When a person is hired by an employer it is often assumed that the employer has an equal interest between the employer and employee regarding contractual work agreements, protection and employment laws.
However, sometimes employers may by accident, misunderstanding of the law, or blatantly breach employment law putting the employee at risk.
An employment lawyer has an important role when it comes to employee protections and managing the conflicts between an employee and their employer. An employment lawyer can offer advice, review contracts and agreements, and represent the employee during mediation and litigation.
Situations where an employee should hire an employment lawyer
There are many circumstances, both obvious and speculative, where an employee may feel wronged or had unlawful actions committed against them that would affect employee benefits and privileges protected under law.
While there are dozens of reasons why an employee would hire an employment lawyer, some are more common than others. Below are the most common reasons why an employee may contact an employment lawyer, though not a comprehensive list or reasons.
Discrimination and harassment
Discrimination in the workplace occurs when an employee or potential employee are treated unfairly compared to others due to background or personal characteristics. While most believe that discrimination only occurs while working for a company, in fact, discrimination can occur at any point during a job search, interview, or during employment.
Much of discrimination law is based on local and national protections of people from all backgrounds and personal characteristics. The goal of an employment lawyer regarding discrimination is to identify or demonstrate that an employer intended to treat an employee or potential employee differently due to the following protected characteristics:
- Race or color
- Religious beliefs
- Sexual orientation
One factor which causes many people to not contact an employment lawyer is when an employer is discriminatory against large groups of people, citing that each employee is treated equally, though harassment or discrimination of any kind regarding any number of people is still protected under law and can be managed by an employment lawyer.
Illegal termination, also known as wrongful termination, is when an employer violates local or national laws, terms of an agreement, or public policy. If this occurs, an employer may be held accountable often resulting in compensation resulting from the consequences of the unlawful termination.
A common misunderstanding in the laws is reflected when an employer cites that employment is “at will,” meaning that an employer can, at any time, terminate an employee for any reason unless otherwise protected under an agreement. However, the reason of termination cannot be illegal such as under the following situations:
Termination due to discrimination
Retaliation for an employee who engages in protected actions such as reporting harassment and discrimination, following whistleblower protocol, filing a complaint with oversight groups, accepting provided benefits, serving public policy such as jury duty, or participating in investigations against the company or people within the company.
Agreement violations can occur if an employment agreement offers security and protections against termination, or otherwise defines the boundaries and termination policy. In these cases, “at will” employment is superseded by the agreement.
Violation of oral and implied assurances of future employment.
Failure to provide protected time off work such as family care and medical reasons.
Sexual harassment refers to any conduct which consists of:
- Unwanted sexual advances
- Sexual conduct
- Verbal or physical actions sexual in nature
Sexual harassment is considered one of the most flagrant illegal acts that can occur in a workplace often referenced by a quid pro quo solicitation, hostile work environment, and stereotype inferences. The difficulty that many employees face is when determining if they are experiencing sexual harassment lies in the severity of actions. However, it is important to note that sexual harassment encompasses any unwanted sexual advances or actions from sexual comments, jokes, and text messages, and up to more severe sexual touching and advances.
Promised benefits not received
Local and national laws provide protected employment based on background, personal characteristics, as well as public policy, medical, and other protections. In addition, your employer may promise other benefits. For many employees this can help determine which position to take or company to work for. However, if an employer promises benefits, yet doesn’t provide, the employee has the ability to sue for damages, lost promised wages, and other potential consequences which occur due to the promise of benefits not delivered.
Examples of promised benefits may be:
- Higher wages beginning on a certain date or upon acceptance of a new position.
- Fully paid medical benefits
- Stipulated paid time off
- Bonuses for performance
- Commissions and commission rates
- When wages are to be paid
Employer forces you to sign agreement waving your rights
Employers, are by law, obligated to provide employee rights, many of which have been covered in this text. However, if an employer, either requires waving of your rights to be hired for a position, to continue as an employee, or even upon termination, the forced waving of rights is illegal.
Potential rights that an employer may not try to force an employee to waive are:
- Protections such as actions against an employee due to gender, race, disability, etc.
- The ability to negotiate with employer
- Conditions of work environment
- Whistleblower protections
An employment lawyer is here to help an employee maintain legal footing with their employer as well as mediate or litigate illegal actions taken by an employer. Local and national laws protect employees from illegal actions that result in the mistreatment of, or discrimination against, an employee and subsequent consequences.
If at any time you feel that you have been treated unfairly by your employer through discrimination, harassment, unresolved promises, illegal termination or any other employment concern you shouldn’t hesitate to contact an employment lawyer immediately.
LGM Advisors is a leading Melbourne law firm, professionals in Employment Law. LGM Advisors have the skills, experience and expertise to ensure that you and your contract matter is consulted upon with the utmost professionalism. Contact LGM Advisors and speak to a contract lawyer today on (03) 9832 0608 or by email at email@example.com.
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