Current Trends in Employment Laws
A Board Certified Employment Lawyer Specialist’s Viewpoint:
When I first started practicing employment law over 20 years ago, the economy was in the dot com boom and employment law likewise flourished as employers needed employment contracts drafted and employees needed contracts reviewed.
When the economy did a spin, contract-related work diminished, and consultations concerning wrongful terminations shifted the work. Indeed, regardless of how the economy is doing, employment law is a fabric which is needed in our business, capitalistic environment.
Much like the economy, political shifts and changes play a significant role in how employment law is approached. However, it does not affect the need for employment law attorneys.
Under the current political climate, a significant component of legal rules and guidelines concerning what is legally permitted in the workplace is playing out in the court systems. These trends include sexual harassment litigation, retaliation as a result of an employee asserting a legal right, and freedom of speech battles between an employee’s free speech and an employer’s right to end an employment relationship for almost any reason. In addition to these trends, wage law continues to dominate a significant percentage of employment law cases, as the unpaid overtime law continues to present ambiguity challenges in a number of employment related cases. Additionally, I have been seeing a rise in misclassification cases as employers try to extend the ability to classify employees as exempt and/or as 1099 employees.
In the context of sexual harassment, the law has not changed significantly. Basically, an employee who feels that he or she has been harassed because of sex, including offensive touching or words, has a right to address the issue through the employer’s policies and procedures (which oftentimes is an HR function). The trend, however, is that employees are more knowledgeable of their rights and are more confidently asserting them. This, coupled with the current media proliferation, has led to additional claims and issues that need to be addressed.
In the context of free speech, employees have taken to social media to disseminate information that the employee deems personal. However, sometimes this type of speech crosses into the employer’s right not to have an employee disparage the company. Everything from talking negatively about a supervisor, or even wearing a company logo under suspect circumstances can all lead to a termination. It is this struggle between an employer’s right to protect its brand, and the right to protect privacy (not to be confused with First Amendment), that is currently being paved in our legal system.
In sum, Employment Law will continue to play a vital role in our jurisprudence, be it in good times or hard times, be it liberal or conservative.
In any event, should you have questions about employment law and your rights, you should consult with an experienced lawyer to address your needs such as the Employment Lawyer Melbourne FL locals trust.
Thanks to authors at Arcadia & Associates for their insight into Employment Law.