What is Employment Law?
Employment lawsuits involve any that deal with the relationship between workers, employers, trade unions, and the government.
Overtime and Minimum Wage
- The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay their non-exempt workers one and one-half times their regular hourly rate when they work more than 40 hours in any one workweek. Whether an employee must be paid overtime depends on many factors including the amount of money that an employee makes and the type of work that they do. While many employers may think that they can simply call an employee salaried and avoid paying overtime, this is often false. The true test of whether an employee is determined by the actual duties that the employee performs. Employees who have been deprived of the overtime pay that they earned may bring lawsuits against employers who improperly withhold overtime pay. The FLSA also protects employees who complain about not receiving their overtime pay. If an employee is wrongfully terminated or harassed in retaliation for demanding overtime pay to which he or she is legally entitled, that employee may have a right to sue the employer for wrongful termination. If you would like additional information about the subject of overtime pay in Alabama, we invite you to contact an attorney and make an appointment to speak with him about your claim.
- The subject of wrongful employment termination is extremely broad and can only be briefly touched upon here. Generally speaking, Alabama law follows the "at-will" employment doctrine. Under this doctrine, an employer generally is free to terminate or demote an employee with or without just cause. However, there are numerous exceptions to this doctrine, many of which are discussed on this website. Some examples include being fired or demoted because of unlawful discrimination, or in retaliation for reporting safety complaints or illegal conduct by the employer. These exceptions permit even an "at-will" employee to bring a legal action against his or her employer for wrongful termination or demotion.
- Under federal law, it is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee because he or she has exercised a legal right. This is true even if the worker is an "at-will" employee. For example, it is wrongful for an employer to retaliate against an employee who reports, or threatens to report, an employer's unlawful activity to appropriate authorities. It is also wrongful for an employer to retaliate against an employee who makes safety complaints, or protests unlawful discrimination at the work place, or files a charge of unlawful discrimination. Retaliating against an employee who demands overtime pay or other wages is another example of wrongful retaliation, and there are many others. Again, an employee who has been discharged or demoted as the result of this type of retaliation may bring a lawsuit against the employer even if the employee is an at-will employee.
- In some circumstances, there are federal and state laws that protect employees who "blow the whistle" on their employers who are breaking the law or committing acts of fraud. It is illegal for employers to terminate or to retaliate against these whistleblowers. To be protected as a whistleblower, employees must report the illegal and/or fraudulent activities to authorities outside of the company. (Internal complaints of sexual harassment and/or discrimination may be protected under certain retaliation laws.) As a response to such corporate scandals as Enron, in 2002, Congress passed the Sarbanes Oxley Act (SOX) protecting employees of public companies who blow the whistle by reporting illegal activities conducted by their employer.
Hostile Work Environment
No employee should have to endure a workplace that is hostile towards his or her sex, race, religion, national origin, age or disability! Often times hostile work environments are not illegal. But a hostile work environment that involves physical confrontation, racial slurs, sexual innuendo, pornography, religious slurs, or remarks that denigrate a person because of a disability may violate Federal law.
- Did you report that hostility to your employer, but the problem never stopped?
- Did you report that hostility to your employer, and have them retaliate against you by making the hostile environment worse or even terminating your employment?
If the answer to some or all of these questions is "yes" fill out our online form and one of our team members will return your call and learn more about your potential case.
- Under state and federal law, even an "at-will" employee may bring a legal action against an employer or supervisor who has sexually harassed that employee. The victim of sexual harassment can be either male or female. Under Alabama law, sexual harassment can include such things as: verbal comments, including epithets, derogatory comments or slurs; or physical conduct, including assault, impeding or blocking movement, or physical interference with normal work or movement; or visual harassment, such as derogatory posters, cartoons, or drawings; or sexual favors, including unwanted sexual advances where sexual favors are asked for in exchange for an employment benefit. "Harassment" because of sex includes sexual harassment, gender harassment and harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. In addition to monetary damages, an employee who has been the victim of sexual harassment may also recover reimbursement for attorney fees.