Employers must understand what is considered legal in the workplace to respect their employees and operate successfully. As a law firm that practices business and corporate law, Ritter Spencer is well-versed in the rules that govern a place of employment. With help from an experienced attorney, business owners can avoid common legal issues in the workplace and maintain a decent corporate reputation. Read below to learn more.
One of the most common legal issues in the workplace is discrimination, which can seriously impact a victim’s well-being. Discrimination is defined as the mistreatment of any employee, individually or as a group, due to color, race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or veteran status.
Examples of discrimination include paying men more than women for the same job, refusing to hire a certain race, showing favor related to any of the protected classes, or creating an environment that isn’t conducive to an employee with a disability. Typically, an employee subjected to discrimination will file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within a specific timeframe after the incident, depending on their field. From there, legal proceedings can determine if the alleged discriminator is guilty.
An organization is also at risk for legal trouble if an unhappy customer files a lawsuit against the business. A customer satisfaction lawsuit is usually the result of a product malfunction, broken promise, or lack of quality and safety. Attending to customers’ needs and having a dedicated team for customer service is the best way to proactively avoid dissatisfied customers
Unfortunately, many different scenarios can lead to unsatisfied customers. Customers will often be upset if they feel that the product or service endangers their health and safety, if there is a miscommunication about price or other expectations, or if false advertising is involved. An attorney can help to appease both customers and business owners while keeping everyone in line with legal requirements.
Injury or Illness
Any injury or illness that occurs in a workplace because of a job’s working conditions is considered work-related by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). If an employee is injured or becomes ill because of work or if a work-related situation greatly aggravates an existing condition, the victim can file a claim against their employer to try and receive worker’s compensation
Common examples of work-related injuries and illnesses include hearing loss, stress-related injuries, overuse injuries, and occupational diseases. Situations that do not qualify for worker’s compensation include
- The employee was at the place of business as a member of the public
- Symptoms surface at work but are the result of a non-work incident
- Symptoms arise from a voluntary activity such as a blood drive
- The injury happens due to personal grooming
- The illness is a mental illness
- Several other exceptions
Another common legal issue in the workplace is wrongful termination. To be considered an illegal or wrongful termination, the employer must have fired the employee in violation of the law.
Terminating an employee after creating a hostile work environment or after discriminating against that employee, retaliation against whistle-blowers, or a breach of contract may be grounds for wrongful termination. Most states, including Texas, are “at-will,” meaning that, without a contract, employers do not need to give employees cause to terminate them as long as there is no unlawful basis for the termination, like discrimination.
Unless they are considered exempt, employees should earn additional compensation when they work over 40 hours a week, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). If a worker does not receive the time-and-a-half pay to which they are entitled, they may file a complaint with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) to request their compensation.
Most local government employees are exempt, though not all law enforcement and fire protection personnel are eligible for overtime pay. Public hospital employees may also work under a separate agreement that takes their unique schedules into account. When determining if an employee gets paid overtime, it is essential not to confuse the workweek and pay period.
Are you facing any of these common legal issues in the workplace? With our expertise in business law, the team at Ritter Spencer understands how important it is for both employers and employees to get the justice they deserve. If you need help filing or addressing a claim about a workplace legal issue, contact Ritter Spencer.