What is Employment Law?

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January 16, 2013
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Employee leaving a company

Employment Law

Employment law pertains to a legal relationship between employees and employers. There are various statutes and laws which determine rights and responsibilities for all parties concerned. There are employment laws on the federal level, state level, and city or county levels. These regulations cover the types of rights and responsibilities that come from having an employment contract. When an employer offers a position to an employee, the laws begin governing the transaction. Employment laws ensure that the entire process is done fairly from the hiring process, job duties, benefits, wages, promotions, employment reviews and termination. Not every law applies to every employment situation. Some laws are applicable depending on how many employees work at a company. Some federal laws can also be addressed by individual states which may have their own caveats. Companies both private and public can be subject to different regulations based on varying factors such as how many employees they have.

Types of Employment Laws

Employment laws can be designed in various localities so that they fit the need in the area. But there are also federal laws that are mandated and no one is exempt from them. There are many different aspects to employment law such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which protects employees with disabilities from being discriminated against and mandates that any reasonable accommodations be made. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which allows a worker to take a leave of absence from their work to care for a close family member who has certain medical conditions. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ensures employees are safe from discrimination based on religion, gender, national origin, race or color. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is a federal law which protects employees against age discrimination. There are also various laws dealing with worker’s compensation which ensure that an employee is financially covered in the event that the employee is injured or becomes ill from a work-related incident.

History

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, employees had no protection. Employers could treat those who worked for them in any manner they chose including paying low wages and forced to work extremely long hours. Working conditions were often hazardous and if an accident occurred on the job there was no compensation offered. There were no age limitations so many times children were working in these harsh circumstances. It eventually became clear that there needed to be some form of employment law instituted to protect the rights of workers.

Originally, employment laws were established to set fair wages, limit how many hours a worker could work in one week, and to prevent the exploitation of children. Regulations were also put into place to make a business keep a certain level of cleanliness in the workplace and employers were forced to provide certain safety precautions necessary to protect employees. They were required to take the necessary steps to prevent dangerous accidents from occurring. Over the years, these have all been expanded and improved on. As the laws developed they became a protection for employees and employers.

Purpose of Employment Laws

The main purpose of the combined employment laws is to create working conditions which allow people to be employed in a workplace which is free from bias. Employment law helps prevent actions such as harassment and it dictates that businesses must maintain workplace conditions which are safe and sanitary for the workers. There are different agencies which enforce various aspects of these laws. But the main role of employment law is to make sure that every person has the opportunity to work at a job for which they are qualified.

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