Employment law applies to disputes between an employer and an employee. If you have a workplace dispute or issue that cannot be resolved by your employer, you might be able to file a lawsuit against the employer.
An employee may be able to sue their employer. Claims against an employer include:
- Sexual harassment: There are two types of workplace sexual harassment. The first is known as hostile work environment sexual harassment. This kind of sexual harassment occurs when a person engages in unwanted and offensive conduct that affects the terms and conditions of the harassed person’s employment. The second kind of harassment, known as quid pro quo sexual harassment, occurs when a higher-ranking employee requires or demands that a lower-ranking employee perform sexual favors or submit to sexual demands, as a condition of keeping their job or job benefits.
- Discrimination Violating Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964 (Title VII): An employer violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal law, when the employer discriminates against an employee on the basis of the employee’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. An employer also violates Title VII when the employer retaliates against an employee who has made a complaint about such discrimination. Retaliation occurs when an employer takes a negative action, such as firing an employee for having made a complaint.
- Discrimination Violating the Americans with Disabilities Act: The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities. Under the ADA, employers may not take an adverse action against an employee, such as terminating the employee or demoting the employee, because the individual is disabled. The ADA requires an employer to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee with a disability.
- Discrimination Violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA): The ADEA is a federal law that makes age-based discrimination illegal. Under the ADEA, individuals who are 40 years or older are protected from discrimination due to age. An employer violates the law when the employer takes a negative employment action, such as termination or suspension, against an employee that the employer would not have taken but for the employee’s age.
- Discrimination Violating the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): The FMLA is a federal law that provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of leave for certain medical reasons. Under the FMLA, employers must continue the employee’s health care benefits. The FMLA also provides for job protection. This means that when the employee is finished taking the leave, they must be restored to their existing or equivalent position. It is illegal to fire an employee for taking FMLA leave. It is also illegal to interfere with an employee’s FMLA right to leave.
- Discrimination Violating the Equal Pay Act: The Equal Pay Act protects against gender discrimination. This federal law requires employers to pay employees equal pay for equal work, regardless of their gender.
- Discrimination Violating the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA): Under USERRA, employers must grant a leave of absence, for up to five years, to employees who are absent from work due to uniformed duties employment. USERRA leave is job-protected leave. This means that when the employee returns to work, they are entitled to the same job position they would have had, if they were employed during the leave.
- Workers’ Compensation: Workers’ compensation is payment of monetary and medical benefits to an employee who is injured on the job. Each state administers its own workers’ compensation laws. Employers must provide workers’ compensation benefits without regard to who caused the injury (whether employer or employee). An employee whose employer refuses to pay the benefits may file a claim with the State Workers Compensation Board seeking payment. In addition, an employer may not fire or otherwise retaliate against an employee for filing a workers compensation claim.
- Unlawful retaliation for Whistleblowing: A “whistleblower” is an employee who reports unethical or illegal conduct by their employer. Most states have laws preventing private companies from firing whistleblowers.
- Breach of Employment Contract: If an employee has a contract of employment with the employer, and the employer breaches the contract, the employee may file a lawsuit. Examples of breaches of conduct include an employer’s failure to pay the employee the amount agreed to in the contract, or withholding some other benefit provided in the contract.
- Wrongful Termination: Examples of wrongful termination include firing an employee for jury service or for voting.
If you are affected by an illegal act of your employer, you should consult an employment law attorney. An experienced employment law attorney near you can discuss your options and represent you in court.