State employment disputes are workplace disputes that involve any type of state department or state agency. These may include state operated divisions such as courthouses, employment divisions, labor/union departments, educational institutions, and other departments. These types of state departments are bound by specific employment laws. In fact, since they are operated by the state, they can sometimes be subject to more strict employment laws than privately run organizations.
For instance, it is illegal for state-run organizations to:
- Implement or enforce policies involving discrimination towards a person or a group of persons
- Allow conditions of harassment to exist in the workplace
- Deny workers their rightful wages under state and federal laws
- Deny workers benefits that they are entitled to
These rules apply to persons who are employed by the state. They may also apply to future employees of the state, such as persons who are being interviewed as candidates for state employment.
How are State Employment Disputes Processed?
Most states have a separate department that processes employment disputes such as discrimination and harassment. For instance, in California, this department is called the “Department of Fair Employment and Housing” (DFEH); in Texas the relevant department is the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). State employment disputes may be filed with these departments directly.
After receiving the claim, the employment dispute agency will respond by conducting an investigation into the worker’s claim. This can involve several weeks and up to a year maximum in most states. During this time, the relevant evidence, statements, and documents will be gathered, so the employee should be prepared to provide these to the agency. After the investigation, the department may prescribe a remedy, such as paying the worker back wages or reinstating them to their position if they were subject to wrongful termination (whatever is appropriate).
What if My Dispute is Not Immediately Resolved?
It sometimes happens that the state employment agency is unable to resolve the dispute immediately (for instance, if there isn’t enough evidence to prove discrimination, or the evidence is too contradictory). In such cases, you may be able to file for an appeal with the agency if this is possible.
Alternatively, you may need to file with a federal agency such as the EEOC, or you may need to file a private lawsuit against your employer. A qualified lawyer can help with these responses.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With State Employment Disputes?
Whether filing for yourself or on behalf of several other employees, it may be necessary to hire an employment lawyer for help with state employment disputes. Your attorney can explain how the specific laws of your state may apply to your particular situation. Also, your lawyer can provide you with legal advice, guidance, and representation throughout the entire process. This will help ensure that your rights are protected from the beginning until the end of the process.