Employment law spans many topics, from contract disputes to discrimination lawsuits and everything in between. Employment lawyers have the tools and knowledge to address these cases and litigate in your favor.
However, searching for the right employment lawyer can often pose hurdles if you’re looking for a quick consultation on a job-related matter or need legal assistance to file a lawsuit in federal court. When you put your trust in the hands of an attorney, you’ll want to make sure they can meet your needs. Finding an employment lawyer may be the first step in your legal journey.
What Is an Employment Attorney?
A common question many people ask is, “What is an employment lawyer?”
Employment attorneys specialize in various legal topics that typically arise in workplace situations. Employment law encompasses many types of circumstances and disputes, including:
- Breach of employment contracts
- Wage claims and salary disputes
- Problems with employment policies and procedures
- Workplace discrimination and harassment
- Occupational safety and health violations
- Americans with Disability Act (ADA) violations
- Wrongful terminations
Given the broad range of topics, employment law attorneys have experience dealing with numerous state and federal agencies and the respective laws that correspond to workplace practices and regulations.
When it comes to most employment lawyers in Florida, these attorneys likely work alongside these governing bodies, depending on the issue at hand:
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
- Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR)
- Florida State Courts
These state and federal authorities enforce and oversee workplace laws and their related matters. Whenever an employment law claim is filed, these agencies may be involved as part of the legal process.
Thus, there are many moving parts to employment law beyond the typical courts, and employment law attorneys are equipped with the knowledge to represent clients across a wide range of matters.
So, what is an employment lawyer? An employment lawyer is your best asset in navigating the legal processes required to protect your rights.
Learning more about how employment law works, the functions of employment lawyers, and how you can proceed with a claim can help you make the right choice when hiring legal counsel.
What Does an Employment Lawyer Do?
Employment law attorneys represent employees, employers, and unions in work-related disputes. As such, labor law employees spend the bulk of their time researching the many laws, statutes, and codes that relate to workplace practices.
Additionally, employment attorneys draft and file pleadings, litigate claims, and participate in mediation-related activities to resolve cases.
When representing employees and employers, labor attorneys can work to advise on topics including:
- Fair and equitable employment policies and procedures
- Legal compliance with company regulations
- Human resources administration
- Bringing forward lawsuits
- Filing civil rights violation claims
- Alternative dispute resolution, including negotiation, mediation, and arbitration
- Training and awareness for staff and personnel
In many cases, employment lawyers are involved in drafting and negotiating contracts for employers and employees. In other cases, they may handle allegations of workplace misconduct, contractual violations, financial discrepancies, and other disputes.
When representing workers, some of the most common cases labor lawyers handle involve wrongful termination. Wrongful termination is an illegal practice that can stem from various reasons. Employees who feel their rights were violated may seek recourse through the courts or other governing bodies to hold their employers accountable.
Overall, employment lawyers represent many types of cases, such as:
- Discrimination against a protected class
- Violation of a public policy
- Family or medical leave violations
- Wage theft or underpayment
- Failure to meet contractual obligations
- Wrongful terminations
- Health and safety violations
- Workers’ compensation claims
Each branch of law has unique nuances and systems in place. Whenever you’re involved in any labor-related issue, a specialized employment lawyer will be your best bet in obtaining the legal help you need and finding a solution.
Common Types of Employment and Labor Law Issues
Though many issues can arise between employers and employees, the most common cases that labor attorneys handle tend to fall into several categories:
Civil Rights Violations and Discrimination
Sadly, though many federal and state laws prohibit and discourage discriminatory practices at work, thousands of discrimination claims are filed yearly.
Discrimination is any unjust or prejudicial treatment of an employee based on their characteristics or personal life choices. Some categories that are legally protected against workplace discrimination include:
- Gender and sex preference
- Sexual orientation
- Race or ethnic background
- Religion and beliefs
- National origin
The Civil Right Act of 1964 laid the foundation for federal protections against workplace discrimination. Since then, many more laws have been passed to protect workers from hostile work environments.
Discrimination may be a reasonable claim whenever an employer uses a protected category as the basis for making workplace decisions. Some of these situations include:
- Hiring and firing
- Promotions or demotions
- Health and retirement benefits
- Reassignment of roles
- Harassment and bullying
In Florida, employment attorneys handle most workplace discrimination cases and will file claims with the appropriate state or federal authorities to hold the violating parties responsible.
An employment discrimination attorney can represent victims throughout the claims process, which generally involves gathering thorough evidence to present a strong claim.
Unfair Compensation and Wage Disparity Claims
Another common labor law issue for many workers across Florida is unfair compensation. Many times, employers will illegally withhold or deduct wages from a worker’s paycheck for reasons including:
- Unapproved overtime
- Punishment for mistakes or misconduct
- Improper reporting of breaks and lunches
Florida employees are protected under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and employers must legally pay all wages regardless of any conflict of interest. Whenever an employer fails to comply with FLSA standards, an employment lawyer may be the only way to hold these individuals accountable for wage violations.
Family and Medical Leave Act Enforcement
Another federal provision that protects employees is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law provides certain employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to deal with particular situations like:
- Birth of a child
- Care for a newborn
- Placement of a child in foster care
- Adoption-related matters
- Caring for family members with serious health complications
- Extended time off for personal serious health conditions
Whenever an employer fails to provide the legally mandated time off or fires an individual who needs medical leave, employment lawyers can help.
Minimum Wage Disputes
Across Florida, employers must pay their workers the legally established state minimum wage of $11 per hour (as of September 30, 2022) and associated overtime compensation whenever applicable.
All Florida employers are required to pay these minimums and may not deduct work-related expenses from a worker’s paycheck, such as the cost of uniforms, cash shortages, breakages, and spills. Workers cannot be forced to work for tips to make up for lower hourly wages.
Employment law attorneys can help recover the lost wages of employees subject to minimum wage violations and even seek compensation for additional losses that result from these illegal operations.
Breach of Employment Contract
The most common legal issue associated with work contracts is known as a breach of contract.
Breach of contract happens when an employer violates any term within a contract. This often happens through invalid demotions and terminations or failure to provide an employee with agreed-upon breaks, vacation time, or pay raises. Employers are legally bound to comply with a contract that includes clauses and provisions.
A breach of contract is eligible for various legal claims, including a lawsuit. An employment attorney can help review the terms of an agreement and determine how to proceed legally. Often, attorneys may be tasked with ensuring that a contract is enforceable in court before proceeding with a claim.
Compensation for Employment Violations
In most Florida employment complaints, there are several remedies that an attorney can help securely. Depending on your situation, some of these corrective measures may include:
- Financial compensation for losses, which may involve seeking punitive damages
- Restoring your position after a wrongful termination
- Granting you access to promotions and other benefits
- Disciplinary actions against your employer
A Florida employment attorney will review your case to determine the best possible outcomes and whether compensation is possible as part of their action plan.
Steps to Find the Best Employment Lawyer for your Case
When you look for a lawyer to represent your employment matter, you’ll want to ensure they specialize in the case you’ll be filing.
Some employment lawyers may be more adept at handling contract violations, while others may deal solely with civil rights cases. When you consult with an attorney, ensure they have a strong track record of representing clients in similar claims as yours.
Most attorneys offer a free initial consultation. As such, scheduling a few meetings with different attorneys before making your choice is an excellent idea. Careful consideration can go a long way in ensuring you choose the right employment attorney to handle your matter.
When to Contact an Attorney
Because employment attorneys deal in many different matters, certain situations are likely to require legal assistance:
- You believe you were discriminated against
- Your employer terminated you under unlawful terms
- Your company breached part of your contract
- You’ve been the victim of wage violations
- You suffered harassment to the point that it led to a hostile work environment
For many workers, navigating employment law can be complex, and a seasoned employment lawyer is essential in helping you do so. If you’re unsure what to do, it doesn’t hurt to contact an attorney to discuss your situation.
Benefits of Hiring an Employment Attorney
While you can handle many employment matters without legal representation, hiring a lawyer means hiring a professional who can cover all the bases.
Employment attorneys know the ins and outs of federal and state employment laws and will fight to represent your best interests. When it comes to prosecuting a case or preparing a claim, attorneys can:
- Conduct research
- Write and file pleadings
- Interview witnesses
- Hire experts to assist in your case
- Negotiate terms with opposing counsel
- Participate in mediation and alternative dispute resolution
- Review and enforce contracts
- Represent you in a jury trial
Employment cases involve many legal elements at both the state and federal levels. Depending on your unique circumstances, these cases can often become complicated and stressful to navigate, especially when litigation is involved. Hiring an employment law attorney can give you the peace of mind you need while you resolve your matter.
Get Help Today
Wenzel, Fenton, and Cabassa P.A. represent employment claims across Florida. Our team of specialized employment attorneys is dedicated to helping clients fight against unfair employment practices.
Whether you’ve been wrongfully terminated, denied a job due to age, or been the victim of wage theft, our attorneys are ready to help.
Contact us today for a free consultation and to learn more about how a labor lawyer and employment discrimination attorney can work in your favor.
Please Note: At the time this article was written, the information contained within it was current based on the prevailing law at the time. Laws and precedents are subject to change, so this information may not be up to date. Always speak with a law firm regarding any legal situation to get the most current information available.