some employers try to classify workers to minimize the wages paid to that person. This misclassification results in a labor law violation. An example of this labor law violation is trying to classify someone as a salaried employee when they are an hourly employee. According to the FLSA, the only people who should be paid salary are professionals, executives, administrative staff, outside salespeople, and some computer positions. If an hourly worker is classified as a salaried employee to short them of overtime hours above a 40 hour work week, it is a major labor law violation.
Burlington Vermont Discrimination, harassment of employees.
Federal anti-discrimination laws support many lawsuits brought against employers for age, disability status, gender pay gap, sex, race, religion, national origin, and pregnancy, to name a few and include:
- Title I of Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA): Prohibits discrimination against qualified disabled employees.
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act: Bars employers from discriminating against workers based on sex, race, religion, color, or national origin.
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act: Prevents employers from discriminating against a woman because of pregnancy, or a related condition.
- Equal Pay Act: Requires employers to pay men and women the same wages if they perform equal work in the same workplace.
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act: Prohibits employers from discriminating against employees ages 40 or older because of their age.
Workplace discrimination and harassment claims are often newsworthy when employers take negative actions against their employees. There are state and federal laws to protect employees against the harms of those negative interactions, and a Burlington employment lawyer can be very helpful. A common sub-sector of negative employer acts that employees may not be aware of, includes employer actions of retaliation when an employee reports possible discrimination, or harassment on the job.
- Workplace discrimination occurs when an individual is adversely discriminated against, due to a multitude of factors defined by law.
- Workplace harassment is a form of discrimination that includes unwelcome behaviors by managers, clients, and co-workers, or other workplace associates.
- Employer retaliation includes acts to punish an employee. If an individual is fired because they speak out about the harassment, they should immediately consult with an attorney who focuses on employment law.
Burlington Vermont employment laws prohibit workplace discrimination based on age, race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. If an employee is wrongfully terminated based on any of these characteristics, or traits, they can recover damages, including attorney fees, from their employer. An example of law supporting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBTQ) community against the multitude of negative work environments was revealed in the recent ruling of the United States Supreme Court, deciding that gay, lesbian, and transgender workers are protected by federal anti-discrimination law, specifically that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, also applies to sexual orientation.
Vermont Recognizing retaliation.
Changes in workplace interactions that have an adverse effect on an individual’s employment are the only changes that will support retaliatory claims, such as being fired for not being a “team player” shortly after filing that complaint. Retaliation may come in a series of random acts that detract from an employee’s ability to advance in their job, including bad performance reviews, job description changes, micromanagement, exclusions from active projects, or requests to work less hours, resulting in pay cuts.
Burlington Wrongful termination.
Employees have rights to fight back against wrongful termination, brought about by workplace discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. Employees can make informal complaints to their employer, file a formal complaint, file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and/or State Commission on Human Rights Division, or file a lawsuit, especially when any attempt to complain about the negative workplace behavior results in retaliatory acts by an employer. When an employer fires someone after they make a complaint for workplace harassment, that individual may need to hire an employer retaliation law firm. This type of employment claim is usually filed after an employer initiates wrongful termination, demotion, pay cuts, downgrading of an individual’s job duties, removing them from career advancement opportunities, harassing employees, or creating a hostile work environment.
Burlington Vermont Discrimination lawsuits.
Federal law protects employees after they complain either internally, or to an outside agency like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about the problems in the workplace.
A successful retaliation discrimination legal action will be based on verifiable proof of the infraction. It is unlawful to retaliate against applicants, or employees for:
- filing, or being a witness in an EEO charge, complaint, investigation, or lawsuit
- communicating with a supervisor or manager about employment discrimination, including harassment
- answering questions during an employer investigation of alleged harassment
- refusing to follow orders that would result in discrimination
- resisting sexual advances, or intervening to protect others
- requesting accommodation of a disability or for a religious practice
- asking managers or co-workers about salary information to uncover potentially discriminatory wages.
Additional negative workplace actions including:
- false poor performance evaluations
- unwanted and undesirable transfers
- verbal and/or physical abuse
- Character defamation
- Changing schedule to conflict with outside responsibility.
The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is administered by the Wage and Hour Division and sets standards for minimum wages, overtime pay, time keeping records, and child labor. If an employer is not paying the minimum wage and overtime wages in accordance with Federal laws, it may be illegal depending on an individual’s work status, and the type of business where they are employed. If an individual feels that their rights have been violated in a job, they should contact the Hours and Wages Division of the United States Department of Labor. Claims are usually investigated in a timely manner and if an employer is found to be in violation, they will be ordered to compensate individuals for unpaid, or underpaid wages. An experienced attorney focusing on unpaid wage recovery can help.
On March 28, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a proposed rule to amend 29 CFR part 778 to clarify and update regular rate requirements under section 7(e) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA generally requires overtime pay of at least one and one-half times the regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per workweek and the State of State follows suit.
An employer may attempt to by-pass federal overtime law by telling an employee that they are working in a “salaried” position. They will then attempt to pay workers a lump sum total of 40 hours’ worth of minimum wage, and claim that they are not required to pay overtime compensation, which is in clear violation of overtime laws. There are cases where the Wage and Hour Division concludes that there is not enough evidence to force payment on an employer. If an individual feels they have a strong case against an employer, they should contact an unpaid wage attorney.
Some employers do not have to pay overtime.
Not all employers are required by law to pay overtime wages, although exceptions are rare. The Fair Labor Standards Act requires companies with over $500,000 in annual sales and those that participate in interstate commerce, or business between states, to pay their workers an overtime wage along with the following types of employers, regardless of their annual income amounts. They are:
- Institutions that care for sick, aged, mentally ill, or disabled residents,
- Schools for special needs children,
- Elementary, secondary schools, and institutions of higher education,
- Federal, state, and local government agencies.
Most states follow Federal overtime laws identifying a class of employees to include:
- Independent contractors,
- Salaried administrative, executive, or professional workers,
- Criminal investigators,
- Small farm workers,
- Newspaper delivery people and certain newspaper employees,
- Select computer specialists who earn at least $27.63,
- Some seasonal employees, or staff of cyclical businesses,
- Informal babysitters or caregivers.
Employers in most states are required to follow the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act that governs such things as the required minimum hourly wage, the required overtime wage, the duration of pay periods, appropriate payroll deductions, required pay statement information, payment of final wages, and much more.
Damages are awarded to remedy intangible injuries, such as emotional anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, inconvenience, pain and suffering, injury to professional community standing, injury to reputation, injury to credit and loss of health. Economic damages are easier to quantify and include potential moving expenses, job search expenses, medical expenses, behavioral health expenses, and out-of-pocket expenses directly related to the negative employer practices.
Hire a Burlington employment lawyer.
If an individual believes they are the victim of any labor law violations, they should immediately contact an experienced Burlington employment law attorney who can review the case and devise a strategy to recover damages.