Employment Lawyers Fighting to Protect Workers’ Rights
Representing Employees & Employers Across the USA
The employment law attorneys at Baron & Budd have represented thousands of workers, employees, and companies over the last four decades. In an area of law known for its complexity and complex jurisdiction split between state and federal employment statutes, we are known and respected among the best employment lawyers in the country.
Some of the most common employment law services we offer for companies includes drafting employment contracts, executive employment contracts, negotiating employment contracts, drafting non disclosure agreements and non compete contracts to protect trade secrets, and representation for breach of contract claims.
The most common employee claims against employers are for discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, breach of contract, employees misclassified as independent contractors, wage violations, gender-based pay discrimination, and unpaid overtime.
Other violations that occur much less often but that are just as important include illegally employing children and unlawfully reassigning an employee to a lower-level job after he or she returns from protected family or medical leave. Our labor law attorneys know your rights as an employee and some of the types of situations that can give rise to an employment discrimination lawsuit or a labor violation claim.
Employment Lawyer Services for Employees & Workers
- Employment Discrimination Claims
- Employee Rights Violations
- Wrongful Termination
- Severance Negotiations
- Review Employment Contracts
- Federal Employee Discrimination & Employment Rights Violations
- Unpaid Overtime Lawsuits
- Sexual Harassment
- Filing EEOC Complaints
- Negotiate Terms of Employment Contract
- Non Compete Contract Review & Negotiation
- Non Disclosure & Trade Secret Protection Contract Review & Negotiation
- Unenforceable & Unfair Employment Contract Representation
- Unpaid Overtime Claims for Salaried Employees Making Less than $47,000
What categories are given specific protection under federal and state labor laws?
Many states, including Texas, are “employment-at-will” states, meaning an employer can fire an employee for any reason (or no reason at all) as long as the given reason does not constitute discrimination against a federal or state protected class.
However, federal employee rights laws protect workers for wrongful termination and discrimination. This includes protection from employers making hiring, firing, or salary decisions based solely on one or more of the following factors:
- The employee’s age
Although sexual orientation and gender identity are not explicitly protected under federal employment laws, some states (like California) have passed their own laws to protect gay and transgender workers. Despite the absence of specific statutes outlining protection for these marginalized groups, certain federal cases have expanded the interpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to apply to situations involving gay or transgender employees.
It’s also important to note which categories and traits are not protected under federal law — factors like political affiliation, one’s ability to legally work in the U.S., and an employee’s criminal history can rightfully be taken into account in hiring, firing, and salary decisions unless otherwise prohibited by state law.
Things Not Protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
There are a few types of discrimination that Title VII does not protect, although in some cases employment regulatory agencies at the state level may offer protection. Discrimination based on the following is not protected by federal employment law:
- Drug Use or Status as Addict for Disability Discrimination Claims
- Citizenship Status
- Criminal Record & Background Check
- Political Party or Affiliation
States with state-level restrictions against discrimination based on political beliefs or ideology include Washington, Virginia, New York, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.
What actions are prohibited under federal anti-discrimination laws?
Discrimination can take a wide variety of forms. The federal anti-discrimination laws prohibit performance of any of the following based on a protected characteristic:
- Determination of compensation and work assignments
- Transfer or promotion
- Layoff or recall from layoff
- Ability to use company facilities
- Availability of fringe benefits
- Any other terms and conditions of employment
Discrimination can also include harassment, retaliation, and the denial of certain employment opportunities based on the protected characteristics of the employee’s spouse or family members and many other violations of employment rights.
What is the difference between labor law and employment law and what rights do labor laws protect?
Labor laws differ from employment discrimination law in that they primarily govern the manner and frequency of pay rather than the circumstances of employment. These laws ensure that all employees are paid at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked (unless classified as exempt and paid a set salary) and are designed to prevent abuses like child labor or uncompensated overtime. Labor laws also protect employees from being misclassified as contractors so that their employers don’t have to provide benefits, insurance, pay time and a half for overtime, or provide employee rights entitled to them.
Types of Employment Discrimination Cases
Although each state has its own labor and employment laws, because of the breadth and scope of the federal anti-discrimination laws, most employment discrimination lawsuits are filed in federal court.
- Sexual Discrimination
- Age Discrimination
- Racial Discrimination
- Nationality Discrimination
- Religious Discrimination
- Disability Discrimination
- Discrimination Against Gays for Sexual Orientation
- Country of Origin Discrimination
- Gender Identification Discrimination
- Pregnancy Discrimination
- Illness Discrimination
- Family Commitment Discrimination
- Nursing Mother Discrimination
- Pay Discrimination
- Discrimination Against Women
Racial Discrimination. Discrimination based on race is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). This law encompasses and forbids discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” Title VII employee discrimination rights protect workers against everything from race-based workplace bullying (like racial slurs being written on an employee of color’s locker) to unfair treatment or disciplinary action like being fired or demoted because of one’s race.
An employer made aware of this discrimination who does not take action to stop it can be liable even if the employees participating in prohibited behavior aren’t doing so at management’s direction.
Some types of prohibited discrimination can be more invidious than openly racial comments. For example, a retailer that assigns bonuses based on the number of sales could be liable for racial discrimination if it’s found that the assignment of higher-earning departments is based (directly or indirectly) on race rather than non-discriminatory factors.
Gender Discrimination. Title VII also protects employees against gender discrimination. Gender discrimination is most common against women, but in some female dominated industries gender discrimination claims are common among men. Title VII aims to prevent employees from suffering adverse employment actions like termination, demotion, and exclusion on the basis of their sex.
Pregnancy Discrimination. Title VII gender discrimination protection extends to also protect employees from discrimination, mistreatment, and unfair disciplinary action or exclusion when they are pregnant. Title VII protection includes employment rights protection for pregnant workers because it is a solely female condition. It is illegal for a company to demote, reduce hours, reduce pay, or require unrealistic physical strain for an employee just because they are pregnant.
Wage & Pay Gender Discrimination. Wage and gender-based pay discrimination is prohibited by the Equal Pay Act. The Equal Pay Act prohibits men and women from being paid markedly different rates for the same type of work based solely on gender.
While Title VII protections apply to all employees, some smaller employers are exempt from other federal laws that could impact an employee’s ability to return to her job following maternity leave (like the Family and Medical Leave Act). We highly recommend that you retain legal counsel from an experienced employment lawyer before filing a lawsuit to ensure your rights are fully protected and defended.
Age Discrimination. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits age discrimination. ADEA laws protect all workers age 40 and older from suffering adverse employment actions on the basis of age.
Because older employees are often higher earners, ADEA protection applies in situations when older employees are disproportionately targeted for layoffs or termination because of their higher cost to the employer. However, certain state employment laws extend the age in which employees have protection against discrimination to as young as 18 years of age.
Disability Discrimination. Discrimination based on an employee’s disability is prohibited by Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for all employees and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 for federal employees only.
Disability discrimination laws encompass both physical and mental disabilities and can require employers to make “reasonable accommodations” to ensure that a disabled employee is provided with the same opportunities to succeed. Reasonable accommodations can include physical devices like ergonomic chairs or keyboards or even work-from-home arrangements or alternative working hours.
Nationality & Ethnicity Discrimination. Title VII prohibits national origin and ethnicity discrimination. Title VII provides protection against discrimination and harassment on the basis of one’s accent, ethnicity, culture, country of origin, or other national origin characteristics. This can extend to prohibiting employers from requiring that English be spoken in the workplace unless the employer is able to argue that this requirement is necessary for it to conduct business.
Retaliation. Title VII and other state and federal laws prohibit retaliation against employees. Few employees would be able or willing to sue a company they still work for if not for the anti-retaliation provisions of federal anti-discrimination laws in Title VII. Under these laws, any employee who files a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or who sues the employer in federal court cannot be targeted for termination, demotion, or treated in a hostile manner while the complaint is pending.
If an employer or supervisor retaliates against the employee or organizes/advises other employees to retaliate against the person that filed the employment rights violation complaint, the employer can be subject to even steeper sanctions upon judgment.
What type of judgment can a plaintiff employee recover?
Depending upon the details of your case, you may be eligible to win a judgment or achieve a settlement that includes funds for compensation of lost wages, bonus pay, commission, overtime, or other benefits lost because of an employment law violation made by the company. If you bring your employment lawsuit to trial in a federal court, you are likely eligible for a larger payment from the infliction of emotional distress, attorney fees, and even punitive damages meant to punish the employer for wrongdoing. In some cases, you may agree on or negotiate reinstatement, allowing you to return to a job from which you were unlawfully terminated.
Types of workplace hazards include exposure to asbestos, labor and wage violations, dangerous or hostile working conditions.
Yet another workplace hazard is the violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which governs minimum wages, maximum work hours, overtime pay, equal pay and child labor standards. Most recently, we have witnessed alleged violations of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, particularly with oilfield workers.
The bottom line is, whatever the workplace threat, to the attorneys at Baron & Budd it’s all the same. It’s all about protecting what’s right.
Contact a Lawyer for Labor Law & Employee Rights Today
Call Baron & Budd at 866-495-1255 today to schedule a free consultation with an attorney from the highly respected employment law section of our firm. When it comes to employment lawyers, we are among the best rated law firms for employee rights, discrimination, and wage violations. We employ some of the highest rated counsel in the field of employment and labor law. Let us help protect and defend your rights as an employee in the United States.