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Employment Law for Employees - An Overview

Employment law covers the relationships between employers and their current, prospective and former employees. Both federal and state laws control various aspects of the employer-employee relationship, including each side's rights and obligations. Because of the complexity of the employment relationship, this area of law involves issues as diverse as discrimination, record keeping, taxation and workplace safety.

There are also different types of employment relationships. Employment relationships can be based on a contract, or they can be "at-will." If the employment relationship is based on a valid contract entered into by the employer and the employee, the terms of that contract will govern the relationship. By contrast, an at-will employment arrangement can be terminated at any time, with or without reason, by either the employer (as long as the reason does not constitute illegal discrimination) or the employee.

With all these factors to consider, it is clear why employment law is such a complex area. If you have an employment law concern, contact an employment lawyer at Farber Legal, LLC in Bethesda, MD, who can provide advice and representation in a range of workplace-related matters.

Federal Regulations on Employment Relationships

Numerous federal laws apply to employment nationwide. Some laws affect only employers over a certain size, while others have different restrictions. The following is a quick summary of the major federal employment laws:

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended:

  • Applies only to employers who, for 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year, have employed 15 or more employees
  • Prohibits employers from discriminating because of or on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition) or national origin

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):

  • Applies only to employers who, for 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year, have employed 15 or more employees
  • Defines disability with respect to an individual as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment"
  • Defines major life activities to include, but not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, working and major bodily functions such as functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions
  • Is designed to prohibit discrimination against workers with disabilities
  • Provides that if an individual with a disability can perform the essential functions of the job, with reasonable accommodation, that person cannot be discriminated against on the basis of the disability

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA):

  • Applies only to employers who, for 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year, have employed 20 or more employees
  • Applies only to employees who are 40 years old or older
  • Prevents employers from giving preferential treatment to younger workers to the exclusion of older workers when it comes to hiring, pay, benefits such as health insurance, job assignments and promotions
  • Does not prevent an employer from favoring older employees over younger employees

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA):

  • Applies to businesses that gross $500,000 or more per year and to other specific types of businesses
  • Provides that qualified employees who work more than 40 hours in a week should receive time-and-a-half pay for the overtime
  • Does not provide regulation as to the number and duration of breaks an employer must allow, but individual states may do so
  • Specifies minimum wage requirements

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA):

  • Applies only to employers who, for 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year, have employed 50 or more employees for each working day
  • Applies only to employees who have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and 1,250 hours in the year preceding the leave
  • Provides that employers must allow employees to take up to a 12-week unpaid leave of absence during any 12-month period for qualified family and medical reasons
  • Preserves qualified employees' positions for the duration of the leave
  • Employees generally cannot be punished or demoted for taking valid FMLA leave

Employee Rights in the Workplace

All employees have basic rights in the workplace. Those rights include privacy and freedom from illegal discrimination. In addition to federal law, each state has enacted laws to protect the rights of workers. A job applicant also has certain rights even prior to being hired as an employee. Those rights include the right to be free from discrimination based on age, gender, race, national origin or religion during the hiring process.

In most states, employees have a right to privacy in the workplace. This right to privacy can include one's personal possessions, including handbags or briefcases, and storage lockers accessible only by employees. Employees also have a right to privacy in their personal telephone conversations. Employees have very little privacy or right to privacy, however, in their messages on company email and their Internet usage on the employer's computer system.

There are certain pieces of information that an employer may not seek out concerning a potential applicant or an employee. An employer may not conduct a credit or background check of an employee or a prospective employee unless the employer notifies the employee or applicant in writing that it intends to do so and receives authorization to do so.

In addition, most private employers may not require an employee or a prospective employee to submit to a polygraph (lie-detector test). There are very narrow exceptions to this rule if the employee is suspected of being involved in an incident that caused economic loss or injury to the employer or if the employee is being considered to drive an armored car, work for a security company, work with controlled substances or work in national security.

Speak to an Employment Law Attorney

Employees have a variety of rights in the workplace, through both federal and state law. Employers, however, also have rights and protections under the law. It is important for both employers and employees to be aware of their legal rights and the duties they owe to each other. If you are an employee and you feel your rights have been violated by your employer, get in touch with an employment law lawyer at Farber Legal, LLC in Bethesda, MD, to ensure that your rights are protected.

Copyright © 2015 FindLaw, a Thomson Reuters business

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

MINDY G. FARBER RATED AS AV WITH MARTINDALE HUBBELL

Occasionally Martindale-Hubbell, the premier rater of attorneys in the United States, reevaluates attorneys who have been in practice for a number of years. Ms. Farber is proud to announce that on the basis of Martindale Hubbell’s confidential surveying of attorneys in her field as well as other practicing attorneys, Ms. Farber has received the very highest positive rating.

AV rated
Preeminent TM
Meets Very High Criteria of General Ethical Standards? Yes
AV
Overall Peer Rating
in Labor and Employment, Consumer Law and Litigation

Posted by a Private Practice Lawyer on 07/13/15 5.0 out of 5.0

Ms. Farber is an excellent attorney and a very compassionate human being. That is why for quite a number of years, I have referred my client's employee claim matters to her and no one else. She has always represented them in a first class fashion and I have never heard one complaint. I highly recommend her for the highest rating possible.

Hello Mindy

Thank you very much for your guidance. The letter with our changes was approved and signed
Thank you VERY much for your straightforward, professional guidance and kindness and understanding in what was
a pretty surprising situation. With this behind me, however, I am moving forward, . Best of luck and thank you again for your expertise!

Lu Steele Bethesda, MD

 

Hi Mindy,
I am retiring on April 3rd, so I don't have too many days left! I will miss working with you as you are one of the finest attorneys I have ever dealt with during my 40 year (Federal) career.

- Lori Suto Goldsby, Head of Mediation Services, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

 

“First and foremost, I want to thank you very much for all of your help with my case. As you know, you came recommended through a friend whose cousin works at the Montgomery County Police Department. I was aware of your reputation, but having experienced it personally, I can say I am extremely impressed.”

- M. Brown Washington, DC

 

Dear Ms. Farber,
It was a pleasure speaking with you on Wednesday, July 2, 2014. I have had a career in law enforcement, over 38 years' experience as a private investigator, and I am currently employed as a Federal EEO Investigator. Never before have I had the pleasure of an attorney putting forth the effort that you have displayed in returning my phone call, and establishing a relationship that causes me to look forward to our continued professional communications. Your extensive 38 years' experience and accomplishments certainly have not dimmed your enthusiasm, and I appreciate it.

- Sincerely,
Robert A. Bolton, EEO Investigator, Office of Resolution Management, La Plata, MD 20646

 

Hi Mindy,
I am retiring on April 3rd, so I don't have too many days left! I will miss working with you as you are one of the finest attorneys I have ever dealt with during my 40 year (Federal) career.

- Lori Suto Goldsby, Head of Mediation Services, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

 

“First and foremost, I want to thank you very much for all of your help with my case. As you know, you came recommended through a friend whose cousin works at the Montgomery County Police Department. I was aware of your reputation, but having experienced it personally, I can say I am extremely impressed.”

- M. Brown Washington, DC

 

Dear Ms. Farber,
It was a pleasure speaking with you on Wednesday, July 2, 2014. I have had a career in law enforcement, over 38 years' experience as a private investigator, and I am currently employed as a Federal EEO Investigator. Never before have I had the pleasure of an attorney putting forth the effort that you have displayed in returning my phone call, and establishing a relationship that causes me to look forward to our continued professional communications. Your extensive 38 years' experience and accomplishments certainly have not dimmed your enthusiasm, and I appreciate it.

- Sincerely,
Robert A. Bolton, EEO Investigator, Office of Resolution Management, La Plata, MD 20646

 

Hi Mindy,
I am retiring on April 3rd, so I don't have too many days left! I will miss working with you as you are one of the finest attorneys I have ever dealt with during my 40 year (Federal) career.

- Lori Suto Goldsby, Head of Mediation Services, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

 

“First and foremost, I want to thank you very much for all of your help with my case. As you know, you came recommended through a friend whose cousin works at the Montgomery County Police Department. I was aware of your reputation, but having experienced it personally, I can say I am extremely impressed.”

- M. Brown Washington, DC

 

Dear Ms. Farber,
It was a pleasure speaking with you on Wednesday, July 2, 2014. I have had a career in law enforcement, over 38 years' experience as a private investigator, and I am currently employed as a Federal EEO Investigator. Never before have I had the pleasure of an attorney putting forth the effort that you have displayed in returning my phone call, and establishing a relationship that causes me to look forward to our continued professional communications. Your extensive 38 years' experience and accomplishments certainly have not dimmed your enthusiasm, and I appreciate it.

- Sincerely,
Robert A. Bolton, EEO Investigator, Office of Resolution Management, La Plata, MD 20646

 

Hi Mindy,
I am retiring on April 3rd, so I don't have too many days left! I will miss working with you as you are one of the finest attorneys I have ever dealt with during my 40 year (Federal) career.

- Lori Suto Goldsby, Head of Mediation Services, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

 

“First and foremost, I want to thank you very much for all of your help with my case. As you know, you came recommended through a friend whose cousin works at the Montgomery County Police Department. I was aware of your reputation, but having experienced it personally, I can say I am extremely impressed.”

- M. Brown Washington, DC

 

Dear Ms. Farber,
It was a pleasure speaking with you on Wednesday, July 2, 2014. I have had a career in law enforcement, over 38 years' experience as a private investigator, and I am currently employed as a Federal EEO Investigator. Never before have I had the pleasure of an attorney putting forth the effort that you have displayed in returning my phone call, and establishing a relationship that causes me to look forward to our continued professional communications. Your extensive 38 years' experience and accomplishments certainly have not dimmed your enthusiasm, and I appreciate it.

- Sincerely,
Robert A. Bolton, EEO Investigator, Office of Resolution Management, La Plata, MD 20646

 

Hi Mindy,
I am retiring on April 3rd, so I don't have too many days left! I will miss working with you as you are one of the finest attorneys I have ever dealt with during my 40 year (Federal) career.

- Lori Suto Goldsby, Head of Mediation Services, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

 

“First and foremost, I want to thank you very much for all of your help with my case. As you know, you came recommended through a friend whose cousin works at the Montgomery County Police Department. I was aware of your reputation, but having experienced it personally, I can say I am extremely impressed.”

- M. Brown Washington, DC

 

Dear Ms. Farber,
It was a pleasure speaking with you on Wednesday, July 2, 2014. I have had a career in law enforcement, over 38 years' experience as a private investigator, and I am currently employed as a Federal EEO Investigator. Never before have I had the pleasure of an attorney putting forth the effort that you have displayed in returning my phone call, and establishing a relationship that causes me to look forward to our continued professional communications. Your extensive 38 years' experience and accomplishments certainly have not dimmed your enthusiasm, and I appreciate it.

- Sincerely,
Robert A. Bolton, EEO Investigator, Office of Resolution Management, La Plata, MD 20646

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