Common law torts are often used by employees as a way to rectify work-related disputes with their employers. Twenty years ago, tort causes of action in employment cases were unheard of because the majority of lawsuits were filed under state or federal statutes. Since employment tort claims have become routine as we've entered the 21st century, human resource managers have scrambled to familiarize themselves with the latest element of the constantly evolving spectrum of employment law.
Common law, which is founded upon judicial standards as opposed to legislative statutes, began in England and was eventually adopted by the US. Common law is based on theories of fairness, rationale, and logic instead of strict, inflexible written legislation. The code of common law has been molded around society's needs and has been altered as the concerns and social state of the general population have changed. Common law is flexible and can adjust to transforming societal beliefs. In turn, common law is a component of employment law that can be expected to be referenced more often in the future.
A tort is a non-contractual private or civil form of misconduct or injury that is a violation of a legal obligation founded on social standards in regards to interpersonal relationships. A tort is composed of three significant parts:
When applied to the workplace, a tort is a private or civil form of misconduct or injury imposed on an employee by the employer that is a breach of a legal duty owed by the employer to the employee. There are two common misconceptions about employment torts. First, the size of the company is negligible; action is just as likely to be brought upon a small firm as it would a large firm. Second, anyone from an individual supervisor to the entire organization as a whole can be held accountable for compensatory, punitive, and consequential damages.
There are countless types of cases involving employment torts, but the most frequent lawsuits are derived from the following infringements:
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